Capacity challenges, tariff impacts grappled with at New Orleans event

While tens of thousands of sports entertainment aficionados were throwing down less than a mile away at WrestleMania 34 events at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome, a couple hundred participants in the 10th anniversary Cargo Connections Conference found themselves grappling with far more serious issues.

The CCC, hosted April 8-10 by the Port of New Orleans at The Chicory event venue, has helped attending industry leaders be better equipped to wrestle with congestion and capacity challenges but left them still worried about uncertain impacts of new U.S. import tariffs while encouraged by projections of a rebound of the breakbulk and multipurpose sector.

To read more, visit the American Journal of Transportation.

US intermodal rail fluidity improves, but larger questions remain

PALM DESERT, California – The US intermodal rail supply chain, exceedingly slow this winter, has eased over the last three to four weeks, a welcome relief to beleaguered shippers ueffering from shipment delays ranging from five to 10 business days.

Calmer weather and a downshift in manufacturing following the Lunar New Year provided a pause for an over stressed railroad network. Nevertheless, demand remains elevated and train speeds are about two miles per hour slower, or 4 percent down compared with the prior year, based on conversations with intermodal marketing companies (IMCs) and data from the American Association of Railroads (AAR). Data from the Intermodal Association of North America also showed that volumes were up 8.1 percent in March on a year-over-year and sequential basis, fueled by double-digit growth from February in domestic intermodal and a smaller gain on the international side.

To read more visit the Journal of Commerce.

Joe Soto helps lead Hurricane Relief Efforts in Houston

In an instant, lives can change drastically. Sometimes for better, sometimes for worse. In times of trouble, it’s how you react and act that can make all the difference.

So, when Hurricane Harvey flooded homes and businesses in late August, devastating the lives of citizens in and around Houston, Joe Soto took relief efforts into his own hands at NDS.

“When disaster strikes in your own backyard, you must come together as a community. This is when it’s most important to lean on one another to ensure we all get back on our feet.”

–Joe Soto, Owner Operator

As the water rose in Louisiana and Texas following Hurricane Harvey’s landfall, IMC Companies began collecting goods to send to La Porte, Texas, where NDS and Gulf Intermodal would serve as distribution centers for families in need.

“We were notified that donations were on the way from Memphis, but the need was growing faster than they could get to Houston,” said James Frederick, VP of business development at NDS. “I was told that Joe and his wife may be able to get additional goods sooner.”

Within hours, Joe and his wife secured multiple refrigerated containers stocked with food from the Houston Food Bank to be placed at NDS, Gulf Intermodal, South Houston’s City Hall and other points of distribution.

“We contacted mayors, judges, senators, public officials, anyone we could get on the phone,” said Joe. “Any connection I had from serving as mayor in South Houston for the past 12 years, I used.”

Soon NDS was also being flooded… with goods from San Antonio and Dallas, and from as far as Mexico and Kentucky. Combined with donations from their IMC Companies family, NDS and Gulf Intermodal were able to serve thousands of families in the area.

“Team members from NDS and Gulf Intermodal volunteered their time after hours and on weekends to deliver goods to individuals in need and assist with donation pickup,” said Joe. “To this day, we’re involved in ongoing relief efforts.”

“Relief could be needed for years to come,” he said. “But, we’ll be right here to help.”

IMC Companies celebrates longtime team members

IMC Companies LLC recently held its annual Christmas party, with staffers from the intermodal company’s family of brands gathering at the FedEx Event Center in Shelby Farms Park to recognize longtime team members.

“We strive for the highest standards of service in the intermodal industry,” said IMC chairman Mark H. George. “And, we are proud to honor those individuals who have helped us achieve that mission during their decades of service.” To read more, visit The Memphis Business Journal.

Chairman explains why his co. is expanding to NYC, Philly

With its latest acquisition, a Memphis-based intermodal logistics company is adding two more dots to its map and establishing a new regional headquarters.

IMC Cos., which coordinates intermodal drayage of international shipments, acquired Dec. 12 the marine drayage and depot operations of New Jersey-based H&M Terminal Transport.

“Our primary interest was expanding in a new market where IMC did not have a presence — the Northeast,” said Mark H. George, chairman of IMC Cos. “They had six locations, and four, we already had a dot on the map. Two, we did not: New York and Philadelphia.” To read more, visit the Memphis Business Journal.

IMC Companies acquires H&M Terminal Transport

(Memphis, TN) – IMC Companies, a Memphis-based leader in nationwide intermodal logistics, has added another top-tier company to its family of brands. Effective December 12, IMC Companies has acquired the drayage and depot operations of H&M Terminal Transport. The company will operate under the name H&M Intermodal Services, as part of IMC Companies.

This brings the number of brands under the IMC Companies umbrella to nine including Atlantic Intermodal Services (AIS), DNJ Intermodal Services (DNJ), Gulf Intermodal Services (GIS), IMC Global Solutions (IGS), Intermodal Cartage Company (IMCG), National Drayage Services (NDS), Ohio Intermodal Services (OIS), Progressive Transportation Services (PTS) and now, H&M Intermodal Services.

With six locations and 140 drivers, this acquisition further solidifies IMC Companies’ position as the largest, privately owned marine drayage company in the United States. In addition, acquiring H&M significantly bolsters the organization’s presence in the Northeastern United States.

“Like us, the H&M team specializes in container drayage,” said Mark H. George, Chairman of IMC Companies. “What’s more, this acquisition enhances our existing national footprint that allows us to handle freight in any major rail or port facility in the United States.”

The acquisition of H&M brings the employee count for IMC Companies to more than 2,100 team members across the nation dedicated to providing exceptional international supply chain solutions.

“I am impressed with H&M’s leadership, history, services, values and team members,” said George, “and I look forward to welcoming their employees into our family.”

About IMC Companies:

IMC Companies is a national network of intermodal logistics businesses providing an array of services including container drayage, expedited services, customs brokerage, truck brokerage, freight forwarding, warehousing, chassis provisioning and secured container storage. To learn more about the IMC Companies family of brands, visit www.imccompanies.com.

From high heels to heirloom tomatoes, blockchain technologies will touch everything

If you live off the grid, spend only paper money, tune in AM radio for entertainment and pretty much ignore the steamroller unleashed on everyday life by the Silicon Valley, none of what comes next will make sense.

But only a few years ago someone said to be in the proximity of Beijing conjoined the words block and chain into blockchain, a term for an obscure technical feat. Its purpose: provide a digital wallet for cryptocurrency. To read more, visit the Commercial Appeal.

Artificial Intelligence: New AI Business Tools for Truckers That Are Ready to Run

Although it’ll be a while before we all have an IBM Watson supercomputer sitting on our desktops, there are a number of artificial intelligence business tools truckers can use right now that will help you run smarter, faster and ahead of the competition. Essentially, these next-generation wonders tap into the ability of artificial intelligence to do a lot of the thinking and strategizing for you.

“We started to invest more in AI in 2015 and just launched a business unit, Driven Analytic Solutions, that is bringing some of these breakthroughs to other carriers and partners,” said Richard Cribbs, executive vice president at Covenant Transportation Group.

To read more, visit Transport Topics.

IMC Companies Receives Platinum Award from Great West Casualty Company

IMC Companies Receives Platinum Award from Great West Casualty Company

IMC Companies has been awarded a Platinum Award by Great West Casualty Company as a part of their 2017 Workplace Safety Awards Program. Atlantic Intermodal Services, DNJ Intermodal Services, Gulf Intermodal Services, Intermodal Cartage, Ohio Intermodal Services and National Drayage Services are all included in this award.

“We are honored to be recognized for our safety culture,” said Vice President of Safety and Risk Management Lynn Parrish. “This award is attributed to our entire team and their hard work to put safety at the center of everything we do”.

The Workplace Safety Awards program is based on a trucking company’s year-end workplace incident rate and recognizes motor carriers companies for their dedication to creating and fostering a safe workplace for their team. Carriers receive a Platinum, Gold, Silver or Participatory award.

About Great West Casualty

Great West Casualty Company is one of the leading providers of insurance products and services for the transportation industry. Headquartered in South Sioux City, Nebraska, Great West Casualty Company is part of the Old Republic General Insurance Group, the largest business segment within Old Republic International, one of the nation’s 50 largest publicly held insurance organizations.

New chassis business model would cut costs, trucker says

From the Journal of Commerce –

Long Beach – Truckers and beneficial cargo owners (BCOs) could save almost 50 percent on daily rental fees for chassis if the industry would agree upon a common model that allowed the party paying for chassis use to choose the equipment provider, according to a national trucking representative.

Dave Manning, president of TCW trucking in Nashville, Tennessee, and incoming chairman of the American Trucking Associations, said, for example, that his cost for use of a chassis from the trucker-controlled North American Chassis Pool Cooperative, of which Manning is president, is $12-14 per day. However, if a trucker is instructed by a shipping line to use a chassis from an intermodal equipment provider (IEP) it designates, as often happens when carriers are involved in the transaction, the daily rental fee can be $20.

“If you are paying for the chassis, make sure you can pick the provider of your choice,” Manning told the annual Agricultural Transportation Coalition conference Thursday in Long Beach.

Probably the main obstacle standing in the way of a smooth chassis regime is the decision by most carriers to stay tangentially involved in equipment decisions for container moves they control through their ocean contracts with BCOs. In those moves, the shipping line includes the cost of the chassis in the all-in charge for ocean move plus delivery of the container to the customer’s door.

In the United States, there was basically one chassis mode from the beginning of containerization in the 1950s until 2009 – ocean carriers owned the chassis, stored them at marine terminals, and provided them to BCOs along with the containers. In 2009, Maersk Line announced its decision to exit the chassis business. It formed a new company known as Direct ChassisLink Inc. to own, maintain, and provide chassis to customers.

Other carriers over the ensuing years began to pull out of the chassis business, and then on March 1, 2015, the three major IEPs in Los Angeles-Long Beach formed a neutral, or “grey” pool of pools with about 80,000 chassis that are interoperable, meaning a chassis can be picked up or dropped off at any location by users of the pool. Other pool arrangements have been formed over the years at different locations throughout the United States.

Truckers generally agree that of all the models, the grey chassis pool is the most versatile in the options it offers and the operational inconveniences it eliminates, and therefore preferable, at least in meeting their needs. “We believe this is the answer,” said Donna Lemm, executive vice president of IMC Companies in Memphis.

In reality, though, the gradual exit of about 20 ocean carriers from the chassis business since 2009 has not gone smoothly. Arrangements vary from region to region, and chassis shortages and surpluses occur too frequently in major harbor complexes. Truckers complain that the national fleet, which Lemm estimates as having an average age of 19, has too many unsafe or out-of-order chassis. “This thing is a mess,” she said.

The problem with the current system, from the prospective of truckers, is that for moves controlled by a particular shipping lines, truckers must use only the chassis owned by the equipment provider with which that shipping line has a business relationship. That equipment works against truckers that own or lease their own chassis, which is becoming more popular in the industry. In another common scenario, the shipping line instructs the trucker to use a particular IEP-owned chassis, but the terminal where the inbound load is located may not have that IEP’s chassis on hand, so the trucker has to go to another site to retrieve an acceptable chassis, sometimes without compensation.

Manning said another residual impact to truckers is that each carrier has a business arrangement with an IEP that provides the shipping line with a discounted price for the door moves that it controls. To compensate for lost revenue, the IEPs increase the price of other chassis that are used in “merchant haulage” in which the BCO controls the move. “The shipping lines continue to increase their merchant haulage rates,” he said.

There is no single solution to this condition as long as ocean carriers choose to remain at least partially in the chassis business, but Manning advised truckers to begin by approaching the carriers directly and explaining the inconveniences and extra costs their policies are creating. He said that in many instances carriers will respond with an acceptable arrangement.

If that does not work, truckers, possibly through their associations, can approach the Federal Maritime Commission or the Department of Justice. Manning said Congress may also be interested in the issue as it reviews the Shipping Act. Truckers can also tell their story publically to the press, or, if needed, consider lawsuits.

In Southern California, another strategy is being considered. Weston LaBar, executive director of the Harbor Trucking Association, said the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach are actively exploring the feasibility of encouraging the removal of chassis from marine terminals, which would free up more land for cargo-handling. This could happen if the ports are able to locate enough parcels in the massive port complex for establishment of common chassis storage depots. If enough suitable properties can be repurposed for these start-stop operations, sufficient chassis from all of the IEPs in the pool of pools could be made accessible for truckers within the general harbor area.