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Nussbaum counts on maintenance with new Class 8 trucks a year out

5 questions with Brent Nussbaum, CEO of Illinois-based employee-owned carrier

Brent Nussbaum and his employee-owned carrier get fewer new Class 8 trucks than they want, but a strong maintenance program is helping keep its older trucks on the road longer.

Nussbaum Transportation doesn’t buy used trucks, so that option to add capacity is off the table. The company was recently named one of the Best Fleets to Drive For by the Truckload Carriers Association and CarriersEdge. It also was inducted into the Best Fleets to Drive For Hall of Fame. 

Brent, who became CEO in 2000 succeeding his father, who founded Nussbaum with a single truck in 1945, is hopeful but realistic about the repair of the broken supply chain.

He shared some insights with FreightWaves.

FREIGHTWAVES: What has Nussbaum’s experience been in this environment?   

NUSSBAUM: “[We] order every year all from one manufacturer, Freightliner.  For 2022 delivery, we ordered 130 and were cut back to 110, due to their inability to produce that many because they’re still catching up from last year. We typically place our order the moment the order board opens up and try to spread out our delivery between the first, second and third quarters, although this year the vast majority are going to be delivered in the third and fourth quarters because they’re struggling to get parts for manufacture.”    

Brent Nussbaum talks Class 8 truck shortage

FREIGHTWAVES: How long is it taking to get new Class 8 trucks from the time of order?  

NUSSBAUM: “For this year’s order, it will be a year from order to delivery.  Our current experience is that trucks being manufactured are rolling off the line incomplete.”

Finding parts a challenge

FREIGHTWAVES: Have you come up with any work-arounds beyond keeping current trucks on the road longer?  

NUSSBAUM: “Because we have such a great maintenance program, our strategy continues to be to maintain and run trucks longer. The only challenge with that strategy continues to be finding parts.”

FREIGHTWAVES: How much of permanent change to the trade cycle do you see the ongoing supply constraints (especially semiconductors) lasting? 

NUSSBAUM: “I don’t believe it will be permanent, but there continues to be a greater and greater need for semiconductors in all kinds of products. I’m not sure where the capacity will come from. We believe it will last at least through 2023, maybe into 2024.”    

Recession concerns

FREIGHTWAVES: If the industry is heading into a recession, do you see orders placed for the out years being at risk for cancellation?  

NUSSBAUM: “Most mid-sized and larger fleets will continue to purchase each year to keep their trade cycles. However, if the used-truck market crashes, some fleets may reduce orders and keep some [trucks] longer. It does exacerbate the problem because you do have to catch up in subsequent years. Our experience has been that trucks are more reliable these days. Due to learning new technology, drivers are less apt to want to move into a new truck and are more content with the one they’ve already got.”

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Click for more FreightWaves articles by Alan Adler.

The FREIGHTWAVES TOP 500 For-Hire Carriers list includes Nussbaum Transportation (No. 172).

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Alan Adler

Alan Adler is a Detroit-based award-winning journalist who worked for The Associated Press, the Detroit Free Press and most recently as Detroit Bureau Chief for Trucks.com. He also spent two decades in domestic and international media relations and executive communications with General Motors.