The COVID-19 pandemic of 2020 has highlighted the resilience of the human spirit, but it has also shined a spotlight on many of the vulnerabilities hidden beneath the surface of various industries across the planet. Trucking, which has suffered its own setbacks in recent years due to changing regulations and driver shortages, has been affected as demand for retail goods has waxed and waned while deliveries of manufacturing supplies have dried up due to business and plant closures.
Because of the novel nature of the COVID-19 pandemic, these challenges have been more difficult to address because the world is delicately connected. Although much of the modern business landscape relies on information technology to get things done, at the end of the day, physical transportation of goods remains the backbone that keeps things moving forward.
While the obstacles posed by COVID-19 are new, Convoy’s Aaron Terrazas believes that lessons learned from the homebuilding industry during the financial crisis of 2008 can teach a few things. Terrazas states, “The path the homebuilding industry took following its bust could provide a blueprint for what trucking can expect as it recovers from a similarly severe downturn. The lesson is that carriers may be particularly slow to add capacity as the freight economy emerges from the COVID-19 recession.”
He continues, “By most accounts, the risk-taking homebuilders that expanded aggressively in the boom years were the ones who had quit, leaving the industry dominated by larger, risk-averse businesses…if we look to lessons from homebuilders over the past decade, it’s likely that many carriers in the trucking industry will take a relatively conservative approach to expansion once demand does start to heat up.”
What this means for the trucking industry will be unique to the goals set by each company as well as the current outlook regionally; however, if lessons are to be learned from the past, slow, steady and progressive growth may be the goal as opposed to jumping right back in with guns blazing.