SCDigest Editorial Staff
Quietly, there is growing angst among shippers and carriers about significant issues with driver shortages, concerns fueled by both changing labor dynamics and regulatory changes that may substantially impact the available driver pool.
Another data point emerged last week, as a major refrigerator carrier sent out an email we post below apologizing for its inability to handle its customer shipment volumes, and promising to hire some 800 more drivers by the end of the year. Given the dynamics, we are not going to identify the carrier, other than to say it is one of the top five refrigerator carriers in the US market:
"Dear [customer name]
Please accept this letter and my sincere thanks to ABC Company and you, [contact name] for your business throughout 2010. This is proving to be a challenging year for our industry and [carrier name]. We are grateful for your support.
I’m sure you have had numerous conversations with our people concerning capacity issues. I want you to know that this situation has my complete attention.
The purpose of this correspondence is twofold. First, given the current capacity limitations, I acknowledge our inability to provide adequate equipment to cover all of the loads you have offered. This is the result of idle trucks due to a driver shortage. Regardless of the reason, it is simply not acceptable. Second, I give you my personal assurance that we are directing every resource available to address this dilemma and my commitment that we will be successful in our efforts to overcome this problem. This is [carrier'] number one priority, and we are taking many steps to address this issue.
Additional trucks will be available as more and more are seated with drivers, and we plan on continuing the purchase of additional fleet power units, trailers and containers in anticipation of our recruitment success. We are absolutely focused on and committed to adding 800 drivers by the end of the year, a goal which certainly exceeds the manpower necessary to service all of our customers’ current and future needs.
[Contact name], we are not proud of our recent record of available capacity with ABC Company, and I assure you that we have not favored other customers over your company by providing them additional capacity at your expense. [Carrier's] integrity and reputation have been built upon a time-tested record of high caliber performance. I respectfully ask for your continued support as we work our way through this difficult driver shortage.
On behalf of all [carrier] employees, I thank you for your consideration and for your business!
This situation mirrors comments from John Smith, Chairman of carrier CRST, who at the recent CSCMP conference in San Diego, said during a panel discussion that the carrier recently tried to hire 30 new drivers. Out of an applicant pool of 300, only 6 passed the drug test or otherwise were deemed qualified. Of the 6, only two passed the Comprehensive Safety Analysis (CSA) screen.
"You can't find drivers," Smith said even in the midst of 9.6% unemployment.
(Transportation Management Article - Continued Below)