Turning Truck Transportation into a Reliable Customer Advantage

“Good morning Mike, where is the 5:00 am load we were expecting?” asks the first shift supervisor.

Mike replies, “I’m not sure. I will call the supplier to see what is going on and get back to you.”

This is one of the frustrating scenarios that purchasing personnel, sales people, and operations teams have been dealing with since the pandemic began two years ago.

Trucking, imported containers, and rail transportation form the backbone of our economy and are responsible for moving the vast majority of cargo in the United States. While ocean freight and rail are responsible for the heavy lifting, the importance of local and long haul trucking cannot be overstated. This is the mode of transportation that brings the inputs and finished products directly to the customer. Unfortunately, the business of trucking has also experienced the most turmoil over the last few years.

A troubling shortage

By now, if you haven’t been living under a rock, everyone knows there is a severe truck driver shortage in our country. The median age of a truck driver in North America is over 58 years old. There are very few youthful replacements because it seems that the Millennial and Gen Z generations just aren’t interested in the truck driver career path.

While the pay for truck drivers has never been higher, the industry is having a very difficult time  convincing the younger generations to spend long hours on the road and frequent nights in a sleeper cab. Every year as more truck drivers retire, the driver shortage gets worse. At one point over the summer of 2021, each truck could pick from 82 loads on average that needed to ship. As a result, freight prices were soaring to never before seen levels.

For shippers, it has been extremely difficult to get freight picked up. As 2022 begins to draw to a close, the industry is off from its all-time highs yet still a very long way from 2019 levels. The driver shortage appears to be structural even if overall demand has cooled down somewhat.

A.G. Layne finds a solution for the long haul

Looking to make sure our A.G. Layne customers continued to receive the best delivery service, my brother Kyle and I decided that throughout the trucking madness, we would hire as many drivers as we could to become full time A.G. Layne employees. The freight quotes we were getting back were impossibly high, and even if one was willing to pay the price, booking the load and lead times were still uncertain.

We bought a few trucks and hired several drivers to establish an A.G. Layne long hauling business. That decision has proven to be wise. Owning the trucks has been critical in helping our facilities to stay fully supplied throughout the chaos of the last few years while also allowing us to keep customers in full stock of the materials upon which they depend.

Establishing a full-time A.G. Layne long haul service highlights our team’s commitment to keeping customers fully supplied with on-time deliveries at a great price.

—Mike Lee, President/CEO
—Kyle Lee, Vice President, Sales and Marketing