Graph courtesy of CarrierDirect.

Graph courtesy of CarrierDirect.

According to Joel Clum, the freeze on the economy and the trucking industry caused by the Polar Vortex has finally thawed, and the numbers are beginning to rise.

“Q1 was a frozen nightmare,” said Clem, president of consulting firm CarrierDirect, during a conference call organized by investment firm Stifel, Nicolaus & Co. “We’re expecting to see pretty good numbers for the rest of the year.”

After a look at the current state of the industry, Clum discussed the key themes affecting the industry, including driver recruitment and retention. According to Clum, there are currently 30,000 “open seats” in the industry, which could be related to cautious recruiting practices.

“You need to be more careful about putting the wrong driver in the seat,” Clum said, adding that it is a situation that will not be fixed by merely increasing wages.

Collaboration was at the top of Clum’s list when it came time to review the key trends in 2014 and beyond. Carriers, third-party logistics providers, and shippers will benefit from strategic conversations and collaboration, according to Clum, which will create a relationship that will benefit all parties.

Technology will also move the industry forward by becoming a key to unlocking better ways to track pricing and costing models, share real-time load information, and capture data dimensions that will allow companies to price services more accurately.

“The next wave of technology in this industry is going to allow some pretty fantastic and creative things. We’re going to transition from being more reactive to being proactive,” Clum said.

When I came time to review strategic priorities that company leaders should be including on their agendas, Clum believes that companies need to invest wisely and be ready for the future of web-enabled connections.

“We’re going to enter into such a dynamic environment in the next five years, that, if the carriers aren’t investing in web service-enabled capabilities, they will be the ones that are left behind,” Clem concluded.

The full presentation, as well as the audio from the conference call, is available at the CarrierDirect website.