Awaiting Spring's Freight Bloom

Flatbed Carriers Await Spring’s Freight Bloom


Victor J. Blue/Bloomberg News
By Rip Watson, Senior Reporter This story appears in the April 6 print edition of Transport Topics.Flatbed freight markets in the early spring generally are solid, but the hoped-for surge from housing-related business hasn’t yet begun.

 

That broad message emerged from carrier officials around the country who spoke with Transport Topics as the second quarter got under way.

 

“We are hearing from several building products companies that they are expecting a good year, though it has started more slowly than they anticipated,” said Rick Williams, CEO of Central Oregon Truck Co. “In general, it is too early to tell how the year will play out” in the housing sector.

 

“Right now, we are all trying to blame it on the weather because that is such a huge factor in the construction business,” said Williams, whose Redmond, Oregon, company is a unit of Daseke Inc. of Addison, Texas — No. 59 on Transport Topics Top 100 list of for-hire carriers in the United States and Canada. “It’s hard to say how much of the start that is slower than anticipated is related to the weather and how much is economic conditions.”

 

Gary Salisbury, CEO of Fikes Truck Line, said he believes a round of late-winter weather problems in many parts of the country have pushed back the expected surge in flatbed freight to home improvement stores.

 

“Building products are going to move to those stores in the next 30 days,” Salisbury said in an interview March 27. Demand will surge, he said, as retailers replenish inventory such as roofing materials.

 

In the meantime, Salisbury and Williams sketched a market where supply and demand generally were in balance.

 

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