Drivers the brake

Business seems to be okay, says Randy Marten, president of the Mondovi, WI, truckload carrier Marten Transport Ltd. Outsiders might characterize that as a bit of an understatement since the carrier saw all-time highs in revenue and net income in 2004, as well as an 11,000-sq.-ft. expansion of its headquarters and the opening of a new terminal facility in Indianapolis. As for 05, it all hinges on the

Business seems to be okay,” says Randy Marten, president of the Mondovi, WI, truckload carrier Marten Transport Ltd. Outsiders might characterize that as a bit of an understatement since the carrier saw all-time highs in revenue and net income in 2004, as well as an 11,000-sq.-ft. expansion of its headquarters and the opening of a new terminal facility in Indianapolis.

As for ‘05, it all hinges on the economy. Currently, “freight capacity is tight, but we're assuming it could grow a little bit more this year if we see any up-tick in the economy,” Marten says.

With the economy on track to provide that up-tick, the one potential brake on growth this year continues to be the truckload segment's endemic shortage of drivers.

“Without a doubt, putting drivers in trucks is the toughest issue we'll all face this year,” Marten says. “Not until our industry adequately compensates drivers so that every one has a sign saying ‘No drivers needed’ will we be in truly good shape. We're certainly working at that every day, pushing the numbers up constantly.”

With 2,400 tractors and 3,000 trailers in its current fleet, the company has already finalized its equipment acquisition plans through ‘06 “for obvious reasons,” says Marten.

While those plans call for some incremental increases in fleet size, the goal will be to go into ‘07 with as young a fleet as possible.

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