It’s not the size of the dog in the fight …

June 24, 2016
Just goes to show a certain old saying applies to trucking on occasion – it’s never the size of the dog in the fight that matters; it’s the size of the fight in the dog.

So this study got a lot of folks talking last month: about small motor carriers and the often unacknowledged outsized role they perform in trucking, even as many predict their extinction; about whether true freight visibility is possible if so much freight is outsourced; and whether this is yet another indication that more positive collaboration is needed between shippers and motor carriers in order to track and protect cargo more effectively.

I also got an interesting call from Joe Beacom, vice president and chief safety officer at Landstar System; one of the carriers mentioned prominently in the LaneAxis study, which concluded Landstar outsourced over 76% of its freight.

Beacom wanted to explain that the term “outsourcing” got misconstrued when applied to Landstar, largely because his company’s fleet is comprised of nearly 10,000 “business capacity owners” or BCOs to start with: owner-operators that haul freight solely for Landstar.

In Beacom’s view, “outsourcing” isn’t an afterthought in Landstar’s case: it is at the heart of the company’s business model – a deliberate strategy designed to attract the best and most experienced truck drivers around.

Landstar’s BCOs “are better drivers, are safer drivers, and maintain a good record of compliance,” he explained to me. “These are guys who own their own business and who don’t want to go out of business. So they are bringing a very different – and higher – level of service and performance to the customer.”

The average age of Landstar’s BCO population is around 51, as they tend to be older drivers, Beacom added – but that also means they are more seasoned, safer and more savvy; just the kind of truck driver most fleets want.

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