As the world wrestles with the Coronavirus, we had the privilege of discussing the struggles, the optimism, and outlook with the CEO of Load One, John Elliott.
Thanks very much for your time! As we speak today in early April, the world is experiencing something it has never seen before.
First things first, have you been able to stay healthy through this period?
Yes, myself and my family have so far not had any issues. We are lucky. But, Michigan is one of the worst hit states and our numbers are still climbing sadly. Luckily the weather is improving make it a little nicer to get out and go for runs or to get some fresh air.
What has life been like lately in operations at Load One?
It has really been a great challenge. The one constant in all of this has been change and change is happening on a daily or even hourly basis. We are fully operational with a percentage of our staff working remotely. We have invested heavily in technology the last few years and it has really paid off during this time. It has allowed us to operate at a level most other carriers are not able to when just using off the shelf software solutions. Our people have been nothing short of amazing with their commitment and drive. Their passion for the business and their dedication to our drivers has been nothing short of great. Hard times really show you what a company and its people are made of. We have really diversified over the last 18 months but almost every sector of the economy has slowed dramatically. Our health care and government verticals have been strong during this period. But when the automotive, aerospace, manufacturing, trade shows, and sports are all at almost a standstill, it is a big effect.
What has been one of your greatest struggles dealing in the midst of a global pandemic?
I think the biggest struggle is planning. I best relate it to my time in the army. You really have to look at this as a battle. The conditions on the battlefield change rapidly and often without explanation. You have to constantly assess, adapt and execute. The plans have to be modified constantly and more than ever carriers have to be nimble.
What are some things that have encouraged your drivers and your business during this time?
Follow the guidelines as absolutely best you can. Safety is everything starting with social distancing and hand washing. We have tried to acquire and supply to our drivers free of charge supply kits to include disinfectant, toilet paper, paper towels, gloves and hand sanitizer as best we can. Also we push them to use the technology in our driver app to help them manage. More than ever freight patterns are shifting and changing daily and our app gives them real time visibility to adapt and manage.
We know that projections seem to change daily, but what do you forecast for the rest of 2020 in the Expedite industry?
Well, a lot is tied to the economy and how it rebounds. But I am pretty optimistic that a percentage of the industry will have a good second half of the year. I think a number of sectors will rebound very strongly. I am not sure we will see a strong year for the automotive industry. Carriers that are primarily getting freight off of bid boards and from 3PLs will struggle I believe through the balance of the year. The number of expedite carriers will continue to decline. Going into the pandemic it was already a difficult time for many. Volumes were lower in 2020. Combined with skyrocketing insurance costs, it was forcing many out. We monitor the metrics and credit risks and were seeing many other carriers and brokers pay slower and slower and watching their credit scores decline. Many have no asset base and do not have balance sheets that can weather a storm like this. On the plus side taking weak players out of any market will be good for well-managed carriers on the other side of the storm.
What is a word of advice that you would offer to our readers about the future?
Do your best to stay healthy. Take the slower time to try and work on your truck. Be smart and conservative about your money during this period and explore some of the government programs that are being made available now to independent contractors.
Is there anything else you would like to tell our readers at this time?
If you are considering looking at changing carriers a slow time is often the best time to do it as you potentially lose less revenue in making a switch during a slower period. As always, we greatly appreciate your advice and your time. We wish all the best to Load One and stay healthy!
Visit Load One Transportation and Logistics at load1.com