Texas fleets see sales growth ahead, yet will spend conservatively

Feb. 25, 2013
Study also points up key ways to recruit/retain drivers

According to the Texas Trucking Alliance, the newly released Texas Trucking Industry Study shows Texas-based trucking companies expect faster sales growth in the first half of 2013, yet generally plan to be more conservative in business expenditures during that period.

The alliance commissioned the study to identify best practices in hiring, retention, benefits and safety management in the Lone Star State's truck transportation industry. The study is based on a random sampling of the more than 15,000 Texas-based trucking companies.

The study is based on responses from only trucking companies that have their headquarters in Texas.

These were among the chief findings of the study:

·         Both large and small Texas-based trucking companies were more optimistic about sales expectations than for the previous 12-month period

·         One third of the companies expect to hire more truck drivers

·         Fully 80% of the companies expect to invest in safety training and personnel (up from 37%)

·         Companies said they were less likely to add or replace trucks, with more large companies stating they would hold off on vehicle expenditures than smaller companies. (A “large” company was defined as any with 11 or more truck drivers.)

“This is a positive forecast for the Texas trucking industry,” said John D. Esparza, president & CEO of the Texas Motor Transportation Assn. (TMTA). “The development that these numbers reflect speaks directly to the vitality and essentiality of the industry and point to the many opportunities within trucking for growth and jobs.”

The study also found that trucking companies that expect to grow this year are unique in seven key ways in terms of how they recruit and retain truck drivers:

• Provide drivers guaranteed “at home” time

• Provide paid vacation and paid sick time

• Offer drivers health care and retirement plans

• Pay bonuses for longevity and safe driving records

• Provide electronic onboard recorders that eliminate the need for drivers to keep paper logs

• Provide driver safety training

• Pay referral bonuses

Those findings are significant because the recovering economy and the rise in natural gas drilling are threatening to push truck driver turnover back above 100% annually in Texas, according to industry officials.

The American Trucking Assns. reported recently that turnover for large truckload fleets rose to 90% in the first quarter of this year, the highest level since early 2008. Moreover, small truckload fleets saw a 16% jump to 71%, the highest level for that segment since mid-2008, according to TMTA.

“The Texas trucking industry is faced with an ever increasing driver shortage challenge,” said TMTA’s Esparza. “Through this intuitive study, we are equipping our members with pertinent information to prepare for these situations and giving them tools to make educated decisions about their businesses reflective of the current economy.”

The Texas Trucking Alliance is a collaboration between TMTA, the TMTA Foundation and The Bassett Firm (Dallas), Business Financial Group (San Antonio), and SelecTransportation Resources (Houston).

The alliance was created to promote best practices in the Texas trucking industry by producing distinct industry research, benchmarking performance and educating industry executives and the public on trucking trends.

The complete study is available for purchase from TMTA.

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