Is the Trucking Industry Shutting Down?

There is a lot of homework that goes into choosing the right carrier to work for as a driver and although we often tell truck drivers to research an environment there is only so much a driver can do. You can look at the carrier’s equipment, talk about their maintenance plan, discuss their operating patterns, and look for good company culture. That won’t always tell you the whole story as many companies aren’t going to give you their financial information to review. So how do you know if the transportation industry is something you should pursue?

Someone brand new looking at the industry may be very confused. Job fairs are increasing with carriers looking for multiple drivers to work in their operations showing that there is lots of freight that needs to be transported. On the other hand there have been many stories of late of carriers going out of business on both sides of the border and of all sizes. Is the trucking industry shutting down?

There are many factors that have gone into the latest trucking operations closing from tariffs to operating areas and other factors. Contracts and shipper relationships are a huge factor in a carrier’s success and can be the difference between staying in business or not. Anyone who has been in business will tell you that business relationships and cash flow can make or break a business. Freightwaves has written an article about the latest trucking closure by Timmerman Starlite Trucking and some of the factors that may have been responsible the closure. You can read the article at http://www.freightwaves.com/news/trucking-apocalypse-continues-california-truckload-carrier-latest-victim-regulations-blamed

Company-closed

I honestly don’t think the trucking industry is shutting down, it is doing what it always does in cleaning itself out much like Mother Nature. The strong survive and the weak die off in wildlife and business is no different. There are many factors that have increased expenses for many carriers such as electronic logging devices, increased driver pay, changing regulations, and increased equipment costs. Businesses that don’t evolve with the changing times will be in trouble in an uncertain business climate such as we have today.

Depending on how long you have been in the industry you may have seen this happen in the past. I remember back in the late eighties we went through a similar process and back then we used to say there will only be five trucking companies in Canada. Many will either be bought out or dissolve. I don’t have a crystal ball so can’t tell you which companies will be around in the future, but I can tell you that the trucking industry is not shutting down. It will continue to change as it has always done and companies will start up and go out of business as they have always done. As a driver it is important to do your homework to the best of your ability and look at companies that have longevity and are improving or evolving with the changing times. A carrier with strong customer relationships in freight markets that are stable will be around in the future if they are operating properly. I believe trucking will never go away, but it will change!

find-a-ttsao-Carrier

About the Author

Bruce Outridge has been in the transportation industry for over 30 years. He is an author of the books Driven to Drive and Running By The Mile, and host of The Lead Pedal Podcast. TTSAO also known as the Truck Training Schools Association of Ontario has certified member schools in the truck training vocation ensuring quality entry level drivers enter the transportation industry. To learn more about the TTSAO or to find a certified school in your area visit www.ttsao.com

Driving School Culture Starts at the Top

Being involved with the training industry over many years both directly and indirectly I have heard reviews and complaints on certain types of schools in the industry. I have worked with good schools and heard and seen the bad ones. Many times looking at the schools from the outside may or may not allow you to tell the good from the bad. Both will have trucks, offices, and a website. The real difference comes when applying to a school, starting a school, or operating a successful school?

The industry has been changing over the years with the implementation of Mandatory Entry Level Training and certification processes by the Government that are ensuring that the proper training programs are available to the market. Incident rates have been climbing in recent years and training is being blamed for part of the problem.

When you think of it training facilities can implement many of the Government requirements, but that still won’t make them a good school. The reason is that the culture of the school is really determined by the staff or management of the facility and the dedication to safety and training of the students. If I have a school and am just concerned with putting students through the program in the fastest way possible then that won’t be the best school to attend even if certifications are in place.

Man driving tractor

There have been many reports of students being crowded into a truck with one instructor and showing them a specific route to pass the test. Other reports include instructors doing business on the phone when they should be training or cookie cutting courses in order to charge more money.

A school or company with a good culture will train their staff properly, offer quality in their course material, and have a focus on safety instead of value over money. They will have a good culture that drips down from the top throughout their curriculum and staff ensuring students have a successful program helping the industry have successful workers. Culture is king!

If you are a potential student looking for a training facility then talk to other students and make sure the programming is thorough, staff are safety minded and professional, and the training program will give you all the tools to start a successful career in transportation.

If you are an instructor in the industry ensure you really care about the learning process for your students and that they have the training to be safe professional drivers when they complete the program.

If you are a school owner or company providing training realize training is not about just filling the seats with bodies, but ensuring everyone providing training and contact from trainer to reception is offering quality service. The culture has to come from the top down.

If you are looking to start a training facility deciding on the type of training facility you will be operating and supporting through your business decisions will be paramount. No matter how much making money enters the equation the difference between success and a good name in the industry is culture. If you would like to learn about the steps for starting a training facility the TTSAO has the process documented on their website. You can find the information by clicking here.

Start an Accredited School with TTSAO

About the Author

Bruce Outridge has been in the transportation industry for over 30 years. He is the author of the books Driven to Drive, Running By The Mile, and host of The Lead Pedal Podcast. TTSAO also known as the Truck Training Schools Association of Ontario has certified member schools in the truck training vocation ensuring quality entry level drivers enter the transportation industry. To learn more about the TTSAO or to find a certified school in your area visit www.ttsao.com

Don’t Be Afraid of the Border-Prepare for It!

As we sit between Canada’s Birthday of July 1st and the United States Independence happening on July 4th I felt it was similar to crossing the border in a truck. When talking to drivers at recruiting events or schools many are afraid of the border. They prefer driving through Canada only and may not want to experience the border due to the many stories that they hear from other drivers. It doesn’t matter whether that driver is Canadian based or U.S based the feelings are the same. Unfortunately what those drivers don’t realize is that those that have trouble at the border often weren’t as prepared as they should have been.

I remember my early experience at the border. I was very early in my career as a driver, in fact I had only been across the border in a truck maybe two times before. Just like many new drivers I jumped into truck ownership very early and this was the first time in my own truck taking a load of furniture across the border. I was a partner in the truck with my friend who had taught me to drive and we had taken a couple of loads across the border in his Father’s truck who was also an owner operator in the furniture industry.

I still remember that night. We were moving someone from Ontario Canada to Northern New York State. We had an old cabover Ford truck that we had refurbished and reworked for about $10,000 which is big money to someone only 20 years old. My partner Andre was the one who handled the paperwork for the border and we had decided to cross the border late at night as we were running as a team. We arrived at the border and went through the normal process of submitting the paperwork and sitting in the waiting room at the border.

I remember the room being cold, dark and a place that you had a feeling you could be left there indefinitely if your paperwork didn’t clear properly. After about an hour waiting in this little room with drivers sleeping and looking very disappointed with the simple fact of being there we heard our names called. Happy to be leaving we jumped to the counter to get our release form. Instead of our release form we were told to back our trailer into the dock and we returned to the cold dark room. Four hours later we were called to repack the furniture they had torn down which took us another hour to do. In total we were there for six hours with no explanation as to why such a long delay.

I would have not been blamed if I never wanted to cross the border again. Instead I spent countless years crossing the border and for the most part trouble free. Oh there has been a few delays due to traffic, there was the time there was a trucker strike, and of course there are a few times when the load wasn’t correctly documented by the shipper. For the most part it has been a good experience. Out of my 25 year career 10 of those were operating south of the border and I am glad that I wasn’t scared off by that early experience.

If I can offer some advice for those of you currently crossing the border or thinking about going that route is to be prepared. Over the years I have found having your paperwork in order, knowing how your truck is loaded, and being professional when presenting paperwork or speaking with border personnel is the best defence in reducing delays at the border.

Speaking of the border I would like to take this time to wish our American friends Happy Independence Day, may it be a safe and happy day.

Truck-with-american-flag

About the Author

Bruce Outridge has been in the transportation industry for over 30 years. He is an author of the books Driven to Drive and Running By The Mile, and host of The Lead Pedal Podcast. TTSAO also known as the Truck Training Schools Association of Ontario has certified member schools in the truck training vocation ensuring quality entry level drivers enter the transportation industry. To learn more about the TTSAO or to find a certified school in your area visit www.ttsao.com

Robert Wallace Barclay September 11th, 1955 – June 12th, 2019

It is with great sadness we announce the passing of our dear friend Robert “Rob” Barclay. Rob was a very passionate member of the TTSAO and served various positions on the board throughout the years including 3 three 2 year terms president. Rob’s commitment to safer roads saw him lobby for the now implemented MELT program in Ontario. Rob proudly sat as co- founder of Crossroads Truck Training Academy where he delighted in molding new drivers into the very best that they could be. Rob’s reach was far and wide in the industry and he will be sorely missed. 

Ken Adams
Chairman of the Board TTSAO

Robert Barclay

Rob passed away Wednesday, June 12th, 2019 at the age of 63, peacefully, at home, with his loving wife by his side.
Rob was born on September 11th, 1955 in Toronto, Ontario. He is predeceased by his parents, Martha (Nimmo) and Robert Barclay. Rob was a beloved brother of Brenda (Trevor) Eugent, Gord (Karen) Barclay, and Doreen (Andy) Harris. He will be sadly missed by many nieces and nephews, and great nieces and nephews. Rob was a cherished friend, for 50 years, and beloved husband to Pamela Livingston. He was a loving Step-Father to Mackenzie (Krystal) Mercer, and Jay Mercer.
Rob lived an exciting life. He lived in Ontario, Alberta, British Columbia and Scotland, making many friendships, memories, and having great adventures, all throughout his life. He was an extraordinary person, who led an exciting and multifaceted life – he was a Master Yachtsman, a business person, a guitar pickin’ cowboy, and a musician. He lived a well-loved life and will be missed by many friends and family.
For those wishing, donations may be made to the Canadian Lung Association or the Canadian Heart and Stroke Association in Rob’s memory.

Canadian Trucking Has Come a Long Way

As Canada reaches another birthday I can’t help think about the changes the trucking industry has come through over the years. I wasn’t around in those early 1900’s when the trucking industry was being born to supplement the rail industry and help with the war efforts but I have been around the industry since the early 1980’s and have seen a number of changes from deregulation to dangerous goods to truck equipment changes. I remember those days when the Teamsters were the largest union in the industry, truck drivers drove with uniforms including ties, and there was courtesy on the road. I remember the camaraderie at truck stops and the road where drivers would help other drivers or the general public when broke down at the side of the road.

The industry was a real mix in Canada back in it’s day. We were thought of as the dumping ground for people with a lack of education but it wasn’t really a place for hoodlums. In the early days feeding families took priority over education and there was a lot of work available due to the development of the Country. There was a time when you could not operate on certain days of the week depending on your freight type and that was changed to meet the demand of the people of Canada.

Deregulation opened up the transportation market being a major change for the industry in the late 1980’s and some will argue it was good or bad depending on the person you talk with. To that point companies had to buy licenses and permits to operate even in a local area and much of that was removed with deregulation. In todays market if you can buy a truck with authorization you are set to go. In older days carriers built relationships with the shippers and bought trips permits based on those travel lanes and relationships.

If you would like to see a timeline video for the industry have a look at the video below by the Ontario Trucking Association on the timeline of the industry.

Today the industry is becoming a technology advanced industry affecting everything from drivers to equipment. Safety is now at the forefront and security of freight has become more prominent as our World shrinks in a global market. Although we have developed the industry to be one of the most important industries in Canada responsible for supplying goods and services for Canadians across the Country we are still struggling with old images and a traditional mindset that is not attractive to new generations. It will be interesting to see where the industry goes in the future and I look forward to being part of the industry for a long time and doing my part in a small way to hopefully make it better.

On behalf of myself and the Truck Training Schools Association of Ontario I would like to wish all Canadians a Happy Canada Day. Think about all of those in the trucking industry that has helped make Canada a great place to live.

Canada waving flag
Canada waving flag

About the Author

Bruce Outridge has been in the transportation industry for over 30 years. He is the author of the books Driven to Drive, Running By The Mile, and host of The Lead Pedal Podcast. TTSAO also known as the Truck Training Schools Association of Ontario has certified member schools in the truck training vocation ensuring quality entry level drivers enter the transportation industry. To learn more about the TTSAO or to find a certified school in your area visit www.ttsao.com

Job Diversity Leading Attraction to get into Transportation

Have you ever been attracted to a job where the money was attractive and once in the industry you found it felt like a dead end? Once you started down that path you saw that everyone ended up doing the same job and there was very little career building areas to move around. When that happens boredom sets in and it is just a matter of time before you feel stuck and unfulfilled. This happens in many manufacturing environments where employees focus on a high hourly wage and benefits hoping longevity will see them through to retirement. We have all seen the writing on the wall when that happens and a plant closes down after a many years in operation.

TTSAO Conference 2018

I recently attended an interview session for people in the trucking industry asking them various questions about what they thought of the transportation industry as they have evolved in their careers. As we completed a number of the interviews I began to see two common themes throughout no matter who I talked with. The two themes were people in the industry and the different career paths available to those in the industry. It really came down to options. The questions for the interviews were created by a separate group so it wasn’t as though I themed the questions or asked them in certain way. I was asked to interview certain people about their career experiences and document the answers. During the course of 28 interviews half of those people mentioned that the opportunities available in the industry through different career paths were the top reasons that people stayed in the industry. Many responded that they started as drivers and over the years have had a number of job titles over their long career with many being with the same employer. I interviewed one person who began her career as a driver, went into dispatch, and is now in safety and operations. Others began in the family business and are now in sales, management, or insurance. Having opportunities to stay in such a diverse industry was the leading reason that transportation was such a lucrative industry to be part of.

The people were the second reason. One quarter of the interviewees said that the people kept them wanting to be involved in the trucking industry. Some said they could pick up the phone and call colleagues in the industry to get information even if that colleague was with a different employer. Others felt the people were genuine in trucking and the type of people that understood what a person can go through allowing them the information needed to solve problems. Others made lifelong friends in the industry that they have not found elsewhere.

TTSAO December 11th Meeting

I myself have experienced the same thing in this industry. I was one of those people that started my career not even in the driver’s seat but carrying furniture into houses as I moved people around the Province. That led to a career as a driver for over 25 years, a fleet supervisor, a trainer, author, and now podcaster just to mention a few. It is all due to the knowledge and friendships I have experienced in the trucking industry. I hope you get a chance to experience what myself and so many others have experienced in this industry in the people and opportunities. It will change your life, it did for me!

find-a-ttsao-Carrier

About the Author

Bruce Outridge has been in the transportation industry for over 30 years. He is the author of the books Driven to Drive, Running By The Mile, and host of The Lead Pedal Podcast. TTSAO also known as the Truck Training Schools Association of Ontario has certified member schools in the truck training vocation ensuring quality entry level drivers enter the transportation industry. To learn more about the TTSAO or to find a certified school in your area visit www.ttsao.com

Trucking for the Right Reasons

There is a certain wonder about life on the road and how people cope. People wonder about truckers in the trucking industry such as where they go, who they see, and how they handle the loneliness. We wonder the same thing about nomads, caravaners, and other people that seem to float from place to place not knowing what the next turn will bear. To some it is romantic and to others it is as scary as walking down a dark street at two in the morning.

I recently read an article from a young person thinking about getting into the trucking industry who currently worked from home and felt they had no social life. He didn’t get out to see people and was becoming bored with his job. This person felt that getting a job as a truck driver would change the loneliness and make their life more exciting. The question is, is that the proper reason to get into the trucking industry?

Another situation that arises is when someone takes a driving trip for vacation decides they like to drive and wants to move into the transportation industry. Driving on vacation and driving for work are two different things. Vacation is great for seeing the sights and enjoying the many great places across the Country. It is not always possible to do that in trucking.

The reasons above are what people tell us many times in conversation as to why they may want to get into the trucking industry. It may be a start but is not enough to begin a career without some more investigation into the lifestyle. If we take the scenarios above we will see that for the first person the reason of getting out of the house may be a first step to looking at the industry, but have they thought about life on the road as a whole. Life on the road is not for everyone and the driving is just one part of the job. Many drivers suffer from loneliness as well so trucking may or may not be the answer.

Driver-in-truck

In the second scenario a driving holiday is a beautiful way to see the beauty of North America with family and friends. You can stop when you want, drive to important monuments, and take your time enjoying the surroundings. You can do that in a truck as well but you may not have the time or access to go to certain places.

So how do you decide on a job in transportation? The scenarios above may be a good start to thinking about being in trucking but you need to look at the job and lifestyle as a whole. I think the trucking industry has a lot to offer any person whether in a truck or not but is also not for everyone. You do get to see the Country and you can see others on the road, but it can be a drastic change to people coming into the industry without the knowledge of the lifestyle. The best place to start the conversation about trucking is with a carrier or trucking school. An even better place to start is at www.ttsao.com

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About the Author

Bruce Outridge has been in the transportation industry for over 30 years. He is the author of the books Driven to Drive, Running By The Mile, and host of The Lead Pedal Podcast. TTSAO also known as the Truck Training Schools Association of Ontario has certified member schools in the truck training vocation ensuring quality entry level drivers enter the transportation industry. To learn more about the TTSAO or to find a certified school in your area visit www.ttsao.com

Choosing a Carrier Based on Road Check

The first week of June each year is a program called Road Check which is a collaboration between law enforcement and inspection agencies across North America showing the public the importance of road safety by inspecting commercial vehicles for 72 hours straight. This happens every year at the same time and is well promoted to industry and the public. After 72 hours there will be a number of charges laid against non-compliance carriers or drivers and possibly some will be placed out of service. Charges can affect the companies safety rating, the driver’s driving record, and possibly the chance for driver employment for the future so it is important to understand the importance of the program. It’s important to note that inspections can happen at anytime of the year, but during Road Check there is high likely a driver will be inspected. How will Road Check help me find a carrier?

Road Check is widely publicized in the industry and safety minded companies will go the extra mile to ensure that the equipment going down the road is safe and compliant. Some do mini inspections in their own yard while others will have mechanics look at each piece of equipment and change out anything that looks close to being non-compliant. A company that takes safety to the next level by being serious about safety is protecting their own safety rating and the ratings of their drivers.

Many drivers feel that if something is wrong with the equipment that the company will just pay the fine. That may be true in some cases but if it is part of the job of the driver to catch the default then the driver may be responsible for fine as well. Furthermore no matter who pays the fine the carrier and driver will have the fine added to their commercial vehicle operator record. This can cause problems if a driver is looking for new opportunities in the future as it will show a lack of ability to inspect their vehicle. In addition to the record issue, the delays, road service repair costs, and downtime to the driver are all elements that can’t be taken away after the fact. It is easier to do a good inspection and catch those issues before leaving the yard.

Whell and brake assembly picture

If you are in the process of looking for employment with a carrier then one of the most important factors to consider is the safety program of that carrier. Many carriers promote safety but don’t totally believe in it. You don’t want to work for those carriers as they are the ones that will leave you helpless during the inspection process. They blame the drivers for many things, don’t maintain their equipment, and ask drivers to bend the rules, you don’t want to work for those companies. You do want to work for a company that takes safety seriously and has a culture that empowers the drivers to put safety over productivity.

Ask that question to the carrier when applying for work. What is the safety rating of the company? What is your safety program like? What does the owner think of safety? These questions and more should all be asked of a carrier before signing on with them. With Road Check you can ask one more questions to test their culture, “What do you do during the week of Road Check to ensure your vehicles are safe on the road?” Hopefully the answer will make you want to apply to the right carrier. Good luck!

find-a-ttsao-Carrier

About the Author

Bruce Outridge has been in the transportation industry for over 30 years. He is the author of the books Driven to Drive, Running By The Mile, and host of The Lead Pedal Podcast. TTSAO also known as the Truck Training Schools Association of Ontario has certified member schools in the truck training vocation ensuring quality entry level drivers enter the transportation industry. To learn more about the TTSAO or to find a certified school in your area visit www.ttsao.com

3 Tips to Consider Before You Start Team Driving

There are many opportunities in our industry for people to run as teams and there are also many things to consider before you enter into a team operation as it can be a good and bad experience depending on the people involved. Understanding what team driving is and how it works should be the first step in deciding on being part of a team.

Benefits of Team Driving

I have run team a couple of times throughout my career and both times were with people I knew very well. The benefits of working in a team operation are usually money, camaraderie, and faster turn around times on trips. Team operations usually get paid for every mile of the trip whether driving or sleeping. A single driver may get paid 50 cents per mile for every mile they drive but not when stopped or sleeping. In a team operation one person drives and the other sleeps and both team members would get 25 cents per mile the whole time the truck is rolling.

If you are a husband and wife team and both have an interest in trucking then team driving is very popular. Many feel as though they are on vacation and stay out for long periods of time to enjoy the many amazing places in North America.

Teams usually driver far distances because they can keep driving and the truck doesn’t need to stop. You can drive double the distances in half the time of a single driver operation which is why it is so attractive for new people. If you make more money, turn a trip around faster, and have someone with you on the road that you enjoy then what is the downside to team driving?

What to Consider Before Team Driving

Team driving may sound like an attractive option, but there are also many things to consider before jumping into this type of arrangement. You have to really know who you are driving with while trusting them as a driver and their skills behind the wheel. Here are three things you should consider before team driving.

Safety First

Neglecting safety in any operation is bad but neglecting it in team driving can get you killed. You will be sleeping in a moving vehicle while the other person is driving at highway speeds. Are you comfortable with that and can trust that they can handle situations on the road confidently and safely. There have been many accidents in the history of trucking with team members when things went wrong. The team operations that I have seen successfully operate is where both members have strong driving skills with experience behind the wheel. Both team members need to have a safe driving mindset. Safety first!

Personality

Even the largest truck can seem small after a few days on the road and you will be with your partner 24 hours a day. Not only do you need to get along but you need to work together as a team. If one person has to clean up after the other then the operation will go down hill fast. Like minded personalities is a good start but that will only take you so far before you get tired of that person. This is why husband and wife teams work well because there is a stronger connection to each other. Make sure you get along with the other person.

Personal Time and Expenses

We all need time off, but you want to think about your personal time off. Even though a team operation can turn trips faster they also travel longer distances. If you are the type of person that needs to be home during the week or home often then team driving may not be for you.
If the team operation is owner operator based then expenses are something that should be considered. Two people eating on the road can add up quickly and if the operation is employer / employee based with one person paying expenses it may be costing you more money to operate.

Team operations can be good and bad as it really depends on the people. Spouse based teams seem to do well and many enjoy the road making the most of traveling the Country. Teams that don’t have the experience or haven’t thought through the whole process usually have a lot of trouble so really think through the opportunity before accepting a position in a team. Everything looks good on paper.

find-a-ttsao-Carrier

About the Author

Bruce Outridge has been in the transportation industry for over 30 years. He is the author of the books Driven to Drive, Running By The Mile, and host of The Lead Pedal Podcast. TTSAO also known as the Truck Training Schools Association of Ontario has certified member schools in the truck training vocation ensuring quality entry level drivers enter the transportation industry. To learn more about the TTSAO or to find a certified school in your area visit www.ttsao.com

Striving for Success in Training

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