Canadian flag
10 September


Earlier this summer season I accepted a talking gig on the Truck Coaching Faculties Affiliation of Ontario’s annual convention. The session, “Making cents (sense) of our business,” was meant to be a deep dive into trucking for the driver-training crowd.

No downside, I mentioned to myself. After nearly 40 years within the racket, I can learn the tea leaves.

Then I took an extended, exhausting take a look at the stuff floating across the business’s cup.

I noticed long-unresolved points round hiring drivers. Uncertainty about what’s authorized. I noticed dynamics amongst business gamers which might be exhausting to elucidate to individuals who aren’t insiders.

This speech was going to be a much bigger problem than I believed. Right here’s what I realized whereas attempting to write down it.

(Photograph: istock)

Two trucking industries

Understanding trucking in Canada begins with accepting that there are two very distinct trucking industries.

Within the blue nook are the legacy carriers. Typically multi-generational, these carriers and their subsidiaries dominate the As we speak’s Trucking Prime 100. They’ve a popularity for investing in know-how, security, and gear. They pay their drivers as per CRA necessities however are having hassle discovering drivers keen to be paid as staff.

Within the crimson nook are newcomer carriers. Many are owned by immigrants who are sometimes additionally relative newcomers to trucking. These firms grew quickly after the 2008 financial disaster as gig work turned normalized on a bigger scale. They recruit from inside their ethnic communities and pay their drivers as impartial contractors.

Direct ‘oblique’ opponents

If two trucking industries in a single doesn’t make sense, how concerning the notion that these two factions additionally compete?

Legacy carriers depend on an outdoor gross sales pressure to draw the contract clients they covet. For them, freight brokers will not be clients however a needed evil to allow them to fill within the gaps when clients can’t.

Their largest risk is the rising legion of third events (3PLs, forwarders, brokers) eager to handle their clients’ transportation. Their scale and tech savvy make brokers formidable opponents.

Paradoxically, newcomer carriers are the engine of the third-party market. With out them freight brokers could be unable to maneuver hundreds and take contract clients from legacy carriers. 

Therefore, these two teams are direct “oblique” opponents. Make sense? 


To scale their clients with out including property, most Legacy carriers have brokerages or different third-party divisions. A few of the largest brokers within the nation function under the radar and beneath their fleet’s model.

That is the place it will get attention-grabbing. 

Like their third-party opponents, Legacy carriers use newcomer carriers to maneuver freight they will’t cowl. Looks like cheaper spot charges (that are void of gas surcharges) make for higher margins on the brokerage division.

Throughout my Q&A session it was delivered to my consideration that many legacy carriers take part within the gig financial system by driving colleges usually owned by newcomer carriers. 

Utilizing your opponents to haul your clients’ freight and to coach your drivers isn’t unsuitable. However speak about swirling tea leaves…

Altering of the guard 

Once we invested in Ceremony Route a 12 months in the past, a part of our plan was to depend on my community of legacy buddies to maneuver our clients’ freight. Sadly, my community is evaporating. 

Legacy provider house owners are exiting in droves. They labored exhausting. Their households are rich. Their Ivy League-educated children aren’t within the enterprise.

The precise reverse is going on with newcomer carriers. They’re beginning up in report numbers. Their house owners see trucking as a ticket to prosperity in Canada and their households are embracing the business like by no means earlier than.

Plenty of the newcomer carriers I do know have the identical hungry look of their eyes that a lot of my trucking peeps (together with me) had within the early ‘80s. Many aren’t even newcomers anymore. They’re formidable, established carriers.

New blood is nice for trucking. It’s particularly necessary for trainers to know the dynamics of the business’s numerous companies to allow them to develop secure, accountable, skilled truck drivers regardless of who hires them or what they haul.

I don’t know if I defined our “two industries” subject in addition to I may have. However I do assume it’s necessary to boost it. Hats off to the TTSAO for giving it a discussion board.


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