Transportation Sector Squeeze: Effects on the Metal Building Industry

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Industries across North America are feeling the heat of rising transportation costs, and the metal building industry is no exception.  Thanks to strong economic growth, freight volumes are ever increasing as more trucks are needed to haul shipments and deliveries across the U.S. and Canada. 
And although the freight market is continuing to rise, recruiting new truck drivers to meet the demand is proving to be difficult for a number of reasons, most notably that the workforce is aging out of the industry. 

Rising Transportation Costs


Other factors contributing to the state of the industry

An article in the Wall Street Journal pointed out that the average age of a driver was 49 in 2014 compared to the 2002 age of 42.  Another obstacle for potential new drivers is the age limit required to receive a commercial trucking license.  Drivers must be 21 years of age and many young individuals are not willing to wait to reach the requirement, opting to work in construction or manufacturing, which ultimately can offer more time at home and, in some cases, better pay.


The increased demand for shipping, paired with a shortage of drivers is contributing to the financial impact felt not just in the metal building industry, but across North America, due to these escalating transportation costs.  Higher shipping costs are starting to influence the price of material goods, from steel to cereals to produce and beyond.  According to the Washington Post, the trucking industry is experiencing a perfect storm: the rising economy is creating a heavy demand for trucks, but drivers are hard to find with employment so low.  The Wall Street Journal suggests that there are around 1.67 million commercial truck drivers in the U.S. – with between 400,000 and 500,000 of those being long-haul truckers – the toughest position to recruit and retain.  Many trucking companies have raised their salaries and started offering bonuses, in an effort to keep and recruit new drivers. According to data provided by the American Trucking Associations (ATA), the median salary for a truckload driver working a national, irregular route was over $53,000 USD and a private fleet driver’s salary has increased to $86,000 USD. But these efforts to make the positions more attractive haven’t made much of an impact, and could be attributed to the lifestyle of a long-haul trucker.


Drivers can spend up to 11 hours a day on the road, ultimately sleeping and eating in their trucks as they cover the miles. The life of a trucker can be lonely, with 78% indicating they drive alone, according to a national survey provided by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. Drivers are away from home, family, and friends on a regular basis, and the position is no longer romanticized like it was in the 1960s and 1970s through music and movies.


What do rising transportation costs mean for the Metal Building Industry?

Due to these existing factors and other market influences affecting the cost of consumer goods, customers for metal buildings can expect to see an increase in pricing. However, an investment in a metal building will hold its value, despite a higher cost. To save on costs customers can also look at combining orders where possible and working with manufacturers early on in the process to receive accurate transportation quotes for each project.


If you have questions or concerns about your transportation costs, contact your Robertson District Manager for more information.