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Transportation inflation will be driven by the talent shortage, Harrison tells CITT

HALIFAX, NS – The greatest driver of inflation in transportation pricing will not be rising equipment costs but the need for talent, according to Doug Harrison, COO of Day and Ross Transportation Group.

HALIFAX, NS – The greatest driver of inflation in transportation pricing will not be rising equipment costs but the need for talent, according to Doug Harrison, COO of Day and Ross Transportation Group.

The need to find talent will also prove to be one of the greatest limiters to growth for Canada’s transportation industry, Harrison told a packed room of shippers and carriers attending the Multi-Modal C-Suite Panel at CITT’s Reposition 2012 conference this week.

Not only is talent hard to find, it’s also hard to retain, at least in the trucking industry. Harrison pointed out that driver turnover among some of the larger Truckload fleets in the US tops 100%. He questioned how fleets besieged by such high turnover can train their drivers and engage them in providing superior customer service.

The graying of the current transportation workforce will also add to the shortage.

The talent shortage was the first of three key issues which Harrison felt would impact commercial trucking. What the industry has to do to ensure its capacity is in line with the new normal of a slowly growing economy was another issue Harrison considered. Carriers have to consider how much capacity they can remove and still provide quality service, he said.

Certain to have an impact on trucking capacity levels and the need for drivers are changing shipper attitudes towards using intermodal services. Traditionally it was commonly accepted that the economics of rail surpassed the economics of trucking services at around the 750-mile mark. During the discussion of the C-Suite Panel, however, Harrison said that may have shifted down to 500 miles, with many motor carriers themselves using rail services. And, in some cases, rail service could be viable at as low as a 350-mile distance as a way to avoid congested corridors such as Toronto to Montreal.

The need to make heavy investments in technology is another key issue shaping transportation, according to Harrison.

“Companies are looking to be a lot more responsive at the last minute. This creates pressure on suppliers to be very agile,” Harrison explained and that agility requires the visibility into supply chain operations that allows fast and intelligent decision making. Technology is necessary for reaching that state.

Harrison was joined on the blue-chip panel by Jeff Cullen, CEO Bellville Rodair;  Neil McKenna, vice president, transportation, Canadian Tire; Rudy Mack, founder Rudy Mack Associates; Jean Jacques Ruest, executive vice president & chief marketing officer, CN Rail, and  Lise Marie Turpin, vice president, Air Canada Cargo.

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11 Comments » for Transportation inflation will be driven by the talent shortage, Harrison tells CITT
  1. William P McKechnie says:

    I am tired of hearing about the driver shortage and the different ideas to
    attract and retain people. The big companies know why they can’t get drivers and keep them. LOW WAGES!! Why the hell would someone not already in trucking take a job that will keep them away from home weeks at a time (My last trip was 15 days), have them sleep in a truck,eat sometimes terrible food and pay them a little better than minimum wage once you calculate what you have to spend on the road? The minimum for a new driver should be .35/mile. With two to 5 years experience they should get minimum .40/mile.10 to 15 years .45 to .50/mile. 25 years or more should receive .60/mile or more depending on how long with company, driving record and overall performance.
    Benefits similar to the office staff should be provided in all cases. Of course this will never happen due to a little thing called GREED! The investors in the large companies want to get richer on the backs of the slaves, I mean drivers, and will refuse to give up one cent to hire and retain good, competent drivers!

  2. Steve robertson says:

    I agree with William. Is wages stupid. All off the moronic plans to import drivers to fix a non shortage is just that moronic. Pay for what you are getting for free. The big carriers the govt all the players could exert pressure on suppliers to pick up the pace when it comes to driver services as well. It’s high time wages went up why should we subsidize the shipper recieved or consumer. The go t could spend some money as well in a Public service campaigns to educate the public when if comes to trucking trucks and drivers and the impact it has on the e onomy and daily life. The general treatment of drivers today is appaling. We have been reduced to something lower than citizen

  3. Stephen D James says:

    I’ve been driving trucks for 30 years now.Everyone can say what they want on why there is a growing shortage of drivers,but most will never say the real reason why. Wage is one topic that is and will remain a heated discussion to the end of time. Companies all over the world are looking at Wage Saturation and changing Job titles to start newer employees with a wage that can be as much as 50% lower.
    Some companies are now looking at Job Fairs around the world as nothing short of a waste of time. Most come over for a few months and then leave.
    And so, Companies in the Trucking industry are now looking at Quality and Safe Drivers as the way forward. CVOR, Abstracts, Criminal Records are just three ways of finding drivers.
    What companies really want are drivers who can Back Up, Turn Corners without killing a person, biker or Curb. Plus, they want drivers WHO can DRIVE FORWARDS with Professional Care and ATTITUDE. Tailgaters need not apply. Speeders, well, go find a race track and a Go-Kart.
    Long Haul is something I just hung up the shifter too, low per miles wages, High cost of food, and some places charging to spend the night at truck stops and what is MOST IMPORANT to me…My time away from Family.
    Now some companies are allowing family to come along and something I encourage.
    Companies, need to take the time and energy, too see WHAT KIND OF PRODUCT they want in drivers who will driver THEIR Trucks. I’m gonna do what I enjoy best..Shunting.I have 11 years left to 65 and 13 years left in me by Canadian Standards to my retirement, and intend on taking them.
    You want Quality Drivers, LOOK,LEARN & SEE what you are getting before the industry is hurt further by crappy uneducated drivers.

  4. larry says:

    well well the companys should know by now the wages suck and the hours aint that great in bc here 20 to 24 per hr around town and 45 to 50 cents per mile but why do i have to go out at midnight for a switch from vancouver or a run to prince george oh ya it all about last minite delevery so you get it, right i leave in the middle of the night and get home at noon to sleep just great when do i see my familiy any way when im sleeping it all seems to suck i have been trucking all my life with dad then 1974 got my very own class 1 i think maybe i should have become a mechanic instead oh ya that with a clean drvers abstract wa wa wa

  5. Allen Roulston says:

    Just read the article and the comments.
    Attracting drivers will continue to be difficult until the wages earn accurately reflect the work and working conditions.
    A transport truck driver is all of the following:

    – a professional driver
    – a document expert
    – a security guard
    – a self directed isolated employee
    – a danger pay qualified earner
    – a sales and marketing representative
    – (and more)

    Paying them for the miles they drive does not properly reflect their actual value or the time they are on the job.
    Been there, done that, very unlikely to go back.

    In my case I was also a fuel economy expert. I was getting 9 mpg where others in the same fleet doing the same work were getting less than 7 mpg. Was I compensated in any way for my exemplary fuel economy? No.

    ~ Allen

  6. Garey Jonson says:

    Two things to say…..not just low wages – THE issue – but, the notion that drivers have to do so many thing for no pay (I am seriously thinking of applying for status as a registered charity for all the unpaid time I donate)….and when a driver expresses any concern over so much unpaid time away from home and/or waiting for long loadings/unloadings, he/she is branded a “whiner”……it is not “rocket science” truck company owners……you get exactly what you pay for……cheap wages and demanding unpaid extras from all drivers gets you lousy drivers and high turnover……duh !

  7. David Huggins - InSight says:

    I’m not a driver although I’ve been around the transportation Industry for more than twenty years. I’m a behavioral scientist who has been involved with Carriers of all sizes and forms.
    The comments above are absolutely valid – but there’s a deeper, underlying factor which contributes significantly to the issues mentioned – respect for drivers. This is the ‘elephant in the room’ that too few are ready to discuss.
    Drivers are the spearpoint; they manage the hundreds of thousands of ‘moments-of-truth’ that happen every day in the industry. They make (or break) customer satisfaction issues, profit margins, market share and many other vital business factors. They appear to get scant respect from others, including owners, management, dispatchers, specialist staff, enforcement people and even the public on the highways. They have little say in their own destiny and many are even denied the information needed to project their own income / revenues.
    We need a change in perspectives, a new ‘deal’ for drivers that recognizes them as the professionals they are. This should begin with full integration with the immediate team that’s in direct support roles and whose livelihood depends on the contributions that drivers make. Drivers are people, not a resource, and they deserve the respect they’re due.

  8. Peter Barber says:

    As a Ontario driver who has “hung up the keys” just before the age of 65 I think the the whole industry has to change & nobody seems to want to!!!! The Carriers are still stuck on paying by the mile & getting a bargain of free labour from the drivers & O/O when the driver isn’t moving. The shippers don’t care if they hold you up 2 or 3 hrs at the dock “BUT you’d better make the delivery on time” We have had to defend ourselves from the weigh scales, & all the other regulations that you need a lawyer to understand!!! Who in their “right mind” would want to get into this industry, low pay, no family life, responsible for just about everything, & it’s always “our” fault when things go wrong!!!I taught truck driving for a little while, but 1/2 the students didn’t show up for allotted lesson, so again “NO PAY”& most of the students were just there to collect UIC or welfare & were not interested in going into this line of work when they found out what was involved!!! Sad situation from the years gone by!!! I don’t miss it a bit!!!!!

  9. Dave says:

    HOURLY PAY the only way to keep good Driver’s.If trucking company’s want to attract and hold on to GOOD Drivers they need to take the cue from Great Britan as I have heard that they have LEGISLATED away the money per mile as a SAFETY concern because it FORCES Drivers to drive(when they should be resting) and fudge the logs to “KEEP THE WHEELS ROLLING” to make any money.
    Pay Drivers well and by the hour what they are worth as a skilled trade, and retention and safety scores will reflect the pride that most drivers feel when the drive is done and the bills are paid.
    And remember” IF YOU USE IT , EAT IT , LIVE IN IT OR WEAR IT , IT CAME BY TRUCK !!!!!!

  10. John Seaurse says:

    Recognize that it is a **PROFESSION**, just like dentists or lawyers.
    However, with that said, a lot of driver are doing themselves a disservice by not **ACTING** or **LOOKING** like professionals.
    Maybe we need to go back to UNIFORMS . Might not be a bad thing. Just getting some of the unhealthy ones….into a uniform, will be a challenge.

  11. Peter Mueggler says:

    I don,t want to sound like a old grumpy gear grinder, I love driving, I love travel and I really like meeting all sorts of characters out on the road. I find a few critical factors missing with the fleets I have worked with, first, the internal hypocrites we deal with( operations and safety ). The incompetents of untrained dispatching i.e.: mainly people skills, and the disregard for hours at pick ups and deliveries. If these points were tweaked, well it speaks for it self. I am 55 and have just changed companies after 10 years with the same accident and incident free.I hope it will be my last. Company integrity and a positive attitude will retain people. To my fellow drivers ” may the forces be with you ”


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