AYR, Ont. — The new chair of the Ontario Trucking Association (OTA) says he’d like to work with shipper groups to restore some clarity to the shipper-carrier relationship.
Brian Taylor, founder and president of 48-truck fleet Liberty Linehaul, says the trucking landscape has changed with the emergence of 3PLs. He’d like to see shippers, carriers and brokers sit down together and redefine their roles so all parties can work together more harmoniously.
When asked what his primary objective is as chair of OTA, Taylor said “If we could, as OTA – and I’m not sure it’s going to only be OTA because there must also be shipper associations – spell out the relationship between brokers, 3PLs, carriers and shippers, and make those rules more plain. It’s a lot easier to play the game and all get what we want out of it if we all know the rules.”
Taylor said the emergence of 3PLs adds “another dimension to the industry.” He’s particularly concerned that trucking companies are now shouldering a disproportionate share of liability in some instances.
“What we’ve seen, given (3PLs) have gotten more popular and where the economy is, is there are some pretty distorted contracts out there,” he said in an interview with CT&L‘s sister publication Truck News. “The 3PL has been able to limit their customers’ liability with a carrier and change the conditions of carriage and do a lot of things the carrier can’t live with. I think some carriers have signed things where the company is not even aware of the liability they’ve accepted. In some cases, they know very well what they accepted but they needed the volumes of freight and were backed into a corner. It was tough for guys to walk away from that business on those principles. I think we need some education for carriers on what a uniform contract should look like. A little bit of education would go a long way.”
Another priority for Taylor as chair of OTA will be to work with government to ensure anticipated legislation mandating the use of electronic on-board recorders (EOBRs) will be brought in fairly and equitably to all players in the trucking industry – private and for-hire.
Taylor said as EOBRs are mandated, shippers will also need to play a role by working with carriers to schedule pick-ups and deliveries that are realistic under current hours-of-service regulations.
“A lot of it goes back to operations and customers,” Taylor said of the implications of an EOBR mandate. “Given the present economic environment, going to customers and talking to them about when freight needs to be ready is a really difficult thing to do.
A lot of customers, at this time, are driven by price. We’ve been advocating safety and hours-of-service and talking to customers about time frames for years, and when push comes to shove, if somebody’s cheaper and they can load at 6 p.m. and have it to Chicago tomorrow, the customer’s expectation rises to that. And if there’s too much pushback from the carrier, they just use somebody else.”