Tuesday April 5, 2011

Demand for Regional Freight Transportation Services Up

Trend seen as ‘above normal’
By Chris Motola

    Despite the lingering economic malaise, regional freight transportation services have been noticing a marked up-tick in their business.

    “The trend does seem to be above normal,” says Jonathan Daniels, executive director of the Port of Oswego Authority. “We have more longshoremen on site this winter than I can remember having [in previous winters].” January is typically the port’s slowest month.

    Official preliminary numbers were not available for 2010, but Daniels says he expects the amount of tonnage moved through the port to easily exceed 2009’s 998,768.

    The resurgence in freight hauls hasn’t been limited to water transport. CSX rail reported a record third quarter, with its volume jumping 10 percent over the previous year. The freight company, which operates in 23 states, attributed the increase to “improving business levels.”

    Sandy Creek-based hauler Laser Transit also reports improving conditions. Laser’s president, George Joyce, says many regional trucking companies had been reducing the size of their fleets since the economic downturn began back in 2008.

    “Capacity is more in line with demand,” with prices having stabilized relative to the market, Joyce explains. “We have seen things stabilize since 2009.”

    Whether or not the increase in shipping orders portends a broader economic recovery and, perhaps more importantly, an increase in hiring is unclear.

    “Generally speaking, we think the market has improved in terms of the industries we deal with,” says Joyce, whose company does business with the region’s manufacturers. “Investments and inventories are growing even if jobs aren’t.”

    That multiple freight modalities are all seeing improvements in their business speaks to broader economic conditions.

    The Port of Oswego’s clients, reports Daniels, ship salt, aluminum and agricultural products through the harbor. Inbound containers are sourced from Montreal, New York City and even as far away as Belgium, which recently shipped magnesium through the Great Lakes.

    Water transport, reports Daniels, offers the greatest economy of scale to businesses; the same 5,000 tons that could easily fit on a single freighter would take around 166 trucks to ship.

    Trucking, on the other hand, is necessary for just-in-time delivery services and for areas without easy access to water or rail. Oswego County is fortunate to be able to offer all three.

    Joyce, whose company specializes in rail-to-truck and truck to rail services, operates along the Interstate 81 corridor.

    “We’re taking advantage of not only the North-South routes, but also American-Canadian trade,” says Joyce.

    Fuel price volatility remains a challenge for trucking companies, but Joyce says Laser has managed to cope through fuel surcharges and better logistical planning.

    “We’ve reduced the number of empty miles—miles driven without freight,” explains Joyce.

    Cargo Tonnage Going Through the Port of Oswego Authority:

        Year    Tonnage
        2002    457,885
        2003    621,971
        2004    721,701
        2005    623,664
        2006    751,345
        2007    997,942
        2008    800,940
        2009    998,768

    Source: Port of Oswego Authority

Oswego County Business Magazine
Issue 164

Issue 164
October/November 2019

Cover Story

  • Cruse Control
  • Jeff Cruse takes over as top leader for Novelis’ Oswego Works


Linda Eagan

On The Job

What type of marketing do you find most effective?

Success Stories

The Child Advocacy Center of Oswego County

My Turn

Why President Trump Won’t Admit Mistakes


News Briefs on Local Businesses & Business People

Economic Trends

Oswego County IDA Recapitalizes Popular Loan Program

Last Page

Rodmon King