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Gary Petty
Private Fleet Editor,
    Fleet Owner Magazine
President & CEO, NPTC

February 2020

Event will Focus on New Trends

NPTC 2020 Annual Conference spotlights the best of private fleets.

Attending the NPTC annual conference is particularly important this year because of sweeping changes taking place in corporate transportation. Private fleets are “in” as never before. Companies now want greater control of transportation through the competitive advantages made possible by private fleets, such as dependability of captive capacity, cost control, premier customer service, and leverage in dealing with outside carriers.

Many broader trends favor private fleets. Outside for-hire carrier capacity is shrinking and at greater overall risk of uncertainty. The final ELD rule and the Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse reporting requirements taking full effect in 2020 will push many marginal carriers out of business. Over 800 trucking companies went bankrupt in the first three-quarters of 2019 (more than double the number of bankruptcies in 2018), followed in December with the largest truckload company bankruptcy in history when over 5,000 employees, including nearly 3,000 drivers, were thrown out of work. More failures are expected this year and beyond.

The industry’s driver shortage, pegged at about 60,000, is growing. Large truckload carriers in 2019 averaged annual driver turnover of 96%, the highest rate since 2016. The U.S. employment market is extremely tight with 7 million job openings and only 6 million available workers. The nation’s unemployment stands at a record 50-year low of 3.5%. Driver pay continues to rise, but good candidates often take jobs outside of trucking at higher pay.

The average lawsuit settlement cost of a significant heavy-truck accident is now about $17 million. Many are at multiples of this number—like the California “nuclear verdict” jury award against a trucking company last year of $70.5 million. Yet, thousands of small carriers still maintain only the minimum $750,000 liability insurance mandated by federal law. In 2020, insurance premiums for trucking companies will rise by 50% to more than double. Some will struggle to find coverage at any price and will be forced out of business.

An unprecedented boom market for trucking services in 2017-2018 caught many shippers off guard. Over dependency on outside carriers exposed manufacturers and distributors to actual or potential vulnerabilities. Skyrocketing rates, customer service failures, and even the threat of losing their business caused many to re-examine transportation networks and seek ways to regain more control.

Not only has this brief but extreme market justified private fleets, it also inspired several major businesses to bring back private fleets previously outsourced or to start new ones from scratch. The most dramatic example is a Fortune 100 company founded in the early 19th century that launched its own private fleet for the first time.

A great majority of private fleets plan to grow their capacity over the next five years. Operating a successful private fleet as a competitive advantage in today’s challenging environment requires ongoing training and education of in-house fleet management teams and their supplier partners.

Herein lies the core purpose of the NPTC Annual Conference, an event that helps shape the future of private fleet management. One of the largest association-sponsored meetings and trade shows in the trucking industry, NPTC 2020 will draw over 1,250 total registered attendees and more than 165 suppliers in the Exhibit Hall and Trade Show.

More than 150 separate fleet companies with nearly 400 representatives participate. Operating at or near world-class standards and leading the industry in the use of technology and safety equipment, these fleets are of significant size averaging about 275 drivers, 303 tractors, 293 straight trucks, and 974 trailers. Best practices and innovative ideas take center stage in all sessions. Over three days, some 60 expert fleet practitioners serve as speakers and moderators at over three dozen workshops and breakfast roundtable discussions. These presenters showcase the latest and best prevailing standards of the industry.

Reward and recognition ceremonies highlight the conference. The CTP Class of 2020 graduation ceremony welcomes over 90 new Certified Transportation Professionals. Seven Professional Leadership awards honor industry leaders of the year, and Driver Hall of Fame and Fleet Safety Awards are given to the best drivers and safest fleets.

NPTC 2020 stands out as a one-of-a-kind learning and networking opportunity in a culture of mutual trust and confidence. Our slogan “You Must Be Present To Win” captures the importance of being there in person for face-to-face networking and optimal takeaway value.

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