5400 Laurel Springs Pkwy Suite 703, Suwanee, GA 30024

CEO: Jim Sington

CFO: Bobby Ralston

Vice President: Ed Leader


Meg Larcinese

(678) 325-1025

Greg McClendon

(678) 325-1023

Dennis Ball

(678) 925-0197

John Hicks

(770) 418-9789


Megan Hicks


Jerry Critser


Kelly Young


Class 8 Update..................................................................................... 6

Owning The Wheel........................................................................... 10

Sudoku Puzzle.................................................................................... 14


Coal City Cob Company..........................4

CRST BESL...............................................15

CRST Malone...........................................11

CRST STI....................................................9


New Waverly............................................13

P.I. & I Motor Express...............................7

Star Freight.................................................3

Tran Stewart.............................................12

UPS Freight..............................................16

MERIT TRANSPORT is looking for Owner Operators!


Partner with Merit, where every driver counts. The majority of our loads,

about 80%, are drop and hook, maximizing your drive time.

• Huge Earning Potential –

$250,000 or more

• Sign-On Bonus

• Fuel Discounts

• Breakdown assistance

• OTR loads (90% customer loads

not brokers)

• Majority drop & hook

• Year round work

• Family-Owned company located

in Ontario, California

• No trailer fees

• Flexible schedule

• Hablamos Español


A couple of


news items to note:



No new records were set, but sales of new Class

8 tractors in 2018 soared to the highest level in more

than a decade as carriers responded to rising shipment

numbers and higher freight rates. The year closed with

the strongest December since 2006.

At the same time, industry analysts are cautioning that

the freight boom may be slowing.

December Class 8 sales of 26,083 brought the 2018

total to 250,067 tractors. That’s a 30.4 percent increase

over 2017 sales of 192,243 units, according to sales data

provided by Wards Auto.

Only two other years in the current

century, 2005 and 2006, saw larger Class 8

numbers. As carriers prepared for new EPA

emissions standards that became effective

in 2007, manufacturers racked up sales of

252,792 in 2005 and 284,008 in 2006.

The new EPA standards mandated a 50

percent reduction in nitrogen oxide (NOx)

emissions and a 90 percent reduction in

particulate matter emissions compared

to 2004 standards. Due to the unknown

performance factors of the 2007 standard

engines, carriers were wary of increased

fuel consumption and higher maintenance

costs and stocked up on pre-2007 tractors. Many of

those tractors ended up parked on back lots as the

need for capacity dropped during the Great Recession

of 2008-2009.

The 30.4 percent increase in 2018 sales over the

previous year was only topped twice previously. The first

was in 2004, when sales of 203,197 bested 2003 sales

of 141,964 by 43.1 percent. In 2011, sales of 171,358

were 59.9 percent higher than 2010 sales of 107,152.

Sales in 2018 were so good, in fact, that production

was sometimes slowed by the inability to stock enough

parts to keep assembly lines functioning at full speed. On

top of this, buyers were ordering so fast that the backlog

of build orders continued to grow.

In September, the backlog of orders was 191,909

units, according to Kenny Vieth, president and senior

analyst at ACT Research. “Therefore,” he said, “it would

take 227 production days to build down that backlog.”

Vieth explained the significance. “Put another way, if

we convert to build at that rate, and if we received no

more orders and the industry continued to build at that

rate, it would take 10.8 months to get a new tractor,” he

said. “The challenge is that if you’re a trucker, you have to

place an order down now, but you don’t know what your

business is going to be like in six months, let alone in 11

or 12 months,” he concluded.

While all of the OEMs experienced increased sales

in 2018, one was particularly satisfied with the results.

Navistar sold 34,326 units, an increase of 12,556 over

sales of 21,770 in 2017. The whopping 57.7 percent

increase helped the company to gain an additional 2.4

percent of the Class 8 market.

“The industry has been on a tear,” said Navistar Vice

President of Product Marketing Steve Gilligan. “Our new

LT series performed very well for us.”

Volvo also experienced an increase in their share of

the Class 8 market, gaining 1.8 percent to finish the year

with 10.7 percent, compared to 8.9 percent the prior

year. Sales of 26,794 tractors in 2018 topped prior year

sales of 17,098 for an increase of 56.7 percent.

Gilligan attributed at least a part of Navistar’s success

to its A26 13-liter engine. “We were lagging in the 13-liter

6 I Job Opportunities


area, so we introduced the new A26,” he said. “It

has performed exceptionally well, and customers are

buying more.”

The 13-liter engine, offering reduced weight and

better fuel economy, is appealing to more buyers

as refinements are made to improve performance

capabilities. “Statistics differ, depending on who you

ask, but it is estimated that 40-50 percent of Class

8 truck buyers are opting for 13-liter engines,” said

Gilligan, who pointed out that Navistar still offers its

customers the Cummins X15 engine as a 15-liter


He also credited the company’s success to the LT

tractor, introduced in 2017. “Traditionally,” he said,

“carriers tend to limit purchases in the first year, buying

a smaller number and evaluating performance after six

or eight months. In 2018, carriers who purchased the

2017 models returned with larger orders.”

Navistar has a long climb ahead to win back the

28.0 percent of the market it enjoyed in 2009, but

Gilligan didn’t shy away from questions about the

difficulties Navistar has faced in recent years.

“Our management team is completely different

from our difficult period, and the team continues to be

strengthened,” he said. “We have completely updated

our product line in every area. Plus, our quality is

significantly improved.”

Freightliner, Mack, Kenworth, Peterbilt and Western

Star each saw their percentage of the Class 8 market

fall in 2018, despite selling more tractors than the prior


Freightliner sold 90,919 units, an increase of

18,751, or 26 percent from sales of 72,168 the prior

year. Their share of the Class 8 market fell 1.2 percent

as the company was responsible 36.3 percent of units

sold nationwide.

Kenworth picked up 8,063 additional tractor sales

to end the year at 37,399, an increase of 27.5 percent

over 2017 results. Peterbilt performed similarly, with

an increase of 6,496 tractors sold for a year-end total

of 36,970, a pace 21.3 percent ahead of the prior year.

Volvo’s gain in market share was somewhat

mitigated by a loss of 1 percent by Volvo-owned Mack

Truck. Still, sales of Class 8 tractors wearing the bulldog

grew by 14.3 percent to 18,448 in 2018, 2,300 units

ahead of 2017 sales of 16,138.

Western Star, which had a little more of the market

every year since 2009, reversed that trend in 2019,

dropping 0.4 percent in market share while selling

625 more tractors than in 2017. The 5,762 units sold

represented a 12.2 percent increase over the prior

year as well as a 21st century high-water mark for the


The strong finish to 2018 provides momentum

for the Class 8 market going into 2019, but there are

clouds on the horizon. One cause for caution is past

performance of the market.

At Navistar, Gilligan put it this way: “As with most

markets, it will eventually contract. We think the market

will remain strong through 2019, but we think it may

retract a little bit.”

In a recent interview with The Trucker, research

analyst Brad Delco of Stephens, Inc. pointed out that

stock prices for publicly held carriers have fallen,

indicating a lack of investor confidence in a currently

strong freight market.

“What we’re seeing now is more capacity, less

demand and prices eroding,” he said. “Spot rates

are decelerating. They peaked at about a 20 percent

increase. They’re still up, but not nearly as much.”

Additionally, the most recent ACT Research

Transportation Digest stated that U.S. economic

growth is expected to decelerate in 2019 as monetary

policy and supply have become less accommodating.

ACT’s Vieth also commented on recent stock

market trends. “We are working to interpret the

meaning of falling stock markets, the flight to safety in

bonds, the downward spiral in energy and industrial

commodity prices, and accumulating evidence of a

global slowdown, which have caused the perspectives

on the next six to eight quarters to be come hazy, with

downside risks,” he said.

The cycle continues. When the economy is

growing, carriers buy more trucks to take advantage

of plentiful freight and higher freight rates. At some

point, however, equilibrium is reached. Analysts know

this point is near when rates will stop rising and stocks

will start falling. The next phase in the cycle usually

has too many trucks to haul diminishing amounts of

freight. Then, stock prices of carriers decline, as do

orders for new trucks and trailers as carriers tighten


When it comes to Class 8 tractor sales in 2019, it

remains to be seen how long the market will stay strong

and whether the inevitable decline will be gradual or

more sudden.

8 I Job Opportunities





One of the most accurate measures of how

much a fellow’s age has distilled into

wisdom is the degree to which he has

learned to make life easy on himself. It can be

in the way he does his job, knowing the best

routes to take, the best places to stop. And it

can show itself in the way he takes in the world.

At the age of 63 and with 45 years on the road,

Tim Plubell has a personality as mellow as if it

had been aged in an oak cask. On January 2, he

was having breakfast at the Iron Skillet at the

Petro Stopping Center off Interstate 40, exit

161. Plubell was a bit amused. He said he’d

read something on the internet about someone

trying to organize a truckers’ shutdown for one

reason or another. “I thought, I do that every

few weeks,” he said. “Whenever I go home I

shut down for a week. I’m able to do that now.”

Home for Plubell is Frenchville, a little

community of about 500 in central Pennsylvania.

He was headed back east after dropping

off a load in Oklahoma City. That’s about as

far west as he goes anymore, he said. In 2019,

he’ll have been an owner-operator for 20 years,

and he wouldn’t have it any other way. “I work

for myself, I do what I want to when I want

to,” he said. “Mainly I just like being out by

myself. I’m kind of a loner person.” But as he

sees it, that’s one of the qualities that makes a

person suited for trucking. It’s suited him his

entire working life. “I’ve been driving since I

was 18,” Plubell said. “I started driving a log

truck for my uncle.” He continued doing that

until his uncle retired and closed his business.

From there, Plubell became a company driver

until 1999, when he was able to buy a truck

and go out on his own.

The only down side, as he sees it, is the

amount of time he has to spend away from

home to make the money he wants to make.

Take this past week, for example. He was

home for Christmas, but then he left the day

after, and he and his wife wound up spending

New Year’s Eve apart.

But even that

cloud has a silver

lining, he explained.

A lot of relationships

might be strained

from spending so

much time apart. Not

so for Plubell and his

wife, who got married

about a year after

he started driving

for his uncle. “When I started driving it was

good for a while,” he said, referring to married

life. “I was home every night. But then … being

we got married young, we began fighting

about a lot of stuff.”

It wasn’t just the money, he said. The time

apart made them value the time together even

more. Plubell said he tries to get home every

weekend, though it doesn’t always pan out.

That’s why he doesn’t venture any farther

west than Oklahoma City. And except to get

home to Frenchville, he pretty much confines

his driving to the Southeast this time of year.

Driving in northern winter weather isn’t worth

the hassle. It’s not that he doesn’t trust his own

ability. It’s the other drivers out there, the amateurs.

“Ninety percent of them that pass you

are on this,” he said, holding up his cellphone.

After 45 years, he has a spotless accident

record, and he’d just as soon keep it that way.

Aside from sharing the road with drivers who

seem to be getting more distracted and discourteous

as the years go by, the one other thing

that Plubell thinks has gotten worse over the

years has been all the regulations truckers have

to contend with now.

Plubell doesn’t know if he’ll ever fully retire.

He has a friend who’s little older than he

is who has become a little choosier about how

far and how often he drives, and he figures he

might follow that example. Trucking isn’t for

everyone, he said, but when it is, it’s tough to

imagine not ever doing it. “I love it,” he said.

“If I didn’t, I wouldn’t be doing it.”

10 I Job Opportunities



How to play: You must complete the Sudoku puzzle so

that within each and every row, column and region, the

numbers one through nine are only written once.

There are 9 rows in a traditional Sudoku puzzle. Every

row must contain the numbers 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8,

and 9. There may not be any duplicate numbers in any

row. In other words, there can not be any rows that are


There are 9 columns in a traditional Sudoku puzzle.

Like the Sudoku rule for rows, every column must also

contain the numbers 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, and 9. Again,

Difficulty: Medium

there may not be any duplicate numbers in any column.

Each column will be unique as a result.

A region is a 3x3 box like the one shown to the left.

There are 9 regions in a traditional Sudoku puzzle.

Like the Sudoku requirements for rows and columns,

every region must also contain the numbers 1, 2, 3, 4,

5, 6, 7, 8, and 9. Duplicate numbers are not permitted

in any region. Each region will differ from the other


14 I Job Opportunities

Are you an Owner Operator or Owner Operator Team? It’s time for you to begin

building your business with an industry leader. Get started with UPS today.

• Practical mileage pay on ALL miles

• Full fuel surcharge

• Fuel & tire discounts

Call Jill or Amanda

Teams always welcome!


• Plate, permits, taxes (road & fuel) provided

• PrePass Plus

• Cargo & liability insurance

• Fast pay

• All no-touch freight; 90% drop & hook

• No NYC driving

Complete your owner operator application online at:

© 2018 United Parcel Service of America, Inc.

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