Ron Massman, CEO at Dependable Highway Express (DHE), believes demand for full truck load (TL) services will be strong in 2011 in the western and southwestern states with less than truckload (LTL) volume showing only slight recovery with aggressive competition for this kind of business.

“Rates will be stable as they have reached a profitable level due to increases in 2010. However, contract renewals on lower rates will be higher as truckers try and catch up with increased costs. LTL rates have been static during the past two years so that carriers have no choice but to increase rates. I anticipate about a 5 per cent increase in LTL rates in 2011,” stated Massman.

“With our acquisition of Matheson Fast Freight, an LTL trucker last year, DHE has increased its less than truckload volume and its geographic footprint to cover the Northwest and Texas. However, the California, Nevada and Arizona markets remain our chief focus. Our dedicated business has shown good growth during 2010 and we expect to expand this type of business in 2011,” continued Massman.

Dependable Highway Express is believed to be the largest privately held trucking firm in the west and southwest.

“I expect the number of amalgamations, acquisitions, and mergers in the trucking industry will lessen this year because of the high rate of acquisition activity in 2010 and the fact that many trucking companies, particularly smaller ones, have gone out of business. Weak trucking companies cannot expect to be ‘bailed out’ in 201l by being acquired. They will have to compete in the marketplace or fail,” the DHE executive stated.

“Despite all the talk about east coast ports like New York, Charleston, Jacksonville, etc. generating greater business directly from Asia and by-passing west coast ports, I do not see any major drop in west coast business. I expect it will have no impact on trucking operations in the western region. Freight volumes in California, our single largest market, should show a gradual upturn in business throughout 2011 with rates showing a similar pattern.”

“One of the biggest issues facing our industry in 2011 is a shortage of drivers with more drivers leaving trucking than entering it. The driver shortage, if severe, could push rates, particularly in the LT sector, higher than now anticipated, concluded Ron Massman.