Industry News

March 1, 2001
ATA Offers Support for Bush Tax Plan President Bush and top White House economic advisors heard the American Trucking Associations (ATA) offer its support

ATA Offers Support for Bush Tax Plan

President Bush and top White House economic advisors heard the American Trucking Associations (ATA) offer its support for Bush's $1.6-billion tax plan as “a spur to the nation's economic growth.”

Walter B McCormick Jr, ATA president and chief executive officer, and business leaders met with Bush, Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill, and the president's chief economic advisor, Lawrence Lindsey. McCormick said the trucking industry is committed to advancing the president's goal of “returning hard-earned wages to the American worker.”

McCormick delivered a letter of support from ATA to Bush, saying that the tax relief plan would translate into more job security for the nearly 9.7 million men and women working in trucking-related jobs.

Senate Confirms Transportation Secretary

The United States Senate confirmed, by a 100-0 vote, Norman Mineta, the lone Democrat nominated by President George W Bush, to serve in his Cabinet as Secretary of Transportation.

Mineta told the Senate Commerce Committee during his confirmation hearing that he will examine trucking's proposed hours-of-service rules for drivers, hazardous material shipments by truck, and truck safety standards.

Mineta was a member of Congress from California for 21 years and the last commerce secretary of the Clinton administration.

“His sound judgment and keen understanding of both trucking and transportation issues in general should serve the country and the new administration well,” said Walter B McCormick Jr, president and chief executive officer of the American Trucking Associations.

Bush Nominates DOT Deputy Secretary

President George W Bush has nominated former American Trucking Associations (ATA) official Michael P Jackson to be deputy secretary of transportation under Norman Mineta.

Jackson is vice-president and general manager for business development at Lockheed Martin IMS Transportation Systems and Services. He served as senior vice-president and counselor to the president of ATA under Thomas J Donahue, who is now president of the United States Chamber of Commerce.

Jackson served as chief of staff of the Department of Transportation in 1992 and 1993. He was also special assistant to the president and executive secretary for Cabinet liaison for former President George Bush.

Flaherty Will Serve as DOT Chief of Staff

United States Transportation Secretary Norman Y Mineta has named John A Flaherty as chief of staff at the US Department of Transportation (DOT). Flaherty previously had served Mineta when the latter was a member of Congress, serving as chief of staff and district director from 1988 to 1992. When the Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act of 1991 was passed, Flaherty was serving as Mineta's chief of staff.

Flaherty will serve as the manager of Mineta's immediate staff and provide direct policy, program, and managerial support to him.

US Chemical Exports Achieve Record In 2000; Trade Surplus Reaches $6.3 Billion

Exports of chemicals climbed to a record $79.9 billion in 2000, making the business of chemistry one of the leading United States export sectors, the American Chemistry Council reported. Exports in 2000 grew 13.4% despite slow growth in the second half.

Balanced against imports of nearly $73.6 billion, 2000's $6.3-billion trade surplus continues a more than 70-year uninterrupted history of trade surpluses for the United States. The trade surplus for the US chemistry industry totals $153 billion over the past decade.

The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) has contributed to strong gains in US exports to Mexico, up 23% to $8.6 billion. Robust markets for US exports in 2000 included Venezuela, Ireland, the United Kingdom, Russia, South Africa, Indonesia, the Philippines, and South Korea. Modest export gains were experienced in many large Western European and East Asian nations, as well as in the Middle East.

The year also saw a high level of imports. Gains in fine chemicals and other products from Ireland boosted imports from that nation by 81% to $11.6 billion in 2000. Ireland is the second-largest source of imports to the United States, trailing Canada by less than $25 million. Solid import gains from Brazil, Venezuela, Russia, and the rest of central/eastern Europe, South Africa, Saudi Arabia, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Taiwan, and Thailand also were experienced. More modest gains from a number of other western European and Asian nations also were recorded. Overall, imports increased 18.4%, reaching $73.6 billion in 2000.

The strong US dollar and economy contributed to an import surge and a trade surplus in chemicals that fell from $8.3 billion in 1999 to $6.3 billion in 2000. This is a pronounced decline from the record surplus of $20.4 billion in 1995. Most of this decline can be traced to rising imports from Western Europe alone. The trade deficit with central/eastern Europe and the Middle East also deteriorated during 2000. Offsetting this somewhat were improvements in the trade surpluses with Canada and Mexico, Latin America, and other Asia/Pacific nations.

The trade deficit in electronic, fine, and other specialty chemicals rose from $2.0 billion to $5.7 billion. A trade deficit in inorganic chemicals reached $945 million. A surge in pharmaceutical exports reduced the pharmaceutical deficit to $1.8 billion in 2000. A $950-million trade surplus in crop protection chemicals helped reduce the overall life sciences deficit to $840 million. With solid gains in exports, the overall balance in basic chemicals rose from $10.6 billion to $11.6 billion in 2000. Improvements occurred in bulk petrochemicals and intermediates, plastic resin, and other industrial chemical trade surpluses.

The decline in the value of the dollar vis-a-vis the euro will have a positive effect on export performance. With higher energy prices limiting growth in overseas economies, however, the global economy is not maintaining the momentum of 2000. As a result, the picture for 2001 trade is mixed. The American Chemistry Council expects exports to increase 6.3% in 2001, a lower pace than what was anticipated several months ago. In addition, imbalances in natural gas supply and demand have resulted in feedstock costs that have placed much of Gulf Coast-based petrochemical production in a less competitive situation vis-a-vis other major producing regions. As a result of this less competitive situation, this segment's exports ($35.5 billion in 2000) will deteriorate during 2001. This is particularly the case with plastic resins and other derivative exports to Asia.

Groendyke Transport Acquires James Inc

Groendyke Transport Inc has purchased James Inc, a liquid bulk and flatbed carrier in Kansas. The private stock purchase will make James a wholly owned subsidiary of Groendyke.

James operates four principal terminal facilities — Colorado Springs and Denver CO and Phillipsburg and Scott City KS — as well as multiple satellite operations, consisting of 41 tractors, 33 flatbeds, 13 vans, and 74 bulk trailers. Annual revenues of the Phillipsburg-based company were nearly $7 million in 2000.

In 2000, Enid OK-based Groendyke's revenues were $122 million, primarily hauling chemicals, asphalt, and motor fuels nationwide.

Colorado operations of both companies will be combined soon while the Kansas terminals will continue to operate as stand-alone facilities. All sectors of the James business will continue to operate, including brokerage and flatbed.

ATA Forms Transportation Research Group

The Virginia-based American Trucking Associations (ATA) has formed what it calls the American Transportation Research Institute (ATRI) to advocate — and conduct on a limited basis — essential research in the transportation community, emphasizing the trucking industry's role in a safe, efficient, and viable transportation system.

Walter B McCormick Jr, ATA president and chief executive officer, said the ATRI will be a “think tank” organization designed to provide ATA members with scientific research aimed at backing up industry positions on public policy. Michael W Wickham, chairman and CEO of Roadway Express and current head of the ATA Foundation, will chair ATRI.

US Industrial Production Drops Again

United States industrial production declined in January 2001 for a fourth consecutive month as auto and utility output plunged, Federal Reserve statistics show.

Production at factories, mines, and utilities fell 0.3% in January after falling a revised 0.5% in December 2000, according to the Fed's statistics. Manufacturers reported production fell 0.1% in January after a 1.1% decline the month before. Car and truck production fell 4.8% in January after declining 3.4% in December.

The index of prices paid to factories, farmers, and other producers rose 1.1% in January after rising 0.2% in December, the Labor Department said. January's increase was the largest since the index rose 1.3% in September 1990, when the Persian Gulf crisis drove up oil prices.

Volvo Trucks Cutting Jobs at Virginia Plant

Changes in production strategy at Volvo Trucks North America Inc will result in the elimination of about 400 jobs at its New River Valley VA plant, said Karl-Erling Trogen, interim president and chief executive officer.

Both hourly and salaried employees will be affected, and outplacement services will assist affected employees, who were scheduled to be laid off Feb 26, 2001. Volvo employs about 2,000 workers at the Virginia plant.

Trogen said Volvo is refocusing its production to manufacture more daycabs because of a glut of used sleeper cabs on the market. Daycabs require less man-hours to produce than sleepers.

Study: Rail-Related HazMat Accidents Pose More Public Health Risk than Other Modes

Accidents that occur while hazardous materials are being transported by rail are more harmful to human health and the environment than accidents from other transport modes or from fixed facilities, according to a report in the February 2001 Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine.

The number of railroad events reported to the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry's Hazardous Substances Emergency Events Surveillance system increased to 177 in 1998 from 84 in 1993. Comparisons of data on railroad and non-railroad events were made. The results overall indicated a greater potential impact of railroad events on public health.

A median number of 2,039 persons were living within a one-mile radius of railroad events versus 982 for non-railroad incidents. Railroad event victims were more likely to need hospital treatment than non-railroad incident victims.

According to the journal article, all of this suggests a need for better community planning, re-evaluation of current federal regulations and priorities for railroad hazardous materials transport, and enhanced railroad industry commitment to safety.

The article also noted that people living near chemical plants and related facilities have access to worst-case scenario information, as required by the Environmental Protection Agency, but transportation-related risks are not covered by the EPA rule. The report recommends that the Department of Transportation address the issue.

Entitled “Public Health Risks of Railroad Hazardous Substance Emergency Event,” the report was based on data collected by the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, an agency of the Center for Disease Control. The report was written by Maureen F Orr, MS; Wendy E Kaye, PhD; Perri Zeitz, MPH; Marilyn E Powers, BA; and Lisa Rosenthal, BA.

IDEX Corp Acquires Liquid Controls LLC

Dennis K Williams, chairman, president, and chief executive officer of IDEX Corp; and Fred G Wacker III, president and principal shareholder of Liquid Controls LLC, have announced the acquisition of Liquid Controls by IDEX. Lake Bluff IL-based Liquid Controls has joint ventures in Italy and India. Liquid Controls becomes IDEX's 12th stand-alone business and will be operated as part of the Pump Products Group. Terms of this transaction were not disclosed.

With annual sales of about $50 million, Liquid Controls manufactures positive displacement flowmeters, and electronic registration and process control systems. IDEX manufactures proprietary pump products, dispensing equipment, and other engineered products.

Paccar Leasing Opens British Columbia Site

Paccar Leasing Co, a franchisor of independently owned and operated heavy- and medium-duty truck rental and leasing companies, has added a new PacLease franchise location in Surrey, British Columbia, Canada.

With 10 service bays, Peterbilt Trucks Pacific Inc is open Monday through Friday from 7 am to midnight and Saturday from 7 am to 5 pm. The address is 19470 96th Ave, Surrey BC V4N 4C2; the phone number is 604-888-1411.

Mack Trucks Again Boosts US Market Share

Mack Trucks Inc closed 2000 with 28,210 United States Class 8 retail sales, which represented 13.3% of the heavy-truck market. This was an increase from 13.1% in 1999, meaning Mack's market share has risen consistently over the past eight years.

The US truck market experienced a sales decline in 2000, with total retail volume falling nearly 20% to 211,507 vehicles.

The Canadian market was down more than 9% in 2000, but Mack's Canadian subsidiary, Mack Canada Inc, outperformed the market by retailing 2,848 units. Mack's Canadian retail market share increased almost a full percentage point to 10.2%, up from 9.3% in 1999.

Mack Trucks Australia Pty Ltd, Mack's major overseas subsidiary, increased sales from 742 to 790 units, which represented a 14.3% share of the Australian heavy-duty truck market. This compared to an 11.9% share in 1999.

Year-end figures for industry exports are not yet available. However, Mack increased Class 8 exports to 1,666 units, compared with 1,363 units in 1999. As of November, Mack sales represented 21.3% of the total North American export market.

Kenworth Donates Trucks to School

Kenworth Truck Co has donated two late-model used trucks to Skagit Valley College of Mount Vernon WA to help update its truck driver training program.

The trucks, a T600 and T800 equipped with 475- and 600-hp Caterpillar engines, replace the school's 1988 equipment with vehicles that more accurately represent what its students will use after they graduate, the college said.

In its 16th year, Skagit Valley's Driver School is a six- to nine-month program and claims a 97% placement record. The school said more than 99% of its drivers pass the commercial driver license exam on their first try.

Penske Completes Offer to Acquire Rollins

Reading PA-based Penske Truck Leasing Co has successfully completed its tender offer for the outstanding shares of common stock of Delaware-based Rollins Truck Leasing Corp.

Rollins shareholders validly tendered about 54,982,000 shares — or 94.8% of outstanding shares — of Rollins, which have been accepted for payment at a price of $13 per share in cash. In addition, Penske received notices of guaranteed delivery with respect to some 915,000 shares — about 1.6% of outstanding shares — that have not yet been validly tendered.

Under terms of the tender offer, shares of common stock listed in a notice of guaranteed delivery must be validly tendered within three trading days after delivery of the notice in order for Penske to accept the shares for payment, the company said. Penske intends to complete the transaction by acquiring the remaining outstanding shares of common stock of Rollins through a merger.

Penske will merge its fleet of 144,000 heavy-, medium-, and light-duty trucks and network of 750 locations worldwide with Rollins' 53,000 vehicle fleet and 270 US and Canadian locations.

Nexen Chemicals Honors Matlack Inc

Matlack Inc, Wilmington DE, has been selected as a winner of the Nexen Chemicals 2000 Supplier Partnership Award. The Vancouver-based chemical manufacturer bases this award on competitive rates, Responsible Care commitment, service performance, quality processes, continuous improvement, and customer service.

Younger Drivers Could Drive Trucks Under FMCSA Plan

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) requests comments on a proposed pilot program to allow drivers 18 to 20 years old to drive trucks in interstate commerce under strict conditions. The request arose from a Truckload Carriers Association (TCA) petition attempting to address difficulties in recruiting qualified commercial vehicle drivers. Under current federal regulations, such drivers must be at least 21 years old.

Several TCA member companies have agreed to participate in the pilot program if it is approved.

Pilot programs are authorized by the Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century. It provides the US Secretary of Transportation authority to grant exemptions from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSRs) so alternatives to regulations can be evaluated.

Under the proposal, each applicant driver would be subject to at least 48 weeks of intensive classroom training, driving instruction, and supervision designed to lead the trainee to full-time employment as an interstate commercial driver. This training would include mandatory attendance at an approved truck driver training school for at least 22 weeks and eight weeks of training in a motor carrier's “driver finishing” program.

Driver finishing would be a course of instruction and on-the-job training offered by motor carriers to develop the younger driver's basic skills, as well as develop greater maturity and judgment, under the daily direction and guidance of an experienced driver trainer. This would be followed by 18 weeks of team driving with an experienced driver. Younger drivers would be required to pass performance standards of the entire 48-week program and reach the age of 19 before beginning solo driving.

Under the proposal, participating motor carriers and schools would train about 1,000 drivers currently under 21.

If approved, the FMCSA would closely monitor drivers, driver training schools, and motor carriers participating in the pilot program to ensure they comply with all program requirements and FMCSRs. Participants found not in compliance will be removed from the program.

Written comments should be sent by May 21, 2001, to the US DOT Docket Facility, Attn: Docket #FMCSA-2000-8410, Room PL-401, 400 Seventh St SW, Washington DC 20590-0001.