June 2002

| July 03, 2002

TRUCKING SHOW HAS FAMILY EMPHASIS

Two Focus on the Family events and the announcement of the Great American Trucking Family are among the highlights of the Great American Trucking Show in Dallas, Sept. 6-8.

Focus on the Family will present a seminar, “Strengthening Your Family for the Long Haul,” Saturday afternoon, Sept. 7. The discussion will continue Sunday morning, Sept. 8, with a performance by former trucker Kenny Robbins, the 2000 Country Gospel Artist of the Year and a member of the Country Gospel Hall of Fame.

The discussion will be moderated by psychologist Bill Maier of Focus on the Family, a Christian ministry founded by pediatrician James Dobson that is heard on more than 5,000 radio stations worldwide. Panelists will discuss the challenges of raising a family while on the road, as well as how fleets can attract and retain truckers by addressing their physical, emotional and family needs. The panelists will be:

  • Chuck Sonn, founder of Hope Haulers, whose “Chaplain’s Corner” column appears on eTrucker.com.
  • Scott Weidner of Transport for Christ.
  • Yvette Maher, vice president of women’s ministries for Focus on the Family.
  • Bob Hataway, president of Transalive, a charity that offers transportation to injured or ill truckers.
  • Rick Towe, vice president at Covenant Transport, which provides its drivers with faith-based care and counseling as well as a benevolence fund.

    Also during GATS, Truckers News will present the winner of its Great American Trucking Family contest, for which readers nominated families with many members involved in the industry.

    Other GATS highlights include a free Friday concert by country singer Tracy Byrd, sponsored by Volvo Trucks; the Internet & Technology Pavilion; Overdrive’s indoor Pride & Polish contest; the Commercial Work Truck Pavilion for Class 3-7 trucks; the GATS Fleet Executive Conference; and a Sept. 6 autograph session with country singer Eddy Raven, sponsored by the Midnight Trucking Radio Network, which will also give away $1,000 cash.

    GATS registration is free until Aug. 30. For more information, call (888) 349-4287 or visit www.gatsonline.com.

    - Max Heine


    AMID WALL STREET DOUBTS, SATELLITE RADIO FORGES AHEAD

    A trucker’s dream as recently as a year ago, satellite radio is a growing reality.

    The first such network, XM Satellite Radio, claims 76,000 subscribers since its November debut, a faster launch than either CD or DVD players enjoyed, says Dan Murphy, XM vice president of retail marketing.

    Meanwhile, XM’s rival, Sirius Satellite Radio, accelerated its launch schedule. Sirius, which claims 412 subscribers by March 31, is now heard across much of the West, Deep South and Midwest, with plans to be nationwide by July 1.

    “A high percentage of our subscribers are coming out of the trucking community,” Murphy says. “We’re becoming their best friends in the cab.” He cites the “historic” lineup on the Open Road truckers’ channel – veteran announcers Bill Mack, Dave Nemo and Dale “Truckin’ Bozo” Sommers, plus Overdrive Trucking News.

    Satellite radio is winning over listeners but not everyone on Wall Street. The Wall Street Journal reported that XM’s auditor, KPMG, expressed “substantial doubt” in the company’s ability to keep going without a big influx of cash. Wall Street analysts believe each satellite network spends $1 million per day and needs a million new subscribers a year to be profitable by 2005, the Journal reported.

    XM doesn’t disclose its spending, but $1 million a day is “inaccurate and too high,” says Murphy, who adds that XM has no trouble raising money from investors as needed – $1.8 billion to date. The analysts cited in the Journal made a big deal out of routine money-raising expectations that have been in all XM’s filings for three and a half years, even though the company met every quarterly goal, Murphy says. “We don’t understand the spotlight being cast on this,” he says.

    Murphy assures trucker customers that XM won’t go dead on them, as PNV and other high-tech services have in the past. “General Motors wouldn’t be committing to XM receivers in 25 of its models this fall if we were going anywhere.” Attempts to reach Sirius were unsuccessful.

    Both XM and Sirius stock prices peaked in December and have lost half their value since. At press time, XM was selling around $9 a share, Sirius $4.

    Both XM and Sirius offer 100 static-free radio channels for a monthly subscription fee – $9.95 for XM, $12.95 for Sirius – plus the one-time price of the receiver. For more information, visit www.xmradio.com and www.siriusradio.com.

    - Andy Duncan


    With insurance costs continuing to rise, you want to be sure that you’re not paying too much for coverage and that what you have meets your needs. Read all about trucking-related insurance in June’s Monthly Focus on eTrucker.com.

    BROCKWAY ADMIRERS TO CELEBRATE 90 YEARS

    The home of the Brockway truck, Cortland, N.Y., will celebrate the brand’s 90th anniversary with a daylong downtown festival Aug. 10.

    Carriage builder George A. Brockway founded the Brockway Motor Co. in 1912. Mack bought Brockway in 1956 and introduced the truck’s famed hood ornament, a Siberian huskie straining at the traces. That’s why Aug. 10 events include huskie demonstrations as well as a barbecue, a bonfire and a Brockway parade.

    The Brockway era ended in 1977 when Mack closed the plant amid labor disputes, a controversial move recorded in the documentary Huskietown U.S.A. One of Brockway’s last big orders – 575 trucks for $22.6 million – was from the government of the Shah of Iran, which didn’t outlast the 1970s, either.

    “People who worked in that plant were really proud,” says Cortland native Kelley Walker. “People just loved working there. It was a tight-knit, old-fashioned company.”

    Festival organizers hope to attract former Brockway employees and Cortland residents, as well as current and former Brockway owners. Cortland is on I-81 south of Syracuse. For more information, contact the Cortland County visitors bureau, (607) 753-8463 or cortcvb@odyssey.net.

    - Andy Duncan


    COST OF HAZMAT CDL COULD DOUBLE

    The cost of a hazmat CDL could double in some jurisdictions to pay for background checks and fingerprinting newly required by federal law, according to Julie Cirillo of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.

    A proposed regulation addressing hazmat CDLs will be issued soon, Cirillo said in Rapid City, S.D., at an April meeting of the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance.

    The FBI, the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service and the European law-enforcement agency Interpol will create a record for each driver seeking a new hazmat endorsement or a renewal, Cirillo said. She estimated that creating the record and fingerprinting together would cost $50 per license. The process would apply only to hazmat endorsements, though some have proposed applying it to all CDL holders.

    The federal government does not plan to share information in the record with a driver’s employer, Cirillo said, partly because CDL applicants currently need not be employed or list an employer – but that could change, Cirillo added. “We may have to insert something in the process that requires the applicant to divulge his employer,” she said.

    Individual states, moreover, are free to adopt rules more stringent than the federal ones. Kentucky recently passed legislation that will require background checks for all CDL applicants, as well as those applying to train drivers and to open CDL schools.

    Meanwhile, the U.S. Department of Transportation has responded to security concerns by proposing more paperwork for hazmat haulers. The proposals would require truckers to keep a copy of the complete hazmat registration certificate, as opposed to merely the registration number, in the cab; would require haulers of certain materials to develop written security plans; and would require shipping papers, which now only describe the hazmat, to include the hauler’s registration number and the names and street addresses of the shipper and receiver.

    – John Baxter And Tony French

    EMISSIONS RULES AFFECT TRUCK DESIGN AND SALES, SAYS VOLVO CHIEF

    Truck makers may have to limit their designs to one truck, one engine for the federally mandated round of emissions reductions in 2007, said Michel Gigou, president of Volvo Trucks North America and chairman of Mack Trucks.

    That could be the only way to achieve the reductions and still have an affordable product, Gigou said in an interview with Overdrive at Volvo’s headquarters in Greensboro, N.C.

    The more immediate change in emissions standards, effective Oct. 1, and improvements in the economy have boosted used truck sales industrywide as buyers snap up the best late-model trucks before more costly low-emission engines are introduced.

    The demand for used Volvos and Macks has increased since late 2001, especially for trucks 3 to 5 years old, Gigou said. “Since mid-November we’ve seen more and more interest from our dealer body,” he said. “In the past two or three months we’ve seen retail values going up nicely.”

    Because credit is tight, and most owner-operators do not have excellent credit ratings, “One challenge to the used truck recovery is financing,” Gigou said.

    Volvo Commercial Finance’s Generation2 program, for buyers of certified used Volvos, has helped counter the credit problem, Gigou said, by requiring no down payment and offering below-market interest rates for qualified customers. Volvo has a similar program for buyers of new trucks.

    Customers of Volvo and Mack consider them premium brands, Gigou said, and Volvo plans to reinforce that perception with its marketing. Rather than shoot for 25 percent market share for each brand, Volvo aims for a combined market share of 25 percent to 27 percent, Gigou said. “We don’t want to inundate the market.”

    For the first quarter of 2002, Volvo had 7 percent market share and Mack 12 percent, according to Ward’s Communications. Parent company Volvo AB lost $46 million in the first quarter, but reported its March numbers showed signs of a turnaround.

    Volvo also hopes to develop its relationship with Petro to emphasize service, Gigou said. “The real profitability comes from satisfied customers.” The truck maker is a part owner of the truck stop chain.

    - Max Heine


    PHONY CDL HOLDERS SOUGHT BY FLORIDA

    Florida officials cannot find more than 1,000 people who allegedly got their commercial driver’s licenses through bribery.

    In June 2000, the state sent letters to everyone who got CDLs between 1997 and 2000 from the Tampa REACT driving school, where the operator admitted accepting bribes to fix tests, largely for Eastern European immigrants living in the Chicago area.

    The letters asked all the CDL holders to come in for retesting or surrender their licenses, but only 334 Florida drivers complied.



    SHORT HAULS

    WINNING READERS of Overdrive, Truckers News, Commercial Carrier Journal and eTrucker.com recently claimed cash prizes just by participating in reader surveys. Dale Palmer of Cleveland won the $2,500 grand prize. Other winners include: David Bates of Douglasville, Ga.; Maryanne Cordo of Las Vegas; Bryan Davis of Oxford, N.Y.; Robert Fickel of Salem, Ohio; Earl Hillis of McMinnville, Tenn.; Steven Hoekstra of St. Anne, Ill.; Tony Hunt of Hudson, Fla.; Bryant Larsen of Kingsburg, Calif.; Dan Mees of Las Vegas; Norman Olson of La Moure, N.D.; Russell Roper of Webb City, Mo.; Thomas Short of Fyffe, Ala.; and Larry Trierweiler of Sauk Centre, Minn.

    THE SIERRA CLUB filed a lawsuit against widening U.S. 95 in Las Vegas, arguing the increased emissions put residents at greater risk of cancer.

    AMERICAN FREIGHTWAYS founder Sheridan Garrison and his wife, Cindy, donated $1 million to his alma mater, the College of Business at the University of Arkansas, to endow a chair in supply-chain management.

    DESPITE THE RIVALRY between railroads and trucking, the 139-year-old Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers is considering affiliation with the Teamsters Union.

    OVERHEATED BRAKES blew an inside right tire and ignited a fuel tanker’s cargo on I-95 during evening rush hour in south Florida. No one was hurt.

    FROZEN FOOD EXPRESS of Dallas, like many companies post-Enron, restated its financial results for the past three years. It said it also expects reduced future earnings since changing an accounting method approved by its auditor, Arthur Andersen. The fleet said it has no plans to stop doing business with the embattled accounting giant.

    A YEAR IN JAIL is the sentence for trucker Clifford Engum of Caldwell, Idaho, who pleaded guilty to vehicular homicide and aggravated assault after a tractor-trailer wreck that killed a Tennessee state trooper. Engum also had his driver’s license revoked for eight years. He now faces a multi-million-dollar civil suit filed by the trooper’s children.

    RALPH “BUD” CUCA JR., president of the Nebraska Trucking Association, died at age 43 after a long battle with cancer.

    A TRIP TO LAS VEGAS for two, including passes to the 2003 NASCAR event, is the bonus for anyone buying an International 5000, 5000i or 7000 Series construction vehicle through July 1.

    PILOT’S new travel center in Oneida, Tenn., at Exit 141 from I-75, features 100 truck parking spaces, seven diesel islands, an ATM and a Subway.

    ZF INDUSTRIES has a new Canadian distributor for its steering products, the Altrom Group, which has 15 locations from Halifax, Nova Scotia, to Victoria, British Columbia.

    CLARIFICATION. The first name and title of John Harris, an adviser at Shell’s Westhollow Technology Center, was accidentally omitted from “Blessed are the grease makers” (Overdrive April 2002).

    CHARGED WITH RACKETEERING are the campaign committee of Illinois Gov. George Ryan and two of his former top aides. The charges are part of a four-year federal investigation into a licenses-for-bribes scheme that involved many CDL holders. Forty people have been convicted.

    UNION PACIFIC reported a 23 percent increase in first-quarter income over 2001. Wall Street analysts say the railroad is gaining market share and taking business away from trucks.

    RECENT $1,000 WINNERS in the Money for Miles Sweepstakes at eTrucker.com include Dena J. Allen of Jackson, Mich.; Patrick Reynolds Chapman of Memphis, Tenn.; Dustin Howard of Hamilton, Ohio; Paul E. Hunsberger of Dayton, Ohio.; and Scott Scov of Sutherland, Neb.

    RONNIE DOWDY INC. of Batesville, Ark., a temperature-controlled freight hauler, filed for reorganization under Chapter 11 of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code, citing a slow economy, plummeting used-truck values and increasing insurance claims costs.

    A PIER 1 WAREHOUSE in Garden City, Ga., was hit by cargo thieves who hauled away $30,000 in furniture. Four men, including a local owner-operator, were arrested.

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