Trucking Industry Recognizing New Challenges
Paul Easson took over the Berwick-based family trucking business, Eassons Transport Ltd., from the previous generation and is passing it along to the next one.
In the meantime, he figured out a number of things about staying afloat in an industry that’s changing quickly.
“The big thing that has changed is that you have to provide more information, faster,” he said last week. “Everybody is into data.”
For example, because much of what the Easson trucks are carrying is temperature-sensitive, the company has to stay on top of evolving regulations and customer expectations in that area.
As a result, each cooling unit on every trailer has a data recording function, he explained. If you need to see how cold the truck was during a certain time period, and whether the temperature vacillated more than was appropriate, the information is there.
“You can go back several weeks and get readings on a less-than-hourly basis,” he said.
Similar data monitoring and tracking means clients can always check on things like where a particular load is or if it’s still expected to arrive on time.
The shift to just-in-time delivery, which has companies receiving shipments frequently instead of keeping lots of inventory on hand, was a change that required the trucking industry to adapt, he said.
“It becomes more critical to plan your deliveries so you get there on time.”
Being familiar with new tools and technologies, then, is a priority for anyone in this line of work.
Easson said two industry organizations, in particular, have been a source of support and information over the years. The Atlantic Provinces Trucking Association and the Canadian Trucking Alliance have numerous programs that make a huge difference for their members, he said.
Ryan MacDonald, like Paul Easson, joined a family business, Sydney-based Tom MacDonald Trucking. A member of the Atlantic Provinces Trucking Association, he said, “Paul Easson is my mentor. He’s got a great ear to listen to my problems and he understands them. He started where I am today.”
MacDonald said he finds Easson’s advice solid and helpful. In addition, he said being part of such industry organizations allows people to meet others in the industry that would normally be difficult.
It helps blur the lines between competitors in ways that benefit everyone and keep the focus on some overarching goals because “you sit around with your competitors and discuss problems,” MacDonald said.
There’s still another advantage to participating in industry organizations, MacDonald said.
“A lot of the vendors in the industry support the association; you get to meet these people.”
If you need help later or have a problem with an invoice, it makes all the difference to be calling someone you already know and have spent time with.
For people in a variety of sectors, involvement in such industry organizations offers benefits and opportunities that would be impossible to find elsewhere. As more businesses change hands, with the older generation retiring and the next one stepping up, these are important ways to pass along the knowledge, skills and business culture that people have in common.
As Easson said, the complexity of the issues facing the trucking industry will always mean people involved in it have to be ready to take on new challenges.
To stay current in your industry, join up with the other folks who are in the same place.
Thriving in Tough Times is a series developed by the business development centre at Saint Mary's University in Halifax.