Letters: Nitrogen in Tires, Brokers Revisited, Impossibly Low Rates, California Reefers, It’s All About Freight, Squeaky Wheels

These Letters to the Editor appear in the July 27 print edition of Transport Topics. Click here to subscribe today.

Nitrogen in Tires

In reference to the story, “Safeway Fleet Set to Fill Tires With Nitrogen,” which appeared July 6 on p. 8 (click here for previous letter), I have been using nitrogen in my fleet since 2005. We have noticed that the tires stay at a constant pressure, and we have been able to get well over 250,000 miles out of our drive tires and 150,000 miles out of our steer tires.

All our trailers are leased. I have mentioned these results to the trailer company, but they are not too interested in nitrogen in their trailer tires.



Robert Warren

President

Surman Transport Inc.

Melrose Park, Ill.

Brokers Revisited

What does America do when the non-asset brokers put all the real trucking companies out of business?

I have no problem working with companies that have trucks and know what it actually costs to run a truck, but you have the non-asset brokers with the college graduates who need only to show a profit for the company and have no experience in the real trucking world.

I have seen how some of these non-asset brokers have taken advantage of “supply and demand,” but what happens when the demand outweighs the supply and there aren’t any trucks to supply that demand because they’ve put everyone out of business?

How can you depend on having everything you want to build a house or to make purchases at the  grocery store when you have someone moving the freight who doesn’t own trucks but is relying on people they have put out of business?

I know other companies feel the same way I do, but I am trying to stand up for all of us that really do move freight around the United States.

Mike Tharp

President

Boarder to Boarder Trucking Inc.

Edinburg, Texas

Impossibly Low Rates

I read about Gainey Corp. in your June 22 issue: “Gainey Reorganization Hearing Set for July; Plan Would Create New, Debt-Free Company” (p. 10). Then I scratched my head and wondered.

Let’s see how this works: I cut the rate to so cheap that I get all the freight I need, saying we can do it all for 85 cents to $1.30 a mile.

Yes, I know I can’t pay the bills with that rate, but my guys are running and I have a multimillion-dollar credit line.

I use it all up, go bankrupt, have the slate wiped clean and then I can do it all over again.

Now who’s the smart one?

Sad to say, it’s not me or a lot of other good trucking companies that charge fair rates — and pay our bills.

Don Hamming

Owner

RSVP International

Kalamazoo, Mich.

There was a letter headed “Wise up, 3PLs,” in your June 22 issue (click here for previous letter). It should have been titled “Wise Up, Truckers.”

Unfortunately, as long as truckers haul for cheap rates, the third-party logistics providers will never get the shippers to increase their rates.

Enough said.

Rob Hallifax

Logistics Manager

C&R Transportation

Overland Park, Kan.

California Reefers

Last week, I read the following paragraph on the California Air Resources Board’s Web site in reference to the state’s extending compliance deadlines for truck refrigerated units until Dec. 31:

“ARB is extending these deadlines because as the close of the grace period approached, it became clear that several thousand TRUs were not in position to comply by mid-July. The reasons for this include: lack of timely action by TRU owners, higher costs for compliance than originally anticipated, some retrofit systems not becoming available until May 2009, tightening of credit and longer lead times for delivery of systems. Given these factors, ARB has determined that a two-phase enforcement schedule would allow for more complete registration and provide some additional time for pre-2002 TRUs to come into compliance in an orderly manner.”

Well, how about that?

Once again, those who followed the rules are being punished and those who chose to ignore the rules are getting bailed out. ARB has some good points, but what about those who already have spent the money to comply and taken timely action to get their TRUs registered? Shouldn’t they be rewarded instead of punished?

Buy a house you can’t afford — get bailed out by the taxpayers.

Build cars no one wants to buy to meet Congress’ CAFE standards, so you can sell what people want to buy — get bailed out by the taxpayers.

Buy convoluted derivatives made up of risky mortgages — get bailed out by the taxpayers.

Am I missing something here? It seems everywhere I turn, those who are being responsible and doing the right thing are getting the shaft, and those who are irresponsible are getting a bailout. What is this country coming to?

Michael Denney

President

Denney Transport Ltd.

Commerce City, Colo.

It’s All About Freight

The trucking industry has played a major role in my life. From the first time I took my place behind the steering wheel of a tractor-trailer unit to the reduction in force that forced my last employer to eliminate my position as a driver recruiter along with numerous others, this industry has left me with certain experiences and a certain amount of knowledge concerning the way it operates.

There is one objective in trucking that must be met at all costs for there to be a profit in any given company’s bottom line: Freight must be delivered in a safe and timely manner at the lowest operating cost possible. Profit, after all, is the reason companies are in business.

In the past, that objective meant all other concerns became secondary. With the advent of the driver shortage — real or perceived — came the need for companies to project a “driver-friendly” image in order to remain competitive in their recruiting.

While some took the opportunity to actually upgrade their image by making some real changes that gave their drivers a sense of being respected for the professionals they are, other companies went the route of spending enormous amounts of money to secure advertising that would create a “false front” for them while they continued to squander their human resources in the one area of their operations where all other efforts come to naught if it fails.

“Turnover” and “retention” be-came buzzwords. Committee meetings were held to try and get a handle on these issues. CEOs of major companies admitted they had no real idea as to their solution.

Then came the economic downturn. Fuel prices rose and profits shrank. Fleets began to shrink and in-house employees were laid off. With very little freight being shipped, the need to address turnover and retention was gone.

What a relief. Now the only thing carriers had to worry about was surviving — a long hard struggle that has seen the demise of some companies and the near-demise of others.

I saw something in the numbers over the past two weeks that assured me “this too shall soon pass.”

First of all, the majority of publicly traded companies are on an upward swing. This trend indicates the economy is recovering — and trucking is the backbone of the economy.

Second, I know I’m not alone in this belief because of the article headlined: “Freight Hauling Capacity Loss Seen Setting Stage for ‘Bull Market’ Recovery After Recession Ends,” (click here for previous story).

“Bull market” means freight and lots of it. Lots of freight means the need for capacity. The need for capacity means competing for the limited supply of qualified drivers. Here is where a company’s reputation among drivers will determine whether it will continue just surviving in the midst of a boom or achieve unprecedented growth.

Recruiting for real growth is not just putting up numbers on a board. It is skills, attitude and potential assessment. It will be interesting to see how many companies will “starve” in the midst of abundance because they chose long ago to project an image instead of cultivating a company culture.

And so, it begins.

Francisco Gomez

Owner

Dvar Emet Publishing & Consulting LLC

San Angelo, Texas

Squeaky Wheels

We enjoyed Thomas Strah’s “Squeaky Wheel — Myth Judgment” article in the July/August 2009 issue of Equipment & Maintenance Update (p. 3). The only problem we have with it is that not enough truckers read his important messages. If they did, we would see far fewer tire problems and much less rubber on the road.

The bottom line is that we really enjoy reading everything Thomas Strah writes and hope he keeps writing his excellent articles, and that’s no myth.

Harvey Brodsky

Managing Director

Tire Retread & Repair Information Bureau

Pacific Grove, Calif.

 

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