Owner operators working with Cool Runnings Ltd. seem to be doing a little better financially this year, but company president Fred Plotsky would still like to see a more robust economy.
Based in Kenosha, WI and observing its 29th anniversary this month, Cooling Runnings has the majority of its business hauling produce out and California and the Northwest.
Plotsky cites lower diesel fuel prices as a primary factor in produce truckers doing better this year. Despite less money going for fuel, the owner operators his truck brokerage works with are saying they still need $2 per mile as freight rates continue to struggle keeping up with the increasing cost of operation.
“Business is better than last year,” Plotsky observes, “but it still could be better. There is an up tick in the economy, although I still see it as pretty flat to maybe slightly better at best.”
Cool Runnings has a history of working on a regular basis with the same produce truckers. The company provides advances to drivers, but Plotsky says one sign they are doing better, is fewer advances in pay are requested. “This leads me to believe the drivers have more money in their pockets,” he says.
Still, Plotsky knows that excessive rules and regulations on the trucking industry are taking its toll. For example, he points to the electronic logs being pushed this year by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA).
“A lot of the older guys are not going to plug it (electronic logs) into the engine. They are saying, ‘you know what, I’m not going to do this, and they are hanging it up,” Plotsky says. While implementing electronic logs is not that complicated, he says it is matter of excessive FMCSA government oversight.
His truckers generally feel they are doing a good job of providing service and doing it safely. They are not hurting anyone, and trucking legally for the most part.
At the same time, Plotsky notes in produce trucking it is a challenge when there are so many multi pick ups. Delays at loading docks make it more difficult to operate legally. Yet, drivers are going to have to find a way to do this when the electronic logbooks become mandatory.
“With the multiple pick ups and delays in loading, it makes it a challenge to make on time deliveries. If you don’t get out of California on Monday night or early Tuesday morning, you can’t make it to Chicago on Friday. You can drive it, but not legally,” Plotsky concludes.