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Embrace and adapt to change

Feb. 27, 2023
Trucking is an essential industry and has adapted to economic headwinds and changing regulation. No matter what developments or technologies lie in store, be prepared to change your operations.

If you read any economic or trucking industry forecasts, you have undoubtedly heard the word “recession” mentioned. However, there does not seem to be any clarity around when this recession will take place, how long it will last, or how deep it will be.

Still, signs seem to be pointing to some sort of downturn, and even if it is mild and of short duration, the trucking industry will surely be impacted.

I was at a meeting recently in which one of the speakers talked about the need to be adaptable. Ty Bennett, founder of Leadership Inc., believes we are facing an intense period of rapid change. I think that is true for trucking as many shippers and carriers are making commitments to a more sustainable goods movement. At the same time, we are seeing some impressive developments in the area of autonomous trucking.

However, we need to remember that nothing happens overnight in trucking. Change takes time as fleets only turn over a portion of their tractors and trailers each year. In essence, we are looking at a decades-long switch from diesel-powered trucks to those powered by alternative fuels.

I suspect that when some people talk about being adaptable, they think they have to make wholesale changes to what they have been doing. In his presentation, Bennett pointed out that to master something new, you need to master the fundamentals first. 

I think trucking has the fundamentals down pat. Whether the truck is powered by diesel, compressed natural gas, or electricity, the end goal is the same—get the customers’ goods delivered where and when they are needed at a price that is good for the shipper and allows the fleet to profit as well.

See also: Take the fork in the road to zero

Trucking has a long history of adapting, especially when you consider things like deregulation, the ELD mandate, and EPA emissions regulations, not to mention the day-to-day things drivers have to do to adapt to changing weather and traffic conditions.

Bennett did say something else that I found interesting: “We think of change as being associated with loss. We automatically think that change will make things worse.”

His suggestion was to think of change as equally about growth, opportunity and forward momentum.

I like that view of change as well as Bennett’s thoughts on starting with mastering the basics of new things and then being adaptable as circumstances change. And circumstances will change.

We don’t know what geo-political forces are on the horizon that could cause disruption, what the economy has in store for us, or if COVID was the last pandemic we will have to face.

We do know that trucking is vital to our nation and that, no matter what curve balls are thrown our way, we somehow manage to continue to get goods delivered in an efficient manner.

During this next decade, when it is likely we will see technology transform the world yet again, stick to the fundamentals but be prepared to adapt and change. If you do that, you will come through the transformation even stronger than you were before.

Jane Clark is vice president of member services for NationaLease. In this position, she is focused on managing the member services operation as well as working to strengthen member relationships, reduce member costs, and improve collaboration within the NationaLease supporting groups. Prior to joining NationaLease, Clark served as area vice president for Randstad, one of the nation’s largest recruitment agencies, and before that, she served in management posts with QPS Cos., Pro Staff, and Manpower Inc.

About the Author

Jane Clark | Senior VP of Operations

Jane Clark is Senior Vice President, Operations for NationaLease. Prior to joining NationaLease, Jane served as Area Vice President for Randstad, one of the nation’s largest recruitment agencies, and before that, she served in management posts with QPS Companies, Pro Staff, and Manpower, Inc.

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