According to Jeff Gower, some $6 billion has been invested in trying to solve a problem that affects 40% of the $800 billion freight industry: how to efficiently connect carriers and shippers. He sees another problem, though: Not enough money has flowed into the construction markets, specifically dump truck operations. The construction marketplace faces the same issues in terms of finding available capacity and drivers as freight, yet only $20 million has been invested to solve what Gower believes is a $50 billion opportunity.
The CEO of TRUX believes the Boston-based company has built the solution that will disrupt the construction trades – just like Convoy and Uber Freight have done to the freight markets – and finally give these underserved markets the transparency and efficiency they are lacking.
“It’s a $100 billion logistical value chain that is hauling 650 million different loads moving material,” he tells FreightWaves. Of those loads, 98% include deadhead miles and 30% require the driver to sit and wait on the jobsite. “Just in deadhead, there’s as much as a $50 billion opportunity sitting on the table.”
The challenges the construction market faces are not unlike the freight market. Gower cites the aging of drivers and the lack of new drivers entering the market to replace them, and incomes that are “flat at best,” for drivers as key concerns.
Launched in 2016, TRUX introduced its first marketplace in 2017 in the New England area. It has since expanded to Tennessee and Southern California and will hit 100,000 transactions this year, Gower said. He predicted the platform will see 3 ½ million transactions in 2019 as the company rolls out to 37 new markets, thanks in part to new investment dollars.
The platform is described as a comprehensive “Dump Truck Value Chain” (DTVC) program, a cloud-based solution offering complete dump truck management. The company offers solutions for both dump truck drivers and producers/suppliers.
“Our platform allows producers to post jobs and truck drivers to accept them,” Gower notes. Like the freight markets, the dump truck industry features many small and even single truck operators.
“This is an industry where 80% of the truckers are still independent,” he says. “The independent need is there mostly due to regulations that encourage independent ownership, and when you [do] have a fleet, they are usually small fleets.”
Gower says the dump truck market is split into two sides: the demand side (producers/shippers) and the supply side (truckers).
“We can make that [logistics] marketplace more attractive for the demand side,” Gower believes.
TRUX has laid out a 3- to 5-year roadmap of growth that starts with the logistical side of the business and includes more robust tools that will aid all participants in the management of their businesses.
“It really gives you a tremendous amount of data to help you order more, ship more [and lower costs],” Gower points out.
Even today, the TRUX platform is being used by material producers to help them manage their fleets, from tracking and dispatching, to driver payment. The independent truckers using the platform are able to tap into loads they may not otherwise be aware of, helping them utilize their vehicles to more efficiency. As the platform expands, more opportunities for both groups should present themselves.
“As we build up that marketplace [of shippers/producers], we are able to expand supply; that’s our first value proposition,” Gower says.
Companies using the TRUX platform are able to dig into the data further, including such details as cost-per-load. Material producers benefit also from the opportunity to work closer with their customers, helping synchronize activities, better estimate production needs, balance inventory and workloads, and optimize vehicle schedules.
Contractors, who sometimes need dump trucks in a hurry, are given the opportunity to create a preferred list of drivers they wish to use and simply post an order to that list. The TRUX platform will then handle invoicing and payment.
As noted before, drivers may see increased load opportunities in addition to faster pay, but Gower says that is really just the beginning of benefits drivers will see as TRUX expands through its recently introduced TRUX Chrome offering.
Chrome gives independent drivers and fleet contractors savings on things such as health insurance, truck maintenance, towing, parts and even fuel. There will also be a social side, Gower says, to allow the drivers to connect with each other, and a performance side that will offer them the chance to understand the value they provide.
“The producers, assemblers, and truckers all win in a platform like this,” Gower says.
TRUX, which had just four employees to start 2017, now has more than 50, recently moving into a new headquarters in Waltham, MA, just outside Boston. Gower says the company has been actively signing up national producers that will have loads to offer in 2019, which in turn, should bring more drivers into the platform as demand grows. He expects more than 10,000 new truckers will join TRUX in the first six months alone in 2019.
“We are extremely proud of the huge strides TRUX has made in 2018 and we look forward to continuing our nationwide expansion through 2019, helping contractors find, dispatch and manage a flexible fleet of dump trucks,” Gower says. “As we expand into new markets, we will continue to focus on developing and fine-tuning new platform features, including advanced dispatching tools, better driver communication tools for contractors, and increased control over invoicing and projects for drivers, further solidifying TRUX as the number one cloud-based dump truck logistics platform.”