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How Will The Trucking Industry Fare In 2010?

BOWMANVILLE, Ont. -As the year winds to a close, no doubt we will soon be bombarded with a variety of "year's best" lists. But list compilers may have their work cut out for them this time 'round, as ...

BOWMANVILLE, Ont. -As the year winds to a close, no doubt we will soon be bombarded with a variety of “year’s best” lists. But list compilers may have their work cut out for them this time ’round, as there was little good to write about 2009 -at least economically -which saw one of the worst recessions in decades.

The trucking industry was hit hard, with many trucking companies folding and some drivers opting to get out of the biz altogether. Most economists agree that the general feeling coming into 2010 is one of guarded optimism, but will trucking be able to return to its former glory? We went to the Fifth Wheel Truck Stop in Bowmanville, Ont. to find out how drivers think the trucking industry will perform in 2010.

Paul Auger, a driver with SGT in St. Germain, Que., says he thinks it will take a while for trucking to bounce back.

“The government and the Minister of Transport, I’m sure they say things are really looking up, but I think, personally, it’s going to take a while to bounce back from the recession,” he said. “Freight has started to move and everything, but the repercussions of the recession are still going on.”

Don Haines, owner and driver for Mobile Home Express in Exeter, Ont., thinks it will take another year for things to turn around, adding that his own company is down about 40% since the recession hit.

“Everything is going down, yet not coming up. People aren’t spending money. (Our cargo) is a high line thing for cottages and stuff. Mine is going to a KOA camp -they rent them out. We find it’s pretty slow. Insurance and fuel don’t go down though. We keep telling them we should be paying by the day and they say no for insurance.”

Jamie Haines is only slightly more positive than his father Don, saying that things will be at least a little better in 2010.

“I think everyone is just starting to loosen up a little bit and things are just starting to pick up a little bit, but it’s going to take quite a while to get everyone back being not nervous to spend money, if they have any left.”

For himself, 2009 was not exactly a banner year: “Not very good at all,” he said. “It was quite slow, and any money you did have saved, you used up, or any investments you had seemed to go right down.”

Keith Banks, an owner/operator from Markdale, Ont. says out-of-control taxes are going to kill any chance the industry has to pull themselves up quickly.

“One word:HST. That’s going to kill us. The provincial government doesn’t seem to care -all they want to do is tax, tax, tax. How much more can we take? Not just truckers, but everybody. You can’t just keep taking out of our pockets; there’s nothing more there.”

As for the government providing companies like AIG and GM bailout money, Banks says, “It’s the biggest kick in the head that you could ever get.”

Darren Meiklejohn, a driver with XTL Transportation out of Etobicoke, Ont., says the industry will eventually return to its former status, adding that his own company has been able to keep quite busy despite the downturn.

” Our company has got numerous different products that we carry on more than one lane, so they’ve kept us actually fairly busy for the most part. It has slowed down a little bit, but myself, I’ve had pretty steady miles. I haven’t really felt the tension as much as a lot of guys have.”

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