News roundup, May 14: Trump chief of staff pledges dialogue on independents’ issues

Trucking news & brief for May 14, 2020: 

Trump Chief of Staff Mark Meadows pays outreach visit to demonstrating truckers
Yesterday, March 13, President Donald Trump’s Chief of Staff, former North Carolina Congressman Mark Meadows, paid a visit to truckers who’ve been parked outside his boss’s house for in some cases almost an entire two weeks attempting to get the White House’s attention to the extreme market difficulties and what many see as a need for greater oversight of and transparency in the transactional brokered freight market.

Mark MeadowsMark Meadows

“Having the Chief of Staff come out here with my security detail,” he said, is not the usual course of events in occasions like this, and he assured an assembled group of owner-operators “I’m speaking here on behalf of the President of the United States.”

Meadows said the administration was “going to work very diligently to see if we can find something that provides relief” to the challenges independent truckers and everybody in America, he added, were facing. “Everybody’s in a difficult spot right now.”

Representatives from various parts of the assembled group engaged with Meadows, including Pennsylvania-based owner-operator Mike Landis, who stressed basic issues of on-highway safety as well as the rates/transaction transparency issues and belief among many that too many freight actors are taking advantage of the pandemic situation.

Meadows urged Landis, among others, to communicate with him directly on issues. “If you will correspond with me, I will follow up. … We are looking at transparency to make sure there is nothing there from a gouging standpoint. At the same time, it’s a complex issue that, honestly, has surfaced in a real way right now because of everything that’s going on.”

He said that he felt he understood the concerns of the independent trucker, adding that “a vibrant trucking industry that serves their fellow man is good for America.”

Meadows referenced the then-impending hours of service final rule in his talk, too, which was released today.

Equipment sale/leaseback cash-flow enhancement program for a down time
Fleet Advantage’s new Sale-Leaseback program is a new option for owners that is designed to infuse cash and flexibility. The company says it designed the program to help fleets substitute for lost revenues during the current COVID-19 pandemic. In the Sale-Leaseback program, a company ideally, Fleet Advantage notes, selects older-model, less reliable and efficient assets from the fleet to offer for purchase by Fleet Advantage — who then leases those same assets back to the fleet for an interim period until they can transition to new equipment when ready.

The equipment-finance/leasing company says this could enable organizations to generate cash in the near term, especially critical today given the COVID-19 pandemic and strain it has placed on companies and the economy. Overdrive readers in a recent survey named “cash flow” the second-most-critical issue they expected to contend with coming out of the initial shock of the pandemic’s related lockdowns.

The new program, Fleet Advantage also says, allows for the downsizing of fleets if an organization has a surplus of trucks, and it will have a positive effect on the bottom line P&L since the ensuing lease payment will be lower than the current depreciation charge.

“We’re launching this program to help our clients with transportation fleets realize an immediate infusion of cash and flexibility into their organizations,” said John Flynn, CEO of Fleet Advantage. “Having additional cash on hand is critical for today, but the flexibility to upgrade to newer truck technology with advanced safety features tomorrow will help fleets come out of the pandemic with a significant competitive edge through financial and operational efficiencies gained.”

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