Letters: 3PLs, Brokers & Shippers, Quality Counts

These Letters to the Editor appear in the Sept. 7 print edition of Transport Topics. Click here to subscribe today.


Are third-party logistics providers a necessary division in the trucking industry? My opinion is “yes.” We are a group of people who work hard to keep customers and drivers happy, at an agreeable rate.

We have been in business 21 years. Most of our drivers have been with us for several years. 3PLs allow smaller, independent truck operators to run at a livable rate and get a regular paycheck.

We hear daily what it takes to keep a truck running. It is important to them as business owners to project a kind and professional attitude, as this is also their business. We check their safety ratings and verify that their insurance is active.

They watch the freight being loaded and unloaded to try to ensure clear bills. We both need this freight to come off without any problems at the right temperature. Without the smaller trucking companies, a few big companies would dictate rates and lanes. Competition is good for the economy.

3PLs are very necessary to this industry. We are regulated, insured and audited just like a trucking company. We issue bills of lading and take responsibility for loss or damage in transit.

As 3PLs, we find rates being cut by the bigger trucking companies, because they need to keep their trucks running and don’t care if the loads make a profit. That hurts the industry as a whole.

I, for one, am proud to work for a 3PL. They carry an excellent rating and strive to keep it that way.

Pamela Hansen


Hannic Freight Forwarders

Plainfield, Ill.

Brokers, Shippers

It has come to our attention that brokers are having a hard time finding carriers to move their ninth-hour freight. Car-riers are dropping off the grid every day.

I ask that the shippers have a working relationship with more carriers in their local area instead of just relying on brokers who have only computers to move their freight.

Brokers have been playing a dangerous game with rates, stating “that is all there is” and then making 30% to 50% profit while the motor carrier operates at a loss. It is time for transparency with the freight rate so carriers are not being abused.

I often find that shippers are unaware that they are paying extra for the service and the carrier is losing money on the move. This cannot continue and will not benefit any shipper in the long run when the brokers without trucks will be the only ones standing.

Carl Herrmann


Interstate Cargo Express LLC

Wisconsin Rapids, Wis.

Quality Counts

This year has brought many challenges to trucking companies and truck owners trying to survive the downturn in the economy. To meet those challenges, I think it’s a good time to restore quality to trucking.

During the past 20 years, many carriers have expanded rapidly — and quality has gone out the window.

Many hire anyone who can hold onto a steering wheel, and many use trucks that might pass a Department of Transportation inspection but are always dirty and often have wild paint jobs, cabs and sleepers that look like landfills, noisy exhaust and air horns louder than a locomotive’s.

Even the freight they haul is poor quality, at least in the sense of providing a decent profit. I have spoken with many truck drivers, owners and managers of carriers who complain about low freight rates.

Trucking companies now can — and should — be very careful when hiring, demanding that drivers have a clean, neat appearance and a professional manner. After all, a driver and his truck represent the carrier on the road.

Likewise, carriers using owner-operators should consider the quality and appearance of the truck they are leasing.

Carriers and truck owners also should remember that no one is forcing them to haul freight offered at rates so low they don’t even cover truck costs and dri-ver wages.

Carriers that hire owner-operators must get back to basics and realize the relationship with their owner-operators is a partnership, and every load should pay a freight rate the truck owner can haul safely and for a profit.

If a shipper or broker offers freight at below-cost rates, carriers and truck owners should turn it down. As long as anyone is willing to haul low-priced freight, it will stay low-priced freight.

Set a minimum freight rate and stick with it: Trucking companies should not be subsidizing a shipper or broker’s bottom line.

When rates go down, the solution should not be running more miles to keep earnings up but rather letting go of freight that doesn’t make your operation profitable. The old “it’s a backhaul” story isn’t the answer. Hauling freight should be the same, no matter which direction it goes.

If shippers are making so little money manufacturing or selling their products that they depend on a low freight rate for a profit, tell them to raise their prices — or just forget about them. Carriers and brokers should deal only with shippers willing to pay a fair freight rate.

Shippers and brokers need to know that if carriers don’t stay profitable, we won’t be there to haul their goods to their customers.

It’s time for carriers, truck owners and drivers to clean up their acts and restore the kind of quality that once made truck drivers the “Knights of the Road.”

Richard Marsh


SpecializedCarrier.Com Inc.

Pahrump, Nev.


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