Leave room to pivot, NTI tells industry

by Abdul Latheef

MEMPHIS, Tenn. – Trucking may be struggling under Covid-19, but the industry is still “very much in a position to shine”, according to the National Transportation Institute (NTI).

NTI president and CEO Leah Shaver told a webinar Tuesday that adapting to the situation is the key to success under the pandemic.

“It is very important that you know that successful business owners have to monitor rapidly changing conditions, manage expectations, and leave room to pivot when it is absolutely necessary,” Shaver said.

Expediter Services Webinar
Source: Expediter Services

The webinar, Trucking in the Covid-19 Era: Starting and Building Your Own Trucking Business was organized by Expediter Services (ES), which offers programs in the U.S. that helps clients save money on fuel, financing and insurance.

Shaver’s company provides benchmark data to equity analysts, shippers and trucking companies, large and small.

Leah Shaver. Photo: Expediter Services

NTI concentrates its studies on professional driver wages, best practices and programs, and analyzes nearly every aspect that relates to professional drivers, Shaver said.

She said there are some lessons that 2020 and Covid have taught the industry.

“One is that the world, our routine, our livelihood can change rapidly; and Two is that we have the ability to adapt quickly.”

She advised wannabe owner-operators to seek contracts with high mileage rates or percentage rates.

“But remember, that being a business owner isn’t for everyone. You have to work at it, it is a longer day. It is a seven-day work week.”

She also reminded them that a small business owner has to be consistent in daily practices for a positive outcome.

Women are ‘risk averse’

Also speaking at the webinar was Ellen Voie, president and CEO of the Women In Trucking Association.

“Our goal is to increase the percentage of women working in the transportation industry, and that includes women who are technicians, women who are drivers, women who are fleet owners, own schools, own dealerships,” Voie said.

Ellen Voie
Ellen Voie. Photo: WIT

She said rapid progress has been made toward achieving that goal since WIT was founded in 2007.

Back then, just 3% of American truck drivers were women. Right now, Voie said, they make up more than 10% of the over-the-road (OTR) driving population.

“I like to tell people, every large trucking company out there started with a man and a truck. So, our goal is to have companies out there that started with a woman in a truck.”

Voie said it is working, and in fact, not only are women becoming owner operators, they are becoming fleet owners.

“It is important to include women because women approach business differently, women are more risk averse.”

Voie also said that the pandemic had helped create a positive image of the industry. She said people outside of the industry has realized that trucking is something that really impacts them personally.

“My only hope is that they continue to remember that in the future.”

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