The latest buzzwords echoed around industry boardrooms these days usually include “Market downturn,” “Soft business conditions” and “It’s a little slow these days.”
I prefer the straight-from-thehip phrase “Business is down the crapper.” Of course, when I comment on our business I clean it up a tad. If I’m talking to the boys in the corner offices, those conversations usually start off with “We’re cautiously optimistic about our market” and/or “We’re experiencing a market correction.” Whatever.
If your bottom line has seen better days, fear not. The majority of businesses everywhere, no matter what industry segment they are in, are experiencing the same problem.
It has long been acknowledged that trucking is the first in and the first out of any market downturn (notice I used “downturn,” no matter how bad business may be, never, never use the “R”word)!
Years ago, when my good friend Ted Light was publisher of this magazine, I recall he came to me with the news that the trucking market was going south. “First in, first out,” he echoed time and time again over after-work beers. It was the early 90s and honestly I didn’t really believe him. At the time, I was publishing an automotive aftermarket publication and our business had been full-steam ahead for years.
In the end, Ted was right. His crystal ball couldn’t have been clearer.
The general consensus from trucking executives at the Mid-America Trucking Show held recently in Louisville confirmed that these indeed are turbulent times.
A combination of soft freight volumes, the collapse of the housing market and record diesel prices has in essence created the “perfect storm” for bad business conditions.
Some predict things will start to turn around towards the end of this year, while others say we won’t see things change until well into 2009.
In the end, all agree the economic turn-around will happen. We will return to better times. Saying that, eventually they will be followed-up again by the bad. It’s the way it has always been and the way it will always be.
Not all is doom and gloom. Some global manufacturers are thriving through developing their businesses in countries such as China and Russia. They recognize the importance of being diverse and have taken steps not to rely solely on results from traditional markets.
I suggest we all take a page out of their books. Take the blinders off and be objective. There could be business opportunities looking you in the face.
– Rob Wilkins is the publisher of Truck News and he can be reached at 416-510-5123.