(Disclaimer: Stephen Oatley is the Editor/Owner of Freight Broker Live and the President of the NAATSP)
Last week, President Trump gave a speech on the White House lawn thanking truckers for doing what they could while also battling the invisible enemy we have all been far too accustomed to. While this speech was well received, for the most part, one thing has become evident since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic; there is little protection in place for the majority of America’s backbone, the independent trucking industry. The individual owner-operators who are working behind the scenes to make sure store shelves are restocked have little protection from the disease they are helping to protect against.
Truckers across the country are not only battling the disease, they are also battling the industry itself, and facing the consequences of COVID-19 that many outside the industry do not realize. While the trucking industry is considered essential, many of the services these drivers rely on each and every day (just to do the job) have been eliminated due to local and state shutdowns directly meant to stop the spread of COVID-19. Restaurants which drivers used to take a break and have a sit down meal at, are now closed. The alternative, fast food restaurants, are not much help to drivers, as many have shut down walk-in orders. Trucker customers at fast food restaurants are limited to use the drive-thru, only to find many of the locations can not accommodate a thirteen foot tall commercial truck.
Many of the shippers, which drivers pickup freight from each day, are also closed. This is either due to States limitations on non-essential businesses operating, or because their own workforce has called in sick. It is believed that 60% of American manufacturers are shut down, which drastically decreases the load volume. Trucks that would normally work dedicated or contract freight are forced to enter the “spot market” driving rates to an all time low with no end in sight.
As with many industries, the transportation industry is represented as one of President Trump’s new Great American Economic Revival Industry Groups, which are designed to help rebuild the industry when the pandemic fades away. Unfortunately, many of the very same trucking companies and providers mentioned above are not part of this new revival group, and many feel they are not represented by the only trucking group named as part of the group – the American Trucking Association. Many of the smaller trucking companies, which make up for 96% of the trucking companies on the road, feel that they are not represented in many of the decisions being made.
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, and the lack of a unified trucking response by trucking and industry associations, a new trucking trade organization has been formed. The North American Association of Transportation Services, Inc. (NAATSP) was formed to provide a unified trucking voice. NAATSP is an association working for the betterment of the industry as a whole, rather than an individual association, and that only works in a particular segment of the industry. NAATSP comprises trucking companies of all sizes: freight brokerages, factoring companies, and freight support services including: software, mechanics, fuel cards and roadside assistance companies.
“Our industry is hemorrhaging,” said Stephen Oatley, President and Chairman of the NAATSP. “While the President’s appointment of several trucking CEO’s is great, he seems to have forgotten about the majority of the industry. The smaller guys who are out on the front lines. The few trade organizations who claim to represent these independent trucking companies seem to have slept through the opportunity to help revive the industry and to get the voice if the smaller companies heard. This is a trend, and it can’t continue to happen.”
The mission of the NAATSP is to advocate for the smaller companies in the industry who either do not feel they currently have a voice in the industry, or do have a voice but feel that it is smothered by the larger player in the industry.
For more information on the North American Association of Transportation Service Providers Inc., or to join as a member, please visit their website at www.naatsp.org.