The last available Tank Truck Industry Market Analysis done for the National Tank Truck Carriers (NTTC) by the American Trucking Association (ATA), published in March, 2015, offered interesting findings:
- In 2013, the tank truck industry hauled 2.48 billion tons of freight, which equaled 25.6% of all truck freight (9.68 billion tons).
- The largest commodity group for all tank truck freight was petroleum products (gasoline, diesel, and aviation fuel), which equaled 1.22 billion tons or 49.2% of all tank truck tonnage, followed by sands at 419.9 million tons (15.2%), and chemicals excluding fertilizers and cryogenics at 240.9 million tons (9.5%).
- In 2013, the tank truck industry generated $34.5 billion in revenue, which equaled 5.1% of all truck revenue ($681.7 billion).
- The commodity group that generated the most revenue for for-hire carriers in 2013 was chemicals, excluding fertilizers and cryogenics, at just under $7 billion, or 28.3% of all for-hire tank truck revenue. Closely following chemicals was petroleum products, which brought in $6.8 billion in revenue in 2013, or 27.5% of all for-hire tank truck revenue. Cements were a distant third at $2.3 billion, or 9.5% of the total.
- In 2013, the tank truck industry operated 163,670 tractors, or 10.9% of the roughly 1.5 million of all over-the-road tractors in the US.
“The study offered first-rate economic market intelligence that never before existed leaving most to rely on anecdotal guesstimates about our unique industry at best”, said NTTC President Daniel R. Furth. “Now industry players can really gauge the varied service segments and their respective market shares and apply this intelligence to planning and operations. Moreover, the study gave us a solid baseline to track market trends by commodity types over time as new commodity flow information becomes available.”
This is the type of data that serious players in this market like Transcourt Tank Leasing; rely on to better understand the market in which the company has been evolving for over 20 years. Leaders like John Campbell, Chairman and Co-Founder of Transcourt and Robert Pahanich, Vice-President Fleet Management and Procurement and Vice-President USA Business Development, rely on these types of studies to enhance their knowledge of the industry. They also have gained precious comprehension of the needs of their customers. Through the years they have developed a deep understanding of just how far they can go to offer the right solution at the right price to their customers. This is what differentiates Transcourt from other tank lessor in Canada and the United-States.
“The main goal of the tank industry’s ability to evolve is to gain better payload. As products become more sophisticated and more complex to handle, anti-roll and air inflation technology are becoming standard rather than options”, explains Robert Pahanich. “Stainless steel, FRP, Propane or aluminium, whatever the tank trailers are designed to haul it is important for carriers to have a piece of equipment that will last 20 to 25 years while respecting existing regulations. There are more loading tools and gauges available. With an automated approach replacing manual driver checks we are moving towards digital readouts provided by monitoring systems, the job is becoming safer for drivers who can work on the ground. This type of fall protection is very important here in Canada where the laws regarding fall protection are clearly outlined and the US is not very far from making this a standard as well.”
Trailer Body Builders’ 2016 Trailer Output Report indicated that out of 282,680 trailers of all types built by the top 25 trailers manufacturers in North America in 2016, roughly 7,500 were tank trailers. This is a number that has been declining in recent years due to the dwindling drilling activity. But there seems to be a shift on the horizon. World Oil, a voice of the upstream oil industry, reports that late December, 2016 and early January 2017 numbers indicate the start of a possible resurgence in the oil patch. World Oil suggested there may be increases in 2017 drilling of as much as 30% in the U.S.A., 21% in Canada and 9% in the waters of the Gulf of Mexico. This is surely a good sign for many Transcourt customers and for the lessee.
“When we started out, we discovered that tanks, at the time, were high maintenance equipment. What we did was start out by helping our customers get better quality and lighter products. Spring suspensions were the standard then. Very few tank trailers were air ride. We now use spring suspensions only on the rare occasions when air ride are not available. Air ride was a great leap forward and today we are adding lift systems to increase fuel efficiency and reduce drag on our trailers; great options for those who can only haul one way in dedicated services. States John Campbell; “Innovations did increase the price but at the same time they improved efficiency and reduced operating costs. We felt this was a “must have” and many customers agreed with us.”
“Whether we are talking of liquid or dry bulk, we always listen to what customers are looking for and try to get a grasp of what was done in the past. It is only when we get to know our customers and their true needs that we can propose solutions that will make it possible for them to handle additional volumes. Helping our customers enhance what they can offer their customers is our way of building our trust level. Fair market is everywhere, but trust has to be built in our efforts to establish long lasting relationships with our customers”, continues Pahanich.
Transcourt has made a name for itself over the years by developing relationships with customers where it works closely with the client to understand the needs and then build a trailer to meet these needs. “We were never the lowest cost option, but we provided our customers the best equipment in every application. Our marketing starts by looking at special needs and then working with the customer to add various modifications. We look at the big picture and ask ourselves; can we make it affordable if we customise it?” said Campbell. “We are not a dealer for any specific manufacturer. We deal with all of them in order to respect our customer’s preference.”
Transcourt always tries to offer a customer different potential solutions: one with a bare minimum, a second middle of the road one and a third more expensive one that yields the highest results. Campbell, Pahanich and all other members of the Transcourt team also have to deal with the various axle configurations that vary from Canada to the United-States, from one province to the other north of the border or from one state to the other south of the border.
As complex as Transcourt’s approach may seem (and offering the right solution at the right price is no simple matter), the company has greatly simplified the process. And last but not least, the lease documents themselves are probably the most understandable, simplified and flexible in the industry.