Welcome to the WHAT THE TRUCK?!? newsletter. In this issue, have we hit the top for ocean and inland rates; Buffalo Wild Wing-less; trucking movies ranked; and more.
The worst is already here
On wheels — Does your freight ever feel like a plastic bag, drifting through the wind, wondering if it’ll ever get picked up again? With the Fourth rapidly approaching, tender rejections are soaring upward like Katy Perry performing “Firework” at the Super Bowl, squeezing shippers with another crackle of tightness. For the first time in June, 1-in-4 contracted loads are being rejected as capacity is removed from the market and drivers hit their Webers for the holiday.
For inflationary concerns related to freight: The worst is already here. Everyone is frantically trying to add capacity. While shippers won’t see capacity or rate relief for some time, we are unlikely to see similar dramatic freight inflation beyond today’s levels. — FreightWaves founder and CEO Craig Fuller
At the ports — FreightWaves’ Carrier Trend Market Score indices highlight the capacity disparities driven by import volumes. As FreightWaves’ Andrew Cox reported, “The markets with the tightest carrier capacity coincide with the nation’s busiest ports. Ontario, California, Savannah, Georgia, and Atlanta [are all experiencing the highest levels of tightness].”
We’re seeing vessels at 20-day-plus delays and the global schedule reliability ratio is just sad to look at. — eeSea CEO and founder Simon Sundboell to The Loadstar
On the seas — There’s a long wait to even get scheduled on a vessel so that you can then wait at congested ports in the U.S. before battling over trucking capacity that doesn’t exist.
Good news: The Port of Yantian is now fully operational after shutting down due to COVID protocols. “There’s no backlog of vessels now, no waiting at anchor anymore. Berth availability is at 100%,” Maersk spokesman Thomas Boyd said in an email.
Bad news: While port officials feel that they can clear up congestion in Yantian within the next few weeks, that isn’t the case for factories in Asia that are inundated with backlogs. That is leading to shippers’ biggest risk right now, which isn’t just rates and capacity but also a lack of inventory. “There’s a lot of risk out there. But it seems the greater risk is not having any inventory to sell,” Brian Bourke, SEKO’s chief growth officer, said in an interview during the spring.
Buffalo Wild Wingless
Flightless bird — The dry van rate per mile this week inclusive of fuel is $3.19, about the same cost as a wholesale pound of chicken wings. How did wings get so expensive — and scarce? Just like with freight, chicken producers have had to contend with nearly all the same conditions: plant shutdowns, disinterested labor, horrible winter storms in Texas and rabid retail demand as consumers hit restaurants in droves. In fact, at no time since the pandemic began have consumers felt so comfortable about eating out. But when you run out of the commodity in your namesake, customers are going to react like they just took a shot of Blazin’ sauce.
The shortage has as much to do with the impact of government stimulus and creating an artificially high wage rate that is competitive to the people that are necessary to actually process chicken. — Charlie Morrison, CEO and chairman of Wingstop Restaurants
Would you like thighs with that? — Wingstop has launched a ghost kitchen dubbed Thighstop to help market its “whole bird strategy” in light of the national wing shortage. According to the Chicago Sun Times, “Thighstop, [is] an online-only, temporary restaurant that will deliver chicken thighs via DoorDash amid a chicken shortage.” Wingstop restaurants aren’t putting the blame entirely on a lack of poultry though. Morrison thinks government stimulus checks have made wage rates artificially high. With thighs costing less than wings but priced about the same, perhaps these increased profit margins will lend themselves to hiring more labor at competitive rates.
Best trucking movies since the ’80s
Lonely road — I could have made this easy on myself and just picked movies from the 1970s, the golden age of trucking cinema, but what fun would that be? Since the ’80s, trucking movies and the archetype of the driver as a badass American hero have taken a back seat to Marvel and tentpole franchises like “The Fast and The Furious.” But, are there a few gems amongst the fray? Here are the top 5 trucking movies of the modern era.
#5 “Black Dog” (1998) — Patrick Swayze plays a down-on-his-luck former trucker who is offered a gig hauling a load that he can’t refuse. Of course, he probably should have as it turns out that he is being used as a mule to smuggle a cache of automatic weapons. While Swayze appears to be driving well past his HOS in the role, Meat Loaf hams it up as the villain behind the setup. IMDB gives it a 5.4, which is about right. Twitterer @runningbehind77 does a make a point worth mentioning about this movie’s lasting message, “Swayze teaches you to go to bed when your tired, if more people could follow that we wouldn’t have eld’s and logbooks.” Watch the trailer.
#4 “The Ice Road” (2021) — Liam Neeson is another trucker whose life is headed in reverse. After getting fired from the company he hauls for after decking a co-worker in the face who was bullying his brother, Neeson learns that a group of miners are trapped in Manitoba. He is soon hired on by Laurence Fishburne, who needs a convoy of drivers to deliver drilling equipment up to the mine. A conspiracy is afoot and unrealistic Kenworth-based hijinks ensue. IMDB has it at a 5.5, though unlike “Black Dog,” this is a great hate watch. I’ll give it a very Saturday afternoonable 7.5. Watch the trailer.
#3 “Maximum Overdrive” (1986) — Is Maximum Overdrive a good movie? Is the back rollerdog the best rollerdog? While nothing short of B-movie cheese and hated by its own writer/director, Stephen King, the film acts as an autonomous vehicle scare piece decades before its time. What it doesn’t have in Swayze or Meat Loaf, it makes up for with starring roles for Emilo Estevez and Yeardley Smith (voice of Lisa Simpson) as well as a soundtrack delivered exclusively by AC/DC. The film also features an iconic Western Star 4800 bedecked in a giant Green Goblin grill cover. IMDB has it stuck in neutral at 5.5, which is ridiculous. If you make it to cult classic status, you get an 8. Watch the trailer.
#2 “Joyride” (2001) — Candy Cane! Easily the best menacing trucker movie since “Duel.” During this classic road trip between the white lines of horror, Paul Walker (hot off his debut in “The Fast and The Furious”), Steve Zane and Leelee Sobieski run afoul of Rusty Nail, played by Ted Levine (“The Silence of the Lambs’” Buffalo Bill!) The only mark I can give against this movie is that it basically did for truckers what “Jaws” did for sharks. IMDB gives it a 6.6, but in reality it’s easily an 8.5. Watch the trailer.
#1 “Over The Top” (1987) — I don’t care how much Sly hates this movie, Lincoln Hawk is the greatest trucking hero to grace the silver screen since the ’70s. What other movie explores the reality of life on the road and what it does to relationships? Name a recent trucking movie that isn’t afraid to show the pains of fatherhood? And what other film introduces you to the underground world of roadside arm wrestling leagues? It’s peak Stallone in an ’80s formula movie that defies convention by crossing genres and does so without ever looking down upon the driver. IMDB gives it a 5.8, but its opinion is invalid. “Over The Top” is a forearm-splintering 9 full stop. The world meets nobody halfway and a winner never listens to the odds. Watch the trailer.
A full glass of shut-up juice — Can’t resist snacking while driving or while watching “The Ice Road”? KomoNews reports, DentalSlim Diet Control is an intra-oral device that is installed on the upper and lower back teeth by a dentist, who can also remove the device. The Denver boot for your dental work claims that it “kick-starts the process” of a low-calorie diet — mainly because you can only open your mouth 2 millimeters due to the magnetic locking bolts on the device. The University of Otago shot back at Twitter users who called it an instrument of torture by letting them know that it should only be worn for two to three weeks at a time.
Now playing on Insiders
FreightWaves Insiders — If you haven’t yet, check out my long-form interview show FreightWaves Insiders that is all about career journeys, brand stories and the issues that they’re facing to keep business moving forward.
Drivers on demand — Can’t stand the sight of unseated equipment? On this episode of the show, I caught up with Haul CEO and co-founder Tim Henry to talk about getting drivers on demand. In this operating environment in which both freight and labor capacity are pushed to the limits, can tech provide a solution? Check out the episode now.
This Thursday — Coming up this Thursday at 3:30 p.m. EDT on FreightWavesTV, I’m joined on the show by FreightFriend CEO and founder Noam Frankel. FreightFriend’s cloud-based truckload procurement platform helps shippers and brokers build deep carrier relationships and drive digital execution. We’ll hear all about the road that led from American Backhaulers all the way to FreightFriend.
Live from North American Logistics Tech Summit — Kicking off at 9 a.m. EDT on Wednesday is FreightWaves’ next free virtual event. Join us as we showcase innovative technologies and services that are improving speed, efficiency, safety and communication in the supply chain. On WTT we’ll feature Patrik Berglund, CEO and co-founder of Xeneta, and Vernon O’Donnell, chief product officer at project44. Register now.
Friday — Tobenna Arodiogbu, CEO and co-founder of CloudTrucks; Patrik Berglund, CEO and co-founder of Xeneta; and Nurfad Nadarevic, VP of sales for Loadly.
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