Talk of broker transaction transparency continues

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Updated Feb 16, 2024
“12PL,” a play on the “3PL” term for third-party logistics companies, is the name of the brokerage James Lamb says he’s prepared to launch to “lead by example” on broker/trucker freight-transaction transparency.

I wrote about’s James Lamb’s new 12PL brokerage following its initial reveal in a session at the Mid-America Trucking Show two months ago. Lamb, also the primary party behind the AIPBA small-brokers business league, talked a lot about the notion of necessary transparency in broker-carrier transactions and how his new effort would explicitly advertise the percentage rate the broker would be taking on any load, and how doing so might have ripple effects throughout the industry if enough people mimick such practices. 

While there’s certainly more to it than all that, I thought I’d point you today to a discussion happening via Allen and Donna Smith’s Truth About Trucking Live tonight, where Lamb will be a guest. It starts up at 5 p.m. Central, and their shows typically run from an hour and a half or so — and are archived for replay following.

More details about the new brokerage will be on offer, Lamb says.

After my prior piece following his MATS session, readers’ voices expressing skepticism on the issue outweighed those seeing a need for transparency. “I really don’t understand why brokers need to be transparent,” wrote one reader. “I’m an owner-operator with my own authority and I really don’t care what the customer is paying the broker. I do care what the broker is paying me. If the broker wants to, he can charge double what he’s paying me, as long as I’m happy with what I’m getting. I look at my own plate, not someone else’s.”

Del Ray Johnson had similar thoughts: “I really doubt that big trucking companies need this so-called ‘transparency’ from brokers,” he wrote, noting their leverage over most in dictating what “we are going to charge to transport their freight. The unknowing owner-operator allows other people tell them what is the number,” with plenty being willing, he added, to run on very, very thin margins. “That, my friends, is the problem, and the solution is an educated owner-operator who runs his/her big rig like a big business.” 

An independent dispatcher, Teirre McDonald also expressed some skepticism over whether transparency would make much of a difference in the end — or that it would be truly transparent. “Hard to believe from this side of it,” McDonald noted. “I work for my owner-operators to get them the best rates and deal with the brokers so they can concentrate on driving. Brokers do try to get over, and you shouldn’t have to continue to fight with them over rates … and most definitely getting paid! I would say beware, just because I don’t see a broker ever revealing what the load really pays.” 

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Lamb himself counters that his intentions are genuine and that he believes that “transparency in freight rates is coming.” As I wrote in previous coverage, Lamb would not be the only entity moving in such directions.

“Some will resist but it’s a matter of time. And it will make both shippers see they are paying reasonable rates… and truckers see they are being paid fairly. They will both want to do business with transparent brokers. Like 12PL. And it will catch on quick.”

Further, he hoped truckers and brokers would “change their bad attitudes and animosity toward one another” and truly work together toward a more fair industry.