Trucking Biz Buzz

DAT Solutions: Hot July continues on MembersEdge

The spot freight market went back to work last week and recovered from a four-day holiday as the number of posted loads on DAT MembersEdge increased 35 percent. Truck posts added 28 percent, a sign that truckers returned to their full-time schedules.

Looking at the three major freight segments individually:

  • Van load/truck ratio: 5.0, down slightly despite record load volume on the top 100 lanes
  • Flatbed L/T: 38.0, and rates remain strong
  • Reefer L/T: 9.0, back to mid-June levels

Rates retreat: Without the urgency of a Fourth of July delivery deadline, national average rates backed away from their June peaks:

  • Van: $1.83/mile, down 7 cents, which is still 3 cents higher than the June average
  • Flatbed: $2.20/mile, down a penny from a two-year peak and 4 cents above June’s average
  • Reefer: $2.12/mile, down 6 cents to match the average for June

Lower rates and volumes are expected as freight activity usually tapers off during the summer and fall.

Diesel climbs: The average on-highway diesel price edged up another penny to a national average of $2.49/gallon.

Van lanes are up: The Top 100 van lanes experienced record volume last week and nationally van load posts increased 21 percent. Posted capacity jumped 30 percent nationally.

Rates? Not so much: Despite high volumes, van rates fell. Prices were lower in the Southeast, South Central, and Northeast. Allentown, Pa., lost 11 cents to an average of $2.03/mile and Philadelphia dropped 4 cents to $1.70/mile. Other van markets edged downward:

  • Los Angeles: $2.21/mile, down 8 cents
  • Charlotte: $2.25/mile, down 8 cents
  • Atlanta: $2.20/mile, down 5 cents
  • Dallas: $1.78/mile, down 6 cents
  • Houston: $1.84/mile, down 5 cents

Reefer trends: Reefer load posts increased 27 percent while truck posts were up 17 percent—again, in line with expectations following a holiday week. Reefer rates fell in many California markets, including Sacramento (down 3 cents to $2.76/mile) and 6 cents in Fresno ($2.37/mile).

Cool-lanta: Atlanta is the top origin for outbound reefer loads, and rates there were an average of 5 cents lower at $2.56/mile. Check out these lane pairs: Atlanta-Lakeland, Fla., $3.18/mile, up 15 cents; Lakeland-Atlanta, $1.38/mile, down 49 cents. As an average, Lakeland outbound was down 41 cents to $1.62/mile.

Flatbed trends: Flatbed volumes didn’t slip as expected in the first half of July. Instead, there were almost 50 percent more loads last week than the week before, and rates are holding up at the highest levels in almost two years.

Hot flatbed markets: Flatbed rates were on the rise last week in two Atlantic seaport markets: Baltimore and Jacksonville. Two Southeastern freight hubs, Atlanta and Memphis, also got a big boost. Atlanta’s outbound rates hit an average of $2.70/mile, very close to Houston’s $2.71/mile high-water mark. Houston is the leader for flatbed volume and rates.

Rates are derived from DAT RateView, which provides real-time reports on prevailing spot market and contract rates, as well as historical rate and capacity trends. All reported rates include fuel surcharges.

For the latest spot market load availability and rate information, visit OOIDA’s MyMembersEdge.com load board or tune in to Land Line Now. You can get all of the latest rate information at DAT.com/trendlines, comment on the DAT Freight Talk blog, or join us on Facebook. On Twitter you can tweet your questions to us @LoadBoards and have your questions answered by DAT industry analyst Mark Montague.

TravelCenters of America teams up with St. Christopher Fund for annual campaign

TravelCenters of America, operator of the TA and Petro Stopping Centers travel center brands, will launch its annual campaign on Aug. 1, in support of the St. Christopher Truckers Development and Relief Fund. It will be the eighth year for “Band Together.”

The SCF is a nonprofit organization that helps truck drivers suffering financial hardship due to medical problems.

The month-long campaign will run at participating TA and Petro locations through Aug. 31. During the event, guests and employees at TA and Petro Stopping Centers will be invited to make contributions. As in past years, commemorative wristbands and SCF keychains will be made available for $1 and $5 respectively. Contributions may be made at participating TA and Petro restaurants, travel stores, fuel buildings and truck service facilities. One hundred percent of proceeds go directly to SCF. 

“As we kick off our eighth year of the SCF campaign, we couldn’t be happier to continue supporting drivers in need and knowing that our customers and employees are helping answer prayers for those dealing with financial burdens due to sickness or injury,” said Tom O’Brien, president and CEO of TravelCenters, in a press release.

TravelCenters has been supporting drivers through the SCF since 2010. The TA and Petro annual campaign marks the largest single contribution the SCF receives each year. As of July 2017, the SCF has helped more than 1,900 truck drivers and their families with monthly bills, including utilities and mortgages. 

“We are so excited for another year of Band Together. This campaign is instrumental in allowing us the honor of offering assistance to drivers in need,” said Dr. Donna Kennedy, executive director of SCF. “The number of applications we receive skyrocket during and immediately after the campaign. This program not only raises money to help drivers; it clearly raises awareness for those in need. We are so appreciative of TA, the employees and the drivers that contribute.”

Professional drivers who are suffering from financial hardships due to medical problems can apply to the SCF for help. Assistance may be in the form of direct payment for mortgage/rent, utilities, vehicle payments, insurance, prescriptions and/or some medical procedures. For more information, visit TruckersFund.org or call 865-202-9428.

New Love’s locations in Ohio and Mississippi adds nearly 170 parking spaces

Truckers driving through Mississippi and Ohio will have more parking and fuel options. Love’s Travel Stops has recently announced new locations along busy freight corridors in both states.

In Mississippi, the new Love’s is located along U.S. Highway 45A and Lagoon Road in West Point. According to a press release, the West Point location sits “between the growing areas of Mississippi’s Golden Triangle region of Starkville, Tupelo and Columbus” and will serve drivers using the Yokohama tire plant. The West Point store has an Arby’s restaurant, five showers and 67 truck-parking spaces.

Circleville will host the new Love’s location in southern Ohio off of U.S. Highway 23 and Pittsburg Road, not too far from the state capital. The Circleville store offers an IHOP Expressrestaurant, seven showers, 101 truck-parking spaces and a Love’s Truck Tire Care center.

Both stores are open 24/7 and offer showers, gourmet coffee, fresh fruit and vegetables, name-brand snacks, fountain drinks and more. West Point marks Love’s 13th location in Mississippi, and Circleville is the company’s 12th location in Ohio.

Wabco wins 2017 Remanufacturer of the Year award

Wabco was recently recognized by ReMaTec with the Remanufacturer of the Year award. The award was given to Wabco’s global manufacturing business Wabco Reman Solutions.

ReMaTec’s Remanufacturer of the Year award celebrates companies and individuals who have made outstanding contributions to the remanufacturing industry for extended periods of time. ReMaTec’s international jury of industry experts judged all award nominations based on a set of key success factors, including technical excellence, commitment to quality, impact on the remanufacturing industry, and customer service

Established in 2005, the Remanufacturer of the Year award represents the most prestigious in the global remanufacturing industry. Wabco Reman Solutions was founded in 2010 and advances operational efficiency and environmental sustainability in the automotive, commercial vehicle and related industries by restoring worn or nonfunctional components to a “like new” or “better-than-new” condition, offering solutions that are fully warranted in performance and quality.

For the first time, ReMaTec jointly recognized two individuals with the 2017 Remanufacturer of the Year award: Dr. Salvador Munoz Zarate, product line leader at WABCO Reman Solutions, and Peter Bartel, engineering director at Circular Economy Solutions.

ReMaTec is known as the world’s leading platform for remanufacturing, according to a Wabco press release.

Luber-finer launches websites in three different languages for Canadian market

Luber-finer has recently launched three new websites aimed to serve the trucking industry in Canada. The websites are featured in English, French and Punjabi.

A heavy-duty filtration brand founded in 1936, Luber-finer is making it easier for Canadians to find information about heavy-duty filters for their truck and fleet. Drivers, technicians, fleet maintenance managers and parts distributors can find the following info:

  • Online parts catalog, including lube/oil, fuel/water, air, hydraulic, coolant or cabin air filters.
  • Part search
  • Cross reference: Type the part number of another brand’s filtration product into the cross-reference tool to obtain a part number and part description for a comparable Luber-finer filter.
  • Distributor locator

For the English website, go to Luberfiner.ca, for French French.Luberfiner.ca, and in Punjabi Punjabi.Luberfiner.ca.

For more information, call 800-851-3641 and follow on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.

Freight index in May reaches all-time high

The official freight index, which measures freight movement in tons and ton-miles, reveals May freight moved upward or changed little for all modes, leading to an increase in the index compared to April.

According to the Bureau of Transportation Statistics of the U.S. Department of Transportation, the Freight Transportation Services Index for May rose 2.2 percent to 126.8. In April, the index fell 0.6 percent after the index reached an all-time high in February at 126.4. May’s TSI sets the new record.

The May index is 33.9 percent above the low that was set during the recession in April 2009. TSI records began in 2000.

Trucking freight rose just slightly to 139 from 138.8, an increase of less than 1 percent. Numbers from the American Trucking Associations reveal a tonnage increase of 6.5 percent in May to 144.1 from 135.3 in April. ATA calculates the tonnage index based on surveys of its membership.

According to the DOT, the TSI’s upward movement comes despite mixed signals elsewhere in the economy. Positive growth was seen in employment, personal income and the Institute for Supply Management’s Purchasing Managers’ Index. Manufacturing and housing starts declined, while the Federal Reserve Board Industrial Production index remained unchanged.

2017 St. Christopher fundraiser ‘Band Together’ expands

During the month of August, TA and Petro Stopping Center locations will again participate in the 2017 Band Together for the St. Christopher Truckers Relief Fund.

As in past years, those making $1 donations will receive a commemorative wristband and those making $5 donations will receive an SCF keychain.

All donations go directly to SCF. Your donations help truck drivers and their families who have financial needs due to medical problems.

But there’s more, as two more nationally known truck stop chains join the effort. Band Together is on the industry calendar for TA/Petro and Coffee Cup Fuel Stops for the month of August. Sapp Brothers’ locations will “band together” for the months of August and September.

For more information regarding SCF, go to TruckersFund.org.

NACV? That new trade show in Atlanta?

The new North American Commercial Vehicle Show is likely to be a major event for the trucking industry, although not necessarily for drivers. The show is planned for Sept. 25-28 at the Georgia World Congress Center in Atlanta. Show producers expect “fleet management leaders and influencers” from around the world to attend.

The NACV is a brand-new concept in commercial vehicle industry trade shows. It’s organized and produced jointly by Hannover Fairs USA and Newcom Media USA.

The inaugural trade show focuses on truck and trailer manufacturers as well as commercial vehicle parts and component suppliers showcasing new equipment at the state-of-the-art facility in Atlanta. Approximately 400 exhibitors and 10,000 trade visitors are expected.

Trucking jobs down for third consecutive month

Transportation jobs overall scored a fifth consecutive month of job gains in June. The transport sector netted 2,400 jobs to the economy. Trucking jobs were down for the third consecutive month, but are still in the black year-to-date.

So far, the trucking subsector for 2017 has a net gain of 12,300 jobs. The truck transportation subsector experienced a decrease of 1,400 jobs in June after the industry lost 100 in May and another 100 in April. June’s job loss was the highest since September 2016 when 3,600 jobs were lost, not counting January’s job loss of 1,400 as well. For the year, the trucking subsector had a net loss of 2,500 jobs in 2016.

In 2016, the transportation and warehousing sector had a net gain of more than 19,000 jobs. Last January, transportation lost more than 20,000 jobs, the largest decrease since January 2011 when 38,000 jobs were eliminated from the economy.

Couriers and messengers experienced the largest increase with 4,200 more jobs, followed by transit and ground passenger transport at 2,100. Trucking experienced the largest loss with 1,400 fewer jobs, trailed by rail transport, “support activities for transportation” and warehousing and storage all with 800 jobs lost each. Only four of 10 subsectors experienced gains, making couriers/messengers and transit and ground passenger transport largely responsible for the transportation sector’s net increase.

Average hourly earnings for the transportation and warehousing sector were $23.81 for June – a 2-cent increase from May and up 55 cents from June 2016. Hourly earnings for production and nonsupervisory employees experienced an increase of 7 cents to $21.37 from the previous month, 36 cents year-to-year. Average hourly earnings for private, nonfarm payrolls across all industries were $26.25, 4 cents higher from the previous month. Compared with a year ago, average earnings have gone up by 2.5 percent or 63 cents.

According to the report, the unemployment rate for transportation and material moving occupations lowered to 5.7 percent compared with 6.7 percent last June, but slightly up from 5.5 percent in May. The overall unemployment rate for the country slightly increased to 4.4 percent from 4.3 percent the previous month. The number of long-term unemployed was unchanged at 1.7 million, accounting for nearly one-quarter of the unemployed.

Heartland Express acquires Interstate Distributor Co.

Heartland Express has recently acquired Washington-based Interstate Distributor Co. in a transaction valued at approximately $113 million, according to a press release.

Interstate, a dry van truckload company, was founded in 1933 and works primarily in the western and southeastern regions of the country. Its fleet consists of approximately 1,350 company tractors, 220 tractors supplied by independent contractors, and 4,700 trailers.

Founded in 1978, Iowa-based Heartland Express focuses on medium to short haul regional freight. The company’s drivers have an average experience level of more than nine years, according to its website.

“Heartland will gain significant additional traffic density in the West, and our stronger eastern network will improve service for (Interstate’s) customers in the East,” Michael Gerdin, chairman, president and CEO of Heartland, said in a statement.

With a 2016 revenue of $325 million, Interstate’s headquarters and national terminal network locations overlap with Heartland locations and will be consolidated over the next 18 months. Numerous Interstate drop yards will be eliminated, according to a press release.

The $113 million transaction value includes approximately $94 million in cash for the equity, $23 million in assumed debt and $4 million of acquired cash. After Heartland pays off Interstate’s debt, the trucking company will be debt-free with a cash balance of $50 million to $170 million of availability on its revolving line of credit.

Heartland acquired Interstate from Saltchuk, who acquired the company in 2012.

“Ultimately, we decided to look for a new home for Interstate to allow us to focus investment in other areas of our business,” Mark Tabbutt, chairman of Saltchuk, said in a statement. “Heartland offered not only a strategic fit for the business that would allow it to grow but a good cultural match for the team.”

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