Give thanks

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One of our family Thanksgiving traditions is to go around the table and give thanks for something good that has happened this year or some blessing that has been bestowed upon the group. Looking at the trucking industry this year as compared to last year, I think there’s a lot of good news for which we all can be grateful.

The 2007 engine emissions standards once looked like bad news, but some are seeing them as a non-issue as that deadline grows closer. In 2002, the technologies used by engine makers to meet the lower emissions standards – cooled exhaust gas recirculation and Caterpillar’s ACERT – were unproven. But that’s not the case for 2007. Tom Plimpton, Paccar president, says, “Both our partners, Caterpillar and Cummins, are ready to clear the next hurdle.”

And Paul Vikner, president and CEO of Mack Trucks, says Mack has more than 40,000 EGR engines in service today and that fuel economy and performance in the 2007 engines will be “as good or better than today.” How’s that for good news?

That’s just one example of seeing good news in what could be bad news. Consider:
The driver shortage probably feels like bad news, but recognize what it’s doing. Freight capacity is tight, and freight continues to be strong. This terrible problem may hurt your customer service, but it should be doing wonders for your profitability.

It certainly was bad news that a federal appeals court rejected the hours-of-service rules and hinted that changes unfavorable to the trucking industry were needed. But thank Congress for allowing us to live by the current rules for at least another year and avoid the chaos of switching back and forth.

Homeland security measures have caused delays and frustration, especially at the borders, but be grateful that the industry so far hasn’t experienced any serious breaches of security.

Natural disasters, including four hurricanes in Florida and other Southeastern states, have wreaked havoc with transportation, but they also have shown trucking at its finest – Good Samaritan truckers helping with disaster relief, and media portrayals spotlighting their efforts.

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And certainly you won’t thank anyone for record fuel prices, but I bet you are imposing and collecting fuel surcharges from your customers and are most happy about it.

And now for some good news: If you are reading this and still are a fleet owner, pull your chair up to my table and enjoy the feast. This Thanksgiving, I’m giving thanks for an industry that’s come roaring back – and it’s time to reap the harvest.