Sponsored by Oregon Business

Trucking industry copes with rising costs

| Print |  Email
Articles - April 2011
Wednesday, March 23, 2011

 

0411_Trucking
Oregon truckers are coping with rising fuel prices and gas taxes.

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.

COREY PAUL
 

Comments   

 
Sell it here? Make it here.
0 #1 Time to screw the oil speculators.Sell it here? Make it here. 2011-04-18 11:44:52
There is PLENTY OF OIL - we just allow Wall Street to speculate on it.

Just you watch - two or three months from now, someone will pull the plug - and prices will plunge - just like 2008.

We just keep allowing these asset bubbles... What was it Dubya said about being fooled?
Quote | Report to administrator
 

More Articles

10 Twitter highlights from #OR100Best

The Latest
Friday, February 27, 2015
100bestBY OB STAFF

Oregon Business held its  22nd annual 100 Best Companies to Work For in Oregon celebration Thursday night in the Oregon Convention Center.


Read more...

The 100 Best Companies to Work For in Oregon

March 2015
Thursday, February 26, 2015
BY KIM MOORE | OB RESEARCH EDITOR

Employment in Oregon is almost back up to prerecession levels — and employers are having to work harder to entice talented staff to join their ranks. This year’s 100 Best Companies to Work For in Oregon project showcases the kind of quality workplaces that foster happy employees. 


Read more...

Emperor of the Sea

April 2015
Friday, March 27, 2015
BY COURTNEY SHERWOOD | Photos by Jason E. Kaplan

Pacific Seafood, one of the world’s largest processors, is rebranding as a more transparent and consumer-friendly operation. A controversial CEO and monopoly accusations from coastal fishermen complicate the tale.


Read more...

On the Brink

March 2015
Friday, February 20, 2015
BY APRIL STREETER | OB CONTRIBUTOR

Leslie Carlson channels the big idea.


Read more...

On the Road

April 2015
Friday, March 27, 2015
BY LINDA BAKER

My daughter turned 18 last week, and for her birthday I got her a Car2Go membership. Not to label myself a disruptor, but it felt like a groundbreaking moment. The two of us, mother and child, were participating in a new teen rite of passage: Instead of handing over the car keys, I handed over a car-sharing card — with the caveat that she not use the gift as her own personal car service.


Read more...

The week journalism died

Linda Baker
Sunday, February 15, 2015
deadjournalismthumbBY LINDA BAKER | OB EDITOR

As the investigation against the governor moves forward, those of us in the news business should reflect on our own potential for subverting the democratic process.


Read more...

Beyond Bodegas

April 2015
Friday, March 27, 2015
BY JACOB PALMER

Five years in the making, the Portland Mercado — the city’s first Latino public market — will celebrate its grand opening April 11. A $3.5 million public-private partnership spearheaded by Hacienda CDC, the market will house 15 to 20 businesses in the food, retail and service sectors. It has some big-name funders, including the Paul G. Allen Family Foundation and JPMorgan Chase. The project goals are equally ambitious: to improve cross-cultural understanding, alleviate poverty and spur community economic development. 


Read more...
Oregon Business magazinetitle-sponsored-links-02
SPONSORED LINKS