They are two of Omaha's biggest employers. Werner Enterprises and TD Ameritrade speak openly about jobs, revenue, and if the economy is getting better.
Charlie Endorf earns his paycheck on the road.
Endorf says, "I've been here for 36 years this summer."
Endorf has driven 5,000,000 miles at Werner.
Endorf says, "Long days, long nights, lots of billboards."
He says--during his time at Werner Enterprises--he's never worried about keeping his job. He feels the company is stable.
Werner Enterprises President Derek Leathers says it hasn't been an easy road.
Leather says, "We think the worst of it is behind us but we're not thinking we're completely out of the woods."
Leather says Werner didn't have a "Black Friday" or big layoff event when the worst of it hit in 2008.
"We were really able to get through the recession by simply not replacing jobs we lost. Mostly we were affected in large metro areas outside of Omaha, although we certainly did have some shrinkage of employment in Omaha." said Leathers.
Before the recession hit, Werner had 9,000 trucks on the road. Now, on any given day, it's 7,300. The company has "right-sized" itself at this number.
Leathers says, "We're back to a revenue perspective of where we once were. We're just doing it with less trucks because we're now more of a global player."
Leathers says 1500 employees are based in Omaha. The company has 12,000 worldwide.
"Now, we have physical offices in China, Australia, Canada, Mexico, and growing...so there's a lot more to Werner than just trucking."
Leathers says--in a way--"flat" has become the new normal for many businesses.
"We have been adding jobs or should I say hiring over the last year and a half but not as robust or quickly as we once were able to," said Leathers.
"Our trucking business is not as large as it once was but our logistics, U.S. Customer Brokerage, air freight forwarding and ocean business is all growing. In total we’re as large as we’ve ever been as a company and we had a record earnings year last year and we’re real proud of that during tough times," said Leathers.
Werner Enterprises is hiring truck drivers right now.
TD Ameritrade is also a huge employer in Omaha. They have around 2,000 associates in Omaha. It's the largest concentration of associates. Fort Worth is the second largest.
Right now, the company is building its new headquarters in the Old Mill area. The new building is scheduled to be done in late spring/summer 2013.
CEO Fred Tomczyk said the biggest struggle for companies came after the collapse of Lehman Brothers and the banking crisis.
Tomczyk says, "What happens is even good companies that have healthy balance sheets and successful strategies couldn't get the overnight funding to make payroll. That's a scary time. You see really good companies go under because of short term issues, that really did worry me"
Tomczyk says TD Ameritrade also rode out the storm, but it took longer than many thought.
"Where we are today, I continue to feel good, but what we thought was a 2-3 year recession or difficult period is probably going to turn out to be a 6-7 year period," Tomczyk said.
Still, the company is in a much better place than a few years ago.
"It gives me a lot of pride to show that relative to our peers who are down 60% our stock is essentially flat," Tomczyk said.
Moving forward, both TD Ameritrade and Werner Enterprises leaders say they believe we are through the worst of it. Moving forward, they hope to see growth, although it may be modest at best.
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