Several cynics believe that the trucking industry is stagnating. The number of drivers is shrinking, legislation is keeping people from getting into trucking, hours are being restricted, and self-driving trucks have everyone facing a big unknown future. Yet despite all that, people are making large investments in trucking, because they see that the role truckers play will be extremely important in the upcoming years.
Buffett’s Big Investments
Warren Buffett is known for his large investment deals. His decisions and investments are used to gauge which industries are going to experience growth. A couple of weeks ago, Warren Buffett placed capital into the nation’s largest truck stop chain, Pilot Flying J. By 2023, Buffett will gain an 80 percent ownership in the chain.
Investments Don’t Start And Stop With Buffett
California Cartage is about to be purchased by NFI Industries. This will see a change in ownership of one of the biggest trucking families, the Browns, who founded Cal Cartage in 1944. This was a well-thought-out decision, as the Browns are looking to retire from the trucking industry, and NFI Industries were long thought to be the only ones who carried a similar passion and vision for trucking.
New companies are also gearing their efforts toward the trucking industry. Right now, investments are being made to research and develop technology that not only makes compliance easier with federal regulations, as with ELD legislation, but other subtle and non-intrusive innovations to help make trucking easier and safer for drivers. Improvements in monitoring engine wear and tear, for instance, will reduce the cost of maintenance. Freight bill factoring is even moving into the digital age, allowing truckers and fleet owners to convert invoices to cash right from their cell phones. With all of these investments, Wall Street and transportation experts are anticipating the trucking industry to see a lot of activity and growth in the years to come.
But What About The Actual Drivers?
For over nine months, we have been reporting that there is a severe shortage of drivers available in the US to deliver goods. All the high-powered investments in the world do not make qualified and talented drivers appear. However, the answer seems to be coming from the heartland of America, at a community college in Waterloo, Iowa. Hawkeye Community College has started a program, Trucking with the Troops, which offers financial assistance to anyone with a military connection who wants to learn to drive commercial vehicles. With a projected need for almost 900,000 additional drivers in the trucking industry over the next decade, this one school is making major progress in training the next generation of truckers. Sometimes the investments needed do not come from the big financial houses, but from the small towns that realize a qualified workforce starts with proper training and education.