Max Heine

Pulse: Jack, be nimble

You have one great asset, especially if you are a one-truck operator, that most fleets, shippers and dealers lack.

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Manufacturing numbers strong for August

Lots of good news for trucking in today’s report from the Institute for Supply Management. Economic activity in manufacturing expanded in August, following 18 consecutive months of contraction, according to the nation's supply executives polled for the latest Manufacturing ISM Report on Business. The August numbers also show the overall economy grew for the fourth consecutive month. "The year-and-a-half decline in manufacturing output has come to an end, as 11 of 18 manufacturing industries are reporting growth when ...

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Small-business lending bounces back

Borrowing money isn’t the best thing for an owner-operator to do in a down economy like this. But if you must – or plan to do so as soon as the recovery becomes more evident – it’s good to know how the market is changing. Small-business lending was dead in the water last year as the credit market collapsed, but CNNMoney.com reports that it’s “managed to heal itself” without help from the federal stimulus funding. “Figuring out ...

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Navistar presses fight against SCR

Navistar has ongoing litigation against the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The company charges the agency is trying to manipulate the record. More text needed?

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Factories busier in July

Industrial production increased by a half-percent in July, the Federal Reserve announced today. While housing and other indicators with relevance to truck freight have shown twitches of life in recent months, this marked the first monthly increase in this measurement since December 2007 (not counting a hurricane-related rebound in October 2008). The manufacturing component of the index rose 1.0 percent in July. This was mostly due to a tax-revived auto industry, which saw vehicle assemblies jump ...

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Small business still hurting

 If you’ve caught the business news in recent days, you know there have been some positive signs. Home prices and sales, employment and other indicators are looking better, possibly meaning a bottoming out of the downturn. But when it comes to small business and credit, it’s still a mess, reports CNNMoney.com: “Bank lending is down, credit card interest rates are up, and the country's largest small business lender, CIT Group ... is hanging by a thread.” ...

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70 years in one minute

I was fortunate to be invited to Peterbilt’s 70th anniversary celebration at the Denton, Texas, headquarters this week. As part of a presentation to dealers and customers, the company presented this cool little video that shows many of the truck models morphing into each other, reflecting the changes over seven decades. Also, note the top two photos on the right for a glimpse at a few trucks that stand out in Peterbilt’s history. And if you haven't ...

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A rare roadside attraction on the Dalton

Faithful watchers of “Ice Road Truckers” this season know that there ain’t much between Fairbanks and Prudhoe Bay. There’s a few state highway facilities for maintenance of the Haul Road, a few resort facilities (closed in winter) when you cross the Yukon River, and then Coldfoot Camp at roughly the halfway mark. (See the top four photos on the right.) It’s considered the world’s northernmost truck stop. There’s food, fuel, lodging and other amenities. When I ...

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Landstar shows how to make it work

Anyone who thinks the owner-operator business model can’t rebound from the prolonged downturn, rising costs and other factors should take note of Landstar System. The nation’s largest owner-operator carrier reported its second-quarter earnings Wednesday. Of course, business was down, as it has been everywhere. Revenue dropped 30 percent from a year ago, and earnings dropped from 56 cents per share to 35 cents per share. But this isn’t a business model that compels its owners to fly ...

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Putting safety news in context

 The good report last week on 2008’s highway fatality numbers, including truck-related deaths, was a bit incomplete because of the highly unusual drop in vehicle miles traveled (VMT, in government-speak). Of course, that decline was due to months of outrageous fuel prices during late 2008. The press release from the American Trucking Associations conveniently failed to mention that factor, even though it did cite increased use of safety belts and the hours of service regs that ...

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