XPO selling its intermodal business | Shipper conditions remain negative

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Trucking news and briefs for Friday, March 25, 2022:

XPO sells its intermodal business

XPO (CCJ Top 250, No. No. 6) announced Friday morning the sale of its North American intermodal business to STG Logistics for $710 million.

XPO Logistics Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Brad Jacobs noted the divesture aligned with XPO's goal of "becoming two great companies," each publicly traded. XPO will be the third-largest less-than-truckload provider in North America and one of only a few national networks. 

“This divestiture simplifies our business model and moves our capital structure closer to investment-grade — two priorities in our strategic plan to unlock significantly more value for our stakeholders," he added. "We’ve completed a key step in preparing for our planned spin-off, when we’ll separate XPO into two publicly traded leaders in less-than-truckload transportation and tech-enabled brokered transportation services.”

The divested intermodal business will be known as STG Intermodal and operate under parent company STG Logistics. The business is expected to operate exactly as it does today. In all, approximately 700 people will immediately become STG employees.

ATRI calls for carrier input on young employee utilization, apprenticeships

The American Transportation Research Institute (ATRI) has launched a new survey to quantify the industry’s experience in recruiting, training and retaining young adult employees. This survey is part of a larger study identified by ATRI’s Research Advisory Committee as a top research priority in 2021 to examine how the industry can best integrate younger adults into trucking careers. 

“As trucking fleets continue to address workforce challenges, understanding how to tap the potential of this nation’s younger employees is critical,” said ATRI President Rebecca Brewster.  

Trucking fleets are asked to provide input through an online survey by April 22, documenting Millennial and Gen Z involvement in the trucking industry, carrier perceptions of the DRIVE-Safe Act pilot program and recent developments in driver apprenticeship programs. This timely research will provide valuable guidance for cultivating an environment in which young adults can thrive in trucking careers. All submitted data will be kept strictly confidential.

Mack expands its roadside assistance service

Mack Trucks expanded its Mack OneCall 24/7 roadside assistance service and support offered through the Mack Uptime Center with a new digital tracking feature that enables increased and real-time communication between drivers or fleet managers and roadside assistance providers. This removes the guesswork about arrival times and allows customers to make more informed decisions.

The expanded OneCall service features faster dispatching, which reduces wait time by offering an improved estimate time of arrival for roadside assistance providers through a digital platform. It also improves visibility and live tracking by allowing customers to see exactly when roadside assistance will arrive via an interactive map, similar to ridesharing applications. The expanded service also reduces additional phone calls as it enables customers to communicate and receive status updates directly via text messages.

Shippers likely facing negative conditions at least through 2022

FTR’s Shippers Conditions Index (SCI) fell sharply in January to -10.1 from the December reading of -6.9 as rising fuel costs and higher freight rates resulted in difficult market conditions for shippers in January despite a slight relief in freight demand and utilization. 

The near-term outlook is also negative as the February forecast already presumes the toughest market conditions since March 2021. Todd Tranausky, vice president of rail and intermodal at FTR, noted the war in Ukraine increases the odds that conditions will remain significantly negative for a longer term.

"Shippers should not expect relief in the next few months or quarters from what the pain they have experienced recently in higher rates and particularly fuel surcharges," he said. "The war in Eastern Europe increases uncertainty around demand and prices in the weeks and months ahead and provides little reason for optimism that conditions will improve meaningfully. It is nearly impossible to see a scenario whereby shippers experience neutral conditions before 2023 without a significant change in underlying economic and geopolitical conditions.”