October 11, 2023

Check Call: Enter the ‘Glengarry Glen Ross’ era


Welcome to Check Call, our corner of the internet for all things 3PL, freight broker and supply chain. Check Call the podcast comes out every Tuesday at 12:30 p.m. EDT. Catch up on previous episodes here. If this was forwarded to you, sign up for Check Call the newsletter here.

This week there is a special treat in the form of a webinar for brokers: 4 Keys to Broker Success in the Challenging Freight Market, scheduled for 2 p.m. EDT Thursday. Special guests from Tai Software and SIO Logistics will sit down and break it down. Register here

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In a down market, shippers are getting dozens of phone calls a day from various freight brokers who promise to solve all of their problems and cut costs 10% right off the bat. The knee-jerk “no” from a shipper can be a little demoralizing to those doing 50 cold calls a day. If only there was a way to get more of the “I’m listening” instead of the two-second “no” and hang-up. 

A niche category, whether it’s paper products, produce or packaging, can be an advantage to small and midsize brokerages. Something that the company doesn’t already have a strong presence in could be a huge asset. With the proper research and preparation, major headway can be made. 

Know the pitfalls of shipping a specific product. Put yourself in the shipper’s shoes. What would you want out of a transportation partner? Start there and let the research and empathy lead the conversation. No one wants to deal with aggressive used car salesmen, so come from a place of knowledge and information. 

Sometimes the best results come from being around. It might take a few calls to get to the right person, but from there it’s all about the personal touch and putting that research into action. 

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No weekly update is complete without a look at the United Auto Workers ongoing strike. Starting small with one plant from each of the Detroit Three (GM, Ford, and Stellantis), the strike has expanded to include 25,200 workers, or 17%, of the UAW members who are covered by the expired contracts. 

Two interesting additions to that number came Monday. The first was 4,000 members who joined the strike after failing to reach an agreement with Mack Trucks and the second was another 4,000 members from a Canadian GM factory

The UAW shows no signs of stopping the additional rollouts of facilities on strike. That has left the Detroit Three to get creative with their solutions. Stellantis has started looking at other ways to keep things moving as it begins to ask for “volunteers” from its Diversity and Inclusion Group and Business Resource Group to help keep parts moving. Using internal employees who aren’t a part of the union as volunteers saves some of the bad press that comes from hiring outside scab workers. Hiring temporary workers from an outside company typically breaks down any talks or progress that has been made in the negotiations. 

The union is remaining steadfast in its demands. Here’s hoping it gets what it’s asking for. 


Market Check. The Pacific Northwest is taking the cake for the highest outbound tender lead times, although the Upper Midwest is giving it a run for its money. The most interesting thing about these two markets is that it also happens to be prime produce season for both parts of the country. 

In the map, height represents outbound tender lead time. The taller the market, the more advance notice tenders will need to secure reliable capacity. The colors represent the Headhaul Index. The darker red a market turns, the greater the ratio of inbound loads to outbound ones. On the flip side, more vibrant blue markets have higher volumes of outbound freight. 

The Southeast seems to be the most successful in outbound freight for carriers, meaning carriers that find themselves around Savannah, Georgia, will have an easy task of getting an outbound load from the market they delivered into. Watch the Pacific Northwest carefully as outbound tender rejections have dramatically increased, especially on the reefer side. 

Image: Balbix

Who’s with whom? It’s more of a near miss than a partnership. Estes Express Lines, as many know, saw significant service interruptions over the last week as a result of a cybersecurity attack that brought the company to a halt. The attack took out just about everything that keeps Estes running, including the phone lines. Credit goes to Estes’ preparation as there was never a moment when it was unable to move freight throughout the entire attack. Most of the systems are operational again, but not without their share of headaches and damage control needed with customers. 

While LTL carriers seem to be in the current crosshairs, it’s anyone’s guess what type of companies would be the next target. Professionals in the cybersecurity world are saying that it’s not a matter of if but when for a cyberattack to hit a logistics company. The best thing to do is prepare yourself and have a plan of what to do if it happens and test that plan. 

The more you know

Borderlands: Cargobot sees big opportunities with global cross-border trade 

Open letter to FMCSA about broker transparency

Flexport cutting workforce by about 950 employees 

The future of delivery management might revolve around schedules 

Truckload spot and contract rate spread remains unnaturally wide heading into bid season


The second annual F3: Future of Freight Festival will be held in Chattanooga, “The Scenic City,” this November. F3 combines innovation and entertainment — featuring live demos, industry experts discussing freight market trends for 2024, afternoon networking events, and Grammy Award-winning musicians performing in the evenings amidst the cool Appalachian fall weather.

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