Truck News


Viewpoint: Valuable input

A few years ago we embarked on a bold experiment to greatly enhance our coverage and understanding of the Canadian market place....

A few years ago we embarked on a bold experiment to greatly enhance our coverage and understanding of the Canadian market place.

We saw trucking companies and owner/operators besieged by what some coined as “the perfect storm” of challenges and desiring more constructive dialogue with the manufacturers and suppliers serving their needs to help them address those challenges. Similarly, we saw shippers struggling with their own set of challenges and wanting closer, more collaborative relationships with carriers as a way to overcome them.

All sides wanted and needed to reach out to each other but for that dialogue to be constructive it needed to be based on accurate information. And in the Canadian trucking market that was often sadly lacking, particularly when compared to the amount of data available south of the border. Carriers complained that their rates were depressed, but how did rate increases actually compare year to year or from mode to mode? They spoke about implementing surcharges for things such as detention time or border security programs, but just how successful were they in doing so? They spoke about the need to attract drivers but what exactly did drivers and owner/operators look for in a compensation package and how close was that to what the average carrier was providing? Manufacturers spoke about tailoring products to their clients’ needs but just what were the unique requirements of Canadian carriers and owner/operators?

Such information was either non-existent in the Canadian market place, hidden away in private data files or contained in sources so dispersed it was difficult to put it all together to create an accurate picture.

This was the void we tried to fill by creating our own research group to gather, analyze and compare any market research that was available and to fill in the many gaps by conducting our research. Our efforts have now grown to the point where we conduct more than eight major research projects every year, many of them in partnership with major industry suppliers, associations and educational institutions, surveying both buyers and providers of transportation services.

As a result we are able to confidently say, for example, that while carriers were able to raise their rates an average of just 1.5 per cent from 1996 to 2001, their efforts in 2004 to finally bring rates to respectable levels were highly successful with 80 per cent of shippers reporting they paid higher rates in 2004, greater than two-thirds more than said so five years ago. And we also know the exact magnitude of those increases.

As a result of our research efforts we can speak with confidence when talking about what makes for a competitive compensation package for drivers and owner/operators and the degree to which new emissions regulations impacted truck buying habits in Canada in 2002 (29 per cent of for-hire fleets pre-bought their engines and 19 per cent delayed their purchases) and the likely impact of the 2007 emissions regulations (77 per cent of for-hire carriers plan to repeat their 2002 strategy.) Being able to answer these and many other critical questions, would not have been possible, however, without your help. Survey after survey you have risen to the challenge, taking the time to respond to our surveys in such high numbers that we, our survey partners, and those auditing our surveys, could feel very confident in the results. For that I would like to extend a huge thank you.

– Lou Smyrlis can be reached at or (416) 510-5142.

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