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Only 3 Days Left to Participate in this quarter’s Business Expectations Survey

There are only three days left to participate in the first quarter 2013 Business Expectations Survey. Below are some of the questions included in this quarter’s trucking industry survey.

Are you curious as to how much other carriers are spending on CSA compliance?

Do you wonder if other carriers are utilizing elogs?

Are you comparing your miles per gallon and engine-related maintenance costs on 2007 and 2010 engines?

The survey closed today, Friday, February 22. We estimate that it will take you approximately 5-10 minutes to complete the survey, depending on your selections.

Take the survey now

Originally started in the summer of 2008, Transport Capital Partners (TCP)’s industry survey is now widely recognized by industry leaders and publications. If you have any questions regarding the survey, please contact us at partners@transportcap.com.

 

Reflections from the Stifel Transportation Conference 2013

Richard Mikes of Transport Capital Partners (TCP) recently attended the Annual Stifel Transportation and Logistics Conference held in Key Biscayne, Florida, chaired by John G. Larkin, Managing Director at Stifel. About 40 publicly-held transportation and logistics companies were in attendance, presenting information on their firms and trends affecting the industry to a larger than last year investor group. Here are his observations from the conference.

 Truckload Carriers Volumes

The general consensus among the presenting carriers is that volumes began flattening in the last half of 2012 and have not recovered in the seasonally slow first quarter. Retailers remain cautious and inventories are managed tightly. The uncertain economic recovery makes future volumes hard to predict. However, there are bright spots in ag equipment, energy exploration and chemicals with construction showing some life. Dry van business remains slow with the seasonal restocking from clothes to turf supplies/equipment and summer recreational merchandise about to begin.

Efficiency and New Strategies

Companies emphasized ongoing and new initiatives in most areas of operations. Most publicly held truckload carriers are no longer “just truckers” but also offering logistics, transportation management, dedicated carriage, 3PL initiatives, and intermodal options.

Focus included reducing costs, enhancing efficiencies, aerodynamics for equipment, and watching natural gas as a potential game changer. Deeper customer interfaces with cross-selling of the increasingly broader array of services were highlighted by many. Collaborative activities with shippers are gaining efficiencies and other mutual benefits.

Equipment Purchases Cautious by Public Carriers

Publicly held carriers in aggregate have reduced their tractor fleet 20% from pre-recession peak levels and are not gaining tractor count, which is in line with TCP quarterly surveys of both private and public firms showing little fleet addition or interest in expansion. While investors favor “asset light” models, discussions of “someone must own assets” were common.  Small fleets, 6 trucks or less, account for 88% of the carriers. Smaller fleets are pressured by aging tractors and tight credit. New tractors have improved miles per gallon (mpg), but at a high capital cost with used trade-in prices flat for the past year.

Rates

Generally, carriers anticipate single digit increases for rates assuming stable capacity and loads “in balance”. However, we may be subject to a freight spike environment pushing them upward. A shipper panel declined to provide much information on rates. The uncertain economy remains the gorilla in the room as an uptick of 3 to 5% in GDP growth will push higher rates.

Drivers the Constraint?

Carriers mentioned driver staffing issues are becoming more critical for the variety of reasons (demographics, lifestyle, wages, and HOS/CSA regs), and are directly now impacting carrier capacity along with a stable fleet base. Driver wages must, and will, increase, but the only question is timing. If construction ramps up this could be sooner rather than later.

Brokers and 3PL Providers

Volumes have recovered and general outlook is for a slow growth environment. The focus appears to be on small to mid-size shippers along with broadening international exposure and competition. Growth rates of 3PL’s were reported at 11.6% over the past 15 years in North America contrasted with 30% in South America and 15% in Asia Pacific markets. Over the same time dedicated carriage grew 7.5% in the US.

 

Have questions?  Contact Richard Mikes at  239-395-2595 or RMikes@TransportCap.com for more information or to learn more about the Stifel Transportation Conference 2013.

Interested in learning what other carriers are expecting in the coming months?

Click here to participate in TCP’s First Quarter Business Expectations Survey. 

First Quarter Business Expectations Survey Now Open!

Are you curious as to how much other carriers are spending on CSA compliance?

Do you wonder if other carriers are utilizing elogs?

Are you comparing your miles per gallon and engine-related maintenance costs on 2007 and 2010 engines?

These are some of the questions of this quarter’s Business Expectations Survey, and we invite you and your company to participate.   If you are a principal, owner, or executive, we would be very grateful if you took a few minutes to fill out the questionnaire. This quarter’s survey launches today, Friday, February 8 and will close Friday, February 22. We estimate that it will take you approximately 5-10 minutes to complete the survey, depending on your selections.

Take the survey now! 

 

Originally started in the summer of 2008, Transport Capital Partners (TCP)’s industry survey is now widely recognized by industry leaders and publications. If you have any questions regarding the survey, please contact us at partners@transportcap.com.

Natural gas engines starting to catch fire in the truck-fleet market

Natural gas engines, both compressed natural gas (CNG) and liquefied natural gas (LNG) are gaining traction with carriers who are interested in “going green” and spending less on fuel. A recent article by Fleet Owner cites the findings from the 2012 survey on natural gas engines conducted by TCP and ACT Research. Over half of the carriers surveyed are considering at least some natural gas engines in their next purchase.  The article goes on to discuss many of the truck makers and engine builders who are meeting the demand for natural gas.

Want to learn more about the growing trend of natural gas engines? Click here to read the full article.

 

More Carriers Willing to Hire Younger Drivers to Combat Driver Turnover

Transport Topics recently reported on the findings of TCP’s fourth quarter Business Expectations Survey that found that 51% of carriers are planning to hiring younger drivers to offset recruiting difficulties and driver turnover. Recent reports from the American Trucking Associations show that driver turnover is at 100%. Over a third of carriers responding to the survey already hire younger drivers and “carriers are looking for ways to attract quality, long-term drivers”. Click here to read the full article. 

Mikes recently interviewed about transportation job cuts

TCP Partner Richard Mikes was recently interviewed regarding Daimler Chrysler’s plan to cut 1,200 jobs at Charlotte-area Freightliner plants due to “softening economic conditions”.

“The trucking industry faces serious headwinds in 2013. Trucking doesn’t move unless the economy moves,” said Richard Mikes, TCP Partner. “Obviously, the drop in GDP in the fourth quarter is not good.” A shortage of qualified drivers and new government regulations are additional hurdles in the industry.

Daimler stated that they believe the economy will improve in 2013 and hope for the lay-offs to be temporary.

Click here to read the article and listen to the broadcast.