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|Articles - April 2011|
|Wednesday, March 23, 2011|
A new gas tax and soaring crude prices are prompting Oregon truckers to innovate to protect their bottom lines while passing on as much cost as they can to consumers.
“Everybody’s doing this,” says Scott Smith, a VP at Salem-based May Trucking, which operates nationwide. “This is a game you have to play to continue to be efficient and be a player.”
For May Trucking, that means adjusting routes for fuel efficiency and limiting trucks’ idle time — and tracking both by satellite. It also means surcharging customers to compensate for fuel increases.
May Trucking employs about 500 Oregon truckers — the most in the state. Its size allows it to afford to use satellites, receive about a 10% discount from wholesale fuel vendors and apply a surcharge.
Not so for many of the little guys, says Debra Dunn, head of the Oregon Trucking Association (OTA). Many of them have to eat the rising fuel prices to be competitive. But they can still save through innovation, such as using onboard computers, to monitor fuel efficiency. Or they can resort to usual tactics: efficient rerouting, choosing the most profitable loads and avoiding mountains and snow.
When Oregon legislators voted to increased the gas tax by 6 cents in 2009, hopes were that the economy would have recovered more substantially since the tax went into effect in January 2010. And no one foresaw a series of revolutions in the Middle East that have threatened to push crude prices to $150 a barrel.
“It hurts,” says Marie Dodds, spokeswoman for AAA of Oregon and Idaho. “When the price of diesel shoots up 18 cents in one week as it did [in March] that’s a pretty steep increase to your bottom line.”
Yet, the OTA supports the gas tax, saying the $300 million a year in road projects funded by the tax are important.
May Trucking estimates it will pay $300,000 in new gas taxes. While the company supports the infrastructure repair, it calls the tax unfair because trucks that haul logs are exempt. “This just makes it harder to do business in Oregon,” Smith says.
If fuel prices keep rising more quickly than trucking companies can absorb, they’ll continue to pass on what costs they can to to customers, says University of Oregon economist Tim Duy. “If it’s none," he says, "then the pain will tend to center in the truckers.”
For some in the industry, that could become a fight for survival.
Thursday, April 02, 2015
BY JACOB PALMER | DIGITAL NEWS EDITOR
Are mornings the most productive part of the day? We ask five successful executives how they get off to a good start.
Friday, May 22, 2015
BY LINDA BAKER | EDITOR
Roy Kaufmann always lands on his feet.
Tuesday, May 26, 2015
BY KIM MOORE
A conversation with Gene Pelham, CEO of Rogue Credit Union.
Friday, May 22, 2015
BY AMY MILSHTEIN
Astrid Scholz scales up sustainability.
Thursday, May 14, 2015
BY JASON E. KAPLAN | STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER
There are more than 160 farmers markets in Oregon, contributing an estimated $50 million in sales, according to the Oregon Farmers Markets Association. We checked in on the Forest Grove market, which for several years has brought local produce and food vendors to Main Street in the center of town.
Friday, May 22, 2015
BY JACOB PALMER
Mike Morrow and Mike Delos-Reyes first came up with the idea of an ocean power device 23 years ago, when they were students at Oregon State University. They realized a long-held vision last summer, when their startup, M3 Wave, successfully launched the first ocean power device that works underwater.
Monday, April 27, 2015
BY JACOB PALMER
Live, Work, Play with Christine Jump.
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