Years have a rhythm in the trucking industry. Freight patterns move in a similar manner from season to season. At least they used to. Covid led to temporary shutdowns at plants, warehouses, and retailers. Consumer spending habits changed as more people spent more time at home. And the supply chain continues to feel the impact. Crete Carrier Corporation President and COO Tim Aschoff shared an illustration of that during a recent interview on Sirius XM’s Dave Nemo Show.
“Last November or so, I was in a distribution center of one of the large retailers in the United States,” Aschoff said. “And I noticed a bunch of patio furniture sitting off to the side. I said, ‘Wow, you got your patio furniture in early for next spring.’ And he said, ‘No, we got patio furniture in really late for last spring. We didn’t get it until August, September timeframe. So rather than just mark it down and sell it, we have it stocked here and we’re just going to hold it till next year’.”
Aschoff says this retailer faced the same thing at distribution centers across the country, “So there were really thousands of loads that would have been moving, you know, February, March timeframe that didn’t have to move this spring because it already moved last fall.” Aschoff says the same situation applies to other products. Retailers have more inventory, and that means fewer orders and shipments until that inventory is sold.
Crete Carrier and Shaffer Trucking primarily haul household products and food, steady types of year-round freight, with some seasonal variations. Aschoff says grocery retailers are also striving to re-balance inventory during an uncertain economy. “No one has a very clear vision in my mind as to what the next three, six, nine months are going to be like. For us, that means we just have to hunker down and stick to our core, do what we do best every day. Stay close to our customers, stay close to our drivers, and work through whatever pattern may appear.”
Despite the challenges, Aschoff remains optimistic about the trucking industry. He says there are signs we may be near the bottom of this cycle.
“The good thing about trucking is, when the market turns, we’re one of the first ones to see it. So, we can be ready, and we can take advantage of that a lot sooner than others. I’m always looking forward to what’s coming tomorrow, what’s coming next week, what’s coming next month, because I’m always an optimist on how we can make it better than it is today, no matter what market we’re in.”
Listen to the full interview on our SoundCloud page.
“I’m always looking forward to what’s coming tomorrow, what’s coming next week, what’s coming next month, because I’m always an optimist on how we can make it better than it is today, no matter what market we’re in.”
Crete Carrier Corporation COO Tim Aschoff