Welcome to the WHAT THE TRUCK?!? Newsletter. In this issue spot rates hit high, C.H. Robinson fallout; a new trucking movie and more.

2 buck chuck

SONAR

It’s a start — After a half year of sub-$2 dry van spot rates, we’re starting off the first week of ‘23 dead even at the Mendoza Line. FreightWaves National Truckload Index tracks linehaul only spot rates. Truckers parking during the holidays meant a slight bump in tender rejections but at a muted rate this season. The Daily Watch reports, “The national Outbound Tender Rejection Index (OTRI) increased from a multiyear low of 3.9% to top out at 5.8%, its lowest Christmas value in the index’s history.”

“With warehouses largely full of product before the start of the holiday season, less transportation than usual was needed to push goods forward at the last minute.” – Logistics Managers Index

‘22 in the rearview — Any bump in rates in January would be a positive to carriers as they are exiting a December where transportation prices fell at their fastest-ever pace. According to FreightWaves, data released by the Logistics Managers Index shows that transportation utilization “fell into contraction territory for the first time since April 2020.” The main theme shippers had to contend with last year were bloated inventories, however falling shipping costs have given shippers some much needed breathing room as they aim to control costs against inflation.

Fallout at C.H. Robinson?

imgflip

CEO out — Downgraded stock shares, mass firings, and now CEO Bob Biesterfield has been shown the door at megabroker C.H. Robinson. Last year was a brutal one for many in transportation and while C.H. Robinson isn’t responsible for macro economic conditions, they do have control over how they react to them. After a poor quarter last year, FreightWaves reports, “Robinson announced a cost-reduction program aimed at reducing operating expenses by $175 million in 2023. At the heart of the cost-cut plans was the layoff of 650 employees, or about 6% of its workforce.”

What’s next — Rumors aren’t just for Fleetwood Mac, as the logistics industry digests the biggest news in our space of the year (ok, it’s only been five days). Brittain Ladd thinks the company should consider merging with Flexport. Executives claim Biesterfield wasn’t an innovator and that their digital transformation has been too slow. On the other hand, more than a few operators in this space have commented that CHRW has focused too much on tech and not enough on their customers and own talent.

C.H. Robinson’s employee agreement

No mas non-competes? — 650 CHRW employees were fired back in November and entered the job market with a dreaded non-compete hanging over their heads. Personally, I’ve been under one in the past by a different company and know how problematic they can be when seeking your next role. Good news for non-compete haters and those handcuffed by them: The Washington Post reports, “The Federal Trade Commission proposed a rule Thursday to prohibit employers from imposing noncompete clauses on workers — a widespread practice that economists say suppresses pay, prevents new companies from forming and raises consumer prices.” 

”Candy Land” brings horror to the truckstop

Roxwell Films and Quiver Distribution

Lot lizards and cults?  – On Jan. 6 the trucking movie genre gets a new entrant and guess what: It’s a horror film. It’s called “Candy Land,” but this is one hell of an adaptation of that board game. Take a look at this plot, and no ChatGPT didn’t write it as far as I know.

“Candy Land follows Remy, a seemingly naïve and devout young woman, who finds herself cast out from her religious cult. With no place to turn, she immerses herself in the underground world of truck stop sex workers a.k.a. “lot lizards.”

“Under the watchful eye of their matriarch, Nora, and enigmatic local lawman, Sheriff Rex, Remy navigates between her strained belief system and the lot lizard code to find her true calling in life.”

Candy Land producer John Swab calls the film a traditional slasher with no boundaries. Taking inspiration from films like “Scream” and “Bully” expect a parking lot streaked in blood. 

That sounds a long way from Lincoln Hawk, trucking’s last cinematic hero but as a B-movie genre fan…yeah, I’ll probably check this out. You can watch the trailer here and see it in theaters or on demand this Friday. 

How’s that Tesla Semi / Pepsi pilot going?

Twitter

Quick hits

Bed Bath & Beyond “has concluded there is substantial doubt about the company’s ability to continue as a going concern.”

Amazon’s 18,000 job cuts don’t go far enough. We expect more layoffs are on the horizon

CVSA expands Human Trafficking Awareness Initiative to a week-long event

How to clear snow from truck trailers

WTT Friday

Is ChatGPT-like AI coming to your supply chain?  — On Friday’s episode of WHAT THE TRUCK?!? we’re looking at the rise of AI in logistics; global trade outlook; starting a fleet in ‘23 and how tech is expediting LTL. 

With special guests John Reiser, EVP of global supply chain at The Cannon Group; Pierre Laguerre, founder and CEO at Fleeting; Marcus Cooksey, CEO at DUKE.AI; Michael Campese, SVP, sales & marketing at Estes Forwarding Worldwide. 

Catch new shows live at noon ET Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays on FreightWavesTV, FreightWaves LinkedIn, Facebook, YouTube or on demand by looking up WHAT THE TRUCK?!? on your favorite podcast player. Now on demand

Is 2023 already a train wreck?

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Dooner

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