Significant Moments in 2017
Last year was a big year for Mercer Transportation as the company celebrated their 40 year anniversary. According to Jason Schaftlein, Director of Recruiting and Retention, “It is a tremendous accomplishment for any trucking company to make it that long, especially when you think about all of the changes that have taken place in the industry.”
While the industry may be changing, Mercer Transportation is just as stable as it has always been. As noted by Schaftlein, “There are a number of staff members at Mercer that have been with the company for 35-40 years. They take a lot of pride in what they do. We have a great family friendly atmosphere.” He continues, “This is a very special place to work. I really enjoy working here. It is nice to know that we are still going strong and moving forward.”
The long term success of Mercer Transportation is attributed to both the Owner Operators that they work with and the company as a whole. “Our Owner Operators have really helped us, and their success has helped to perpetuate the success of the company as a whole,” Schaftlein said.
When it comes to 2017, Schaftlein calls it the “Perfect Storm.” “We all knew that the ELD mandate was coming, but I don’t know if the industry was ready for the mandate. That had a big effect on overall efficiency,” he said. “Companies had to pull trucks out of service to install new equipment, especially in the fourth quarter.”
Weather also played a significant role in capacity. “We had two hurricanes. Trucking is a big part of natural disaster relief,” Schaftlein said. “Assisting with natural disaster relief efforts is just another layer added to daily capacity demands. When you throw all this freight into the system at a fast rate, it puts more of a crunch on the industry.”
What we’re looking ahead to in 2018.
Going forward, Mercer Transportation expects to be strong and consistent. The company is not expecting a sluggish start. According to Schaftlein, “When it comes to what is possible in 2018, the sky is the limit. I think we are primed to set some monthly revenue records in the upcoming year.”
What we are seeing for 2018 for the trucking industry in general.
The residual effects of last year will still be impacting the market this year. “What I see this year is that all of those things that led to inflated rates going into the end of 2017 will continue to play a role in capacity for 2018. I see rates continuing to rise,” Schaftlein said. “The effects of the driver shortage will be felt. Owner Operators and Drivers are really in the driver’s seat. It is definitely going to be a driver’s market.” Schaftlein considers the shippers who’ve been throwing out higher paying freight because it is just sitting there and there’s no one to cover it. “While high freight volume is great for retaining Owner Operators, it creates an issue from a recruiting standpoint. When guys are staying busy, they don’t want to move. I don’t think in my 15 years that there has been a better time to be a driver,” he said. “Driving rates are up. Owner Operators are truly primed for success. Some of the tax incentives that we are starting to see are going to make that even more obtainable.”
He continues, “I’m pretty biased toward the Owner Operator model. More company drivers should consider switching over to their own trucks. It is the perfect time and the industry could definitely use more Owner Operators.”