Poor economic conditions over the past year and a half had a bigger impact on the 2001 Southern Bulk Carriers Day than did the terrorist attacks on September 11, according to individuals involved in the one-day event which was held October 4 in Houston TX. Organizers acknowledged that this year’s SBCD had about a third fewer tractor-tank trailer rigs on display.
Most of the tank truck carriers that have been active in SBCD over its 12 years returned for this year’s event, but they brought less equipment. Thirty-three fleets showed equipment. Despite some conspicuous absences, vendors were well represented, although their booths were staffed with fewer people.
Shippers were the only group missing in large numbers, and travel restrictions resulting from the terrorist attacks apparently were a factor in that. However, shippers within driving distance did turn out. Extensive staff reductions over the past several years also were blamed for a lower shipper turnout.
While some fleets reported that they are busy, others said shipment levels have been flat or down all year. Not all areas of the country or sectors of the tank truck inustry have been affected equally. Still, a general consensus is that it may be the first or second quarter of 2003 before the tank truck industry sees meaningful improvement in cargo volumes.