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JOC Guide to Trucking, August 2018

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August 2018 | The Journal of Commerce 9 Cover Story 2018 JOC Guide to Trucking he notes, "we were emerging from a reces- sion. Retail pressure was nothing special, and drivers recently out of work could be recruited to return to trucking." In 2018, "we're nine years into an economic recovery," he said. "Even though about 550,000 new drivers have been add- ed to the driver population within for-hire transactional business. The problem is that the transactional mindset drives those bad habits, Burns, Jindel, and others say. Shippers and carriers need to look be- yond the transaction at hand. "I'm in the freight relationship business," Burns said. That means helping carriers and ship- pers find strategic alignment by matching transportation networks and freight opportunities to deliver both profits and savings. "It's getting easier," Burns said. "There are shippers who really do get it. It's really in the shipper's court." The same, it could be argued, was true 12, 13, or 14 years ago. "Good shippers are looking at ways to be part of the process and when that is successful, both parties, the carrier and the shipper, either will stabilize or reduce their costs," one big box retail shipper said — in 2003. Talk of shipper-carrier collaboration peaked in 2005 or 2006, and then dwin- dled to a whisper as the economy hit the brakes and slid into recession. Shippers in general "talked ourselves out of it (col- laboration) after the market turn, when demand went sideways," said John Janson, director of global logistics at apparel and accessories supplier SanMar. Relationships matter There's a lesson in that. "Loyalty matters," Janson said. Those who work closely with and support carriers even in a downturn are less likely to feel the bite of a capacity crunch in better times, when freight demand rises. That's especially true for midsize shippers, he said. "If you're Lowe's or Home Depot, you're big enough to command attention," he said. "If you're in the middle mar- ket, which we fit into, then you have to develop relationships. Have a meaningful relationship with the asset-based carrier, and you'll win when capacity gets tough." The good news is shippers, logistics companies, and carriers are much better equipped to deal with economic volatility today than they were 10 or 15 years ago, largely because of technology that helps them manage business better, avoiding pratfalls and cushioning some blows. "Technology is helping shippers balance inventory and demand, so we have fewer overbuild, overstock situations like in the past," said Jeff Tucker, CEO of Tucker Company Worldwide. An invento- ry correction in early 2006 was one-mile marker on the route to recession. Tucker points to differences between the current economic and freight surge and the 2003-2006 period. In 2003-2004, fleets, the last recession was a decade ago, so we don't have a ton of recently laid-off drivers to come back." How long will the nine-year economic recovery last? Will it carry on through 2020, topping even the 120-month expan- sion that ended in 2001? Or will trade wars tip the US toward recession? There are

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