The health of the trucking industry is the worst it has ever been. How bad is it and what can we do to fix it? If we want to improve the health of the trucking industry, we need to identify what the i...
The health of the trucking industry is the worst it has ever been. How bad is it and what can we do to fix it? If we want to improve the health of the trucking industry, we need to identify what the important issues are and evaluate their impact on the past a present.
Here are some of the most important issues facing the industry: We have a divide and conquer trucking industry; the majority of the trucking industry does not get involved in trucking associations; there is a large number of veteran truckers who have left the industry and they are being replaced with untrained and inexperienced people; the majority of trucking companies and drivers do not follow a code of ethics and standards; there is a lack of people leading the industry by example; too many companies try to steal their competitors’ customers at any cost; and many members of the industry bitch and complain and point fingers at everyone but themselves. Finally, the trucking industry is out of control without a plan on how to regain control.
The Alberta Construction Trucking Association (ACTA) has recently completed its annual three-month tour of public meetings with members in six regions across Alberta. We have come up with several solutions to some of the industry’s problems:
Take back control: The trucking industry needs to take back control of our business. We should not allow the end-users of our services to dictate the rates we are paid. We need to ensure we are as efficient as possible but our rates must include a reasonable return on our investment. We then need to justify the rates we charge our customers and educate them accordingly.
Support our associations: The trucking associations have a loyal following of members and they are the movers and shakers of the trucking industry. We have to respect and appreciate their ongoing support. We need to use our power of influence and persuasion to educate non-members on the benefits of joining an industry association. If you don’t agree with your associations’ viewpoints or concerns, we need to make a better case than theirs without disrespecting them.
Replacing industry veterans: We need to do a better job of replacing our industry veterans and educating and training their replacements to be safe, professional, efficient and competitive so they understand the need to make a reasonable return on their investments and reflect that in the rates they charge. We also need to do a better job of showcasing the remaining veterans of our industry. We must capture their knowledge, experience and achievements and reward them before they leave the trucking industry.
We must adhere to a code of ethics: The ACTA and its members have developed a code of ethics and standards for its members to follow. In 2010, ACTA executives decided to raise the bar for membership -we no longer accept just any member. All applicants must meet specific criteria to be a member. If members don’t meet our new standards, their memberships will be suspended.
Working together: Trucking associations and their members must all work together with other associations and industry representatives to groom the leading trucking companies and drivers in our industry to lead by example. Education and training will play a major role in raising the bar and developing more leaders in the industry.
Keeping our balance: There are only so many customers and employees to go around. We must work together to ensure we do not oversupply the industry. We must educate the industry so they realize the negative effects of stealing each others’ customers and how that affects rates.
Improving compliance: The trucking industry has not met the expectations of compliance from industry regulators and truck enforcement personnel on a consistent basis. That’s not to say there aren’t responsible, compliant members of our industry -there are many. Unfortunately, the non-compliant members of our industry are dragging down the entire industry. CSA2010 is an initiative that has been in the works for the past five years. The program has been operating in the US and Canadian legislators and enforcement personnel are eager to evaluate this program and possibly adopt the successful components of it. This will focus on non-compliant trucking companies and drivers , which should weed them out of our industry for good.
Changing mindset: The trucking industry must also work harder to change the overall mindset of its people. The industry as a whole needs to raise the bar and be much more effective at improving our image and making us all more credible so we can regain control of our industry. The health of our industry depends on it.
I have one final recommendation for everyone in the trucking industry: find out who your local aldermen and councillors are as well as your provincial MLAs and federal MPs. Let them all know what your concerns are regarding the trucking industry and put them on the spot by asking them what they intend to do to help resolve your concerns. Follow up on what they say or do. And don’t forget to vote!
-Ron Singer is owner of Ron Singer Truck Lines and president of the Alberta Construction Trucking Association. He can be reached at 403-244-4487 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.ACTA’s Web site is www.myacta.ca.
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