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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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Freight costs represent between two and five percent of revenue in many manufacturers and distributors. They are typically the single largest supply chain expense. When transportation costs begin to escalate, the Transportation department and the Transportation leader can become the “whipping boys” for senior management.

Over the years, we have observed that the companies that are most successful in managing freight costs tend to have a collaborative work environment. They understand that successful freight cost management is most effective in companies where all of the key operating departments - - - Sales, Purchasing, Production, Warehouse and Inventory Management, Customer Service, Transportation and the Customer work together. In other words, freight management is a team sport.

When we visit a new shipper client, there are four things that we typically look for at the outset. They are a:

• 12 month Freight Budget

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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. We are delighted to report that the event has a new partner, the Freight Management Association of Canada. Here is an overview of the day.

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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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For Carriers, it is all about Service and Solutions

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Last Thursday night, I had the distinct pleasure of participating in a Shipper-Carrier Roundtable along with a number of old friends and colleagues.  The event was organized by CITT, sponsored by Shaw Tracking and moderated by Lou Smyrlis, editorial director of Business Information Group, publishers of Canadian Transportation & Logistics and MotorTruck Fleet Executive.

As I was driving home, I tried to reflect on some of the most important messages I heard from my fellow panelists that night.  There were two that stood out.

First there was a comment from Doug Munro, president of Maritime-Ontario Freightways, about the importance of delivering good service.  While this may seem so obvious that it is not worth mentioning, it was the passion with which Doug delivered this message that stood out for me.  Doug made reference to the airline industry and noted that there is no acceptable norm other than 100% arrival of its planes.  Nothing less can be tolerated.  While it is fine for a surface transportation freight carrier to report a 98 or 99% on time service ratio, these statistics acknowledge that the company is failing 1 or 2 times out of every hundred deliveries.

Doug mentioned that one of the keys to his company’s success is to provide excellent service.  He highlighted that Maritime-Ontario Freightways is able to gain market share either through the service failures of his competitors or poorly executed acquisitions. He emphasized how he and his management team which he highlighted was the best he ever had, were all focused on instilling this message in their employees.

This message repeats itself in almost every shipper project that my company gets involved in.  During a carrier procurement exercise, shippers focus as much on service as they do on price.  A carrier that submits competitive pricing, but has not been able deliver consistent service will often find itself replaced during a freight RFP process.

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