3PLs and the Entrepreneurial Spirit

Robert Voltmann President & CEO Transportation Intermediaries Association

These columns are always interesting because they are written four to six weeks before they are published. And, this year, a lot can happen in four to six weeks. Six weeks prior to mid-March (the beginning of February), we had barely heard of COVID-19. We were attending meetings and the U.S had the lowest unemployment level in 50 years. Six weeks following mid-March, and the U.S. economy is the worst it has been since 2008; maybe 1932.

I’m hopeful that when this column is published in early June that the economy will be on the rebound and the trucking protests behind us. I’m hopeful that when this column is published, we’re back to some semblance of normalcy. I’m hopeful that when this column is published, all of you are bouncing-back and expanding.

While those are things for which I’m hopeful, what I do know is that we have all been tested. I know that if you did not have a business continuity plan before mid-March, you do now. We learned to manage to objectives and measure accomplishments differently than when we could see, hear, and even touch everyone in our offices.

I also know that TIA Members approach business differently than most. You understand that these are cash flow businesses and you watch your cash closely. But, you also understand how you are doing every hour of every day. You know your costs and you know your margin on every load. Most businesses are not like that; it’s part of what makes you special.

Another thing that makes you special is your optimism. I remember when we knew we were sliding into a recession in 2008, the late Allan Lund called and said we should boycott the recession. He had done this with his company during a previous recession. So, we circulated petitions for you to use with your staff to agree to boycott the recession and grow through it. Hundreds of you did this.

TIA boycotted the recession as well and grew through it. The COVID-19 situation has been different, in that we had no real advance warning that we were going to turn off the economy for eight weeks. Yet, I know from talking to many of you that you have used this situation to grow your businesses. You kept one eye on the cash flow while the other was securely on the future. You are the American entrepreneurial heroes.

Let’s make this time of struggle count. Keep those business continuity plans current. Diversify your customer bases. Continue to be flexible with your employees. Continue to invest in your employees. Continue to be focused on the future. Continue to be a positive force for your families, your employees, your communities, and your country. I promise that we will continue to focus on your success.