CCJ Innovators profiles carriers and fleets that have found innovative ways to overcome trucking’s challenges. If you know a carrier that has displayed innovation, contact CCJ Chief Editor Jason Cannon at firstname.lastname@example.org or 800-633-5953.
Cash may be king, but there is currently a line of decentralized currency vying to take the place of the all mighty dollar.
Bitcoin and various cryptocurrency kin like Ethereum or Dogecoin might be the most widely known digital currencies, but one of the more trendy quasi-monetary devices is the non-fungible token (NFT).
Hoping to cash in on the trend, 205-truck van and end dump trucking carrier Woody Bogler Trucking is leaping into the metaverse, releasing what is likely the first NFT collection in the trucking industry.
Think of an NFT like a digital baseball card, and its value is determined in a few ways: mostly its scarcity, collectability and the mass appeal of the digital artist. If you own one NFT, for example, of which 10,000 were minted, it's generally worth less than a 1-of-1 unless you find a collector in need of yours to complete their collection. In that case, the laws of supply and demand take over. And if your 1-of-1 holding was compiled by a widely revered artist, you might be holding the digital equivalent of the Mona Lisa.
"You can think of an NFT as a deed or a token," said Woody Bogler President and CEO Tracy Bogler, adding that NFTs have been a blooming personal interest. "Owning an NFT really provides a sense of belonging to a community, and we thought it would be interesting to create a collection and then offer ownership to our drivers. We realize that many people are unfamiliar with these digital assets, but we believe they have great potential in the trucking community.”
The marketplace for these digital artwork files has taken off. OpenSea, the largest NFT platform in the world, recorded transactions totaling nearly $5 billion in January. A handful of exclusive tokens by noteworthy artists have fetched millions of dollars. Everydays: the First 5000 Days – a collage assembled by digital artist Beeple – sold last year for almost $70 million at auction through Christie's.
However, Woody Bolger Trucking isn't looking to be the industry's Beeple. The carrier's collection was launched for its drivers.
The initial collection – designed by Todd Obermiller, who also handles the carrier's social media – consists of five limited release and unique Woody Bogler Trucking designs, which can be accessed either in OpenSea or held in certain crypto wallets. The Gerald, Missouri-based carrier will transfer NFT’s to driver wallets, which incur no cost to the drivers to hold. New company drivers hired in the first quarter this year will receive an NFT upon completion of their orientation and training. Current drivers will get a special edition token only available to them, but they can sell or trade them away.
Woody Bogler Trucking Director of Recruiting Corey Novotney said he sees NFTs' place in trucking as a modern-day CAT Scale trading card, with the new-age driver trading and selling them wallet-to-wallet at the truck stop lunch counter.
"They're kind of worth what the market says. I could get on our wallet right now, and I could say $200 a piece and just see if anybody buys them, and once the driver takes possession of theirs they can sell it for however much they want, or they can hold onto it," he said. "They can even put a value on it if they want to just like art hanging on the wall. Like different artists, it all really depends on who drew it."
Novotney noted that 43% of the company's drivers have been on the job more than a decade, which has made the education around NFTs and how they can be used a key part of their rollout.
"A lot of our senior guys, they're asking questions. They're like, 'What is this?' and 'What's going on?' But some of our younger new drivers, they know what the NFT is. They may not have the wallet, but they know what they are, and they want them."
Major brands have hopped on the NFT trend with companies like McDonald's and Nike each riding the wave of popularity. McDonald's NFT is in celebration of the McRib's 40th anniversary, and Nike uses NFTs to verify authenticity of its sneakers. Taco Bell released a series of NFT gifs last February and sold out in less than 30 minutes. Originally priced at $1 each, the resale value on some of the pieces topped $18,000 with others trading around $4,000.
Woody Bogler Trucking may not have the cache of Nike or Taco Bell, but the industry as a whole does, and Novotney said he hopes other trucking companies – especially those with a large driver force – hop onboard the trend because the more NFTs that are out there, the bigger the community gets and the more opportunities for drivers to trade, collect and sell them.
"Maybe if you've got this one company's NFTs, they're gonna be more valuable than this other company's," he said. "I think it'd be great to see other companies get into it. I think it would really bring value then."