A TARGET MEDIA PARTNERS PUBLICATION
5400 Laurel Springs Pkwy Suite 703, Suwanee, GA 30024
CEO: Jim Sington
CFO: Bobby Ralston
Vice President: Ed Leader
Class 8 Update..................................................................................... 6
Owning The Wheel........................................................................... 10
Sudoku Puzzle.................................................................................... 14
Coal City Cob Company..........................4
P.I. & I Motor Express...............................7
MERIT TRANSPORT is looking for Owner Operators!
At MERIT TRANSPORT YOU ARE NOT JUST A NUMBER…..
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
• Majority drop & hook
• Year round work
• Family-Owned company located
in Ontario, California
• No trailer fees
• Flexible schedule
• Hablamos Español
CLASS 8 UPDATE
A couple of
news items to note:
OEMS CELEBRATE ACCELERATED SALES IN 2018, EVEN AS SIGNS POINT TO
COOL-OFF IN 2019
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
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
CLASS 8 UPDATE
area, so we introduced the new A26,” he said. “It
has performed exceptionally well, and customers are
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
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
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
8 I Job Opportunities
OWNING THE WHEEL
BY LYNDON FINNEY
A DRIVER FOR 45 YEARS, A HUSBAND FOR 44, TIM
PLUBELL’S LIFE IS CRUISING COMFORTABLY ALONG
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,
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: upsfreightowneroperators.com
© 2018 United Parcel Service of America, Inc.