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Moving Cargo in 2017: A Trucking Perspective

By Lisa Sursavage

It’s no secret that because of the energy market, truck capacity has not been tight for the past 18 months. However, the market cycle has masked the long-term driver capacity crunch. Shippers and intermediaries are well-advised to be aware of long-term trends in a rapidly changing market.

At the recent Houston Customhouse Brokers & Freight Forwarders Association luncheon, Jetco president Kyle Kristynik advised attendees: “As shippers, now is the time to be prepared!” As the monthly meeting’s keynote, Kristynik highlighted key trends that shippers should get ahead of and outlined suggestions for preparing for the future.

The Capacity Crunch

“There is a perfect storm of factors affecting the trucking supply,” said Kristynik, “even though the fundamentals of supply and demand will always govern truck capacity.” From increased government regulations to the driver shortage, growing barriers to entry and the resin boom, it is important to understand these trends and have an action plan in place now.

The driver shortage only continues to get worse. The average age of a truck driver in the U.S. is in the mid-50s and increasing. New driver prospects are affected by compensation, insurance and tort reform, and the public's perception of their job, amongst other things. A romantic, open stretch of highway isn't enough to entice younger drivers—especially when other sectors like technology can offer more lucrative salaries and better hours.

Rising insurance costs are also greatly impacting the industry. With large insurance companies, like Zurich and AIG, pulling out of the industry, some truckers may be unable to afford insurance. In addition, new regulations, such as mandatory electronic logs (ELDs) are affecting some truckers. By the end of 2017, electronic logs will be required in all trucks. “Jetco installed ELDs in 2008, so this is nothing new for our customers,” said Kristynik. “However, if your trucker does not currently have compliant ELDs, now is the time to ask them for their plan.”

Finally, the resin boom is here. As Houston becomes the world’s resin manufacturing capitol, there will be tremendous demand for containerized cargo transport. The question is: does the Houston industry have the ability to meet the demand?

How Can You Prepare for 2017 and Beyond?

If we’re going to attract new drivers and keep the ones we have, we must ensure they are being treated with respect. When a driver arrives at your facility, how are they treated? Consider small things to show appreciation for these hard working men and women. “Ask them their name, give them a bottle of water when it’s warm outside and offer reasonable accommodations. These small gestures go a long way,” Kristynik said.

There are ways we can work together to help combat the driver capacity shortage, and part of that is understanding the reality of the labor market. From penal system and immigration reform to facilitating the transition of military drivers to civilian drivers, there are ways we can create opportunity – but we must be vocal about it and push for change.

Many "best in class" companies have had ELDs in place for several years. If your trucking vendors do not have ELDs, ensure that they have a plan in place. A lack of a plan should raise a red flag. A handful of trucking companies manipulate paper logs to run more hours than legally allowed. As a shipper, review your lanes and delivery times. If your delivery times were too good to be true, that is a sign you should plan for increased transit times as ELDs finally level the playing field among carriers.

Finally, investing in our infrastructure and supporting laws which enable safe and efficient transport of heavier containers is essential to supporting the trucking industry. According to Kristynik: “If we’re going to keep our ports busy and the industry moving, we must reexamine our heavy container laws. There is a way to do it safely – and it involves the right equipment and proper training.”

The Role of the Trucking Company

Jetco is more than a vendor—we’re a business partner. “We’re here to provide you peace of mind and the best solutions for efficiently, effectively and safely transporting your cargo,” Kristynik said. Today’s trucker must be a subject-matter expert in: matching the correct equipment, trained driver and cargo; in-bond transit; DOT regulations and permit; homeland security; and proactive risk-management solution. “Jetco’s team of experts is here to help you navigate the current market,” concluded Kristynik. “It’s about working together to help the industry grow.”

Interested in continuing the conversation?

Contact Kyle Kristynik

713.676.1111 │