Gas prices are now reaching under 3 dollars for the first time since 2010! It seems like a miracle driving around seeing signs in the 2’s, but it IS a reality. Obviously the lowering of the price of gas is due to a drop on the price of oil, but do you know why? Researchers say there are various reasons, such as drilling in Iraq and Libya, or because Americans have reduced fuel usage in the past few years by driving more efficient cars and/or carpooling in order to save money, while in turn creating an overstock of fuel. The low gas prices are predicted to last through the holidays, however, it is likely they will rise above 3 dollars by spring or summer.
Do these new gas prices lower shipping rates? It is a little early to say but it is likely to happen, as carriers will have extra money for gas. Transportation such as bus and airfares have not yet lowered and may not, since the holidays are still the most expensive time to travel, and the demand during the season does not subside.
Make sure to check back for more updates on reduced rates!
The answer is YES. Most states will be voting on different propositions that deal with transportation and traffic. In Florida alone, three different counties will vote on these issues: Polk, Alachua and Pinellas.
In Polk County, voters will head to the polls to decide whether their sales tax should increase by a penny. The increase will equate to approximately 64 million dollars per year and will be divided evenly for road improvements and transit.
In Alachua County, a similar one cent referendum is proposed, but for a contracted period of eight years. Only a portion of the money would be spent on roads and transit, with the remaining funds spent on pedestrian projects.
In Pinellas County, voters will decide on a one cent sales tax increase that will be spent on bus expansion and a rail system that will link Saint Petersburg and Clearwater.
Many other states are voting on similar propositions like Austin, Texas. Austin is among the heaviest traffic congested cities in America. There is a state proposition for highway and transit improvements, and also a city proposition for a new rail system with nearly a one billion dollar price tag.
This election has the ability to improve our highways and relieve the roads of their congestion leaving less opportunity for embargo. The relationships between the shipper and carrier is what we here at BlueGrace manage, therefore these propositions can help our business while helping other businesses in the same.
BlueGrace is extremely proud that the 2014 “Backpacks of Hope” drive was once again a true success! Through the month of July, we collected over 550 school supplies and backpacks which were donated to the Metropolitan Ministries. The annual drive provides kids with all new school supplies just in time for them to go back to school! On the last day of the drive, BlueGrace employees were encouraged to break out their nerd gear to celebrate the final day of the charitable drive! “Backpacks of Hope” is one of three annual drives hosted by BlueGrace. Our employees have a strong sense of pride for the company and are always looking for ways to give back to the community via the Giving Grace Program, implemented by President and CEO, Bobby Harris.
One surprise that greatly contributed to this year’s drive was the donation of 17 completely filled backpacks to BlueGrace by Images Hair Salon (www.imageshairsalon.net, located at 3967 Henderson Blvd., Tampa, FL 33629). The effort was led by Jamie Goldfarb, Images Hair Salon Stylist.
BlueGrace is looking forward to the 2015 “Backpacks of Hope” drive, and hopes to surpass the number of items collected and to continue to bring joy to the lives of many more kids!
The Shipper’s Key to Railroad Freight is Planning Ahead of Time Based on your Business Model.
When it comes to transporting your heavy load, have you looked into all transportation modes? The U.S. rail system is one of the largest contributors to our economic well-being, providing an efficient long haul transportation alternative. In 2009, following a historic $26 billion railroad investment, Warren Buffett was quoted saying
“Our country’s prosperity depends on its having an efficient and well-maintained rail system.”
With increasing diesel fuel prices and rising carbon emissions – The planet can’t afford for you to ignore the benefits of rail freight shipping!
Suppose that your business has freight going from Tampa to Los Angeles, about 2,500 miles. While road may take 4 ½ transit days, rail would take approximately 10 days. Now, I know what you’re thinking, “That’s a big transit difference!” We agree – but how fast could YOU travel with 100 tons on your back?! Not to mention the difference in environmental impact. Did you know that rail is the most energy efficient way to move your goods on land? In fact, rail uses on average 4x less energy than truck, reducing carbon emissions by 75%! The point is… If your business can plan ahead, then you can utilize rail to transport your goods and significantly reduce your supply chain costs and carbon footprint. Sounds like a pretty good deal, huh?
This issue of #BGInvestigates identifies a few questions to help you identify if rail is the ideal mode of transportation for your business.
Approximately how many tons can a rail car handle? While a truckload can handle about 43,000 lbs., a rail car can handle 100-110 tons.
How do you receive a freight rate for rail? Contact one of our Freight Experts via email or phone (800-697-4477) so that s/he can identify the rail lane options and select the best route for your freight. This is a customizable process and it’s important to know all of your transportation options.
Is booking railroad freight difficult? Not at all! After receiving a competitive price to transport your goods, you can fill a container when time allows and schedule a truck to pick up your freight from your business location. From there, the driver will take it to the rail yard where your freight will be loaded and sent off by railroad to its drop off destination.
So what do you say? Does rail seem like the right track for your business? Contact one of our Intermodal experts today to analyze the advantages and cost savings potential to move your goods via rail. As we continue to research new methods that will save you money and the environment while improving efficiencies, we’ll report them to you! Did you find this post helpful or have an idea the BG Investigates Team should look into? Don’t forget to mention it on Twitter (#BGInvestigates).
Have freight that’s ready to be shipped by rail? Share a picture! Are you on Pinterest? Pin it!
The nation’s 2nd highest gift-giving holiday is fast approaching and retailers and shippers alike are kicking it into high gear. According to the US Census Bureau, there are more than 23,000 florists in the United States! Flowers account for 70% of all gifts bought each year on Mother’s Day.
The journey begins with the snip of a stem – the clock is ticking to get the flowers to their destination. The majority of flower supply stems from Colombia and Ecuador. Christine Boldt, Executive Vice President of the Association of Floral Importers of Florida describes the supply flow after being placed immediately in a refrigerated truck for transport to a cool warehouse at the airport, “They go through a process we call ‘pre-cooling,’ in which any warm air that might be trapped in the box is vacuumed out. That allows the flowers to cool faster than they would if we simply left warm air inside the package.”
Following the “pre-cooling,” the blossoms travel through the center of the U.S. flower distribution system: Miami International Airport (MIA). MIA houses approximately 2/3 of the supply (about 35,000 – 70,000 boxes every day) with huge spikes in volume around Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day! In an effort to challenge Miami International Airport’s market dominance, California-based Mercury Air Group’s opened a 12,700-square-foot refrigeration facility at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX).
Retailers are the final link in the cut-flowers supply chain before reaching your mother’s hands. Retailers include traditional florist shops, online stores, supermarket chains, roadside vendors, gas stations, drugstores, etc. Supermarkets account for nearly 40% of our flower sales and are steadily increasing sales throughout the slower parts of the year.
From harvest to retailer, perishables are a challenging transport, but 3PLs are here to help. BlueGrace® Logistics offers freight shipping services and solutions that aid in simplifying the supply chain process. Our dedicated representatives provide complete consult in helping shippers choose the best mode of transportation as well as the right carrier for their needs. Our customizable transportation management system, BlueShip™, provides detailed visibility of time-sensitive shipments so you’re always aware during transit.
We know the importance of on-time delivery. Whether it is flowers or materials, let BlueGrace® handle the logistics while you manage your other critical business operations. Contact a member of our team for a free, customized freight quote today!
If you’re involved in the shipping process of flowers, please add your input! Do you work in the floral industry and have any tips to share? Let the community know by commenting on our blog!
Happy Mother’s Day!
-Jennifer Masters, Business Information Analyst
This is a fantastic read and I wanted to share it with you! Logistics Management reports how a closeout retailer, Tuesday Morning, partnered with a leading transportation provider, Averitt Express, and increased their bottom line. Headquartered in Houston, TX, the retailer strived to find a solution to transport its “obnoxious freight” and keep inventory moving. The experts at Averitt Express, one of our valued partners, provided a distribution center (DC) bypass solution, eliminating significant transportation costs and shipment days for Tuesday Morning.
Kudos to the transportation professionals at Averitt and congrats to the team at Tuesday Morning! It’s evident you are a dynamic match!
If you follow our CEO Bobby Harris @BobbyBG_CEO on Twitter, you’ll see that he continually warns of capacity overload and driver shortages looming. I don’t understand why people that are stuck in “dead-end jobs” do not want to become truck drivers! According to Indeed.com the average salary of a truck driver in Florida is $53,000/year and the salary index is on an upward trend.
I believe that most people typically think of drivers as long haul and that is a huge misnomer. Many drivers that work for LTL carriers go in to their home terminal in the morning, help load their van, take deliveries out in the morning, enjoy lunch, do pickups in the afternoon, unload back at terminal and then go home. These routes are very structured and the pay tends to be as well. Independent owner operators that do the long haul driving across the country have more freedom to name their own price and make more money.
These modes, in addition to railroads, have been the backbone of this country for many years and it will remain as such. President Obama spoke about how manufacturing is experiencing an uptick in the United States, which means that more American-made products will need to get from point A to B.
Can you see yourself behind the wheel of a big rig? The opportunity is there to have a career for years to come. Your future is up to you!
– Dustin Snipes, Inbound Sales Supervisor
Follow me on Twitter: @DSnipesNole_BG
Oil prices are going up in 2012! If you are in the trucking industry or just a consumer, when oil prices go up … YOU are affected. Oil prices not only effect the price of gasoline that we put in our car every day or diesel in a truck (which is more expensive) but also the cost of our food, packaging of products and many other items that we use daily. Remember, the cost of a barrel of crude oil is based on what speculators think will happen to the production and delivery of the barrels of oil around the world. Recently Iran made a statement that they will close the Strait of Hormuz, which is a major waterway for the transportation of oil from the Middle East. The reason for the statement is not important pertaining to this blog, but the impact to the price of oil would be huge. The NY Times reported that if the Strait of Hormuz was closed, the price of oil could rise as much as 50% or more within days (which we are already beginning to experience).
Today the average cost per gallon of gas is $3.30 and for diesel is $3.78 (eia). Just sit back and imagine if the cost of these two items doubled within 2 days. Let’s do some quick math, to personally fill my car the cost would go from $60 to $118. To fill a truck that can carry 400 gallons of diesel would go from $1,512 to $3,024. For shippers, the fuel cost that you would pay for a shipment from Los Angeles, CA to Boston, MA would go from an estimated $1,581 to $3,849 just for the cost of fuel. That does not count the line haul cost. If the cost of transportation for our products goes up, so do the costs at stores where we buy our goods. Food, paper towels, diapers, apparel, paper for the copier, etc… will go up.
So, if you ever wonder why oil prices are such a big issue in this country or why the USA spends so much time in the Middle East, just look at the impact it has on your personal budget and transportation services. Look at the impact on one of your shipments if oil prices should double.
-Chris Reeves, Director of Specialized Services Twitter: @BGTruckload
Who has seen the new HOS (Hours of Service) rules that just came out by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA)? The trucking industry has been waiting to see what the FMCSA was going to do with the HOS rules that they currently operate under. I am not going to get into the details of the changes, but I am going to make this point. If trucking was so unsafe that the FMCSA had to get together to make changes to the law, then why did they make the effective date start 1.5 years in the future? Personally it does not seem to be that big of a safety issue if drivers are going to continue to operate under the same rules till July 2013 before they have to change. With the Millions of drivers on the road that is a lot of unsafe driving till July 2013.
If we are going to make change, let’s change. I said I am not going to let you know the details and the main reason is because the rules will change before this ever goes into effect.
Trucking Industry be aware. This is not the end of the HOS rules changes. More to come!!!
– Chris Reeves, Director of Specialized Services
I read a great op-ed column in The New York Times today titled “The Clear Case for the Gas Tax.” It explains the importance of not only passing a new gas tax by September 30th but also strongly considering raising the tax. It is important that everyone know the impact of what raising the gas tax would do.
For those that don’t know, Americans pay an average of about 43 cents per gallon in taxes. This is only about one-eighth the average gas price. Countries in Europe are paying twice what we do in the US for gas and half of Europe’s cost is in taxes. I don’t think we need to go anywhere near their numbers, but Americans would much rather see gas prices increase to repair roads, create new transportation projects and create more jobs rather than inflate the profits of oil and fuel companies.
I want to make sure everyone is aware of the importance of Washington passing a gas tax bill. At a minimum we need a gas tax extension, although I would prefer at least a slight increase to stimulate infrastructure projects in transportation. What would you like to see happen with the gas tax?
Check out this article about a 63-year-old Floridian that held off a robber with a wrestling move he learned in college. I found the article interesting because the man instinctively acted to disarm the robber and save himself by using something he learned throughout his life. It made me think about personal and career development, a popular topic at my office right now.
We are currently competing in a competition called “Battle of the Bulge” to lose body fat and promote a healthier lifestyle at my workplace. This is just one step in the development process though. It is important to continue to develop yourself as a person, employee and leader. I always remember the quote “He who knows everything has much to learn.” It means you should never stop learning new things and finding new areas to excel in. The more you are capable of as a person will help you throughout your life. It could be the promotion you have been hoping for, the girl/guy you have been going after, or the lives saved of you and your family. It could even be just living a longer, healthier, happier life. Continue to teach yourself throughout your life and never stop learning!
If you didn’t hear yesterday, the first photo was released of the woman mauled by a chimpanzee in 2009 that had a full face transplant. It is an inspiring story and it is amazing to see what we are capable as a country. Our medical field has excelled to the point that it can completely reconstruct and transplant an entire face, as well as completing hand transplants.
The US has continued to work hard to be a leader in the world and to be at the leading edge for innovation and development. The issue we hit now is, can we afford this lifestyle as a country? We are cutting back on budgets and the likelihood is that we will also be cutting back on government funding towards many projects that produce results like these.
No matter if taxes are raised or there is tax reform, it is time for Americans to put it on our backs to see that our country never stops being an innovator. If you are young enough, pursue a career in a field of medicine, research, science or technology. If you aren’t, foster a culture of innovation and prosperity in your company that those around you in the industry can see. If all that is too difficult, simply donate time or money to a charity that funds research. My favorite is The V Foundation for Cancer Research that gives 100% of donations to cancer research. Have any ideas of your own? Everything can help to make sure our country is always at the leading-edge.
I heard earlier today that the Statue of Liberty will be shut down for a year while it undergoes construction. For those planning a visit, make it to New York by Oct. 28th to see it before the closing. I found this to be interesting and fitting with the state of our country.
The Statue of Liberty stands tall as a symbol of our great country. The fact that this monument is under construction, just as our country is going through a huge reconstruction of our spending and taxing habits, seemed fitting. Unfortunately I have never been able to visit New York or the Statue of Liberty. I will have to plan a visit soon after the construction is finished. At that point, maybe our country will be on the right path towards rebuilding for our future as well!
I read an article this morning that really inspired me. The story is of a 98-year-old woman that became the first woman ever to earn Judo’s highest-degree black belt. Her story can be found here. The reason this inspires me was because of the obstacles she had to overcome in order to achieve this high honor. She started practicing Judo in 1935 and had the barrier of being a woman that stopped her for 30 years.
Sensei Keiko Fukuda said she approached her life with the intent to “be gentle, kind and beautiful, yet firm and strong both mentally and physically.” This approach helped her to achieve every small goal along the way to her final achievement. So this leads to a few questions. What are your life goals or career goals? Have you set any yet? Why not?
I remember a quote from Vince Vaughn in the movie Dodgeball. He said, “I found that if you have a goal, you might not reach it. But if you don’t have one, then you are never disappointed.” The truth is that you may never be disappointed if you don’t set any goals, but if and hopefully when you grow to the age of 98 years old, do you want to be able to look back at your life and realize you accomplished nothing? Set goals in your life. Set goals in your career. Do what it takes to overcome whatever stands in your way and achieve greatness!
Today, the truck fuel standards for 2014-2018 were announced. These standards should help the trucking industry save approximately $50 billion and cut oil use by 530 million barrels by 2018. This is great news for the industry and the environment. This is great news for our country’s dependence on oil. As the ATA President and CEO Bill Graves said, “While it is too early to know all the potential effects of this rule, we do know it sets us on the path to a future where we depend less on foreign oil, spend less on fuel and contribute less to climate change.”
The National Wildlife Federation said the long-term impact of the fuel economy standards would cut 639 million metric tons of greenhouse gas pollution by 2030. These standards won’t go into effect overnight and the ATA is actually calling for more standards to cut fuel use, such as a 65 mph speed limit for all vehicles. Trucking companies and manufacturers will have plenty of time to develop and deploy new technology to meet these standards.
So here is my question for you. What are you doing to help the environment? What is your company doing to “Go Green”? Find ways to create a better environment for our future. Start recycling at home. Find out if anyone wants to carpool to work. Maybe start a campaign to use less paper at the office like BlueGrace. Whatever your idea may be, find a way!
After listening to President Obama’s speech today, it helped to answer some of the questions regarding the recent downgrade of our nation’s credit rating. For those that don’t know, Standards & Poor (S&P) downgraded the credit rating of the United States from AAA to AA. As Obama stated, this is not a doubt in the ability of our country to pay our debt, but a doubt in our political system’s ability to act. The President made some great points, many that focused on the fact that we didn’t need a rating agency to tell us that our country needs a balanced, long-term approach to policies.
The Standard & Poor’s rating agency has actually caused a stir among those who feel the downgrade was unnecessary and inconsistent. The other top two agencies maintained AAA and Warren Buffett even said he would give the US an AAAA if there was a rating. S&P’s determination also led them to downgrade the credit ratings of agencies linked to long-term US debt, such as Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. This has caused markets to fluctuate, but is it something that should worry us all long-term? If similar situations from other countries are any indication, we shouldn’t have too much to worry about. As the President said, “Markets will rise and fall, but this is the United States of America. We will always be a AAA economy.”
What this all really comes back to is the need for Washington to cooperate and form the balanced, long-term proposals necessary to maintain our country as a superpower. The lack of political will to work towards achieving these proposals needs to stop. Combining spending cuts with tax reforms and adjustments to healthcare programs is a necessity for the future of the US. As we look back at those soldiers who lost their lives this past weekend, we need to honor their memory. They served our country as a team and we all need to work together to ensure our generation, and future generations, can enjoy the freedoms we do today.
News has come out that the FAA shutdown has temporarily come to an end, as Congress has continued to work together to pass a temporary extension until September 16th. It is great to see that both sides are finally starting to work together towards making sure the country continues to operate. This goes to show that while there are large differences between the sides, getting Americans back to work and the loss of money for the government lights a fire.
The real question now is how long it will last. With so many important pieces of legislation being proposed to Congress, will they be able to form enough bipartisan committees and get enough support to continue these strides? I find it very hard to believe. The transportation reauthorization has been proposed “500 times by 500 different people” and no one seems to like anyone’s proposals. Word is already coming out that there may be some large differences in the approval of a gas tax extension.
It is great that they are passing some legislation, but I have started to notice that there are a lot of “bandaids” being placed on important subjects. While I appreciate the agreement to increase the debt ceiling, it seemed like just another small fix. The same is noticed with the FAA agreement, while the transportation reauthorization and gas tax could be next. It is time for Washington to take real action on these important topics. They can’t all wait until 2013, after all of the elections take place and politicians aren’t afraid of losing their seat. It’s time to start getting long-term programs finalized and build for our future. Forget bandaids, it’s time to start using duct tape. It will hold a lot longer than a bandaid! Let’s see some real ACTION!
On my way to work each day, I am reminded of how appreciative I am for my life and the family and friends I have had throughout. The reason for this is because back on February 13th, I left my apartment complex and drove past the scene of a local bicyclist dying on the side of the road. He died before an ambulance or authorities even arrived. A white painted bicycle with flowers that is still present commemorates Robert Niedbalec and the mission for safer roads.
The reason I bring this daily routine and story up, is to stress the importance of investing in safer roads for bicyclists and pedestrians. This includes building and/or extending bicycle lanes, adding better sidewalks with more defined crosswalks and even widening roads as a whole. Without these improvements, there will be many more scenes like the one I witnessed across the US.
With the transportation bill reauthorization being discussed in Washington on a consistent basis, it is important that you realize a few things. The most recent proposal from John Mica did not include funding for bicycle and pedestrian programs, as part of his drive to consolidate federal transportation bureaucracy. Congressman Mica is a fraternity brother of mine that I have had the joy to spend some time with at various events. While I share his love for our fraternity, I have to disagree with his charge to eliminate this funding.
Transportation funding has a large impact on making roads safer for those without vehicles. Just because the roads are mainly used by motorcycles, cars and trucks does not mean that bicyclists and pedestrians aren’t also using them to get from point A to point B. These are also the people at the highest risk of dying should a motorist lose control. While I agree that we need to be more fiscally responsible as a country, it is important that we are not cutting things that affect the lives of Americans, especially those that actually put their lives at risk!
As of 2:04 PM, the White House reported that President Obama has signed the debt ceiling bill into law. This is great news and will hopefully help to create bipartisan cooperation on the next few important steps towards rebuilding our budget of revenues and expenses. Even with this great step, many of us in the industry are still concerned with future legislation that has a large impact on the industry.
The American Transportation Research Institute is calling all industry stakeholders to complete a survey on your top concerns this year. With their call I will emphasize mine. It is important for all those with a stake in our industry to express our concerns with our colleagues, our industry leaders and our leaders in Washington. We need to be vocal as an industry to ensure that the US continues to invest in our infrastructure and our industry.
I hope that you can share my concern with the upcoming bill to help reinvest in the transportation infrastructure of the US. With a continued focus on repair and development, we can ensure that the roads are safe for truck drivers, car drivers, motorcyclists, bicyclists and even pedestrians. Restrictions are continuing to get tougher on drivers and more expensive on trucking companies. The lives saved from simple road repair or widening would be a great contributor towards lessening deaths on the roads and highways.
With all of the current changes going on in the industry, government and economy in general, I felt it was fitting to change up the blog. This will now be an opinion blog, with a focus on current events and news that affects the transportation industry. For those that still want them, top news articles will still be included. Here goes!
Last night while I was watching Shark Week on the Discovery Channel, I saw on Twitter that the debt deal was being agreed upon. It brought some great relief that I could enjoy all of Shark Week worry free. However, even with the deal finally being made, I realized that this is just the first step in a several month process to help finance the government, its agencies and projects. There are several important bills, authorizations and votes that need to be decided upon. Some have already gone unresolved and put thousands of people out of work. The focus on a debt deal overshadowed many of these important topics, especially those that largely affect our industry.
The first is the FAA reauthorization that went unresolved during the debt negotiations. Due to this, the FAA began a partial shutdown, over 4,000 federal employees were furloughed and $2.5 billion in airport improvement work stalled. This partial shutdown also caused the FAA to lose about $200 million in airline taxes each week.
The second is a transportation bill that has been reworked over and over again by different politicians all thinking they have the best plan. These plans have included the options for a simple extension, a massive increase in spending by the Obama administration to improve infrastructure and massive cuts in spending including bicycle and pedestrian project funding.
The third is the gas tax that expires on September 30 and could drastically change things in the industry if not reauthorized. While no one in Washington is suggesting an increase, many are worried that it may be targeted for a cut. Many advocates for transportation and improving infrastructure are actually hoping for an increase to help fund projects.
So with Washington finally coming to an agreement on a debt deal, I say good job and get back to work for the next two months. When October 1st comes around and the rest of these issues are resolved, you can take a break then. For the rest of us, let it be known that you want this resolved. Get on Twitter, Facebook and Google+ to discuss it. Contact your representatives. Let yourself be heard on this!