Welcome to 2012. I know this sounds very cliché but 2011 flew by in a flash, and it seemed to me to do it with little or no notoriety. Why? Probably because all sectors of the economy were sluggish. Certainly freight picked up a little but only marginally, unemployment was and is still out of control, yadda and yadda. I am much better off when I ignore what’s going on in Europe with their debt crisis and the things that legally trained politicians everywhere in the world seem to be messing up, almost daily, (just a thought but should it be illegal for a lawyer to be a politician, think about it driver?) I have heard of 2011 being nicknamed the “Year of Fear” makes sense to me.
I realize that I am much better off when I ignore this minutia, but in some circles these days you need to know some of what going on in this world or people seem to ignore you. Whatever! One thing that I can share on a brighter note for me is the fact that my new role as CEO of Transrep Inc. www.transrep.ca is going well and I am enjoying it more and more each day. One thing that has opened my eyes in this new role is all the new technologies and systems that I now have time to learn about. One of the significant challenges of this effort is how difficult it is to get trucking executives to spend time with some of these new things. They are so busy doing what they have always done that it is very difficult to get them to learn something new; even though you know that it will save them time and money. Of course they are also busy managing the 10,000 moving parts that go into running a trucking company; been there, done that and I get it, to some extent!
Through this whole experience I have gained a respect for those companies that are open to new ideas and systems, the ones that make innovation part of their culture, whether they are a big or small carrier. Typically, we in this industry will let everyone else test the waters before we entertain the possibility of the indoctrination of a new process or system. I thoroughly understand the old analogy of pioneers being the first ones with arrows in their backs, but by the same token none of us would be where we are today if we hadn’t taken a little risk in our lives and our business.
The secret to deciding on whether or not to try a new product or service, whether you’re an Owner Operator or a fleet owner is in the comparison of the risk/cost factor to the potential revenue/reward. In the difficult decisions I have had to make in my career I have typically followed the same procedure after all the facts are collected and an ROI (return on investment) has been estimated; I would draw a line horizontally down the middle of a lined piece of paper. On the top of the page I write what the new service, procedure or product it is that I am considering moving forward with. Under that I also articulate in one short sentence explaining what I see as the potential benefit of this change. Next step was that on one side of the page I write the pros and on the other side the cons concerning the implications of making this decision. When I was done I would put it aside for at least 24 hours and continue to think it through. Part of this exercise might just reveal additional information that you need to precede to your final decision.
The other method I used a lot when time was of the essence and I needed to move quickly is the smell test. It works like this. I look things over as completely as I can and then try and find where it stinks. Sounds simple and sometimes it is, other times though, not so easy. The root of all of this is that there are times when you just need to trust your gut, hard as this might be; trust it. For years I was intimidated by people with education and academic credentials. Here I was this young trucker who never made it out of grade 12 sitting around boardroom tables with Lawyers and Chartered Accountants and talking to bank managers. You kidding me man?
It took me a number of years to learn that all the education in the world will not begin to replace common sense and courage to follow your natural instinct and unwavering passion. Many of the decisions that I regret the most are the ones where I didn’t trust my instinct and followed the advice of someone who had the educational credentials but didn’t have my instincts. My bad not theirs, I blame no one for where I am in this world. I did everything perfectly for me to be where I am right now, no doubt about it and by the way so did you!
I vividly remember when Connie and I decided that we would start a company and apply for an operating authority and our own company. I went and spoke to two professionals; one was an experienced transportation Lawyer in London and another was a local Chartered Accountant. They both told us to play it safe and not take the risk. In retrospect, it might have been because we already had two mortgages on our house at the time. Of course we didn’t listen and went ahead anyway.
In between then and now there has been a lot of water under the bridge, some of it sweet smelling and some of it foul. That being said I am not one of those folks who suggest that if they had it all to do over again they wouldn’t change a thing, because I definitely would change many decisions that I have made. But in retrospect and despite some of the advice from my educated advisors and my own bad decisions, I believe that I have made more good decisions than bad.
Ray J. Haight
Mr. Ray Haight has enjoyed a successful career in transportation starting as a company driver and Owner Operator logging over one million accident free miles prior to starting his own company. After stepping down from a successful career managing one of Canada’s 50 largest trucking companies, Ray focused on industry involvement including terms as Chairman of each of the following, the Truckload Carriers Association, Professional Truck Drivers Institute, North American Training and Management Institute and the Ministry of Training Colleges and Universities voluntary apprenticeship of Tractor Trailer Commercial Driver, along with many other business interests, he enjoys a successful consulting business, also sitting on various Boards of both industry associations a private motor carriers. He is also Co-Founder of StakUp O/A TCAinGauge an online bench marking service designed to assist trucking companies throughout North America focus on efficiency and profitability within their operations. All posts by Ray Haight