Friday, May 08, 2009

Arkansas Best execs remain calm in the storm

Bob Davidson is supposed to be alarmed, concerned and dang-near worn out from the constant hand-wringing about a national trucking sector that has seen freight demand fall faster than the end-of-the-season hopes of Dallas Cowboy fans.

He’s not frayed in the least. He might be in the hot seat, but he’s careful not to let you see him sweat.

Davidson, the CEO of Fort Smith-based Arkansas Best Corp., is as non-plussed as the other executives at what is one of the nation’s largest less-than-truckload companies. The execs at the five-story corporate headquarters don’t get excited when the ledger posts black. They don’t get excited when the ledger posts red. No ups, no downs. They are the Lutherans of the trucking sector.

It’s not that they are arrogant and uncaring, or ignorant of the tough situation they face. Not at all. It’s that they’ve seen hard times before — although admittedly not this tough — and come out of each a little better than they went in.

Arkansas Best, Davidson stressed, has a management team with an average tenure of almost three decades with the company. They know the drill. You get on the bull, you get thrown off. You get up, and get back on the bull. Sometimes you last 8 seconds, sometimes not. Either way, there is always another rodeo. There is always another quarter. This too shall pass. Full Story.......

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Four YRC Worldwide Drivers Were Named State Champions at Idaho Truck Driving Championships

Four YRC Worldwide drivers won their classes at the May 1-2, 2009, Idaho State Truck Driving Championships in Meridian.

YRC Driver Paul Unser of Boise won the straight truck championship and received the award for best Pre-Trip inspection. Unser has competed at National Truck Driving Championships (NTDCs) in 1992, 1994, 1995, 1997, 1998, 2000, 2001, 2004, 2006 and 2008.

Reddaway Driver Ron Coles of Boise has earned the right to compete at nationals in the Flatbed class. Coles has competed at NTDCs in 2002, 2003 and 2006.

Scott Colwell, driving for Reddaway out of Boise, won the championship in the sleeper class. He competed at the 2007 NTDC.

Daniel Istre of Reddaway in Boise is the 2009 Twins champion. Istre competed at NTDCs in 1999 and 2002.

These YRC Worldwide drivers will represent Idaho and their companies at the 2009 National Truck Driving Championships from Aug. 17-22, 2009, in Pittsburgh, PA.

YRCW now has seven state champions ready to participate at NTDC.

Monday, May 04, 2009

If You're Squeamish on the LTL Sector, Don't Read This


The current economic downturn has been brutal on all the trucking industry, but especially the LTL sector. A $34.5 billion sector that has been flat for more than 10 years, it is being punished even further by trends toward consolidation by third-party logistics operators and truckload carriers seeking to expand their bases. Is this, indeed, the beginning of the end for LTL?


This is an exceptionally strong, well-written and well-researched story by a former colleague, John Gallagher, now with the Journal of Commerce.

In it, Gallagher examines the current downward trend in profit and volumes in the beleaguered LTL sector. After one finishes reading this, one realizes the LTL sector has more problems than merely overcapacity, sluggish rates and company-specific problems due to YRC Worldwide's heavy debt load.

What may indeed be happening is a secular shift away from the higher-cost, unionized operations of the LTL industry and toward the more nimble, lower-cost, non-union carriers of the $320 billion TL sector. And away from asset-based carriers altogether and toward third-party logistics companies, who by and large want nothing to do with the unionized parts of the trucking industry.

Some examples: leading 3PL C.H. Robinson, an $8.7 billion operation, is increasingly "swiping" loads away from the LTL sector and instead building and consolidating them toward much cheaper and more efficient truckload moves.

Truckload carriers themselves, with plenty of idle capacity right now, increasingly are moving "downstream" to build 5,000- and 10,000-pound shipments, hoping to consolidate with other small loads and hopefully able to turn a profit while doing all this for, say, $1.45 a mile. Full Story..........