NTTC Chairman Windsor
Apr 1, 2006 12:00 PM
BARBARA Windsor possesses one of the most diverse resumes of any of the industry leaders to have served as chairman of National Tank Truck Carriers Inc over the association's more than 50 years in existence. She also happens to be the first woman in NTTC's top position.
Like so many executives in the tank truck industry, she grew up in the family business Hahn Transportation Inc in New Market, Maryland where she now serves as president and chief executive officer. She recounts how she used to go with her father Robert Windsor Jr on cold winter mornings to start up the fleet tractors before the drivers arrived for their shifts.
She also remembers the challenges her mother faced in the early years as a woman involved in the day-to-day management of a tank truck fleet. My mother (Rebecca Hahn Windsor) and others like her cleared the trail that made it possible for me to become chairman of NTTC, Windsor says.
Windsor followed a circuitous route on her way to the NTTC chairmanship. She spent 20 years as a flight attendant (both domestic and international) with Trans World Airlines based in Kansas City, Missouri. By the time she left, she had served in several supervisory positions, including safety.
The return to the family business came in 1991, when she was named executive vice-president and chief operating officer. She has been there ever since and wasted little time in becoming involved in state and national politics.
In 1998, Windsor ran unsuccessfully as the Republican candidate for lieutenant governor in Maryland. Politics remain a major interest for Windsor, and she doesn't rule out another run for public office at some point in the future.
In addition to NTTC, Windsor is active on the association level with the American Trucking Associations and the Maryland Motor Truck Association. She is currently vice-chairman of ATA's hazmat subcommittee, and she was named MMTA's Person of the Year in 2005.
Not surprisingly, Windsor has some strong views on the issues facing the tank truck industry and trucking in general. She discussed those issues with Bulk Transporter during a recent interview.
BT: How would you describe the state of the tank truck industry during your year as NTTC chairman?
Windsor: It's better than it's been for a number of years, but we had a number of challenges. For instance, we faced fuel prices that were drastically rising. Hurricane Katrina damaged petroleum pipelines and disrupted our business for quite awhile.
I think insurance will be a growing issue over the next year. The market looks like it is tightening. We're looking at renewals now, and we're seeing less availability for hazmat coverage.
BT: How have freight volumes been so far in 2006?
Windsor: They've been very consistent. They've been holding up well. In meetings with our dry bulk customers, we've been told that shipment volumes will surpass last year. Shipment growth in construction materials should continue into 2007.
Tank truck carriers in other parts of the country tell me they are hearing the same projections. They also expect another year or two of good freight volumes.
BT: Are you optimistic that rates will continue to increase?
Windsor: I believe they will as long as capacity remains tight.
BT: Are tank truck carriers better off financially today?
Windsor: I still think we are due to the tighter capacity and lack of drivers.
BT: Would the industry over expand if there were plenty of drivers?
Windsor: It very possibly might. If there were more drivers, our capacity would change drastically. We turn away work every single day at Hahn Transportation. If we had 25 more drivers, we could pick up those loads that we are turning away on a daily basis right now.
BT: What happens to the loads you turn down?
Windsor: They are lost to us completely. Does a competitor haul them? Maybe, maybe not. We see shippers changing their schedules. They aren't doing as much just-in-time scheduling. They also are not placing as many extra orders. In the past, we had some cement shippers that would order as many as 10 loads a day and really only need six.
Cement demand remains very strong. The lines of trucks at the cement plants have gotten to be outrageous. With the new driver hours of service, we've had to start running night shifts and stage trailers. We hadn't done that with cement for many years.
BT: Do you face similar challenges on the petroleum side?
Windsor: Yes we do with regard to fleet capacity and sitting in long lines at the terminals.
BT: Are you being compensated by customers for the loading delays and lost productivity?
Windsor: We are by some customers.
BT: What is the long-term outlook for the driver supply?
Windsor: We're not likely to see much of an improvement. As I already said, the industry has benefited from that. Shippers are starting to realize just how big a problem we face with drivers. Trailers and loads are sitting all because the trucking industry doesn't have enough drivers.
We're now seeing the true benefits and constraints that were placed on the trucking industry by the CDL (commercial driver license) program that was implemented years ago. The concept of the program was excellent, because it prevented truck drivers from holding multiple licenses. But it also put restrictions on new people coming into the industry. They can't qualify for a license until they are 21 years old.
Over the years, we've had multiple generations of the same family fathers, sons, uncles, cousins, brothers working for us. Now, a young man fresh out of the local high school comes to us wanting to follow in dad's footsteps. We have to tell him that he has to wait until he's 21.
Let's assume he still wants to drive a truck when he turns 21. He's probably going to have to enroll in a truck driving school, and it will cost him between $4,000 and $7,000 for that training. The Maryland Motor Truck Association has started a scholarship program because of the driver shortage, but he'll still end up paying much of the cost out of his own pocket.
Suppose he does get his CDL and a hazmat endorsement. He comes back to us, and we have to tell him that our insurance company won't let us hire any driver with less than a year of over-the-road experience. Essentially, we've created a system in which we have made it virtually impossible for the young potential truck driver to ever get a job in this industry.
BT: So, why would anyone want a truck-driving job today?
Windsor: On the positive side, we're finding people who are looking for a second career. In many cases, their previous career was outsourced. We're seeing a variety of both white collar and blue-collar workers. They are in their 30s.
We also see the opportunity to recruit drivers from another source the military. We have troops coming back from Iraq and Afghanistan who have been working in petroleum transportation units. These are ideal candidates for us. The question is: Why can't their military license transfer to a civilian CDL? Part of the problem is that there is no true truck driver license in the military.
We need a military license that is convertible. It's the right thing to do for our soldiers. Besides, whom would you want to drive a gasoline transport but someone who had already been doing that job under some of the most stressful conditions? It's like a military pilot going to work for an airline.
BT: Is it bad for the industry that the new sources of truck drivers are older than they were in the past?
© 2013 Penton Media Inc.
Acceptable Use Policy blog comments powered by Disqus