J.B. Hunt holds a steady hand

J.B. Hunt TruckingWall Street, home to some of the biggest financial markets in the world. Here, investors make the trades and exchanges that affect consumers on a global scale. Countless movies and protests are focused on Wall Street due to the power contained within its walls. But companies would never reach such high levels of production, and affect thousands of lives at a time, if they could not rely on truck drivers to deliver their goods.

Due to the pivotal impact trucks have on American businesses, Wall Street has always needed to take notice of this industry. The influence of the latest recession has affected truck drivers just like many others. As people buy less, truckers haul less. But the beginning of 2013 saw some positive growth for the industry of trucking as a whole and in particular, J.B.Hunt. The trucking industry saw a significant increase in seasonally adjusted for-hire truck tonnage in May and another increase, more mild, in June. The seasonally adjusted tonnage index is up 4.7% compared to this time last year, and just last Friday, trucker shares were up collectively by about .03%.

J.B. Hunt has had its fair share of ups and downs with the rest of the trucking industry, but they have seen steady increases this year. As of mid-July, 13 stock analysts have labeled J.B. Hunt as a Hold, while 7 have listed it as a Buy. The company also reported 15¢ payments for dividends and a 10% increase in revenue for their second quarter, up to $1.38 billion. While the jumps may not be as dramatic as others have been in the trucking realm, they have been steady, and a steady increase carries more weight and steam.

Today, J.B. Hunt makes the top 10 list for major freight shippers is North America. The trucking giant, founded by Johnnie Bryant in 1969, was originally a fleet of 5 trucks and 7 trailers that supplemented his poultry business. Just ten years later, his company grew, and the trucks began hauling goods from coast to coast. One major factor the company contributes a great deal of growth to is the use of intermodal transportation. By diversifying their transportation services in the 1990s, J.B. Hunt grew from a $10 million to a $297 million company.

To borrow from a popular political adage, as trucking goes, so goes the nation. The U.S. economy is intrinsically tied to the trucking industry and what’s good for one is generally good for the other. With J.B. Hunt at the forefront, creating innovative solutions to America’s transportation needs, the rest of the trucking world has a model to follow. American businesses can trust their supplies will get where they’re going on the best road available, and truck drivers can know that they’re with a company who is in for the long haul.

To view current trucking job opportunities with J.B. Hunt, view their Trucker Classifieds company profile.

Focus on…Louisville

The city of Louisville is a major transportation hub and the largest city in the state of Kentucky, housing more than 741,096 residents. Situated along the Kentucky border, across the Ohio River from Indiana, Louisville’s central location in the United States has aided the city’s flourishing economy through the shipping and cargo industries. Louisville, KY

Since the early 19th century, the development of the city has been reliant on its location on the Ohio River. From the days of steamboats and river shipping, the Ohio has transformed Louisville’s isolated economy into a major shipping port. Louisville International Airport is home to the UPS’s Worldport, the worldwide hub of UPS. This international sorting hub has turned the airport into the tenth most busiest in the world by cargo freight. The shipping industry also prospers from the Louisville/Portland Canal (ranked as the 7th largest inland port) used by ships and the Louisville/Nashville Railroad. As important links in the city, these locations have prompted a rise in more shipments as well as over the road and intermodal truck driving jobs. Additionally, Louisville is located at the crossroads of three major interstate highways (I-64, I-65, and I-71), highlighting the importance of the shipping, cargo, and trucking industry. Truck drivers hauling freight through these three interstates are in one day travel time near sixty percent of cities in the U.S.

With all of the shipping work to be done, Louisvillians still manage to sneak in some leisurely down time with a number of fun filled festivities. Although it is considered to be a part of the Southern States, the Louisville residents and atmosphere have been heavily influenced by both the Southern and Midwestern culture. These festivities begin with a two week long opening to the well-known Kentucky Derby. The Kentucky Derby Festival caters to about seventy events beginning with the annual Thunder Over Louisville, the largest firework display in North America. Located in the Bluegrass Region and home to one third of the nation’s bourbon whiskey, the city operates a Bourbon Festival which displays some of the finest bourbons in the world.

Companies, residents, and truck drivers of every style are sure to find ways to keep busy with Louisville’s continuing growth in shipping and cargo items, as well as spending quality family time at any of these well-known events.

Check out Louisville’s profile page to find the best local truck driving jobs in Louisville that are currently available.

Truck Driver Social Media Convention postponed

The third annual Truck Driver Social Media Convention (TDSMC), scheduled for October 11th of this year, has been postponed until sometime in 2014. The convention was supposed to be held at the Harrah’s Resort and Convention Center in Kansas City, but after the further decline in Donna Smith’s health, the founders decided to call it off. Allen and Donna Smith regret having to make the tough decision but believed it was best to do so early before too many accommodations had been made. The Smith’s will be returning ticket money in the coming weeks, and participants are strongly encouraged to contact Harrah’s Resort immediately for a refund.

Allen & Donna Smith

Donna & Allen Smith

The goal behind the TDSMC is to unite people in the trucking industry to promote better conditions for truck drivers, specifically through the tools of social media. The convention is also a place where people in the trucking industry can be around others who share similar joys, frustrations, and aspirations as them, something they may not get much in their lives on the road.

The husband and wife team behind the TDSMC vision, Allen and Donna Smith, have been promoting higher standards for truckers for years. Allen Smith has been a trucker driver for over 3 decades and is now a published author. He’s also the voice behind the Ask the Trucker blog; he and Donna both work vigilantly through the blog and its social media channels to be a voice, as well as a set of ears, in the industry.

Due to their commitment to the people in the trucking industry, one of the highlights of the convention, the 2013 Safe Truck Parking Survey, will still be presented to the Department of Transportation as it is completed.

We wish Donna and Allen the best through their medical trials and eagerly wait for good news, as we’re sure many of you do too.

FMCSA clarifies required driver breaks

Following closely behind the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s  (FMCSA) Hours of Service (HOS) regulations becoming effective July 1, a notice of regulatory guidance has just been released by the agency, clarifying what conditions must be met in order for a truck driver to record meal and other routine stops made during a work shift as off-duty time.

HOS complianceIn the new HOS regulations, drivers are required to take a 30-minute break every eight hours or less. Although the FMCSA has not received any requests for clarification of the conditions, the agency says it finds the guidance out of date and that it no longer provides practical assistance to those drivers trying to keep in compliance with HOS rules.

The FMCSA is actually revising its April 4, 1997 regulatory guidance because it includes language that is “overly restrictive and inconsistent with the hours-of-service regulations. The 1997 guidance has the effect of discouraging drivers from taking breaks during the work day, or documenting such breaks in their logbooks.”

The original guidance requires written instructions from the driver’s employer as to the duration of breaks during the work shift. This is inconsistent with the new regulations. The new guidance says records must be kept, but the carrier and the driver are not responsible for maintaining a copy of the employer’s instructions at its principal place of business or on the truck.

In addition, the earlier guidance includes an “unenforceable performance standard for assessing the validity of a break that will be recorded as off-duty,” since the guidance says a break must be long enough to reduce any accumulated fatigue from driving the truck.

Now, the new guidance says:

Question 2:  What conditions must be met for a commercial motor vehicle (CMV) driver to record meals and other routing stops made during a work shift as off-duty time?

Guidance:  Drivers may record meal and other routine stops, including a rest break of at least 30 minutes intended to satisfy 49 CFT 395.3(a)(3)(ii), as off-duty time provided:

  1. The driver is relieved of all duty and responsibility for the care and custody of the vehicle, its accessories, and any cargo or passengers it may be carrying.
  2. During the stop, and for the duration of the stop, the driver must be at liberty to pursue activities of hi/her own choosing.”

The FMCSA stresses that the motor carrier does not have to provide formal guidance to drivers with regard to the specific times and locations where rest breaks may be taken. It also explains that the driver does not have to be away from the location of his truck to be considered not working and engaged in activities of his choosing.

Epes Carriers announces merger

Epes Carriers, Inc., recently announced the merger between its two subsidiaries, Epes Transport System of Greensboro, N.C., and Texas Star Express Of Rockwall, Texas. Together, the company will named Epes Transport System and will be headquartered in Greensboro.

In 1931, Epes Carriers was incorporated in Blacksburg, VA and soon began providing quality transportation services to niche markets throughout the United States and select parts of Canada and Mexico. After relocating to Greensboro in 1988, Epes Carriers has grown to become the financially strong and technologically advanced company that it is today. With the help of its driven employees and state-of-the-art resources, Epes Carriers has quickly become the largest private trucking company in North Carolina thanks to its many subsidiaries.

Before its merger with Epes Transport System, Texas Star Express was Epes Carriers’ regional and long haul dry van carrier. This division was responsible for providing transportation services to Texas and the surrounding Midwestern and Southeastern states. With a mission to offer customers superior service, Texas Star Express has always ensured customers a safe and positive experience and will continue to do so as their division is encompassed by Epes Transport System.

Epes Transport System was acquired by Epes Carriers in 1987 and operated as its truckload common and contract carrier with 48 state authority. From the start, this division has been dedicated to providing quality transportation service with a continuous commitment to excellence. Equipped with a fleet of over 850 trailers and 2,300 vans, Epes Transport System will continue to serve the eastern half of the United States and expand their reach with Texas Star Express’ former territory.

Combined, the two companies will consist of 4,000 trailers and 1,150 power units, in addition to employing approximately 1,500 employees. Texas Star Express will become Epes Transport System’s Southwestern division operating a major terminal in Rockwell. Because of the merger, the company will be able to serve the eastern two-thirds of the United States. Since Epes Carriers’ is always working to improve its quality of service, the merger between Epes Transport System and Texas Star Express only seems fitting.

Visit Epes Transport System’s company profile by clicking here for more information about the company and its current job opportunities.

Focus on…Salt Lake City

Salt Lake City is the largest, the most populous city in Utah. Founded by several Mormon followers in 1847, Salt Lake City has grown to become the core of the metropolitan area. Near the Great Salt Lake, the city boasts a growing population of over 189,000 residents. The city is one of two urban areas located in the Great Basin along the Wasatch Front, home to roughly eighty percent of Utah’s population.

Salt Lake CityNicknamed the “Crossroads of the West,” Salt Lake City has boomed with economic prosperity due to immigration influxes and mining booms that lead to the construction of both the first transcontinental railroad and the first highway. Since its beginning, the city and its residents have had continuous economic growth through industries of trade, transportation, and railroad & mining operations. In the city’s early days, most residents held positions in the steel and mining industries, a major source of income for the community. The Salt Lake City economy of today is more service-oriented among the transportation and trade industries, continually adding new truck driving jobs, local and over the road, to the roster.

Over the years, many strong companies, such as the Fortune 500 Huntsman Corporation, are headquartered in Salt Lake City. Trucking giant C.R. England Transportation has grown from it’s home roots at the Crossroads of the West to take full advantage of their central location in the western United States. Other organizations are following suit. In 2006, the United Potato Growers of America relocated their headquarters to Salt Lake City for the use of Salt Lake City International airport, the 22nd busiest in the world. With a growing number of corporations making the move to Salt Lake City, truck drivers are continually in need.

Review Salt Lake City’s profile page for the best local truck driving jobs currently available in and around the city.

Increased traffic congestion means stronger economy

increaded traffic congestionThere’s bad news and good news for truckers. First the bad news: traffic congestion increased 9.3% nationally from May of 2012 to May of 2013. The good news is that the increase is an indicator of a strengthening economy. So says the latest monthly INRIX Gridlock Index report. INRIX is a data technology company that sources real time data from approximately 100 million vehicles and devices to provide traffic and driving-related insight and information.

“The overall rise in traffic in the first five months of the year is indicative of increased confidence in the direction of the economy,” commented Bryan Mistele, CEO of INRIX. “Renewed consumer spending, especially on new vehicles, means more shoppers at stores, more cars on the road and more traffic on our streets.”

What the 9.3% increase in traffic congestion means to a driver is that an average trip driven this May in the 100 most populated metro areas took seven percent longer than that same trip a year ago. This economic strengthening may be happening in different gears for each region of the U.S., however. The largest increase in traffic congestion was in the Western U.S. at 15.7 percent. The Northeast came in second at 11.2% with the Midwest metros areas following at 9.1 percent. The South trailed all regions with only a 2.4 percent increase.

Further amplifying the connection between traffic congestion and the economy, the INRIX-reported increase corresponds with the Federal Reserve’s recent statement that the economic growth for 2013 is projected to be between a 2.3 and 2.6 annual rate, and improving to a 3.0 to 3.5 percent in 2014. The unemployment rate is forecasted to fall between 7.2 percent and 7.3 percent, slightly improved from the previously forecasted 7.3 to 7.5 percent. Unemployment numbers in 2014 are projected to continue to decrease, falling to 6.5 to 6.8 percent in 2014.

3 Challenges to Natural Gas

Alternative fuel options

Three roadblocks will impede the trucking industry’s conversion to natural gas, says Thomas O’Brien, president and CEO of TravelCenters of America. O’Brien was a speaker at the ACT Expo in Washington D.C. on June 25. He assured the audience that natural gas will likely be one of several fuel choices in the future but that the conversion from diesel to natural gas won’t be a snap. Here are the reasons why:

  1. Natural gas equipment costs more.
  2. As demand for natural gas increases, so will the price.
  3. There is little to no infrastructure for natural gas.

Instead, conversion to natural gas for trucking companies will be thought of not as a revolution, but rather, as representing flexibility, says O’Brien. The rigidity of a switch from diesel to only natural gas belies the belief that there will be several choices for fuel in the near future.

O’Brien points out that adaptation to natural gas will require visionaries who can find solutions to prevail over these current obstacles. As far as the cost of investment goes, doing the math isn’t the only way to find the answer for trucking companies wishing to convert. The value of operating flexibility for the future is also being factored into the equation.

Even though an increase in demand for natural gas will raise its price, the economic benefits of using natural gas over the road will still persist over time, believes O’Brien. The potential for savings over diesel will be even greater.

The demand for natural gas will also be a driving force for the development of an infrastructure over time. The number of natural gas trucks on the road will create an equal response and the pace of that number is accelerating. A recent survey cited 61 percent of fleet managers saying that they already have natural gas vehicles in their fleet. Eleven percent said that they have plans to add natural gas trucks while 19 percent said that they do not plan to add natural gas vehicles. O’Brien believes that there will be more than half a million natural gas powered trucks on the road within seven years.

O’Brien points to TravelCenters’ current collaboration with Shell to establish 100 TA and Petro-branded fueling stations that include LNG lanes nationwide. The first stations will be in Nevada, California, and Texas by 2014. Traffic and demand will set the stage for more to follow.

Con-way Celebrates 30th Birthday

For 30 years, Con-way Freight has provided customers with superior less-than-truckload (LTL) freight transportation services throughout North America. With 425 operating locations, 21,000 employees, and over 37,000 tractors and trailers, Con-way Freight celebrates its 30th anniversary with pride.

In 1983, Con-way Freight opened its doors with only two regional LTL carriers in the Midwest and western portions of the United States, Con-way Central Express and Con-way Western Express. Soon after, Con-way Freight added two more regional LTL carriers, Con-way Southern Express and Con-way Southwest Express, in efforts to ensure its promise of exceptional day-definite services. Although its beginnings may have been small, Con-way Freight quickly grew into an industry leader and became Conway Inc.’s largest subsidiary.

Today, Con-way Freight operates across the United States and beyond the country’s borders to parts of Canada and Mexico, while ensuring the same on-time reliable service promised from the start. Operating from its Ann Arbor, Michigan headquarters, Con-way Freight provides customers with the fastest exception-free delivery possible. With three decades of hard work and dedication, customers are guaranteed nothing less than satisfactory local, regional, and transcontinental services.

Focusing on the customer’s needs, Con-way Freight offers innovative and cost efficient services to make shipping easier. Continually striving to provide the best-in-class service, Con-way Freight is committed to working with state-of-the-art technology that benefits the truck drivers who deliver the freight. Con-way Freight offers hourly pay, varied shifts, and employee benefits that keep the company competitive among truckers. The LTL division guarantees more home time than any of the other divisions, as well as close working relationships with the customers to ensure a pleasant experience for everybody.

From a well-respected reputation to years of experience, Con-way Freight delivers it all. With Con-way Freight, customers and employees never settle for less. To learn more about current employment opportunities and trucking jobs, visit Con-way Freight’s company profile by clicking here.

Recalls involve defective ignition switches, brake issues

Non-operational brakes and unintended engine startups have incited two recent recalls issued by Navistar and Paccar respectively. Navistar has sent out a recall for 2012 and 2013 International ProStar and TransStar trucks for a possible defect that could cause brakes to become inoperative. The recall entails 7,700 trucks. Meanwhile, Paccar, a parent company of Kenworth and Peterbilt, has circulated a recall for certain 2014 model trucks of both brands that could have faulty ignition switches.

Navistar

The brake issue on the International ProStar and TransStar trucks concerns brake S-Cam tube bracket assemblies on the steer axles that have the possibility of fracturing. The recall notice has been shared on the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (NHTSA) website. Paccar explains that the fracture could cause the truck to pull to one side during braking and increase stopping distance, as well as the risk of a vehicle crash. The affected trucks were manufactured between August 1, 2011 and July 10, 2012.

Although owners of these trucks have been notified, Navistar says a remedy probably will not be available until August. At that time, the S-Cam tube bracket assemblies will be replaced at no cost to the truck owners by the dealers.

Call Navistar at (800) 448-7825, and reference recall number 12530 for more information.

Paccar

The faulty ignition switch on Kenworth and Peterbilt trucks lets the truck start when the key is only partially in the ignition and not turned. The Paccar recall was issued at the end of May and involves the following trucks: 2014 Kenworth models T170, T270, T370, T470, T660, T680, T800, T880, and W900 trucks manufactured between May 6-17; and 2014 Peterbilt models 330, 337, 348, 367, 384, 386, 388, 389, 89K, 567, 579, and 587 trucks manufactured between May 1-17.

A sudden or unintended engine startup could harm a person working in the engine compartment. Unexpected vehicle movement also could be a result with standard transmission vehicles, which could result in an injury or crash. Owners will be notified by Paccar, and ignition switches will be replaced by the dealers at no cost to the owners.

For more information, call Kenworth at (425) 828-5000 and reference recall number 13KWF; or Peterbilt at (940) 591-4000 and reference recall number 0513-E.