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Prices: Down for truckload, up for diesel

If you’re thinking of getting your own authority for truckload hauling, think again. Or have some excellent contracts locked up before you jump. A June 8 conference call, hosted by Dahlman Rose & Co. with executives from five carriers (Cowan Systems, Fenway Partners, First Express and Roehl Transport), had little good news. “There was universal agreement that we are experiencing one of the worst pricing marketing in truckload history,” says Dahlman’s summary of the conference. The pressure ...

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'On those wrecks just like a vulture'

The top three photos on the right are from my 2006 ride along Alaska's Dalton Highway with the smiling trucker, George Spears. It was published in Truckers News. If you watched the History Channel's third season of "Ice Road Truckers," which premiered last Sunday, you might recall Spears, one of the featured drivers. This season's shows are based on the drivers of the highway, also known as the Haul Road. Running from just north of Fairbanks to ...

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June is bustin’ out

It seems that for economic news, June is bustin’ out all over, to cite the song from the old play, “Carousel.” Well, not all over, but there were some strong items announced June 1. I hope you’re seeing evidence in your freight. The overall economy grew for the first time following seven months of decline, according to executives surveyed in the latest manufacturing report from the Institute for Supply Management. Also, “May is the first month of ...

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Managing acres of reefer freight

What company supplies food to a third of all U.S. restaurants, cafeterias, and sports stadiums? If you pull a reefer, chances are you well know that it’s Houston-based Sysco, which each year ships 21.5 million tons of produce, meats and other food-related products. Fortune magazine has an detailed look at the “complex web of software, databases, scanning systems, and robotics” that enables one of the company’s distribution centers to turn over 11,000 items every 17 days. There’s ...

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Consumer confidence and housing

Your freight might be down, your dog might be snarling at you, but your fellow Americans are looking up, money-wise. At least relative to recent months, which isn’t saying too much. U.S. consumer confidence jumped in May to its highest level in eight months, according to the Conference Board, an industry group that measures this. It was the biggest one-month jump since April 2003. Likewise, the government’s Index of Leading Economic Indicators saw its first rise in ...

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Step right up for interest-free loan

It’s not every day someone offers you an interest-free loan. The U.S. Small Business Administration recently announced a program to do just that. As part of the stimulus package, SBA is launching America’s Recovery Capital loans June 15. The basics: Loans are up to $35,000. After you get the money, you have five years to repay. Not only is there no interest to be paid, but there are no SBA fees, either. Qualifying debt includes mortgages, lines of credit, credit ...

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Recovery on the back burner

As recently as April, manufacturing still looked mostly bad, notes the latest weekly roundup from Bob Costello, chief economist for the American Trucking Associations. April output grew for autos, paper, wood products and nonmetallic mineral products. It shrunk for furniture, primary metal and fabricated metal products. From a year ago, manufacturing production was down 14 percent in April. Inventory still has a ways to go before demand strengthens. The combined manufacturing, retail and wholesale trade inventories dwindled ...

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Oink!

 As one of my former editors was fond of saying, “The stuck pig squeals the loudest.” You can hear a little squealing from the headquarters of pork consumption, Washington, D.C., in this blog entry from U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. He tries to discredit a recent Associated Press report saying that federal stimulus spending on transportation-related projects appears headed for counties of low unemployment, not high. “Nothing could be further from the truth,” says LaHood of the ...

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Some positive trends for the first quarter

First quarter figures from ATBS show a few encouraging notes. Among all hauling segments, clients of the Denver-based owner-operator accounting firm saw average income rise from $3,892 in January to $4,074 in March, due in large part to low fuel prices. Flatbedders had a steady rise in miles, from 7,216 in January to 8,303 in March. ATBS President Todd Amen says their lot has improved, but they’re still struggling. “I don’t think we are into any ...

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Trucking meets swine flu in a variety of ways

Reports on trucking and swine flu have proliferated this week. Many media outlets picked up the Knoxville, Tenn., newspaper interview with Professional Drivers Medical Depots (cited here earlier), but other angles have followed. First, two on the lighter side: Everitt Mickey, one of the writers who contributes to International Trucks’ Life on the Road blog, cautions readers to take the alarmist news accounts with a grain of salt: “The business of the news media, as they practice ...

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