Check Call: Back-to-back champs

Inside this edition: Mexico hits back-to-back trading partner win; omnichannel the next big move for 3PLs; and big developments in the land of C.H. Robinson.

people gathered around a desk of computers. Check Call news and analysis for 3pls and brokers

Check Call the Show. News and Analysis for 3PLs and Freight Brokers.

Welcome to Check Call, our corner of the internet for all things 3PL, freight broker and supply chain. Check Call the podcast comes out every Tuesday at 12:30 p.m. EDT. Catch up on previous episodes here. If this was forwarded to you, sign up for Check Call the newsletter here.

Inside this edition: Mexico hits back-to-back trading partner win; omnichannel the next big move for 3PLs; and big developments in the land of C.H. Robinson.

Two for two. Mexico has topped Canada for the second month in a row as the United States’ top trading partner. Mexico’s proximity to the U.S. has made it the perfect partner for cross-border logistics, with goods and services flowing seamlessly between the two nations. The United States’ main exports to Mexico are electronics, machinery and agricultural products, while Mexico sends back automobiles, electronic equipment and machinery.

Canada and the U.S. might have the longest international border in the world — 5,525 miles with over 100 ports of entry — but Mexico has the trade volumes. Mexico is cranking out goods for the U.S. at such rates that the Anzalduas International Bridge in McAllen, Texas, is being turned into a full commercial port of entry. Right now it’s only open for passenger vehicles and empty trucks going south into Mexico. 

Despite disruptions to global supply chains, trade between the U.S. and Mexico has remained relatively stable, with essential goods like medical supplies and food still flowing between the two countries. 

Mexico will more than likely go three for three in consecutive months with the most trade with the U.S., especially as we get deeper into Mexico’s produce season, those volumes will only rise. Real estate along the border has already become a hot commodity. Those who don’t have a plan to handle goods out of Mexico should probably move it to the top of their to-do lists.

Omnichannel fulfillment, it’s like a juggling act, but with more balls and fewer mishaps. As retailers and e-commerce businesses scramble to meet the ever-growing demands of their customers, they’re turning to 3PLs to help them navigate their supply chains.

With 3PLs handling the nitty-gritty details of inventory management, order processing, shipping and returns handling, retailers can focus on what really matters: the customer experience. Retailers can use all the customer data to figure out consumer preferences, trends and optimal shopping experiences — making more revenue and sales for everyone. 

That’s where the 3PL comes in. By taking the day-to-day stuff off the plate of the retailer, more time is opened up to get customers more of what they want, which is full-length shirts, please. 

SONAR TRAC Market Dashboard

TRAC Tuesday. This week’s TRAC lane of the week is Charleston, South Carolina, to Tampa, Florida. The quick little 430-mile trip has a rate per mile of $2.95, which is the lowest in about six months with the exception of mid-February, when the rate dipped to $2.95 and then quickly rose to over $3 per mile. Capacity is tightening in Charleston, which could cause the rate to increase, especially since it’s heading into Florida, where it’s notoriously difficult to get out.

Who’s with whom? Pilot Travel Centers had the majority stake in the company purchased by Berkshire Hathaway, which is old-ish news. The cool thing to come out of the deal is a peek into the illusive Pilot earnings. Pilot previously had a BB+ rating from S&P Global Ratings. The acquisition from Berkshire Hathaway raised that rating to BBB+, bringing Pilot Travel Centers back to investment grade. This upgrade is solely for the debt rating. The credit profile remains unchanged.  

Found treasure. C.H. Robinson might have found buried treasure. In the hunt for a new CEO, it has come across Jim Barber. Barber joined the board of C.H. Robinson in December 2022. The company has not officially landed on a replacement for president and CEO. According to Mark Solomon’s article, officially “the search is ongoing,” but C.H. Robinson might not be searching as hard now. There is some question about his “tech-forward” approach given his history might not be the most technologically advanced. However, his lengthy history in the industry means that there is very little the man doesn’t know about C.H. Robinson’s business model. I wouldn’t be surprised if in a week or two suddenly the search is over.

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