2008 proved to be a difficult and challenging climate for most businesses no matter their size, industry, years in service, customer base or financial stability. As markets bottomed out, fuel prices increased and customer confidence fell. As with most difficult situations, however, there are lessons to be learned and opportunities to be gained.
In 2009, we will focus on costs, service and productivity to meet the challenges of the current economic climate. Every aspect of costs will be scrutinized and will have to be justified. Doing business as usual is but a metaphor. Business in 2009 is about examining every transaction and asking if it makes financial sense and how it impacts the bottom line.
Providing superior customer service and performance will be the only way to journey through this difficult cycle. Customers are looking for a partnership between themselves and their providers for their end-to-end container transportation needs to become solutions and not further challenges or disappointments. Customers require seamless solutions to their transportation needs, and the companies that can provide this experience will survive this period. Working with customers to solicit their needs and assist them in finding solutions with open dialogue will hold the key to longevity.
We expect an increase in transloading opportunities as rail rates continue to rise this year. The decrease in imports has an immediate impact on the supply chain. With volumes down, we expect to see domestic consolidation in the industry. Third-party logistics solutions will be a leading factor as customers analyze their capital, facilities and staffing.
2009 will create opportunity for the creative and nimble. It will accelerate the modernization of this industry and weed out the reactive. Anticipating customers’ needs and providing proactive solutions will be the theme for the year.