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As summer winds down, Giltner looks forward to uptick of trucking market

A typical summer usually sees a tightening of the transportation market, as shippers across the country jockey for available trucks to haul their loads. This summer, however, has been anything but typical.

“It’s been decades since I’ve seen the transportation market as slow as it is now,” said Mark Durfee, general manager of Giltner Inc., based in Twin Falls, ID. “With all the rains in California this summer, there was almost no season there. And Arizona also had a very short season.”David-Shattuck-Trk-1564

But he said Aug. 6 that things should pick up in the next three weeks, as potatoes and onions start shipping out of the Northwest. “There is also some stone fruit starting to move out of western Idaho, so that should help things as well.”

Although the economy is performing well, Durfee said that does not necessarily translate to the transportation industry.

“Transportation is leading indicator of a slowdown in a baseline economy,” he said. “Everyone is saying how well the economy is doing, but that doesn’t give the entire picture. People are getting their products moved cheaply right now, but that is destroying the trucking industry. Every time you turn around another small trucking company goes out of business.”

Durfee elaborated, saying that shippers, especially larger ones, are sometimes short-sighted and demand rates that are less than 10 cents per mile. Giltner, he said, prefers to work in partnership with its clients, with fair rates no matter the state of the market.

“When the market is tight, we still offer our clients fair and decent rates so they could continue to be profitable,” he said. “We’re not going back to the 1990s rates that a lot of the large shippers are looking for. As it is, we’re not making a huge margin on things, and driver costs are up, equipment costs are up and insurance is outrageous. We are standing with our head above water, but it’s starting to rise a little.”

Durfee said Giltner has an outstanding relationship with its core customer base, and most don’t mind paying a fair rate in return for excellent customer service.

“We offer something that most carriers don’t, and that is 98-100 percent on-time arrivals, which is by far the biggest value we can offer. We are committed to making sure that customers get their money’s worth. If they are spending an extra 10-15 cents a mile to get their product there, we need to make sure it’s there.”

He said Giltner also offers the advantage of being compliant with new ELD laws, and looks to increase its pre-loaded program as a way to boost the efficiency of its operations.

“With the new ELD laws, it might take a little bite out of some carriers who are not in compliance,” he said. “We are ahead of that curve. We are also doing more pre-loading and purchasing more trailers, so when drivers arrive they are ready to go and do not have to spend time loading, which eats into the hours-of-service time. Our biggest customers are all pre-loaded trailers. We look to put drop trailers anywhere they can be pre-loaded. We have some very good customers that understand and know what it takes to be successful for both sides.

“It’s this kind of investment in customer service that will help everyone in the long run,” he added. “That is why we are ‘The Better Move’.”