Swift Transportation chief Jerry Moyes, turning aside downbeat views of the transportation economy, said Tuesday the truckload giant is seeing gains in shipping and improving balance between supply and demand that signals steady improvement for trucking companies in coming months.
“We’re pretty bullish on 2010,” the chairman and CEO of Phoenix-based Swift said in an interview. “Not just because of the demand but it’s also very important that the supply of capacity has been reduced.”
Swift has dropped some 4,000 of the company’s 18,000 tractors from its fleet and taken some $200 million in annual costs out of its system, part of a broad drive among carriers across the transportation world to cut capacity and operating costs in line with the persistently low demand during the economic downturn.
But Moyes also said some of that demand is returning, beyond even the inventory restocking that some industry executives say has helped feed a small but very welcome spike in peak season shipping.
“I think it’s more than seasonal. We’re seeing it in paper, pulp, soaps – the sorts of things that are not seasonal and tied to the holidays are starting to pick up,” Moyes said at the annual Transcomp and Intermodal Expo in Anaheim, Calif.
“Everybody talks about the restocking, but the fact is there really is no inventory today. Inventory is going down the road on trucks. It’s legitimate demand” fueling the growth, he said.
Moyes said the carrier is seeing “a firming up” of pricing after steep declines in 2008 and this year. He wouldn’t comment on specific pricing but said of a report from truckload carrier Covenant Transport that pricing fell 9.4 percent in the third quarter, “They’re not far off from what we’re seeing.”
“Pricing’s been horrible. I think it’s bottomed out, though, and there are some opportunities for price improvement. But we’re not going to see what we saw in the heyday.”