A possible windfall for independents

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What’s freight demand going to be like the rest of this year? One analyst, Noel Perry of the consulting firm FTR Associates, thinks it’s going to surge before the year’s out. It could put owner-operators with their own authority in a sweet spot.

Perry was among speakers at this week’s CCJ Spring Symposium 2011 in Birmingham, Ala., put on by Overdrive’s sister publication Commercial Carrier Journal.

“Every recovery is uneven,” Perry said of current economic uncertainties. In recent months, the tsunami in Japan disrupted some manufacturing lines, unrest in the Middle East drove up oil prices, and housing continues to lag far behind a strong manufacturing sector.  Nevertheless, “There will be an offset to this slowdown. It will probably happen in the fall.”

Trucking companies tend to be a little shy about raising prices when market conditions dictate that they should go up, as well could happen this year, Perry said. Managing pricing will be a major challenge for carriers now and in the next few years, as tough regulatory changes and other factors make the driver shortage more severe. He recommended being prepared to take advantage of the rebound this fall, as well as beyond, until the next recession.

If you’re independent, there could be some real opportunities if your bigger competitors don’t have the capacity – the trucks and drivers – to handle what could be a big influx of freight. Be ready to work, and stay current with pricing so you don’t leave money on the table.

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