As international trade surges, adventurous truck fleets could ride waves of prosperity. Isolationism and Americanism were joined at the hip for so long that many believed the terms were synonymous.
Of course, they are not. How could they be? After all, United States independence was won by restless revolutionaries determined to escape the crushing yoke of an old world's thinking.
What's more, many of our nation's founders had themselves set sail across the sea for this new world. And they didn't have any Michelin guides, consulate offices, or CNN reports to advise them before or after arrival in the promised land.
But one early leader, ironically enough, may have unintentionally laid the foundation for the disdain of all things foreign that crops up in good times and bad. In an historic speech, none other than George Washington urged the U.S. to avoid "foreign entanglements."
Maybe the wooden dentures were to blame. But clearly he didn't mean the country should bar its doors, inward or outward. Rather, Washington wanted the young nation to chart its course clear of joining the multinational alliances that were then waging war on several continents.
The father of our country may have been misinterpreted, but two decades later President James Monroe declared that the U.S. would oppose extension of European influence over any part of North and South America. No head-in-the-sand advice was that.
Americans have never been much for staying at home. It wasn't by chance that the first man on the moon -- 26 years ago this month -- was an American.
Despite history, many U.S. businesses too quickly shrink from getting a foot wet in international waters. In some industries, however, international ventures can be launched and directed right from the home office.
Truck fleets fit this bill. After trucking deregulation hit the books in 1980, many U.S. motor carriers forged ties with other truck operations and railroads. Among the advantages such links promise shippers are lower prices, higher productivity, and greater reliability.
And those are service goals that translate quite well overseas. Especially to U.S.-based manufacturers and distributors that would rather have familiar hands see their goods safely abroad.
With this in mind, truck operations are making the leap to the international stage by attracting customers with the promise of "transparent" no-hassle door-to-door service.
A good example of this kind of creative solution is provided by a new joint venture formed by Roadway Express Inc. and Intrajasa Mandaya, a Singapore-based freight forwarder.
The new firm, which will operate as Asian Roadway Express, aims to increase delivery efficiency from North America to Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, and Thailand, as well as improve access to Bangladesh, India, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka. It's expected that the joint venture will enable customers to use the Internet to track shipments from pickup through delivery.
And anyone who might be under the dull impression that we have at least one foreign freight market nicely sewed up should check how secure that back pocket really is.
Many U.S. fleets are already engaged in transborder trade down Mexico way. But plenty more think there's plenty of time to hang back. Just wait, they say, until the Mexican economy really takes off. Then we'll roll in the big rigs.
But lack of a free-trade agreement -- not to mention oceans of water in between them -- did not deter Australian shipping giant TNT from establishing a partnership with Multipack, Mexico's largest courier.
This arrangement will provide for delivery of documents and packages within Mexico, as well as to other points in Latin America. It's not hard to guess why TNT's expansive international gaze fell on Multipack. Every day in Mexico, the carrier delivers some seven-million parcels.
Happiness may be found in one's own backyard. But in today's global village, business opportunity can be found almost anywhere you look for it. And what could be more American than that?