Clearing the brain while weathering Hurricane Sandy

Oct. 31, 2012

When I was growing up as a kid in Rhode Island, there was a sports columnist who wrote for the Providence Journal, the state’s largest newspaper. I used to wait all week to read Bill Reynolds “For what it’s worth…” column, where Reynolds offer his opinions on all things sports, plus movies, TV, and the “real” world. It was, and still is, must reading.

So, in honor of Bill Reynolds, here is my version of “For what it’s worth…”, with a trucking twist. Without further adieu, here is my “Random deliveries.”

With all the focus on Hurricane Sandy and the devastation it has left in its wake, let’s take a moment to remember all the truck drivers who were left stranded when states up and down the Eastern seaboard closed highways. And let this be an important lesson that we need more safe truck parking. While no amount of parking will cover an emergency situation like this, it would help. And we all know we need more safe truck parking.

And while we’re on Sandy, kudos to all the utility workers from around the country who have left their families to come to what is literally a disaster zone in some places to help restore power and some semblance of life to those of us back East. A big THANK YOU to you all.

I wonder if Navistar’s announcement that it is closing its Garland, TX, plant, is just a beginning. New chairman & CEO Lewis B. Campbell has vowed to look at the entire business operations and has not closed the door to plant closings. Could more plants follow as the company seeks to rebuild itself as a stronger entity?

Speaking of Navistar, now that Carl Icahn has a presence on the board of directors, might he try to force a sale of the company? Icahn, who is a big stockholder in Oshkosh Corp., was pushing about a year ago for a merger between those two companies. He has now initiated an offer to purchase Oshkosh. If successful, how long before he begins pushing for a merger?

For truckers looking to traverse the many closed roads throughout the East Coast, the Federal Highway Administration lists road closures state-by-state. You can find the list here:

While much of the Fleet Owner staff was hunkered down the past few days preparing for, and living through Sandy, Wendy Leavitt, our director of editorial development, did a fine job keeping the news updated and even letting everyone know through a series of stories what the situation on the East Coast was like. If you haven’t read any of the stories, you should, particularly the one about how companies worked to adjust routes to ensure cargo was both safe and delivered.

Natural gas is all the rage, but what happened to electric trucks? They are still out there, of course, but this year has seen two companies – Azure Dynamics and Smith Electric Vehicles, face their share of troubles. Smith pulled its IPO after there wasn’t enough interest. Azure, which supplied powertrains for electric vehicles such as the Ford Transit Connect Electric, filed bankruptcy. Because I believe there are applications where electric vehicles are perfectly suited, I just wonder if there is a large enough market at this time to support so many different models of electric vehicles? I sure hope so.

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