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Trucking not simple anymore, TCA chairman tells delegates

The biggest concern of the trucking industry to today is the driver shortage, TCA Chairman Tom Kretsinger said Monday. (The Trucker: CLIFF ABBOTT)

The Trucker Staff


GRAPEVINE, Texas — Trucking isn’t as simple as it used to be, Truckload Carriers Association Chairman Tom B. Kretsinger said here Monday as he opened the first general session of the organization’s annual convention.

“There was a time when you could get a truck, take a load from A to B and collect your money,” the president and COO of American Central Transport of Liberty, Mo., said during his chairman’s address. “Now it takes a great deal of sophistication to be successful in this business.”

What’s more, the industry is dealing with critical economic issues, among them profit margins, cash flow, economic cycles, employee compensation, the driver shortage, fuel, adequate insurance coverage and inflation, he said.

“What we can charge is flat, costs are going up,” he said.

But the biggest economic concern may be the driver shortage, which can impact the number of loads a carrier can transport and increase revenue, and that’s the driver shortage.

It’s changed the way of thinking for carriers.

“It used to be that the customer was No. 1,” he said. “Now the driver is No. 1, No.2 and No. 3,” he said. “And the customer is No. 4”

The industry is facing a shortfall of drivers the likes of which have never been seen, trucking stakeholders believe.

There’s a need for almost 100,000 new drivers a year for the next few years or else by 2022 there will be a shortage of almost 250,000 drivers, forcing shippers to look to other modes of transportation to move goods, the stakeholders believe.

In addition to the economic issues, there is regulatory overload, Kretsinger said.

“There is a regulatory saturation to the point that so many agencies are writing regulations that you can’t make a decision free of risk,” Kretsinger said. “For instance, we all want to control safety, yet we who use owner-operators fear being misclassified if we do.”

He cautioned delegates to the convention about staying on the sidelines rather than being advocates for the industry.

“If you’re not at the table, you become supper and there are a lot of hungry politicians out there,” he said. “There is a never ending stream of people who want to do things that make our business harder and productivity.”

Among them, he said, were railroads, unions, trial lawyers and environmentalists, “who drive us a little buggy.”

The convention continues through Wednesday.

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