Add chassis to the list of transport equipment in short supply this year as the early recovery in demand caught carriers and leasing companies with their chassis down.
Port truckers say they are having a tough time getting the chassis they need to dray containers to and from the ports they serve.
“It throws a monkey wrench into everything,” said Jeff Bader, president of Golden Carriers, a New Jersey port trucker. “We spend three, four, five hours on the pier. The terminal says it’s the steamship lines that don’t have enough chassis. The steamship line says they have the chassis, but we’re sitting there right in front of it, and they don’t have the chassis.”
Another New Jersey port trucker worries about meeting future demand for chassis if the carriers get out of the business. “I don’t know who’s going to take up the slack,” said Tom Heimgartner, president of Best Transportation in Port Newark. “We already have a tremendous shortage of chassis in the Port of New York now. If the carriers stop providing them, they’ve got to give us some lead time to buy or lease chassis or buy them from the lines.”
Chassis-leasing companies are facing overwhelming demand, said Phil Connors, executive vice president of Flexi-Van Leasing. “The reason is simple: The V-shaped recovery that has taken place in container volumes is beyond anyone’s imagination,” he said.
During the recession, ocean carriers returned thousands of chassis to the leasing companies, every one they could. They stacked up those they owned or scrapped those beyond repair. “Now they can’t get them repaired and out fast enough,” Connors said.
Flexi-Van and Direct ChassisLink are taking chassis out of their inventories to meet the demand. “We hope the boom in leasing orders will enable us to raise prices back to where they should be,” Connors said.