West Coast Runs Reconsidered

jjoerger

Veteran Expediter
Owner/Operator
US Army
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I just saw a new ad here on EO that I had not seen before.
It says, "We need tractor-teams to join our specialized reefer fleet. Teams are earning $1.73 per authorized loaded and empty miles, including fuel."
 

mdscott

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Melissa and I have decided to take a wait and see on this, with one change, we will stay away from the west coast without a preassigned. That is what we are hearing from other drivers and owners, With that said we del on the west coast Sat morning, will be interesting to see how long we wait on a load. Never have been one to wait long.
 

bcordell70

Seasoned Expediter
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I want to clarify my post and to add that this last trip we DEL into San Diego, we did go OOS for 1 day for my wife to reset, and because it was near her B day. Once we went back in service we did receive a couple load offers both were B loads we turned one down going to San Fran and accepted one heading to AZ just to get out of Cali.

Once we delivered in AZ, planning wanted us to DH over 1000 miles to Dallas, TX at normal DH rates. So we thought we never really had an issue getting a load out of AZ so we sorta messed around for the day hoping for a load, it never happened.

The next day we headed towards Dallas, just crossed into NM and received a load offer, PU in AZ heading to Wichita, KS which we accepted. But the load dont PU until 05/07 so we had to turn around and DH back 300 miles to PU this load. Called in and had them add the 300 to the DH because they had us listed from the last express center we checked into which was 190 miles from PU.

Anyway it worked out, thank god, but we wont be doing anymore West Coast runs while freight out East is running really well. Unless we are offered a load coming back out and they have done this before.:eek:
 

ATeam

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Retired Expediter
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Diane and I have worked through the emotions relative to our carrier's move toward company-owned equipment and preferential dispatch, and have settled on a course of action. Interested readers can read the details in today's post in my daily blog.

You will see that we are making certain assumptions about the company-owned equipment, preferential dispatch and the expected impact on our revenue. We are open to the possibility that we may have this wrong and will eagerly consider contrary information from any source.

We have happily and proudly run with FedEx Custom Critical since 2003. We would like to continue to do so, but if our view of the facts is accurate, we see little reason to stay.

So, please, if anyone knows anything different about how things are at the new FedEx Custom Critical as we characterize it, we are all ears. If we do have it wrong, I will be the first to say so here and everywhere else I have written about this company change.
 

jjoerger

Veteran Expediter
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US Army
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Phil,
Have you considered the possibility that FDCC might have lost a customer or two on the west coast? Or that current customers that utilize your type of truck may be going through a down period or slow down?
Express center activity changes all the time. Automakers close up to re tool. Current customers lose contracts. Other carriers undercut FDCC and gain our business. FDCC gets new customers all the time. LA is a big import center for shipments from Japan. Those shipments are almost non existent now.
Perhaps the reason for putting on flat rate reefer trucks is they are expecting increased business activity based on a new contract(s) which we know nothing about.
You have done well with FDCC. Perhaps the company has plans that will be of benefit to all of there contractors.
 

ATeam

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Retired Expediter
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Phil,
Have you considered the possibility that FDCC might have lost a customer or two on the west coast? Or that current customers that utilize your type of truck may be going through a down period or slow down?
Express center activity changes all the time. Automakers close up to re tool. Current customers lose contracts. Other carriers undercut FDCC and gain our business. FDCC gets new customers all the time. LA is a big import center for shipments from Japan. Those shipments are almost non existent now.
Perhaps the reason for putting on flat rate reefer trucks is they are expecting increased business activity based on a new contract(s) which we know nothing about.

Thank you for your reply. I asked for alternative points of view and that is exactly what you provided. I appreciate it. Thank you.

Yes, we have considered the possibility that FDCC might have lost a customer or two on the west coast, or that current customers that utilize our type of truck may be going through a down period or slow down. We have also considered the Japan slowdown and competitive forces.

The information we are working with comes from flat-rate truck drivers, flat-rate truck fleet owners and people in the office at Green. No one has talked about the loss of a major customer. The freight is still flowing from existing customers. The difference is it is going on flat rate trucks while trucks like ours are passed over.

Regarding an anticipated increase in business because of the flat rate trucks, company people all say that is the hope and intent that lies behind the decision to buy and operate company equipment which is intended to haul truckload freight. The problem is that no one has pointed to even one new account where the plan is working.

Company people have told me about new accounts in the past. They do not name customers, of course, but when I have asked in the past, they have told me when a new account or series of loads that resulted from a new initiative. Because it was not my reason for calling, I did not ask specifically about new customers produced by new flat rate trucks. But in the conversations I had, there was ample opportunity for people to provide at least tangential evidence that these company trailers are hauling something other than the freight percentage-of-load contractors used to haul and also haul. They did not.

For discusion purposes, let's say that it is as you say. For whatever reason -- Japan slowdown, loss of customers, express center variables, whatever -- West Coast freight has slowed. Sending company-owned trailers and flat-rate contractors into that shrinking pie, and giving them preferential dispatch in and out, will not help percentage-of-load contractors, it will hurt them.

You have done well with FDCC. Perhaps the company has plans that will be of benefit to all of there contractors.

We have indeed done well with FDCC, very well in fact. But when things change and the changes are reflected in our declining volume of West Coast freight, Diane and I are not ones to cling to the hope that our declining revenue and the shrinking number of states in which we can make money are somehow part of a larger plan to benefit all contractors; especially when the company is saying absolutely nothing about such a plan.

We don't have columns on our spreadsheet entitled "hope" or "perhaps" or "maybe the company is doing this."

It's about the money as it has always been.

If we want to journey into the land of maybe this and perhaps that, two or more directions can be taken. It is just as easy to use the emergence of flat rate trucks to spin a story about a master plan to fold FDCC into FedEx Freight while eliminating all percentage-of-load contractors.

I'm not going there as such stories, good and bad, greatly exceed the scope of our one-truck business, and they are all hypothetical. All we need in the real world is a carrier that will keep us running and pay us more, or at least as much, as any other carrier in the industry that has use for a truck like ours and a team like us.
 
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astikhossw

Seasoned Expediter
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Ateam do'nt forget if you do leave the Fed and things do"nt work out you can always go back.I've left three times and they are still sending me emails and letters to come back.So not to worry???
 

ATeam

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Ateam do'nt forget if you do leave the Fed and things do"nt work out you can always go back.I've left three times and they are still sending me emails and letters to come back.So not to worry???

If you left three times, you also entered three times. Why would you enter and then leave, enter again and leave, and enter a third time and leave? What prompted the moves?
 

BigRed32771

Expert Expediter
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This thread creates serious concerns for me. I had been hearing from drivers that the delays in getting out of the west were getting worse, but here I see an explanation that is disturbing.

After getting hung up in the Northwest last year, I've been very cautious about taking loads west since then, with only one or two to SoCal since then. It did take a day or three to get out and move back east, and I did my share of running shorts while waiting, angling for that <75 which sooner or later nearly every truck waiting for an easterly has obtained. But to read that I'm now in competition for prioritized company trucks? Holy Cow! It certainly makes me think twice about future loads west of, say, I-35.

Did I see a comment in this thread that the company owned trailers were loading multiple loads? As in "L-T-L?" I've already been concerned that the expedite niche has been seriously impacted by the l-t-l companies moving in, forcing FDCC and others to compete against their multiple load rate schedules while keeping us in the sole, exclusive use model of traditional expediting. I've thought this was a significant source of the price erosion we've seen over the past couple of years. To find that the company's response is to introduce l-t-l style operation into our fleet in direct competition with us on the "percentage of load" system is extremely disheartening.

Is this the beginning of the end of FDCC as an expedite carrier? What role will there be for vans and straight trucks carrying exclusive use in the FedEx Freight universe, beyond "final mile" operations? Is there a connection between these changes and the switch from "blue" to "red?"

All carriers have problems in one form or another, that's why what fits for one driver/team doesn't necessarily work for all others. Styles and needs vary, but overall we've always regarded FDCC as the best place to work. I'll have to keep a very close eye on things in the near future to see if that remains true.
 

astikhossw

Seasoned Expediter
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Ateam this last time that i left i did not want to deal with electronic logs,plus all of the 1.20 load offers plus those guys would just keep sending those low ball offers over and over again,plus having to compete with those red trucks,Lg,Lg,Lg when you got to those areas.Plus i am retired from two other jobs and do"nt need hassle"s like that.And like i said if i ever wanted to go back they do"nt really have a problem with it.
 

ATeam

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Retired Expediter
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Did I see a comment in this thread that the company owned trailers were loading multiple loads? As in "L-T-L?"

I am not aware of any FDCC-owned trailers doing LTL work and nothing I learned in various conversations suggested that they are.

It has always been the case that some FDCC customers will book one shipment from one customer that may have multiple pick-ups or multiple stops but that freight still went dock to dock (or door to door) on the same truck; not dock to terminal using more than one truck like an LTL operation.

I've already been concerned that the expedite niche has been seriously impacted by the l-t-l companies moving in, forcing FDCC and others to compete against their multiple load rate schedules while keeping us in the sole, exclusive use model of traditional expediting. I've thought this was a significant source of the price erosion we've seen over the past couple of years. To find that the company's response is to introduce l-t-l style operation into our fleet in direct competition with us on the "percentage of load" system is extremely disheartening.

While the company trailers are now hauling the same kind of freight percentage-of-load contractors also haul, they are not part of any LTL or LTL-style operation that I know of.

Is this the beginning of the end of FDCC as an expedite carrier?

According to some observers, the beginning of the end started when Roberts Express was purchased by FedEx a long, long time ago. I have been in the business going on eight years and note that every time a significant change happens with FedEx Custom Critical, there are people who rise to proclaim (some with glee) that this is the beginning of the end.

When you ask if this is the beginning of the end of FedEx Custom Critical, it is important to be clear about which Custom Critical you are talking about. Is it the one that used to haul automotive freight like there was no tomorrow? Is it the one that used to be a freestanding operating company within the larger FedEx Corporation? Is it the one that existed before White Glove services were originated? Is it the one that operated at a time when there were few if any competing expedite carriers in the game?

There have been many ways in which FedEx Custom Critical has already come to an end, but the company seems to keep plugging along.

What role will there be for vans and straight trucks carrying exclusive use in the FedEx Freight universe, beyond "final mile" operations?

There will always be a market for exclusive use trucks because there will always be customers who have exclusive use freight.

In one sense, a produce load from a California warehouse to a grocery chain warehouse in Atlanta is an exclusive use run. The entire truck is dedicated to the load, it goes dock to dock, and it is driven straight through.

In the expediting sense, exclusive use is also one load on one truck, dock to dock and straight through. The difference is the loads are not usually scheduled far in advance.

Regardless of what happens with advances in LTL technology and practices, there will remain people who screw up orders, lose freight, break something, forget something, or do other such things that create an immediate demand for a dedicated truck. Security considerations often prompt the demand for an exclusive use truck, as do needs for special handling.

Company-owned trailers pulled by flat-rate tractors may be able to handle some of this but not all. It is difficult to imagine a team of drivers who have white line fever and are miles oriented pulling up to a museum without a lift gate to haul an art load for which they have to wait, or for the same team to drive their big rig to a clinic in a residential neighborhood to do an inside delivery of medical equipment.

Is there a connection between these changes and the switch from "blue" to "red?"

Your guess is as good as mine.

All carriers have problems in one form or another, that's why what fits for one driver/team doesn't necessarily work for all others. Styles and needs vary, but overall we've always regarded FDCC as the best place to work. I'll have to keep a very close eye on things in the near future to see if that remains true.

I am certain that many expediters will continue to consider FDCC the best place to work, whatever changes the company makes and in whatever form it may one day exist. People associate with (and leave) companies for different reasons and some of them are very personal. What is good for one is not necessarily good for others.
 

aileron

Expert Expediter
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Phil,
I just read your blog, and understand what you are going through. I have been going through the same thing a few years back when they forced us van drivers to accept the flat rate of .85 a mile.

I can tell you also that I used to be proud to wear FedEx CC shirts and hats, used to be proud to be part of a leader in expediting. Now, I am ashamed to even show I am with them. I am also more ashamed of what people and vans they are recruiting these days. In the last few months I have transferred freight to and from people and FedEx vans that made me shake my head in disbelief. I would NEVER have thought that FedEx would become just like some of the other companies that I have seen them referred to as 'bottom feeders'. But this is the road that they started going down on, and this is the result. When they don't pay anything, they can except the quality of their vehicles and drivers to go down accordingly.
 

ATeam

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California Update:

Diane and I have been in CA since last Saturday morning (nine days now). A nice, cross-country run took us out here. The next run took us to the San Francisco area at OK pay, OK but not great. We then did two short runs in the Bay Area.

In the four express centers (San Jose, Sacramento, Oakland and South San Francisco), there are a total of 10 straight trucks here (7 C, 3 D). All are White Glove teams. We are the only one with <75 status. We are not WG locked and have seen one offer but declined it for long deadhead that makes it low pay and the fact that it brings us right back to where we are now and we would lose our <75.

Friends parked in the Ontario TA report 13 FedEx Custom Critical trucks are parked in the front lot. They are on a <75 run now. They have been talking to people. One truck reports they made $5,000 last week running in and around CA (at rates unknown). If there are others doing the same, I have not heard of them and we are not among them.

We asked for a relocation but were told no because they have enough trucks back east to cover freight there.

Of some significance is the fuel price discount we get through FedEx Custom Critical. Pump prices our here are aroun $4.45 a gallon. Our price is $3.90 to $3.99 a gallon depending on the California TA location.

As I typed this, a good load came in that picked up nearby but we did not get it. The pick up is tomorrow which enables trucks from a day away with <75 and more dwell time than us to get it before us in the order. With <75 status being common out here, the competition among straight trucks for a good load going back east is intense.

Do we stay and build more dwell time than the other <75's within a day's drive have? Or do we deadhead east on our own dime? It is about 2,000 miles to Minneapolis, and about 1,750 miles to Kansas City or Des Moines.

Decisions, decisions.

Finding a load on our own and running it through FDCC's home run program comes to mind but we have had no need to do that in so long that we are not set up to quickly do it now. We will have no need to quickly do so later as we are not coming back out west unless we are pre-dispatched to return before picking up the load that goes out.

Update to the update:

We are now dispatched on a load that picks up today. It takes us east but not past the rockies. Pay is OK. We're on our way!
 
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ATeam

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....I would NEVER have thought that FedEx would become just like some of the other companies that I have seen them referred to as 'bottom feeders'. But this is the road that they started going down on, and this is the result. When they don't pay anything, they can except the quality of their vehicles and drivers to go down accordingly.

So, if the pay is diminished and the pride in the brand is gone, why do you stay? What keeps you at FDCC? I ask because I am looking for reasons to stay.
 
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ATeam

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Retired Expediter
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TRANSPARENCY!!!!

That's what is needed at FedEx Custom Critical, transparency.

I have been talking to other carriers and, conditioned over eight years by FDCC to expect something different, am amazed to be receiving straight answers to reasonable questions.

How big is your fleet size? Answer given instantly

What portion is vans, straights, semis? Answer given instantly.

How much money and miles are your top producers making? Answer not given instantly but later provided in writing.

What company equipment, if any, do you have running and is it dispatched differently than other equipment? Answer given instantly.

Why can't we know what is going on at FDCC? Why don't they just tell us things like what the run count is, how the freight is running in various regions, what the collective dwell time numbers are, etc?

Why is everything so clouded in corporate speak and big picture clarity obscured under half answers and piecemeal facts from different departments?

Other companies seem able to give straight answers to reasonable questions, why can't FDCC?

TRANSPARENCY, Please. TRANSPARENCY!

I see our carrier's CEO on TV talking about the magnificient communications FDCC has. Might the contractors also know what is going on with the company we serve? Might we also know what we need to know to make intelligent truck purchase and carrier lease decisions?
 
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ATeam

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I'm done talking about this for a while. On to other interests.
 

BigRed32771

Expert Expediter
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California Update:

Diane and I have been in CA since last Saturday morning (nine days now). A nice, cross-country run took us out here. The next run took us to the San Francisco area at OK pay, OK but not great. We then did two short runs in the Bay Area.

In the four express centers (San Jose, Sacramento, Oakland and South San Francisco), there are a total of 10 straight trucks here (7 C, 3 D). All are White Glove teams. We are the only one with <75 status. We are not WG locked and have seen one offer but declined it for long deadhead that makes it low pay and the fact that it brings us right back to where we are now and we would lose our <75.

Friends parked in the Ontario TA report 13 FedEx Custom Critical trucks are parked in the front lot. They are on a <75 run now. They have been talking to people. One truck reports they made $5,000 last week running in and around CA (at rates unknown). If there are others doing the same, I have not heard of them and we are not among them.

We asked for a relocation but were told no because they have enough trucks back east to cover freight there.

Shortly after you wrote this I was offered a load from Shreveport to near Sacramento. Having read the earlier thread postings I elected to pass on the offer. It came back shortly after with a significant pay boost added, but I still turned it down. We've been back to work just 2 weeks after being off 4 months due to some truck issues, and can't afford to take even a great load to CA if it means sitting for several days waiting for a load out.

Keep us posted about your thinking on these things. You guys are usually pretty clear and your input is valued.
 

aileron

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So, if the pay is diminished and the pride in the brand is gone, why do you stay? What keeps you at FDCC? I ask because I am looking for reasons to stay.


It was mostly hope that kept me here fueled by the BS that you get from the higher ups, coupled with the expense of changing carriers, and then doing it again if it didn't really work out at the new carrier.

Also, my van is getting older and some companies don't want older vans.

But now I am still here since I don't depend on FedEx for a living. So, I put myself out of service when I am actually making a living, and get in service to make some extra money. :)
 

ATeam

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.... I was offered a load from Shreveport to near Sacramento. Having read the earlier thread postings I elected to pass on the offer. It came back shortly after with a significant pay boost added, but I still turned it down. We've been back to work just 2 weeks after being off 4 months due to some truck issues, and can't afford to take even a great load to CA if it means sitting for several days waiting for a load out....

I commend your discipline. Diane and I are on our way back east under load and will do the same as you going forward; namely, decline load offers that take us west unless we are pre-dispatched to return (though few if any such pre-dispatches are expected).

Thinking ahead, it is going to be a challenge to say no to a $6,000-$7,000, $2.40/mile load that is looking up at you from the Qualcomm screen. We met a driver in CA who had just arrived the day before and was delighted with the money he made on the load that took him to CA. He said, "We had been sitting at home for four days. I told my wife we can't afford to not take this load."

On the front end of loads like these, they make perfect sense. But when you factor in the wait time you will likely have out west, the revenue per day on that sweet load will erode with each passing day you sit out there.

I have little doubt that straight trucks will continue to take these big-pay loads out west. For many, the big pay will be too much to refuse. They will convince themselves that this time will be different. Or they will simply run on the blind hope that what is happening to others will not happen to them. Or, they may not be readers of EO and will head west without a clue.

Diane and I may be wrong about all of this, but we are making the bet that when it comes to West Coast runs, the big money may not be the smart money.
 
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bcordell70

Seasoned Expediter
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Well since reading this post, We had an interesting load. Has nothing to do with Cali.

We accepted a load picking up in Houston, TX going to AL..Nothing special, after we get the load details I see it says PT at a fedex location, So we knew it was a transfer load..We then receive a c link saying the truck we would be meeting is CAXXX I said hmm, never seen a Fedex truck with CA or its from a different carrier, well anyway we get there and turns out it was a CC dry box, no lift gate nothing asked the driver what the A was for and he says he is a Flat Rate straight truck..

Another short interesting story, I really didnt think much of it until now..We received a load opp PU was in IL I believe going to a fedex location to transfer ..I said why are they sending us (a team truck) a transfer load? Called in and dispatch says they didnt know if we wanted to goto Atlanta ? I know were knew and all that but come on..lol..Things that make ya go hmmm..
 
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