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What Happens When Leaders Forget the Culture That Made Their Company Great?

culture

What Happens When Leaders Forget the Culture That Made Their Company Great?

Many business leaders view their corporate culture as so important that they make it a point to hire people who are a good fit for that culture – and jettison any employees who aren’t.

But what happens when it’s the leaders themselves – for profits, for expediency, for getting the next deal done – who toss aside the culture and plow ahead with decisions that go counter to what made the company a success?

Trouble, that’s what happens, says Bill Higgs, an authority on corporate culture and the ForbesBooks author of the Culture Code Champions: 7 Steps to Scale & Succeed in Your Business (www.culturecodechampions.com).

“Your company’s culture should inform everything you do,” he says. “When you start straying from the practices that got you where you are, you run the risk of making decisions that will cost you in the long run.”

One example that surfaced recently involved Boeing, which posted its first full-year loss in more than two decades. The company was already reeling from two Boeing 737 Max crashes in 2018 and 2019 that killed 346 passengers in Indonesia and Ethiopia, and forced the company to ground its entire fleet of Max jetliners.

According to news reports, the origins of the company’s woes can be traced all the way back to 1997 when Boeing acquired McDonnell Douglas, a merger that immediately led to a clash of cultures. At Boeing, engineers were king. At McDonnell Douglas, the bottom line ruled.

In the end, the McDonnell Douglas culture prevailed.

“Mergers and acquisitions are always fraught with danger both financially and culturally,” says Higgs, a founder and former CEO of Mustang Engineering who recently launched the Culture Code Champions podcast. “Financial concerns get the focus while management figures, incorrectly, that culture will just work itself out.”

But in any organization – with or without a merger – it’s paramount that the leaders take charge of maintaining the culture. Higgs says some steps crucial to establishing a company culture and keeping it on course include:

-Encourage communication. Higgs is fond of saying that all problems ultimately are communications problems. In any organization, there can be communications breakdowns. “The most important way to improve execution and efficiency is to foster and maintain a spirit of inclusion, where everyone who has any contact at all with a particular project feels they are involved and is kept in the loop,” Higgs says.

-Knock down silos. Too often silos emerge in large organizations where departments become insulated from each other. They fail to share ideas and resources, and an attitude of competition replaces a spirit of collaboration.

-Make sure employees know they are respected and valued. This is the real key to building a successful organization and making sure your best people stay with you, Higgs says. Leaders should communicate regularly with employees to make sure they understand how valued they are. He says employees should also know it’s all right to speak up if they see something problematic.

“When I was at Mustang Engineering and we had grown from a small to a huge company, I still had drafters who were comfortable jumping five levels in the organization to let me know they would have to put out substandard work if the schedule or cost were not changed,” Higgs says.

“I always told them I would handle the issues internally with engineering and externally with clients or suppliers, but they should stay the course on quality.”

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Bill Higgs, an authority on corporate culture, is the ForbesBooks author of Culture Code Champions: 7 Steps to Scale & Succeed in Your Business. He recently launched the Culture Code Champions podcast (www.culturecodechampions.com), where he has interviewed such notable subjects as former CIA director David Petraeus and NASA’s woman pioneer Sandra Coleman. Culture Code Champions is listed as a New & Noteworthy podcast on iTunes. Higgs is also the co-founder and former CEO of Mustang Engineering Inc. In 20 years, they grew the company from their initial $15,000 investment and three people to a billion-dollar company with 6,500 people worldwide. Second, third and fourth-generation leaders took the company to $2 billion in 2014. Higgs is a distinguished 1974 graduate (top 5 percent academically) of the United States Military Academy at West Point and runner up for a Rhodes scholarship. He is an Airborne Ranger and former commander of a combat engineer company.

NTG

NTG Slides Between Old Guard and Freight-Forwarding Disruptors

If there is one common theme among newish freight-forwarding disruptors, it is that they seek to replace an old guard that relies on paper, clipboards, and telephones with a brave new world that relies on cloud software, analytics platforms, and smartphones.

The stakes are high: tracking and handling freight is a $1 trillion industry. And so, the business media falls all over itself to profile the likes of Qwyk, Flexport and Zencargo. It’s a small wonder that established players have moved into the freight forwarding “startup” space, as evidenced by Twill, a so-called “Maersk innovation.” Amazon is also breaking into the freight-forwarding market, as is another well-known disruptor, Uber, which launched Uber Freight in 2017 and expanded into Europe last year.

Falling somewhere between the newbies and the established players is Nolan Transportation Group (NTG), a multimodal freight brokerage firm that was founded in Atlanta in 2005. Featuring parcel, truckload, less-than-truckload and intermodal transportation services for more than 7,000 customers across the U.S., Canada, and Mexico—as well as a carrier base with over 30,000 independent transportation/trucking companies that aid in facilitating the movement of clients’ products—NTG has mostly been in the news lately due to industry consolidation.

After Gryphon Investors injected capital into third party logistics company Transportation Insight in September, the private equity firm and the 3PL together acquired NTG three months later. Then, in January, NTG announced it had acquired Eagle Transportation LLC, a Mississippi-based freight brokerage specializing in temperature-controlled shipping. Out of the deal, NTG added Eagle’s expertise in cold-chain logistics and brokerage of refrigerated equipment, and Eagle received access to NTG’s vast pool of carrier representatives.

But NTG Freight is now seeking to turn industry heads with its new portal for carriers and shipping customers that went live for the public on Jan. 18, after months of beta testing. Those who log in 24/7 get real-time access “to every available shipment we have as a company,” says Garrett McDaniel, NTG’s vice president of Software Project Management. “Carriers like it because available loads are not on public boards where you have to beat out the competition to find lanes you are interested in running. The second a shipment is created, it shows up on our system as available.”

Previously, NTG communicated with its more than 8,000 companies and 100,000 trucking companies via fax, email, and phone. The portal makes that process communications and booking loads faster and easier, with bidding and rate confirmation handled automatically—and via a smartphone.

“We have created a few access levels for our preferred carriers, who not only see the loads available but the offer rate for that load as well,” McDaniel explains. “It’s created a bidding system that is pretty different than the eBay-style bidding that our competitors are doing.” With the latter, a bid amount is entered and after other bids are made, a “winning bid” is selected. But with the NTG portal, a carrier submits a couple of different amounts and is automatically chosen without having to debate.

Asked whether the new portal came about based on what customers were seeking or what NTG saw needed refinement, McDaniel answered, “A little bit of both. The platform was originally created based on some specific needs of carriers.”

You might assume here that NTG’s answer to those needs came in June 2019, when the 3PL deployed Descartes Systems Group’s MacroPoint, a cloud-based freight visibility solution. After all, Perry Falk, senior vice president of NTG’s Carrier Operations, said at the time: “Our customers can opt to get real-time visibility on every shipment we move. The drivers for our carriers can provide location updates with minimal interactions while in-transit, leaving us with happier carriers who can focus on driving safely.”

However, McDaniel corrects that the new portal’s inception actually stretches back a couple of years before that, when carriers were telling NTG as far back as 2017 that they needed online access to their payment information. “One thing they wanted was access to payments in real-time. Paperwork was missing on some loads, and they wanted to see information on available loads. Over time, as we grew as a development team, along with the experience of the users, things were refined internally.

“One of the very first versions that rolled out showed the payment status. You’d log in to see when you were being paid if you were paid already what the check number was and when it was mailed. Really within the last year, we rolled out a lot more core functionality, including bidding on loads, rate confirmation, as well as some of the customer-focused functionality as well.”

McDaniel considers all of this to be part of NTG’s mission “to improve the carrier partnership.” Relationships with loyal carriers and customers were already in place during the NTG portal’s beta phase. “We’ve received a ton of positive feedback, especially among the smaller carriers that have one to five trucks,” McDaniel says. “It’s been a great tool for them to be able to keep their trucks completely filled with loads purely by using the system.” Carriers “with thousands of trucks” also participated in the beta phase, he adds. “They were able to get in, play around with it and give us their feedback. We’ve taken a lot of the feedback and been able to implement changes.”

The live version features a redesigned front end, more user-friendliness and a more modern-feeling than the beta tester, according to McDaniel, who credits Gryphon Investors with steadfastly supporting his company’s high-tech vision. “They have been a really incredible partner in developing this application,” he says.

However, while new freight forwarding disruptors scramble to build new customer bases, McDaniel is also quick to applaud the NTG network with continuing to push his company to refine with the digital times.

“We have been around for 15 years,” he notes. “In that amount of time, we’ve grown a deep network of carriers and shipper partners. These were not acquired overnight as a tech startup disruptor.”

Which, McDaniel believes, gives NTG a competitive edge over the upstarts. “We have a pretty dedicated group of users. This is something we view as an enhancement for our carrier partners. You don’t ever want to replace human relationships. Rather, this is something that quite frankly helps strengthen that relationship with us.”

fuel efficiency

The Trucking Industry’s Fuel Efficiency is Still Far Too Low, While Carbon Output is Far Too High

In 2017, the EPA reported that the transportation sector is the leading contributor of carbon emissions in the U.S. A major part of that sector is the $700 billion domestic trucking industry, which spends approximately $105B on diesel fuel annually, according to the American Trucking Association (ATA). To help offset this trend, many logistics and transportation companies have recently launched some level of fuel-saving initiative, aimed at helping to reduce their fuel use and carbon impact.

The trucking industry remains a critical function for the U.S. economy, and that reliance is only set to grow. However, most Class 8 trucks on the road today are only achieving roughly seven miles per gallon (MPG) – which keeps fuel consumption and carbon output unnecessarily high. The adoption of technologies to improve truck aerodynamics for long-haul carriers, along with helping to change fuel-hogging driver behaviors, can help fleets reduce fuel costs significantly while eliminating large amounts of carbon emissions. The industry must move aggressively closer to the long-desired goal of a 10MPG standard.

Innovation in Aerodynamics

Aerodynamic drag of a Class 8 truck accounts for a majority of a truck’s energy loss at highway speeds and results in unnecessary fuel usage. Reducing drag improves fuel efficiency which translates to greater efficiency benefits for the industry overall. So, how do trucking companies get there?

Truck manufacturers offer a variety of models with increased aerodynamic efficiency, and aftermarket providers offer numerous products that are proven to further improve fuel economy. One example from the aftermarket is an active-aero device that automatically closes the tractor-trailer gap on commercial trucks when the vehicle reaches a certain speed (approximately 40 miles per hour) and creates an estimated fuel savings of between four-to-six percent. The product also offers GPS-enabled software that tracks fuel savings information in real-time. Improving aerodynamics would cut annual fuel use of a single truck by up to 860 gallons.

Improving Driver Behavior

Another area worth noting to cut down fuel consumption– reducing the driving speed. According to ATA estimates, an average truck traveling at 75 mph will consume 27% more fuel compared to one going at 65 mph. Additionally, what most people don’t realize is an idle truck can be a massive fuel consumer. Drivers that idle their engines while resting to provide air-conditioning or heat for their sleeper compartments or those that have the habit of keeping their engines warm during cold months are just simple notions that cause major fuel consumption.  Developing better practices to the above will help streamline fuel costs overall.

Beyond systems and behavior that address fuel efficiencies, companies can adopt other innovative ways to address managing fuel consumption such as side skirts or streamlined hoods to help reduce drag.

Opportunity with Data and Analytics

While physical and behavioral solutions can put more control in the hands of fleet managers, data analytics can play a large role as well. Valuable information gained through data/analytics provides a way to obtain greater transparency and visibility into performance. GPS-enabled software can help to validate the fuel savings from each innovation and help ensure it continues forward. These programs can be put in play to help manage efficiencies for the carrier and utilize technologies in ways that benefit the industry overall.

Carbon Reduction and Pushing to 10 MPG

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) experts, freight activity will nearly double by 2040, and global freight transport emissions will exceed passenger vehicle emissions by 2050. As sustainability is becoming a higher priority within the transportation industry, it’s important that carriers understand the benefits of investing in sustainability programs and resources, and how this translates to cutting costs.

Today’s top fleets are leading the sustainability charge. Everyone in the industry is watching what UPS, DHL, and the like-minded industry leaders are doing in regards to innovation adoption for the best fuel-efficiency technology. With trucking predicted to grow more and more each year, improving the fuel efficiency of the industry is critical to reducing greenhouse gas emissions and supporting profit margins in an increasingly regulated industry. According to NACFE’s 2017 Run On Less demonstration, achieving an average fuel efficiency of 10 MPG would save the U.S. trucking industry 9.7 billion gallons of diesel fuel, $24.3 billion and 98 million tons of CO2 each year [ref 1]. While the primary goal is to reduce the environmental impact of the transportation sector, it is successful in large part because it demonstrates financial benefit for industry stakeholders as well.

It’s clear that there is an abundance of challenges when it comes to fuel consumption in the trucking industry. However, the industry can be confident that there is an equal abundance of solutions to help improve fuel efficiency in order to manage costs and reduce carbon output.

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References

1. https://rmi.org/press-release/press-release-run-less-proves-available-techs-unlock-24-billion-n-trucking/

 

Daniel Burrows is the CEO and Founder of XStream Trucking, an engineering company building connected hardware to improve the efficiency of the trucking industry

trucking

How to Use Invoice Factoring to Improve Your Business Cash Flow

Cash flow can be difficult for a business to manage effectively. When you wait 30, 60 or 90 days for payment of work already completed, expenses don’t wait with you. They need to be paid now.

But you aren’t at liberty to change payment terms you agreed to with customers. If you try it, they’ll just leave you to find another company that will work with their terms.

Let’s look at a cash flow example. Say you own a small trucking business with a fleet of 5 trucks. The trucks are assigned as collateral to the company that financed them.

Business is good. You have experienced drivers and your trucks haul for great customers who pay well. But paying well does not mean paying quickly.

Yet you have truck payments, fuel, maintenance, insurance, taxes, payroll, and other overhead. You find yourself burning through cash before you get more.

You don’t want to lose your drivers or your trucks. And you’d hate to lose your customers to competitors. But debt is not an option; the trucks are already financed. If only you could get paid quicker.

Then you hear about invoice factoring and how it can smooth out cash flow. You decide to give it a try.

How Does Invoice Factoring Work?

Invoice factoring is not a new concept. It’s been around for centuries. It is selling accounts receivable to get cash for your business.

In the example of the trucking company above, when a load is delivered and the customer is billed it creates an account receivable. But the customer doesn’t pay until the agreed upon terms. That long wait time puts stress on the business.

With invoice factoring, instead of billing the customer, you sell the invoice to a factoring company. The factor then pays you an advance of up to 98% of the invoice value.

The advance you receive depends on the agreement reached between you and the factoring company. That advance is paid to you within 24 hours or less.

The factor bills the customer and waits for payment. Once your customer pays the factor, the remainder is paid to you minus a small fee for factoring.

Instead of waiting long times for payment, your business receives cash immediately after transmitting each invoice. Now the trucking company has the consistent cash flow to carry on hauling freight. As long as you deliver loads, you’ll have the cash right away.

And the factoring company takes on the billing and collections. No more trying to manage accounts receivable and no more spending time trying to collect on them. The factor does it all for you.

How Invoice Factoring Can Help Grow Your Business

Now that the trucking company has improved business cash flow it’s time to focus on growth. Meeting all your expenses on time, having extra money on hand, and saving time and money on accounting services frees you up to take on more work. Here are 20 easy ways trucking companies can increase their profit margins.

Your customers are happier than ever that you’re so dependable, always delivering on time now. They offer you additional loads. Instead of turning them down for lack of cash to operate, you jump at the opportunity.

You begin to add more trucks, more drivers and more trips. And your business is thriving, all because you improved your cash flow by invoice factoring.

And the more your business cash flow grows, the more your factoring grows with it.

Is it Hard to Qualify for Invoice Factoring?

No, not at all. You don’t need a high credit score. In fact, it doesn’t matter if you have bad credit. With factoring you’re not borrowing so your credit is not important.

It’s the credit worthiness of your customers that matters. As long as your customers have good credit and a strong history of paying you will most likely qualify.

That’s why invoice factoring is a great idea for those new to the business and/or having a low credit score. Factoring is getting paid on work you’ve already done. It’s your money; you earned it. You just get it without having to wait. The factor does the waiting for you.

Invoice factoring is also good for businesses that are thriving but experiencing interruptions in cash flow. Getting paid immediately on invoices can really improve business cash flow and reduce the stress caused by long payment wait times.

If you’d like to improve business cash flow, reduce accounting costs and grow your business, you owe it to yourself to look at invoice factoring. It’s used by all sorts of businesses, not just trucking.

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Rachel Donaghy is the Senior Director of Account Management at eCapital.com. eCapital is building a brighter future for the transportation industry. It’s a future where freight companies get paid at the click of a button. Where document exchange becomes data exchange. Where complexity disappears into the background and drivers have the freedom to focus on delivering the next load. You can find Rachel on LinkedIn and Twitter.

trade

Trade and the Impact on Imports and Exports in 2020

Significant and sustained increases in the world trade index (an index measuring the number of times the word uncertainty or its variants are mentioned in Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) reports at a country level) should be a worry for many as “the increase in trade uncertainty observed in the first quarter could be enough to reduce global growth by up to 0.75 percentage points in 2019”[1]

In August, the US Institute for supply management[2] latest report shows a contraction in production, purchasing, and employment indices.

Ahir, H, N Bloom, and D Furceri (2019), “The global economy hit by higher uncertainty”, VoxEU.org. https://voxeu.org/article/trade-uncertainty-rising-and-can-harm-global-economy

 

Uncertainty generated from Brexit, the US-China trade war, Japan – South Korea trade wars, and general discontentment with global trend towards widening income inequality is creating a toxic mix for politicians to deal with. The irony is the conventional approach of blaming your trading partners for your problems is only likely to exacerbate a general lack of confidence and increase further uncertainty.

The current round of the G7 summit in Biarritz concluded with support “to overhaul the WTO to improve effectiveness with regard to intellectual property protection, to settle disputes more swiftly and to eliminate unfair trade practices.” In essence, it’s signaling a need to strengthen the capabilities of the WTO to act faster and more decisively in resolving disputes that are even more political than structural in nature, requiring a more multi-faceted engagement approach. Whilst this may help in the long-run, in reality, companies will have to contend with uncertainty in global trade for some time to come as well as the impacts on the real economy from these disputes.

And all of this is happening as IMO 2020 approaches, the January 1, 2020, date by which the International Maritime Organization mandates a switch to lower sulfur fuels in order to achieve an 80% reduction in sulfur emissions leading to significant cost increases in the shipping goods via ocean freight (initial estimates between 180USD – 420 USD per TEU dependent on routing, base fuel costs, carrier).

So given the significant uncertainty around global trade agreements, the increasing use of trade as a political football, the increasing costs to trade and the shortening of product lifecycles as customers want faster, newer more differentiated offerings. Is it still worth it?

Of course this is very much dependent on what industry you are in. Whether you’re a global manufacturer or a wholesaler sourcing goods, your perspectives may be different based on investments made, sensitivity to current trade/tariff measures, customer demands, your markets, and the degree to which you are exposed to political debate and targeting.

However, I would offer that the benefits of specialization, economies of scale and unique factors of production that have underpinned global trade still exist as Adam Smith put it in 1776:

“By means of glasses, hotbeds, and hot walls, very good grapes can be raised in Scotland, and very good wine too can be made of them at about thirty times the expense for which at least equally good can be brought from foreign countries. Would it be a reasonable law to prohibit the importation of all foreign wines, merely to encourage the making of claret and burgundy in Scotland?”[1]

Today this simple analogy still holds true in skills, competences, capabilities, and access to markets and insights so that over time the expectation is that trade will prevail.

While the recent outlook has been gloomy, opportunities for 2020 include a resolution to a number of ongoing disputes and a final settlement on Brexit (we hope). Additionally, the maturation in technologies such as blockchain, process automation, forecasting and demand management solutions can also offset costs associated with IMO and support greater agility in the uncertain supply-chain world that we currently live in.

Indeed, if 2019 was the year of trade uncertainty, 2020 could be a restorative year in our ability to execute global trade.

Partnering with an experienced supply chain leader will be essential to minimizing cost increases while ensuring the efficient flow of your company’s goods and services.

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[1] World Economic Forum:https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2019/07/how-trade-uncertainty-is-impacting-the-global-economy/

[2]https://www.instituteforsupplymanagement.org/ismreport/mfgrob.cfm?SSO=1

[3]Adam Smith: Wealth of nations 1776

Neil Wheeldon is the Vice Presidents Solutions, BDP International.

a&r logistics

OmniTRAX Joins with A&R Logistics at Atlanta Waterfront Terminal

OmniTRAX, Inc., one of the largest privately held transportation service companies in North America and an affiliate of Denver-based The Broe Group, and A&R Logistics, North America’s largest provider of integrated dry bulk logistics solutions for the chemical and plastic industries, are opening a new transload facility in Atlanta.

The Atlanta Waterfront Terminal, located adjacent to the Fulton County Railway (FCR) tracks southwest of downtown, will initially enable the contents of 10 rail hopper cars to be simultaneously offloaded to trailers, with expansion expected. A&R will use the depot to transfer plastic pellets shipped by rail from resin producers across the country onto specialized pneumatic trailers and then transport the product to extruders throughout Georgia and neighboring states.

“The new Atlanta Waterfront Terminal is a great location for A&R, complete with access to the interstate system and great opportunities for growth,” says OmniTrax CEO Kevin Shuba. “We look forward to working with the A&R team to ensure the facility safely reaches its full potential.”

“The key to the Atlanta Waterfront Terminal is flexibility,” adds Dan Jaworski, chief commercial officer at A&R, which provides a comprehensive suite of services including transportation, warehousing, packaging and fully outsourced logistics management. “The location allows our trucks to get anywhere in the metro Atlanta area quickly and efficiently, plus the site is expandable to fit our growing needs.”

DRIVER SHORTAGE & TRUCKING-CAPACITY: WHY THEY’RE NOT GOING AWAY

In the busy and demanding world of trucking, industry players are inevitably reminded of two significant challenges that show no signs of lessening now and in the near future: trucking capacity and the driver shortage. Neither issue will solve itself with current approaches. Companies are now faced with the reality that change must be embraced through improving training standards and the utilization of advanced technology solutions. 

This might not come as a surprise to some, but for others still operating with outdated practices, reality presents its own set of challenges. To look at the numbers the industry is dealing with, a report released by Insurance Journal confirmed the driver shortage figure has reached 51,000–up from 36,000 in 2016.

Some industry leaders, such as Advanced Training Systems CEO John Kearney, are confronting these issues at every angle–from a legislative, cultural, educational, and technological positions. 

“The issue is that the existing workforce is aging,” Kearney maintains. “The truck is a different piece of equipment from what it was a few years ago–it’s very sophisticated. The technology advances are significant and the regulations are outdated. Simulators are really emerging as a major change to the training field. A lot of companies are now going to simulators because there are some things they can do that are not possible to train any other way.”

Advanced Training Systems (ATS) has spent more than a decade developing cost-effective training simulators and preparing aspiring truck drivers across the United States through many of the training schools in the country. These driver training schools offer students unmatched training experiences that have propelled ATS in a leading position in the driver training field. 

“In 2008 we started the process of developing simulators because we know they are an excellent part of the training process,” Kearney says. “Today, we have simulators in a number of places around the U.S. and Mexico with operations in California where we do manufacturing and technology development while our corporate offices are in Florida.”

Among the scenarios truckers are faced with at a moment’s notice that traditional training methods can’t address include sudden road obstructions, aggressive drivers, inclement weather and truck malfunctions. These unavoidable situations present some of the most challenges in preparing the next generation of truck drivers

“Let’s take the example of a front tire blowout,” Kearney suggests. “If someone does that in a real truck, they could kill someone. There’s also the risk of something coming out on the road all of sudden and if the driver swerves, they could create an accident. These types of scenarios can be taught in a simulator.” 

He continues, “Ice is another example. If a driver is sliding on ice, what do they do? They don’t want to slide in a real truck, so what we do is have simulators that train properly so drivers know how to react if that happens. The reaction time is improved through the process of repetitive proper actions needed to teach muscle memory in the training process.”

Earlier this year, 28 vehicles were involved in a devastating truck collision in Lakewood, Colorado, that claimed the lives of four people. Since then, conversations surrounding improved training methods have taken priority among industry players, with simulators leading the position of potential solutions. 

“Technology is a big part of the answer,” Kearney maintains. “If we use technology, we use better methods of training and we’re not sending someone to sit in a classroom for too long. Change in technology expands on the number of people who can become interested in the field. The methodology of training using simulation and various other training methods available today—such as virtual reality—will provide the industry with better drivers and more people interested in a career in the field.”

Beyond technology, Kearney urges legislators to consider how current age restrictions limit the industry’s growth. Current laws only permit young adults over the age of 21 to drive a truck over state lines, limiting both driver populations and proactive education efforts. The desire to learn is there, but current laws restrict motivated and qualified students to begin training, leaving high schools with little reason to further pursue efforts in education. 

“High schools are not teaching students to drive in a truck. What’s beginning to happen is we are realizing young people are very qualified, they’re very used to working with things like simulation, and we need to allow the young driver to enter into the profession from the time they leave high school, between ages 18-21 once properly trained.”

The trucking industry is sometimes generalized as an exhaustive, demanding and less-than-glamorous profession. It’s time for a refresh of trucking culture to mirror what a career in the industry really looks like, beyond long hours and demanding schedules, according to Kearney. 

“The other part of the issue is we must educate young people to think about truck drivers differently. A truck driver today has much more involvement than just being a truck driver. The industry needs to change the name of what truck drivers are to something that better indicates what they do and what they are. The current trucking condo is actually a very nice place to live and travel around the country.”

The first step in creating reliable and effective solutions for the trucking industry begins with expanded training for existing and future drivers and elevation to a professional level. The technology available in today’s markets enable companies across the nation to improve operations and prepare the next generation of drivers for fulfilling careers. The reality is, trucking is not what it used to be both operationally and professionally. 

“The driver of today has become a manager of multimillion dollars’ worth of freight, managing the technology with careful compliance to the delivery schedule, serious regulations and changes in the method of operating a $100,000-plus vehicle and the method of driving as it develops. The driver of today can move up in the company they work for. Many drivers will be moving up in the industry from driving a truck.”

Opportunities now exist that weren’t fathomable in previous decades. The challenge now is to overcome antiquated mindsets and operation patterns to boost productivity, driver satisfaction and safety. It’s up to industry leaders to step up and initiate change. 

USMCA

THESE COMPANIES KEEP CROSS-BORDER CARGO MOVING, EVEN WITH USMCA UP IN THE AIR

Our trilateral trade bloc is in a sort of limbo, stuck between the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) that went into effect on Jan. 1, 1994, and the floundering United States Mexico Canada Agreement (USMCA), which the countries’ leaders signed on Nov. 30, 2018, but has only been ratified in Mexico.

According to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which has pushed for more ease of free trade among the three nations for years, about $1.7 billion worth of goods and services flow between the U.S. and Mexico borders every day. That’s about 2 percent of the GDP in America, where, according to the United Nations’ International Trade Center, Mexico and Canada are the two largest trading partners for U.S. manufacturers and shippers after China.

Despite these uncertain times, there are North American cross-border traders that continue to thrive. Consider the collection that follows. 

AVERITT EXPRESS

One of the nation’s leading freight transportation and supply chain management providers, Averitt is celebrating 50 years of service. The company cites customized, cross-border transportation solutions among its many, many specialties. Five years ago, Averitt slashed less-than-truckload (LTL) service times from the U.S. Midwest to Ontario, Canada, in recognition of the province’s rise as a manufacturing hub. Averitt’s strategically placed border service centers in Laredo, El Paso, Harlingen and Del Rio provide easy access to all points throughout Mexico, by rail, truck or expedited air. 

BNSF RAILWAY

One of North America’s leading freight transportation companies, BNSF boasts a.32,500 route-mile network covering 28 U.S. states and three Canadian provinces. The railway utilizes multiple strategies to make international shipments easier for customers. These include market experience, customs clearance know-how and participation in special North American rail service alliances. The BNSF network also includes five U.S.-Mexico gateways (San Diego, El Paso, Eagle Pass, Laredo and Brownsville) and operations in Fort Worth, Texas, and Mexico City, Guadalajara and Monterrey, Mexico. Service options include carload, transload and intermodal (Mexi-Modal) that allow for shipments of all major commodities into and out of Mexico.  

CG RAILWAY

Picture in your head a railroad line extending from the American South to southern Mexico. You can imagine the track snaking along the contour of the Gulf of Mexico, extending west from Alabama through Mississippi and Louisiana before reaching Texas and turning due south through the border and beyond. What you did not picture was a shift from rail at Alabama’s Port of Mobile to an ocean ferry making a direct route over water to Puerto Coatzacoalcos in Veracruz, Mexico. That’s what CG Railway (CGR) has been doing since 2000: providing a faster, more cost-effective route between the eastern U.S. and Canada to central and southern Mexico. CGR offers C-TPAT (Customs Trade Partnership Against Terrorism) certification, bilingual customer support, proactive port security, reduced mileage and wear and tear on equipment and direct interchanges with the CSX, Norfolk Southern, Canadian National and Kansas City Southern railroads, the Alabama & Gulf Coast Railway and Terminal Railway Alabama State Docks and their Mexican counterparts. 

CN NORTH AMERICA

Canadian National is based in Montreal, Quebec, and the Class I freight railway’s network is the largest in that country by physical size and revenue. Established in 1919 and formerly government-owned, Canada’s only transcontinental railway spans from the Atlantic coast in Nova Scotia to the Pacific coast in British Columbia, across about 20,400 route miles of track. But you’d be mistaken to think CN, as it has more commonly known since 1960, is strictly a Great White North concern. The railway also serves the U.S. South and Midwest and, having gone private in 1995, it now counts as its single largest shareholder Bill Gates. Through the ’90s and 2000s, CN North America has acquired multiple lines passing through several U.S. states.

CROWLEY

The private, Jacksonville, Florida-based corporation is the largest operator of tugboats and barges in the world. Crowley American Transport provides ocean liner cargo services between the U.S., Canada, Mexico, South America and the Caribbean. Its American Marine Transport unit delivers local, over-the-road, and commercial trucking services in the continental U.S. Crowley Marine Services provides worldwide contract and specialized marine transportation services, including petroleum product transportation and sales, tanker escort and ship assist, contract barge transportation and ocean towing, logistics and support services, marine salvage and emergency response services, spill-response services on the West Coast and all-terrain transportation services.

CSX TRANSPORTATION

The subsidiary of CSX Corp., a Fortune 500 company headquartered in Jacksonville, Florida, CSX Transportation is a Class I freight railroad operating in the eastern United States and the Canadian provinces of Ontario and Quebec. The railroad operates around 21,000 route miles of track. While its lines blanket the east coasts of Canada and the U.S., you don’t have to be located on railroad track for CSX to help you, as it has access to 70 ports and nationwide transloading and warehousing services.

DB SCHENKER 

The global logistics and supply chain management giant has 93 branches in every U.S. state, Mexico and Canada. Schenker of Canada Ltd. provides logistics services, airfreight, custom brokerage, custom consulting, sports events, land transport and courier services. DB Schenker Mexico celebrated its 40th anniversary in 2017, having begun down there with a single location and 40 associates and now boasting of 500 employees in its corporate office in Mexico City as well as in Guadalajara, Monterrey, Queretaro, Puebla, Cancun, Ciudad Juarez and various other branches. DB Schenker Mexico offers air freight, ocean freight, land freight, customs brokerage, over-dimensioned projects, warehousing and contract logistics.

KANSAS CITY SOUTHERN

The KCS North American rail holdings and strategic alliances are primary components of a NAFTA railway system linking the commercial and industrial centers of the U.S., Mexico and Canada. “KCS is just one interchange away from every major market in North America,” boasts the railroad. KC Southern de Mexico offers unique rail access to the Port of Lazaro Cardenas on Mexico’s Pacific coast, which is an ideal spot to avoid congestion in U.S. West Coast ports. KCS also has access to Gulf of Mexico ports, including Altamira, Tampico and Veracruz in Mexico and Brownsville, New Orleans, Corpus Christi, Houston, Gulfport, Lake Charles, Mobile and Port Arthur in the U.S. 

LIVINGSTON INTERNATIONAL

Billed as North America’s No. 1 company focused on customs brokerage and compliance, Livingston International also offers international trade consulting and freight forwarding across the continent and around the globe. Headquartered in Chicago, Livingston operates along the U.S.-Canada border, with regional air/sea hubs in Los Angeles, New York and Norfolk. Livingston employs more than 3,200 employees at more than 125 key border points, seaports, airports and other strategic locations in North America, Europe and the Far East. Livingston is a customs brokerage leader in Canada, and the company also promises to move goods seamlessly into Mexico.

LOGISTICS PLUS

Whether it is working as a 3PL or 4PL partner, the Erie, Pennsylvania-based company specializes in total logistics management, LTL and truckload transportation, rail and intermodal services, project cargo and project management, import/export services, air and ocean freight forwarding, warehousing and distribution, global trade compliance services and logistics and technology solutions. Logistics Plus serves small and large businesses throughout the Greater Toronto Area, with an office in the zone that has access to the Port of Toronto and expertise in shipping in and out of Canada though the St. Lawrence River and Lake Ontario. Bilingual logistics experts help customers with intra-Mexico, cross-border, or international shipping using air, ocean, ground or rail transportation. 

LYNDEN

Seattle-based Lynden not only delivers to, from and within Canada, the company does business there. Its long-established Canadian presence allows it to provide complete coverage for any transportation need. They can help with warehousing and distribution or 3PL in Canada, where Lynden boasts of knowing “the ins and outs of customs brokerage, duties and taxes, imports and exports.” From its offices in Edmonton and Calgary, Alberta, and Whitehorse, Yukon Territory, Lynden offers scheduled less-than-truckload (LTL) and truckload (TL) service to points in Alaska and the Lower 48.

LYNNCO

The Tulsa, Oklahoma-based company optimizes customers’ supply chains coast-to-coast in the U.S., Canada, and Mexico. LynnCo manages businesses and determines how and when ground, international air/ocean, spot/capacity, procurement and expedited services are the best options. For instance, LynnCo helped a U.S. manufacturer determine if shifting units to Mexico was profitable. The answer was no after factoring in the risks of moving, poor facilities, added shipping costs and product quality. 

POLARIS TRANSPORTATION GROUP

Billing itself as “an American company headquartered in Toronto,” Polaris has a quarter century of experience in scheduled LTL service between the U.S. and Canada. The company knows both countries’ customs rules and participates in every border security program, including C-TPAT, PIP (Partners in Protection), CSA (Customs Self- Assessment) and FAST (Free and Secure Trade). The company’s scheduled service connects Ontario and Quebec markets with the U.S. through a combination of its fleet and facilities along with those of its long-established partner carriers.

PUROLATOR INTERNATIONAL

The U.S. subsidiary of Canada’s leading provider of integrated freight and parcel delivery services, Jericho, New York-based Purolator International seamlessly transports shipments between the U.S. and Canada and manages the respective countries’ customs processes with aplomb. They pick up/drop off at every point in the U.S. and boast of a distribution network that extends to every Canadian province and territory. What truly takes Purolator International over the top is a commitment to continue improving, as evidenced by a recent $1 billion growth investment that includes two new hubs that will allow for faster fulfillment for both courier and e-commerce shipments from the U.S. throughout Canada, where consumers also will be seeing more access points, including upgraded retail pickup locations.

R+L GLOBAL

“Shipping to Mexico is facil,” according to Ocala, Florida-based R+L Global Logistics. Its qualified network of premium carriers in Mexico provide secure door-to-door Less than Truckload (LTL) and Full Truckload (FTL) services. They cover the entire Mexican territory and move cargo across all major U.S./Mexico border gateways. They also move intra-Mexico shipments. 

SCHNEIDER

The Green Bay, Wisconsin-based giant specializes in regional trucking, long-haul, bulk, intermodal, supply chain management, brokerage, warehousing, port logistics and transloading. Decades of cross-border freight experience means customer cargo moves without question or delay. Once goods move across the border, Schneider has the assets and personnel in place to deliver it safely and securely. “Here’s the simple fact: No one makes shipping to Canada and Mexico easier or more efficient than Schneider,” the company boasts. “By road or by rail, your freight is in the best hands possible.”

SENKO 

The Japanese logistics giant has offices in the U.S., where their own trucks and warehouses work with a network of vendors. The 3PL/4PL supply chain solutions provider uses its own IT technology developed in Japan to help arrange liquid tank transportation, flatbed, drayage, refrigerated, dry, expedited shipping and freight broker services. Senko Logistics Mexico is the company unit south of the border.

SUNSET TRANSPORTATION

The St. Louis-based company has offices and agents across the country, and customers whose shipments are moved around the globe. Sunset arranges freight for a wide range of industries, from wholesale food distribution to specialized construction equipment. “Cross-border solutions” include customs clearance for land, rail, air and ocean, LTL, TL, intermodal, rail, air, expedited and specialized freight, contracted lane and spot market, C-TPAT compliance, multimodal programs, a Laredo, Texas, warehouse and distribution facility and 24/7 bilingual, bicultural support.

SURGERE 

Headquartered in North Canton, Ohio, Surgere is a leader in linking OEMs, tier suppliers and logistics providers through an automotive data system that provides visibility on returnable containers at every stage of their movement between supplier and vehicle maker. The supply chain innovators, whose clients include Nissan and CEVA Logistics, recently opened Technologias Avanzadas Surgere de Mexico in Aguascalientes, Mexico, which has more than 1,300 suppliers and automotive plants within 200 kilometers of the location. “Central Mexico is the automotive hub for Latin America—making it a natural progression—and a welcomed challenge for us,” explained David Hampton, Surgere’s vice president for International Operations, in announcing the move. Surgere hopes to have the Mexico office fully staffed before the end of this year.

TQL

Cincinnati, Ohio-based Total Quality Logistics (TQL) was founded in 1997 and is now the second-largest freight brokerage firm in the nation, with more than 5,500 employees in 57 offices across the county. Known for combining industry-leading technology and unmatched customer service, TQL boasts of providing competitive pricing, continuous communication and “a commitment to do it right every time.” They move more than 1.6 million loads across the U.S., Canada and Mexico annually through a broad portfolio of logistics services and a network of more than 75,000 carriers.

USA TRUCK

The Van Buren, Arkansas-based company provides customized truckload, dedicated contract carriage, intermodal and third-party logistics freight management services throughout North America. USA Truck has nearly two decades of experience servicing Mexico, which has allowed the company to expand its presence south of the border and partner with many Mexican carriers. USA Truck’s Capacity Solutions coordinates transportation into and out of Mexico with a vast carrier network, and they service most major Mexican markets and consistently maintain C-TPAT certification. USA Truck also has a select fleet of third-party carriers providing service into the provinces of Ontario and Quebec, Canada.

UTXL

Launched in 1997 by four founders with more than 100 years of combined asset-based trucking experience, UTXL started with this goal: to be the safest, most reliable and cost effective niche capacity resource to customers in support of their core carrier programs. UTXL has served thousands of shippers across the U.S., Canada and Mexico, including some of the largest shippers in the world. One of their mottos is: “Any point in the U.S., Canada or Mexico … any length of haul.”

WERNER ENTERPRISES

“We keep America moving” is the motto of this Omaha, Nebraska-based company that has one of the largest transportation services to and from Mexico and is a premiere long-haul carrier to and from Canada and throughout North America. Werner has offices in Mexico and Canada as well as experienced and knowledgeable staff engineer solutions. PAR documentation allows for quicker access through customs into Canada, and their network of alliance carriers can manage entire supply chains within Canada and Mexico regardless of equipment needs.

WW SOLUTIONS

The unit of Wallenius Wilhelmsen Logistics participates in Mexico’s automotive industry not only as a carrier and logistics provider. WW Solutions specializes in processing solutions at ports and at OEM plants, providing services that include pre-delivery inspections, accessory fittings, repairs, storage, washing, vehicle preparation, quality control, inventory management and the procurement of technical services.

YRC FREIGHT

Yellow Transportation (founded in 1924 in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma) merged with Roadway (founded in 1930 in Akron, Ohio) to create YRC Freight, which is the largest subsidiary of YRC Worldwide Inc. based in Overland Park, Kansas. A leading transporter of industrial, commercial and retail goods, YRC Freight offers solutions for businesses across North America and is the only carrier with on-site, bilingual representatives at border crossing points in Mexico to expedite customs clearance.

Old Dominion

Old Dominion Meets Growing Demand with Facility Expansions

As capacity and customer demands continue to grow, leading LTL carrier Old Dominion Freight Line (OD) prepares to meet these industry needs by expanding its facilities across the country from Texas and Ohio to Idaho and Arkansas while adding more facilities to growing markets. The announces expansions include innovative technology allowing for increased shipping paces and seamless shipment transfers while reducing shipping time and adding more room for capacity and flexibility options.

“As our customers adjust to growing e-commerce demands, they rely on us to not only accommodate the additional shipments but to also help them keep their promises to their customers with fast, on-time delivery with no product damage,” said Terry Hutchins, Vice President of Real Estate. “We are excited about these new and renovated service center openings. OD will continue to invest in new capacity to welcome the growing demand and exceed our customers’ expectations.”

Among the regions now boasting renovated and improved facilities in El Paso and Lubbock, TX, Columbus, OH, and Chicago. The facility expansions and additions ultimately strengthen the LTL carrier’s market presence while maintaining customer satisfaction through upgrades and more bodies for support.

In addition to facility expansions, remodeling, and employee additions, OD will celebrate the opening of new facilities recently opened in Oregon, Idaho, Arkansas, and Georgia throughout the month of October.

Our long term strategic plan includes continual investment in our network to improve efficiencies and increase capacity so when our customers grow, we can serve them. The end goal of helping our customers keep their promises is solidified by our continued investment in new technology and service center expansion,” said Hutchins.

business

How Small Steps Can Drive Big Results For Your Business

In business, it’s the major leaps that people notice and remember.

Apple introduced the iPhone and the methods in which we communicate and gather information were changed forever. LEGO took some audacious steps over the last couple of decades and expanded its toy franchise into video games, TV and movies.

Big steps. Big results.

But not every move you make with your business or in your personal life needs to be of earth-shattering significance, says Shawn Burcham (www.shawnburcham.com), founder and CEO of PFSbrands and author of Keeping Score with GRITT: Straight Talk Strategies for Success.

Sometimes, it’s the small steps that eventually lead to big rewards.

“One example with my own company is that there was a time when I didn’t believe in meetings,” Burcham says. “I thought they were a waste of time, probably because most of the meetings I had been in had indeed been a waste.”

But as his business grew, Burcham realized meetings are a necessity for communicating within a large organization. So, PFSbrands took the “small step” of instituting regularly scheduled meetings, which he says have been critical to accomplishing personal, departmental, and company-wide goals.

Burcham offers a few more examples of small steps that can pay big dividends for you and your business:

Make a habit of setting goals. “It may seem like a basic thing, but setting goals is crucial to success both personally and professionally,” Burcham says. “Everyone in your company should be setting goals, and regularly reviewing those goals and checking their progress.” Sounds easy enough, but this is one small step that many people don’t take. “That’s why just the act of setting goals already gives you a competitive advantage,” he says.

Write down those goals. Setting goals is a good first step, but don’t just memorize them, Burcham says. Write them down because studies have shown that people who do that are more likely to achieve what they are after than people without written goals.

Build an accountability system. One of the best ways to make sure you follow through on your goals is to create a network of people who will hold you accountable, Burcham says. If no one knows you set a goal, it’s easy to let it slide. But if there are people who know about your goal, and better yet are depending on you to accomplish it, then you are more likely to follow through. In a business, it’s good for everyone to know everyone else’s goals and every department’s goals. That way, Burcham says, you can all hold each other accountable.

Stop trying to do everything. Burcham suggests asking yourself what duties you can pass on to others because those activities are not a productive use of time and energy for you or for the company. “I’ve often made the mistake of hanging onto responsibilities far longer than necessary; everything from accounting, to email management, to sales management,” he says.  As a company grows, Burcham says, that small step of finding things you can stop doing will be crucial to success.

“While each of these individually may be a small step, they are all important for personal growth and your business’ success,” Burcham says. “If you don’t set goals, write them down, and work to improve, you’ll likely be the exact same person 12 months from now. There’s nothing necessarily wrong with that. Being who you are is okay, but the question is: Are you content with being the same? Or do you want to be better?”

_______________________________________________________________

Shawn Burcham (www.shawnburcham.com), author of Keeping Score with GRITT: Straight Talk Strategies for Success, is the founder & CEO of PFSbrands, which he and his wife, Julie, started out of their home in 1998. The company has over 1,500 branded foodservice locations across 40 states and is best known for their Champs Chicken franchise brand which was started in 1999. Prior to starting PFSbrands, Burcham spent five years with a Fortune 100 company, Mid-America Dairymen (now Dairy Farmers of America). He also worked for three years as a Regional Sales Manager for a midwest Chester’s Fried chicken distributor.