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Donald Trump. Robotics. Omni-Channel Fulfillment. The New NAFTA. Freight Marketplaces. Autonomous Vehicles. The Internet of Things. Andrew Scheer. Brexit. Climate Change. Last-Mile Delivery. Legalized Marijuana. E-commerce. Emmanuel Macron. The Amazon Effect. Drones. Digital Freight Management. Uber. Clean Energy. This is just a partial list of the major forces shaping the world of Freight Transportation in 2017.

This year's Surface Transportation Summit (www.surfacetransportationsummit.com) will focus on the strategies and tactics that shippers and carriers can employ to address these forces. The event will take place at the International Centre in Toronto on October 11. This is a joint venture between Newcom Business Media and Dan Goodwill & Associates with the support of the Freight Management Association of Canada and the Canadian Trucking Alliance. Northbridge Insurance will be the Gold sponsor, with Navistar, Volvo Trucks and Isaac Instruments, the silver sponsors and Trailer Wizards, the bronze sponsor.

In a year when political and economic alliances, new technologies and environmental policies are changing rapidly, the Summit will provide strategies and tactics to address these forces.  Here is an overview of the agenda and speakers.

The first track is entitled, The Donald Trump Effect and The Economy in 2018: What trends will impact your business? Carlos Gomes, Senior Economist with Scotiabank, will share data on the Key Economic Indicators for 2017 and then provide his insights into the economy in the New Year. John Larkin, one of America’s foremost transportation industry analysts, will share his thoughts on the some of the most important developments in the US transportation industry. Walter Spracklin, Equity Transportation Analyst, RBC Capital Markets, will provide his insights on the Canadian transportation industry.  Sylvie Messier, Corporate Transportation & Customs Manager, IPEX and Doug Munro, President and Owner, Maritime-Ontario Freight Lines Limited will share their thoughts on this topic in a panel discussion.

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The 2016 Surface Transportation Summit will take place at the International Centre in Toronto on October 13. The event will be co-hosted by Newcom Business Media and Dan Goodwill & Associates in partnership with the Ontario Trucking Association and the Freight Management Association of Canada. There will be some exciting changes this year.

As always, the conference will be kicked off by a look ahead to the Economy in the year ahead. Carlos Gomes, Senior Economist, Scotiabank will share his overview of 2016 and make some projections for the coming year. For the first time, the Summit will showcase two of North America’s top freight industry investment analysts. Walter Spracklin, Managing Director, Capital Markets, RBC Investment Securities, will offer his insights on the freight transportation industry in Canada. John Larkin, Managing Director of Research, at Stifel Financial Corp., will provide a status report on the current state of the freight industry in the United States.

Wendell Erb, President & CEO, The Erb Group of Companies will provide some commentary on the economy from a trucking company perspective. He will be joined by a Rob Bryson, recently retired Vice-President at Parrish & Heimbecker, who will provide observations and perspectives from a shipper’s perspective.

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The 2015 Surface Transportation Summit (www.surfacetransportationsummit.com) will be held at the Mississauga Convention Centre on October 14. Dan Goodwill & Associates and Newcom Business Media are delighted to report that the event has a new partner, the Freight Management Association of Canada. FMA will bolster shipper participation at the event. This year’s Summit will feature more shippers as speakers as compared to previous years. The Summit is now open for registration with a lineup of high quality speakers and a new networking feature. Here is an overview of the day.

The one day event will be kicked off with a discussion of what happened to the economy in 2015 and where it is going in 2016. Carlos Gomes, Senior Economist with the Bank of Nova Scotia will provide his annual overview. He will be followed by Walter Spracklin, Managing Director, Capital Markets, RBC Capital Markets who will provide an investor’s perspective, on what is going on in the freight industry in Canada. Lou Smyrlis, Publisher and Editorial Director, Transportation Media, Newcom Business Media will lead a panel discussion with Wes Armour, President & CEO, Armour Transportation Systems and Mark Bylsma, President, Spring Creek Carriers Inc. on how they see the economy playing out in the trucking industry in 2016.

This track will be followed by an Executives Perspective panel. This year we will hear from six leaders, each from a different sector of the freight industry, who will share their perspectives on where they see their businesses going in 2016. The panel will include David Zavitz, Senior Vice President, Sales & Marketing, Canada Cartage, Mark Lerner, AVP, Intermodal, CN Rail, Joe Lombardo, Director of Transportation Processes, Purolator Inc., John Ferguson, President, SCI Logistics, Anne McKee, EVP, Trailer Wizards and Silvy Wright, President & CEO, Northbridge Financial Corporation.

Shipper-Carrier Collaboration will be the theme of the next panel discussion. This track will include three prominent shippers, the leaders of three trucking companies and the head of a 3PL. Dan Einwechter, Chairman & CEO, Challenger Group, Jason Dubois, President, Len Dubois Trucking, Doug Munro, President, Maritime-Ontario Freight Lines, Kelli Saunders, President, Morai Logistics, Ginnie Veslovaitis, Director, Transportation Operations, Hudson’s Bay Company, Alex Boxhorn, Logistics Manager, Loewen Windows and Kim Wildenmann, Traffic Coordinator, Lantic Inc. will engage in a panel discussion on how can shippers and carriers work together more effectively. This is a session not to be missed.

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A sold out crowd attended the 2014 Surface Transportation Summit at the Mississauga Convention Centre on October 15. This year’s conference had 30 speakers and panelists and two networking tracks. While I was not able to attend all of the tracks, here are some of my key takeaways from this year’s sessions on Trends in the Economy and Trucking.

The 2015 Economic Outlook track featured a leading economist and transportation equity analyst along with two trucking company executives. Despite the recent turbulence in the stock market, Carlos Gomes, Senior Economist with the Bank of Nova Scotia, highlighted that the US economy is trending positively and expects this momentum will carry into 2015. Mr. Gomes stated that U.S. and Canadian household balance sheets are in their best shape in some time as interest rates remain low and energy prices have trended lower. In terms of economic activity, orders for manufactured goods in the U.S. have picked up and the number of backlog orders is at the highest level in years.

In addition, annual automobile sales are above 16 million units and will likely remain at elevated levels due to the average age of cars in the U.S. and Canada. Exports are also trending upwards in Canada and should be sustained by the low Canadian dollar and the fact that the U.S. remains Canada’s largest trading partner. This combination of variables suggests that Canada will benefit from the strong relationship with the United States. Mr. Gomes expects GDP growth in Canada of 3.5% this year and 4% next year.

David Newman Equity Research Analyst, Cormark Securities, noted that regulatory changes in the U.S. and driver shortages are leading to pricing improvements in the trucking and rail sectors. These shortages are pushing spot and contract rates upward. Looking at the PMI (Purchasing Manager’s Index) and ISM (Institute of Supply Management) indices, there is momentum in freight volumes. This could support healthy freight activity through the first six months of 2015. Truck orders are back to 2006 levels that reflect the confidence in the economy. Truckload carriers are consolidating with TransForce and Celadon making major acquisitions. Mr. Newman expects more consolidation in the Canadian market but he also expects the truckload division of TransForce to be spun off.

Mark Seymour, President, Kriska Holdings Limited, talked about the “discipline” and technology that Kriska employed to drive improved pricing and profits. This discipline has allowed his company to have a good “run rate” over the past few years. Driver wages and the treatment of drivers are keys to future growth at Kriska. Mark highlighted the requirement for short term (one year) pricing with long term commitments (“annual pricing conversations”).

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For the sixth consecutive year, Dan Goodwill & Associates and the Business Information Group (publishers of Canadian Shipper and MotorTruck Fleet Executive) will be co-hosting a Surface Transportation Summit. The 2014 Summit, scheduled for October 15 at the Mississauga Convention Centre, will feature expanded networking opportunities and more educational tracks. The following are some of the highlights.

The event will be kicked off by Carlos Gomes, a Senior Economist with the Bank of Nova Scotia. Carlos along with a panel of shippers and carriers, will take a look ahead at where the Canadian Economy and the Canadian Freight Industry will be going in 2015. Joining Lou Smyrlis, Publisher and Editorial Director at the Business Information Group on a panel will be David Newman, Director, Equity Research Analyst with Cormak Securities, Patrick Cain, CEO at Cain Express and Mark Seymour, President of Kriska Holdings Ltd.

This will be followed by an Executive Leadership Perspectives panel. Paul Cooper, President of SLH Transport, Douglas Harrison, CEO of Versacold Logistics, Mathieu Faure, Marketing & Sales, Intermodal, CP Rail and Rob Penner, Executive Vice President and COO, Bison Transport, will share their thoughts on some of the major issues facing their sectors of the Transportation industry.

One of the hot topics at last year’s Summit was the need for more shipper-carrier collaboration. In fact, the primary advocate who spoke on this topic was Jacquie Meyers, President of Meyers Transportation Services. Jacquie will be back this year and will discuss this topic in a panel discussion with Gary Fast, Associate Vice president, Domestic Transportation Services at Canadian Tire and Elias Demangos, President & CEO, Fortigo Transportation Management Group.

The final track of the morning will focus on Same Day Delivery Service- Challenges and Opportunities. March Wulfraat, Founder and President of MWPVL International, one of the world’s foremost experts on Amazon’s fulfillment centres and same day delivery initiatives, will address what has become one of the hottest topics in the freight industry.

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In last week’s blog, I shared some ideas from the recent SCL – CITA annual conference on how to improve shipper- carrier collaboration.  Various suggestions were proposed by a panel consisting of two leading shippers and two major Canadian carriers.  Some other thoughts were expressed during other tracks that day.

The panelists presented some suggestions that came out of a joint meeting between the Ontario Trucking Association and the Canadian Industrial Transportation Association.  Here is more of what they had to say.

Removing Waste from the Shipper and Carrier’s Operation

During the panel discussion it was suggested that it is through trust, communication and dialogue, rather than through an RFP, that opportunities to remove waste from a shipper’s operation can be identified, discussed and solved.  The RFP process is typically too rigid to allow for a meaningful exchange of ideas and for the development of action plans. 

Since the focus in an RFP is typically on rates and service, it doesn’t create a forum for dedicated problem resolution.  Moreover, by not creating project teams, action plans and time lines to remove waste, the inefficiencies typically doesn’t get extracted.  The shipper continues to perform the same functions, in the same way, with its existing and/or new carriers.  Drivers continue to be pick up half full loads since opportunities to consolidate freight or change pick-up dates are missed. As one trucking executive mentioned, the savings generated from these types of initiatives can be much larger than the two percent saved as a result of the freight bid.

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On May 25, Dan Goodwill & Associates and the Business Information Group will co-host its third annual Transportation Company Workshop at the Capital Banquet Centre in Toronto.   The theme of this year’s conference is “Revitalizing your Transportation Business in an era of Economic Uncertainty and Social Change”.

As we begin the second quarter of 2011, there are a range of forces at play that are having an impact on the Canadian transportation industry. The economic recovery is being influenced by the turmoil in the Middle East that is pushing diesel fuel prices to $110 U.S. a barrel, a surging Canadian dollar that is now in the $1.04 U.S. range and by the growing importance of social media and new technology. The conference has been structured to help gain a better understanding of the impacts of these and other forces.

For the third consecutive year, the lead-off speaker will be Carlos Gomes, Senior Economist at Scotiabank, who will share his insights on the where the economy is going and what are the implications for the transportation industry. Carlos will be followed by Lee Palmer, President and Creative Director of Palmer Marketing. Lee will provide a “need to know” overview of B2B web marketing illustrated through real world examples from specialists serving the transportation industry. He will draw upon his many years of marketing experience in the transportation industry and address the question of “what gear is your web marketing in”?  Lee will be followed by Mark Murrell, President, Carriers Edge, who will focus on what it takes to be a “Best in Class” employer in the trucking industry.

A key part of any business is the effective management of information. Identifying the right Key Performance Indicators (KPI’s) and managing against those KPI’s can help differentiate between the top performers and the rest of the pack. The next two speakers will tackle the subject of data management head-on. Ray Haight, former Chairman of the Truckload Carriers Association and current CEO of ATBS Canada will address the subject of Benchmarking and talk about the opportunity to be a Best in Class trucker by participating in a Benchmarking Group. Ray will be followed by Brooke Martin, Senior Solutions Consultant, Process Fusion Inc. who will speak to the tools that are available to better manage trucking company data. You can only manage what you can measure.

Last year’s shipper panel was one of the most popular features of the Workshop. In an effort to provide all attendees with a better understanding of shippers’ requirements as we move through the balance of 2011, two panels have been assembled, one with some of Canada’s leading retailers and another with a panel of leading manufacturers. The retail panel will include Robert Wiebe, Senior Vice President, Transportation & Logistics, Loblaw Companies Inc., Heather Felbel, Vice President, Supply Chain, Indigo Books & Music Inc. and Ginnie Vensolvaitis, Director, Transportation Operations, Hudson’s Bay Company. The manufacturer panel will consist of Mike Owens, Vice President of Physical Logistics, Nestle Canada Inc., Chris West, Director, US Transportation Operations, McCormick & Company Inc., and Todd Kostal, Director, Purchasing/Logistics, Atlantic Packaging Products Inc. The two panels will be moderated by Lou Smyrlis, Editorial Director of MotorTruck Fleet Executive magazine.

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