NITL / IANA 2008 - Economic conditions to lead discussions of NITL, IANA

By: | at 07:00 PM | Channel(s): Intermodal News  International Trade  

By Paul Scott Abbott, AJOTImpacts of adverse economic conditions are expected to be at the forefront of discussions Nov. 14-19 as leading transportation associations meet in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
In separate interviews with the American Journal of Transportation, the chief executives of the Intermodal Association of North America and the National Industrial Transportation League noted that they had little idea when the topic for the joint opening session of their collocated events was chosen several months ago that it would be so perfectly timed with current events.
Yet, as it turns out, the session on “Wall Street’s View of Transportation” should set the stage for candid – and perhaps disconsolate – discourse throughout NITL’s 101st annual meeting and 26th TransComp Exhibition and IANA’s 26th Intermodal Expo and annual membership meeting. The Transportation Intermediaries Association’s fall meeting also is to be held at the same time at the Greater Fort Lauderdale/Broward County Convention Center.
“Little did we know when we arranged this opening session in the spring of this year how timely it would be,” said Joni Casey, president and chief executive officer of Calverton, Md.-based IANA. “I’d love to lay claim to being a clairvoyant on that.”
Bruce Carlton, who June 2 assumed a similar dual-titled role at Arlington, VA-based NITL, said of Casey, “I was beginning to think she was clairvoyant.”
Carlton then quickly added, referring to the present gloomy state of the US economy, “I can honestly say I never saw this coming.”
That says a lot, as Carlton has toiled for nearly four decades in the nation’s capital in transportation-related positions in private and public sectors, including serving immediately prior to joining NITL as assistant administrator of the Maritime Administration at the US Department of Transportation.
“I expect at that opening session it will be standing room only,” Carlton said. “Anyone who’s not at that session has overslept. I would set two alarms.”
The Wall Street session is slated for Monday, Nov. 17, at 8:45 a.m., opening the educational program following three days of committee and general business meetings during which association leaders are likely to have already delved into economic issues. Speakers for the session are to include John G. Larkin, managing director and head of transportation capital markets research at Stifel, Nicolaus & Co., Inc.; Thomas S. Albrecht, managing director of Stephens, Inc.; and Urs M. Durs, vice president and senior equity analyst at Lazard Capital Markets.
“Certainly foremost on everyone’s mind, from both a business and personal perspective, is the current economic situation,” said IANA’s Casey. “While intermodal is not ‘bulletproof,’ this sector seems to be weathering the storm a little better than other sectors. While total intermodal volume is down, one bright spot is the domestic business, which is up 4.7 percent through the third quarter of this year.
“Among potential impacts of economic volatility is a lessening of the ability to secure capital to invest in infrastructure,” Casey said. “This is not only a private-sector issue, but one that the public sector will be dealing with when attention turns to the reauthorization of SAFETEA-LU [the Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users, due to expire in September 2009]. Industry participants are going to need to determine what the proper funding vehicles are to augment the diminishing and inadequate Highway Trust Fund.
“Add to this the growing number of clean air and ‘green’ initiatives, and you can see that freight transportation interests are in for a very challenging year,” Casey added. “The decisions that are made over the next eight to 10 months will probably frame our business for the next decade.”
NITL’s Carlton echoed Casey’s sentiments.
“The economy is Issue 1, and, frankly, I think it casts a shadow over the whole show and the entire industry and our nation,” Carlton said. “Long ago, I

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For more than a quarter of a century, Paul Scott Abbott has been writing and shooting images for the American Journal of Transportation, applying four decades of experience as an award-winning journalist. A graduate of Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism, with a master’s magna cum laude from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, Abbott has served as president of chapters of the Propeller Club of the United States, Florida Public Relations Association and Society of Professional Journalists. Abbott honed his skills on several daily newspapers, including [em]The Cincinnati Enquirer, The Richmond (Va.) News Leader, Albuquerque Journal and (South Florida) Sun-Sentinel, and was editor and publisher of The County Line, a weekly newspaper he founded in suburban Richmond, Va.[/em] A native Chicagoan, he is a member of American Mensa and an ever-optimistic fan of the Chicago Cubs.