Supply Chain Now Radio Episode 271

Prefer to watch the podcast in action rather than just listen?  Watch Scott and Greg as they welcome Michelle Livingstone and Bobby Holland via LinkedIn Live to the SCNR Studio for Episode 271.

“If you are going 55 miles an hour and you let up off the gas pedal a little bit, if you ease up 10 percent, you’re still moving 50 miles an hour. You’re not standing still. You’re not going backwards; you’re slowing down. And that’s kind of what the economy is doing.”

– Bobby Holland, VP/Director of Freight Data Solutions team at U.S. Bank


With an increase in the number of digital transactions being posted today, companies are presented with a challenge as well as an opportunity. What can they do with all of that data? What meaning and insights can they derive from a vast pool of data that was naturally created just by conducting their primary business?

That is exactly the situation that led to the genesis of the U.S. Bank Freight Payment Index (FPI). U.S. Bank processed $28.8 billion in freight payment transactions in 2019. Those payments and the data that accompanies them are now being analyzed by Bobby Holland VP/Director of Freight Data Solutions at U.S. Bank and his team. The FPI report is released quarterly, and includes quarter over quarter, year over year, and full year data and analysis.

In this podcast, Bobby is joined by Michelle Livingstone, VP of Transportation at The Home Depot, to share and interpret the findings of the Q4 2019 FPI report and what it suggests about the freight industry and the economy, both regionally and nationally.

The highlights of the Q4 2019 FPI report include:

  • The rate of growth suggested by demand for freight capacity (and spot market rates) in 2018 appears to have been an anomaly, leaving carriers with more equipment and warehousing space than they currently need.
  • An acknowledgement that all freight is regional, as are seasonal impacts and related industries such as the ‘new start’ housing market.
  • The economy continues to grow, just at a slower rate than seen in 2018.

[00:00:05] It’s time for Supply Chain Now Radio Broadcasting Life. Supply chain Capital of the country. Atlanta, Georgia. Supply Chain Now Radio spotlights the best in all things supply chain the people, the best practices and the critical issues of the day. And now here are your hosts.


[00:00:29] Good afternoon once again. Scott Luton here with you live on Supply chain. Now, welcome back to the show.


[00:00:34] On this episode, we’re going to be sharing once again key insights from one of the leading transportation in-shore resources, the U.S. Bank Freight Payment Index. So in a special addition to the show, we’re gonna be gaining insights and perspective from a Supply chain executive, from one of the world’s leading retailers. So stay tuned for what promises to be a lively and very informational session. Joining me here today is my esteemed co-host, principle trusted advisor and supply chain as an incredible problem solver.


[00:01:07] Mr. Greg White, thank you. Didn’t. I’m doing better now. I’m getting live is not always that easy, right? That is so what we do to bring outstanding content to our audience. So. Well, where 2 live crew. Right. I mean, we had to call in. We had to call in the reinforcements. Yeah, we managed to get it done so our first time live. But we felt like this was a really important and a really important offering to deliver live. Right. Yep. So on that note, before we introduce our guests, we’re really excited about this new highly collaborative partnership with U.S. Bank.


[00:01:40] One of the leading financial institutions that really powers the transportation industry globally, which is the backbone of the Indian supply chain. So tell us more about this. FPO, this acronym we’re going to hear a lot about over the next.


[00:01:53] Yeah. So the freight payment in the index, I think what we have been following this for some time and we saw some really compelling insights here. We reached out to the folks at U.S. Bank. And they connected us with Bobby Hawn’s, who, if you’re watching us, you can see right now.


[00:02:10] And we’ll let you talk in just second, Bobby. But Bobby is in charge of putting this together. But we just felt like because of the wealth of data that U.S. Bank had and we wanted to make sure that we brought this broad based value of resource to the to the marketplace. Look, U.S. Bank manages twenty nine billion dollars worth of freight transactions.


[00:02:31] So to have a freight payment index, I think that gives them a ton of street cred and Lu. And I want to point out and I said this before, any bank that has their own football stadium, they deserve they deserve to. They definitely have the street cred to do this, supporting my community. Right. And the roof is solid on that, by the way. So but kidding aside, all of that wealth of data. This is gonna be some radical take away some market insights for all the folks that are involved in shipping. Things are really involved in the transportation industry. So I’m looking forward to learning a lot from this. Yeah, this discussion will be bringing this to you quarterly. This is a release quarterly by Bobby and his team. So we’ll bring this to you quarterly and bring you some practical insights as well as the pure data from Trident practitioners in the industry. And we were going to let him meet the accessions. Let’s get it. We’re setting it. We’re setting a tall bar with our first veto.


[00:03:25] Right. So he’s going to have to help us find another high powered professional.


[00:03:29] That’s right. So with no further ado, let’s introduce our featured guest today and we’re going to have an opportunity now then a little bit better before we dove into the FBI. Bobby Holland, as Greg alluded to, Vise president, group product manager, director, consulting services at U.S. Bank. Bobby, good afternoon. How are you doing? Doing well. How’s everyone doing? Great. Great to see you. Yeah, really? I’ve enjoyed the warm up conversations as we’ve learned more about all the work that you and your team do. And, you know, again, excited to be able to share this with the market via R Supply chain now channel. Also Michelle Livingston, Livingstone Vise President, Transportation for the Home Depot. Michelle, how you doing?


[00:04:10] Great. It’s so exciting to be in studio. I see the sausage being made.


[00:04:16] Yeah.


[00:04:18] Often. Awesome. It’s a little bit nerve wracking. It’s you know, you can set you’ll be thankful you’re not us. Right. Well, appreciate as busy really as busy as both of y’all are. Appreciate that. I’m here today. And so. So before we talk shop, before we talk about this wealth of data here, we want to get know both of you a bit better and that we’ve learned a ton from our audience, our global audience, that they really enjoy on the front end as they get a sense of who they’re hearing from before we talk shop, best practices and insights. So. So, Bob, let’s start with you. Let’s get know you little bit better. So. So kind of where’d you grow up? And tell us more about your professional journey into your current role.


[00:04:57] Well, I grew up primarily start out on the West Coast in the Bay Area, San Jose, California. Parents moved back home for them to Denver, Colorado. That’s where I spent most of my life in Denver, Colorado, before some steps that led me to sitting in my home office in. Suburb of Buffalo, New York. OK. coast-to-coast. So he likes snow. Clearly, I do not in Denver.


[00:05:28] Next time we do this, we’re inviting you down here. How’s that body that works?


[00:05:33] So, Bob, I got to ask you a quick follow up question. You mentioned a couple of great American towns. What, from a sports team? Who are you a fan of when it comes to sports teams?


[00:05:43] By default, I guess I was a fan of Denver Broncos since I was there. But I’m not I’m I’m a true geek. And I don’t follow the sports. No, Tom, I should read. That’s right. It’s out there to and to the nation.


[00:05:55] As much as they’re using analytics, Bobbie, though, it probably be pretty engaging. I mean, these days they’re trying to figure out what’s the percentage that’s passed. It’s gonna be complete. No. Well, you know what we as we’ll talk about in a second, given all the research that goes into these reports. No wonder you don’t have time as much as you’d like for sport. So there you go. So let’s switch gears. And Michelle, thanks again for your time here today. Let’s get a sense of who you are. Same question where you grew up and kind of what led you leadersand to your current role.


[00:06:25] Sure. Well, I grew up in Indiana. Carmel, Indiana. And I went to college at Indiana University. And I was a business major with a concentration in transportation. Wow. So I am actually doing what I set out to do. And it has been a terrific career. So anyone encouraged? I encourage everyone to give supply chain and transportation aside if you’re thinking about a career opportunity. And also, what motivated me is that my father worked for a trucking company and LTL company, EFT first and then for several truck companies. And his one advice to me was, hey, transportation. It’s gonna be a great career for you. But my advice is to be on the sipper side because it’s a lot more fun to be the customer. So I have followed. I’ve changed jobs several times, but I’ve always remained on the super side.


[00:07:10] Good. Yeah. And. And how? Yes. Right. So not only go Hoosiers goes. But what is that? How’s your program kind of evolved? Clear. Let me do that. Sit across from someone that went to school for transportation. Yeah. That clearly has reached the upper echelons of leadership in this field. That’s not all that common. So how have you seen the program of all?


[00:07:30] You know, it’s so exciting because I had the opportunity to serve on the transportation executive board at the Kelley School of Business. And I you and I, along with a number of other industry professionals, have a chance to help build the program and meet with the students and help provide Real-Life Insight in terms of what they might be considering as they’re looking at joining the industry. So it’s been really rewarding to see you continue to invest in the program and all of the great things that are happening and the students that come out are just tremendous. So it’s it’s really rewarding.


[00:08:01] Wow. Well, that, as we all know, gathering and competing for talent in the Indian supply chain space is unlike what’s been in before, where we’re competing for talent, Gates industries that traditionally maybe the industry hasn’t. So to hear about these programs like the one you graduated out of and then you’re giving back to make it stronger to to keep getting more great talent, then that’s that’s a hallmark of a great leader. Thank you.


[00:08:27] All right. So I have to ask here. Yeah. You mentioned you had a few stops in your career. What brought you to Home Depot?


[00:08:32] Yeah, I’ve been very fortunate to have been working and transportation. And I started the bulk of my career, Kraft Foods. And then J.C. Penney called and I was at J.C. Penney for a while. And then CNS wholesale grocers. Oh, yeah. CORNISH New Hampshire called. And I got to tell you, in Home Depot call, they came a and it’s really cold in New Hampshire, but it was a great learning experience. I always contend I learned more in two years there than I had in the previous state. But I have a broad background in transportation and I tell her when I’ve been in transportation for a hundred and fifty years. So it’s exciting.


[00:09:06] Your county, your grandparents came in great great Veridian the career.


[00:09:09] Yeah. Yeah. So we’re gonna get one more question. I saw something down here, but I want to ask about awesome leadership. Right. In a small nutshell. Yeah. We’re not going to be able to get this attention that we’d need to. But describe what that is.


[00:09:24] Yes. Awesome. Stands for achieving women’s excellence in Supply chain operations, management and education. And it truly is a very powerful organization to help women leaders, particularly at the executive level, come together to help further personal development network give back to the community. And it’s been a terrific opportunity. I’ve been on that advisory board for several years and I really get a lot out of that organization.


[00:09:52] That’s great. A sidebar.


[00:09:54] We should talk because we have a series, Full Access, where we celebrate women leaders, particularly in Supply chain and friend of the show, Cindy Largo, is that you might know her, but she’s the V.P. of Supply chain practice, a Cap Gemini.


[00:10:08] They’re sponsoring it anyway outside after this. Yeah. Yeah. So switching gears. Yeah, let’s dove into and we want to, I think, establish kind of a back. Rantzen context for Piara. Yeah.


[00:10:20] So Bobby, other than other than twenty nine billion dollars in transactions and a really sweet looking football stadium. What makes you as bank? Such a great resource for this information. And what? You know, why do you feel compelled to provide this service to the market?


[00:10:38] Well. And the freight space. And the freight department. U.S. Bank. We have several decades of industry experience. My team has been in the business for quite a while. So we have a lot of freight expertise. Trade finance is in the bank’s wheelhouse where dependable, stable and we do have the expertise. So the next step was, okay. We’re amassing this data. You want to continue to add value to our customers. How do we do that? So start a program with the Freight Data Solutions team. And our first product release was the freight payment index. And the idea is to represent the U.S. bank perspective on the freight transportation marketplace with the data that we have. We didn’t want to go out and copy, you know, the other indexes. We wanted to be our own per point of view that can augment that which is already out there and help our customers be able to make decisions, be able to be informed. And we have the data to do it. We want to demonstrate our expertise in that regard, because most people attritional don’t think of other than maybe fleet credit cards. But most people don’t associate a bank, especially one as largest U.S. bank with anything having to do with the freight industry. So we wanted to get that out there and let it shine, so to speak.


[00:12:09] Well, we love it. I mean, we think it’s a great service to the market. It’s tremendously valuable information. We know that a lot of companies plan and strategize based on the data that they get here. So. So tell us a little bit. And I know there’s some secret sauce here. Right. But tell us a little bit about how it works.


[00:12:28] Whatever you can share there. You know what? What you’re analyzing and kind of your basis for analysis. Keep it simple for me, please.


[00:12:37] But you know, I will. I will. I’ll do it. Ours index. We our starting point is calculated back to year 2010. That’s our year zero. However, we’re chain based index. We change quarterly. Which simply means that, you know, instead of calculating the index values relative to your zero at one hundred and twenty ten, we calculate it based on the index value of the previous month. We want to we wanted to do this. Same store sales comparison between the quarters, because we want to ensure that our index reflects the trucking market has extrapolated from our data as opposed to, let’s say, the business acumen and in U.S. bank.


[00:13:31] So in order to get it to that mathematical significance, we compare each quarter, the previous quarter and derive our our shipments and spend index values from those and then just distinguish ourselves in the marketplace. We also offer not only the national overview, but also the regional index perspective.


[00:13:52] Right. President, more granularity. So essentially you’re resetting back to zero every quarter and comparing the most recently completed quarter to that or it’s probably resetting back to 100. I guess as your base. Correct.


[00:14:07] Yeah. Yeah, it’s the base is whatever the index value for the previous quarter.


[00:14:12] Got it. Okay. Okay. So it’s a straight as you said, kind of a straight quarter quarter comparison. Right. But then we also do the year over year Trident as I saw that. Yeah. And is that reset. Similarly each each 12 months or each four quarters you reset it. That’s just the simple recorders. That’s just a simple quarter to quarter measurement. Okay. So the corresponding quarter, for example, Q4, we’re told, got you for 2019.


[00:14:39] We just measure that strictly against the Q4 of 2013. Got it. And it again, it provides a different, slightly different perspective on the metric. And then one of the other things as you read through the the content of the commentary is you’ll find that sometimes we will also talk about the full year comparison year over year.


[00:15:02] So that’s where we take the sum of the index values and compare those because it kind of helps to to to temper the picture. You know, when one metric you may see, you know, it dropped 7.3 percent as an example. But if you look at year over year, because it dropped from such a high point the year over year, it just kind of helps to round out the picture of what you’re seeing as far as the economic activity. That’s basically what we want to do is we want to provide an accurate view of the market space.


[00:15:32] And even though you guys are one of or possibly the largest transaction processor, you still get data from outside your own data sources or extrapolate data to make sure that you’re representing the market on a more holistic basis. Right.


[00:15:48] Ours is based on our data. Okay. Based on the payment transactions in our system. And as you cut it out, twenty eight point eight billion as of the end of twenty nineteen annual right payment transactions, as you can well imagine, we amass a lot of data and that’s part of the value that we can provide to our customers who perhaps don’t have enough data to get it. That big data viewpoint. Yeah. Yeah.


[00:16:14] This is one of the ways that we’re offering value. So was it, Bobby, beyond the assumed ways that professionals and leaders and organizations use the FPI? What are some other ways that you see the state of being utilized, especially with as when it comes to decision making?


[00:16:34] Well, a lot of them are making decisions, especially at the regional. As was pointed out to me before and discussed with our economist, afraid.. is regional.


[00:16:48] You seldom see people shipping directly across the country back and forth. And most of it happens between the regions. And so by being able to not only say, okay, here’s the national perspective, by taking it down to the regional perspective and seeing, you know, what’s going on in the West Coast and what are some of the factors that may affect the West Coast. And comparing that to the southwest or southwest, the southeast or up and down the eastern quarter, southeast northeast shippers and carriers can both make decisions as to, you know, how to manage their business needs based on the trending that they see, especially as you compare it quarterly over the past, you know, two plus years that we’ve been producing the index. So you start to get a feel for the training. You start to get a feel for the drivers, those outside of what you’re actually experiencing yourself. And it paints a picture. And again, it’s it’s a can we recognize that it’s not the end all be all data sources, but as you know, augment any other data as a customer that you may have. It starts to help you to paint a picture with some valuable intelligence on and that can drive some of your decisions.


[00:17:59] Great. So, Michelle, I know. I think you guys are subscribed to this, maybe not your department, but I think some aspect of the Home Depot does subscribe to this. Is there a particular way that you know of that? Home Depot uses the the index for planning. I know you have a dedicated fleet which we want to specify. Right, so that the index may not be reflective of the kind of transactions that you have. But it does have some indications as far as free movement and spend around freight movements.


[00:18:31] So sure, I would say a couple of things in reaction to that Bobby was sharing. First of all, you find all sources of data into your data to be really helpful. We are very data analytics driven and we’re always looking for additional sources of data that can help us form our opinion, because ultimately what we’re trying to get to is forecasting as soon as this report starts predicting what the freight rates will be by quarter for the following year, that will be very exciting. So I’ll just leave that suggestion with you.


[00:19:02] There you go.


[00:19:02] Well, I think that ultimately that’s what we’re trying to get to because we’re trying to build budgets. We’re trying to determine pricing, all sorts of things like that. So that’s but all the sources of data are very important to us. And and and it we never use just one. Right. It doesn’t always align. But they’re always helpful.


[00:19:21] Know, what’s so interesting is we think we touched on it in the Supply chain bus from last week is not only are there traditional reasons why we’re trying to make forecasting more accurate. And of course, there’s some great head tailwinds to help make that happen. But some companies, including some some sector leading organizations, are really depending on stronger forecasting to cut down on returns and into into into to really make their some their sustainability plays throb. So, you know, when it comes to forecasting and better transportation decisions, it’s really interesting to see how that’s really touching all aspects of a business these days. It is.


[00:20:01] And what I particularly like about the way that Bobby’s team is approaching this is I like the quarter over quarter, because when you take a look at 2018 and the how that was the unprecedented year for transportation, I think that would have helped. That is helpful to to read the tea leaves, so to speak, as to what is potentially going to hit you coming forward. So I think the quarter over quarter view is really important.


[00:20:26] And one more comment. I think, as Bobby stated, it’s not end all, be all. But when you take a comprehensive set of data like this and Miura that with with some of the other great information, we had someone from the point, a invasion’s center this morning, I talk about how so much data is so much freer these days, so much so available. Right. So when you put when you put together credible information together, you can really build a big picture and awesome. Sometimes the data sets may clash a little bit. Right. In terms of the tea leaves, say this over here and this over here. But still, we can make better informed decisions by, you know, compiling credible data driven collections like this law of large numbers.


[00:21:08] I mean, the greater accumulation of data, the greater breadth of night of data across the entire entire spectrum. The more valuable that data is and the more accurate it can be. So I think, you know, the fact that these guys have the largest accumulation of data in the marketplace is, you know, is good. And I think there’s a lot that we can learn from it. I’ve learned just from doing a little preview of the session. Our fleets, our fleet is running smarter already. That’s right. I made a here. I made it really fast. Bobby, thank you. We’ll look. So I think we’ve set the table pretty well. Would you say we dove right in? Bobby, you want to tell us a little bit about what this quarter’s index tells us?


[00:21:48] Sir, from a national overview perspective, we’re seeing signs of a weaker economy. Basically our shipment and our spend X index into 2019 down sequentially and year over year. In general, the main drivers for that are for the main reasons for that manufacturing. Manufacturing is under pressure. Twenty nineteen overall, as Michelle alluded to, was tough compared to twenty. Eighteen was a tough year for motor carriers. The economy at large was forecasted to be less than 2 percent growth. So you know, it’s no no wonder then that the act the underlying activity would would show some downturn. The falling factory sector and manufacturing like I said, is having putting pressure on both the shipment and spend index. And then we also find that because of how robust twenty eighteen was and how out of joint it was with capacity versus demand, capacity went into overdrive to to meet that demand. And now we’re kind of seeing the correction. So now. Capacity is outstripping demand a bit, and so we see a bit of a correction.


[00:23:22] Is it safe to say I mean, from you all’s experience in and Bobby, from your data, is it safe to say that 2018 was an anomaly?


[00:23:35] Trying to think back. I think there was a bit of anomaly, I think we reported that in some of our some of the issues and that year that. Well, it wasn’t, Jenny remembers. I can articulate this correctly. I believe that twenty eighteen was a bit of anomaly. Like I said, it was. There’s a lot of things that hit the market. That was when, for example, shortage of truck drivers was marked most keenly felt as an example. There were some of the same rules and regulations that were added that caused some truck driver attrition. And then like I said, that was when the tariffs first started to write their ugly heads, the threat of tariffs, because part of the challenge is that the tariffs didn’t go in as as planned, but there’s a lot of activity ahead of that. And that kind of boosted some something’s, let’s call it, artificially and over and overbuilt. Her capacity to an extent, yeah, and demand and like I said, the push to try to meet that and and then having it, you know, correct course correct. Into twenty nineteen. Again, that’s kind of what we believe is happening.


[00:24:50] There may have been a little irrational exuberance in it, you know, towards the late part of 2013. That’s something that you know, is probably well.


[00:24:59] And one of the things that I mean one of the things that I saw in the report is that several carriers may have gotten a little bit over their skis. And some of them obviously did got a little bit over their skis with equipment purchases and leases, having seen the trend come up. And, you know, that’s that’s part of the reason that we’re seeing some of the some of the retraction as well.


[00:25:24] And I think the spot, quote, market was was pretty hot then as well. And that’s also correcting. And that’s why we’re seeing some of the things happen year, perchance, that we are with some carriers that we’re heavily dependent on the spot rate market are now underwater.


[00:25:41] We all know that transportation is a leading economic indicator. So but it’s also cyclical. We have decades worth of data that will show that every four years, basically there’s a cycle adjustment there. But I would agree with you in terms of 2018 being over exuberant. I think carriers thought that that was going to last for ever. They are trying to tell them no, there’s no no rational thinking that would say that this is going to last forever. So it ended 2019, obviously was a tough adjustment for them because it ended much more quickly than I think they thought. But I think when you combine those two years together, you know, all is right with the world.


[00:26:20] Yeah. So especially with present company here. Bobby, can we talk about housing starts? Because you saw some some difference in the housing start numbers region to region. I believe some regions that they were off and then other regions you saw softer declines. Can can you weigh in on that when it comes to housing?


[00:26:42] Yeah, I think that housing starts were soft on the West Coast. I’m sorry. The solid gains in housing starts in the fourth quarter on the West, which softened the declines from the third quarter in the Southwest. No real input there. Midwest was nailed by the agriculture sector duded to tariffs and manufacturing. And then they get something related. Yeah. And the biggest influence, I think from a housing starts perspective is that in the north east, housing permits or up a lot. Which indicates future housing starts. The weather has been milder as well in both the southeast and the northeast. So there’s a lot of good housing activity picking up in both the northeast and the southeast regions.


[00:27:43] And those things both help drive trucking. And we had talked about in previous issues of the index that something like this is coming, especially for the Southeast, because of all the weather related construction that was to happen. But there was a lag time between when those things would start. And we’re kind of seeing a little bit of a pickup in construction activity and new housing permits.


[00:28:08] So speaking the transportation, being a big driver for the economy, as is the housing. All right. Housing starts. How you home? That’s right. Yeah. Can you anything you can weigh in there in terms of what you’re seeing.


[00:28:19] And as it relates to transportation, you know, obviously Home Depot is tied to both very closely. But we have found is that the housing index is important to us, but it doesn’t drive our business because there are so many other. It’s just one of many things I can drive. That’s not right. Certainly during the housing crisis in 2009/2010, we were able to distinguish ourselves and present new offerings for customers that didn’t rely on either them buying a new house or selling a house. And certainly the housing market is still in a situation where customers feel comfortable investing in their homes. And that’s always good news for us.


[00:28:59] There’s a lot of mixed signals, not just Bobby. Not just with the data that the index is presenting, but just in general, because we see some signs of softening. You said manufacturing is is under pressure. You have some contradictory data. I mean, right at the start of the report, it talks about shipments actually contracted by 5, almost 6 percent, 5.9 percent. But spending was actually up from an ad up over a full year.


[00:29:28] That’s why I wanted to mention you. Are I in the beginning about the full year comparison? Yeah. Versus the year over year and the cure quarter over quarter. Yep. Because again, that rounds out the picture. The thing to remember and we’ve mentioned I think there you’ll see if you’ve gone through the document you’ll see we talk about or use a phrase difficult comparisons. Yeah. And that is you know is just another way of saying, you know what you just said as far as seemingly contradictory in the fact that because, you know, let’s just say the economy’s cruising along at this level. So even a little bit of drop, the number looks big to the people seeing the drop. But you’re you know, the thing to remember is that it’s because it’s a measure of velocity. You’re still moving. I mean, if you are going 55 miles an hour and you let up off the gas pedal a little bit, you’re still you know, if you, you know, ease up 10 percent, you’re still moving 50 miles an hour. Yeah, you’re not standing still. You’re not going backward. You’re not you know, you’re slowing down. And that’s kind of, you know, what the economy is doing. So that’s why you’ll see seemingly contradictory things such as, you know, something dropped but something increased. But then if you look at the year over year as as another facet of that, you’ll see that that bet helps you to see that everything is relative. And as far as the measurements and we again, it’s an index value and not the Rod numbers. So we’re trying to measure the velocity of change.


[00:30:51] Yeah. I mean, and and on the broader economy, there are some contradictions as well. I mean, JP Morgan just they just in the last month increased their their forecast of GDP for Q4 of this year and it had been trending down. And now is actually they show it at actually increasing in Q4. So there’s a lot of mixed signals right now. And and as there always is, this kind of stage of a right of an economy. Right.


[00:31:22] So, I mean, even if you look at the consumer price index from December, even though it was less than 2 percent growth, I think it was ended up being 2.3 percent overall for twenty nineteen. So again, you know, and even though those are seem like they’re tiny numbers for the CPI, for the computer, for that particular index, those those are still big. So that’s the thing. We want to make sure that that the message in this part of the message is that the economy is still growing, it’s just slowing down and its rate of growth. And not that everything is just the sky is not falling.


[00:31:59] And he and so we’ve talked a little bit about it from a national standpoint, you did touch on some of the regional things, particularly around housing starts. But I think shipping and spend has a fairly broad digression in terms of a volume in the various regions. So can you give us some insight into where that is and and what you’ve seen or what the data shows you as to why that might be?


[00:32:24] Well, I think, again, in the southeast region had the best results. They only declined 1.6 percent shipment and were up. Tell us again, the numbers are so me.


[00:32:39] So the smallest volume decline and of all the regions and the largest gain in overall spin, if I’m reading them, I reading this right go right at quarter, quarter, quarter. Right.


[00:32:51] It was a Southey. So they they rose year over year, 2.3 percent year over year, 7.3 percent and spend minor drops, 1.6 percent in both shipment and spend. And that was like the smallest they mile-wide that we had. Correct. Yeah. The other ones were, you know, between 2 to up to almost 8 percent drops in the various regions. And again, each region has its own its own pressures, its own issues. You know, again and then it’s own pressures. It’s own issues, but also it’s its own drivers that are helping to buoy it.


[00:33:28] And one of the biggest things that if we look at across the regions where the the dip was the lowest, it’s using buoyed up by construction.


[00:33:41] Mm hmm. You touched on earlier. And of course, we talk about a lot of the shows that the tough year that was twenty nineteen in the transportation industry. And I’m not sure what the final count is for twenty nineteen in terms of overall organizations that that went out of business. I think entering the fourth quarter it was over not almost 900 companies that have gone bankrupt in the first four quarters. Now, you know, our heart goes out to a lot of folks that struggled. Where do you see that fat and saluted case cost sprinkled throughout the index. But when you look at that tough year that was in the numbers here throughout the FBI.


[00:34:19] What are some pre-payment index? Yes. Sorry. Sorry, freight payment index. Sorry. We’re you know, we’re big fans of that. Yeah, I confuse anybody. Yeah. Yeah. Where do you see that play out? What what are the your key takeaways when it comes to the truck transportation company struggles?


[00:34:34] I think, again, it’s it’s a rebalancing. And we find that a lot of the impacts, like you say, were from the spot market. If your business model was heavily dependent on what used to be that the higher spot market as that is declined faster than the contracted rates, it’s going to weed out a lot, you know, unfortunate to weed out a few of the businesses. There’s also the expectation from the economic perspective that we’re gonna have a soft couple of quarters, but that 2020 is expected to finish strong. And that’s as close as I’ll get to a prediction. Yeah, everybody, as for getting through it, it’s buoyed up by it’s supported by the economists. So I feel comfortable in stating that much. Mm hmm.


[00:35:22] Shell, tell us what. I mean, you’re in the trenches. I mean, you’re your company is in the trenches with America. So can you give us an idea of what you all are seeing or where you might be hearing from other data or other sources?


[00:35:36] Yeah, I agree. It was unfortunate that we lost some really good carriers. I a New England motor freight. What’s one that Home Depot used? And they were a long term partner to us. So that was really heartbreaking when they closed their doors. But overall, what we’re seeing currently is that capacity and demand are relatively stable at this point in time. So you talk about 2019 being a tough year for the drivers. Unfortunately or fortunately for us, it means it’s a better year for us in 2018. And just going back to some of the data and I don’t know how it would manifest itself in this particular set of data, but in twenty eighteen, because of the rates were going up so high, we took on a lot of cost out initiatives. I mean we are a full court press on reducing Anthee Miles, keeping our trucks. It was a company wide knowledge that we had to take extraordinary measures to make sure that our freight expense stayed in line and those good behaviors are continuing on and 2019. So we continue on. And as a result, we’re seeing goodness beyond what we probably expected otherwise. So I don’t know if shippers, other shippers, I’m sure we’re just like the Home Depot that we’ve taken a number of steps to do everything we can to mitigate our expense. Yeah. If those continue on, I sure that they are. It somewhere in the numbers.


[00:36:59] We just can’t see them directly, and that probably had something to do with 2019. I mean, if other ships were forced by costs to get more efficient, that had had to carry through to 2019 and continue in 2020 and it’ll start to create an equilibrium as as shippers adapt to that. I’m sorry, as carriers adapt.


[00:37:22] And one of the things that emerged as the result of 2018 is that shippers are working more closely with other shippers. So, for instance, Home Depot is using moving loads on PepsiCo’s private fleet. So previously that would have gone with a for hire carrier. We’re doing great things in terms of reducing empty miles for them. They’re using our dedicated fleet that’s more sustainable. It’s saving money, but that’s a private fleet activity which I don’t believe would be reflected in the summer. I don’t know how widespread that is. Yeah, but it’s just one example of something that emerged out of twenty eighteen that’s continued on into twenty nineteen.


[00:37:58] You could see where the increase though in in cost would have the same effect, whether you’re in a dedicated fleet or a private fleet or if you’re on the spot market or whatever. Right. Absolutely.


[00:38:09] Bobby, what do you think? No, I I that some actually some interesting information for me, but I think also remember some of the couple of quarters of the index publications, we had talked about some of the decisions that perchance the carriers and shippers were both making in response to the market carriers were shippers. I’m sorry, we’re looking at, you know, locking down longer term rates, contracts so that they had some predictability in their costs and stability.


[00:38:44] And carriers were making decisions as far as moving, you know, to where the capacity is amongst the regions. So it was in reaction to, you know, obviously generating capacity. If you have a weather issue, hurricane issue, you know, they’re going to need supplies and things. And so that’s going to make a draw. But then also, you know, reaction between moving, say, between the southwest to the southeast in response to issues with agriculture.


[00:39:14] You know, we saw a lot of that, that movement happening, so the overall take away from that is we saw to an extent in retrospect, we saw the impacts of a lot of decisions being made too. As Michelle pointed out, manage your costs on both sides, you know, go where the capacity is better for you. But also shippers, like I said, locking down and and adding, trying to get as much predictability in their costs as possible.


[00:39:42] Is that is that the biggest takeaway you think it you bring out of of the freight payment index this time around this quarter, Bobby?


[00:39:51] Or is there something you think people ought to take away from from this particular report?


[00:40:00] Aside from that, I think the biggest takeaway from this report, if I might, would be that, you know, again, the sky isn’t falling. The numbers are down. If you look at, you know, Cass’s index, they’ve been predicting, you know, falling for two years.


[00:40:20] Like a nation there. Yeah. See, this is the beauty of video predicting that it’s been falling in.


[00:40:29] The takeaway is that the sky hasn’t fallen. There’s a downturn. Things are balancing out. There is a reason that we had an over, you know, over glut of capacity versus demand. And now that that’s starting, it’s going to take some while for that to shake out. But we started talking about that, you know, two or three quarters ago. So, you know, now we’re starting just to see what that looks like. And, you know, as I kind of said it, he’s expecting that 20/20 will finish strong. So we’re going to be watching over the next couple, you know, Q1 of 2020 and Q2 and just see what the numbers say.


[00:41:09] So and then we’re kind of moving to a close here. Predict the final leg here. But if I could pose a question to both of you, also said these numbers are looking at the end of the year. Right. Fourth quarter. Crump, as you look at how the year started here, you know, we’re January 22nd, so hardily Romes in February, as you get a sense of what’s already transpired at the beginning of the year, what’s around the corner, what’s already being reported on, what’s a couple of developments with an industry that, you know, when it when the next freight payment index is published that are gonna be big factors, you think?


[00:41:45] And Bobby, we’ll start with you again. We’re seeing that it’s probably not seeing, but we’re looking for Q1 and Q2 to be the soft quarters. We’re looking for some positive impacts from, you know, the the phase one of the tariffs with China to kind of help to moderate.


[00:42:08] And then also the news about the USM S.A. We’re also expecting that to have a positive impact. But even if it’s shorter term, we’re expecting to have a positive impact. Definitely the first two quarters are going to be the ones to watch because that’s where everybody is sorting out, you know, what they think is going to happen. And then we’ll see the results of those decisions, you know, start to Crete in Q3.


[00:42:35] Ok. Yeah, I think we go. Yeah. No, I think 2020, at least for the first half, is going to have mirrored the back half of 2019. I don’t see particularly for Home Depot. Based on our bit cycle, our rates are locked and loaded until the next one. So the back half of 2020 is where the action is. But we’re watching it closely. But hopefully it will remain a normal year. Her. Not that either carriers, nor for shippers. We all do better when there’s less volatility in the marketplace. And that’s largely what we’re hoping for.


[00:43:12] And we hope the we use the French term the time. We hope that continues with some trade war. And hopefully that breakthrough we’ve had, which is not just the the this first agreement. It goes back to some of the other concessions that China’s made. I mean, it’s been that it’s been a pattern, two or three different concessions for the poultry industry, for some of the other loosening of restrictions of tariffs that the Chinese government did not put in place. And then, you know, the phase one trade deal. So hopefully that continues because that will also lead to less volatility. Despite all these other factors that we have to fight through as supply chain leaders. Right.


[00:43:52] Well, in the best part for Michelle is her pricing is already locked in.


[00:43:55] So if the market started to more if the Martin market strengthens, she’s covered it for a bit. Yeah. Yeah, yeah. Over.


[00:44:06] Transportation is not my thing, but this is been a fascinating study.


[00:44:10] It’s been a great study. So I came out of industry, read the retail industry. I was a shipper. Arguably, though, what I did was my department either made the merchandising selection, we selected the product or I also worked where we actually cut the post. So it was like kind of a dark room where the paedos went afterwards and had these people who who we called expediters who just managed it.


[00:44:36] And all I did was complain, right? All I did was where’s my shipment? Right. I didn’t care that the tray. And until I found out the trailer was stolen and and being sold on the streets of Tijuana, I didn’t really care about transportation. Right. But I think this in this supply chain environment, you have to be aware of the intricacies of how every aspect of the supply chain works because the consumer is so demanding these days and because they are aware of what I mean. I am hearing consumers say supply chain, which is. Transformational terms in terms of. Yeah. You know what? What consumers know these days. So it creates a higher level of accountability for shippers and for facilitators and for carriers.


[00:45:21] So nothing. It’s important to know this information. Right. It’s important for you to plan. Use this information. I just think it’s great that this service is being provided. Agreed. Good.


[00:45:32] Bobby, I was gonna say to your point, I think that an adjunct to that is just the visibility of trucking as the bottom line. I mean, if you talk to truckers, you find that they truly believe and rightly so, that, you know, they they are part of the lifeblood of the country because everything you know, most of everything we have around us was moved in a truck. Darn Skippy. Yeah. So you have that aspect of it and then you know the impacts. And there’s been more visibility about trucking in general. So people are becoming more aware of that. And then you have other terms like the Amazon effect, the fact that, you know, customers are, you know, if you order something from Amazon and it doesn’t come, you’re that, you know, the customer, you’re out there looking, you know, where did it? Where did it slow down? And because Amazon. So the first companies that provide that level of visibility into, quote, the supply chain, you can actually, as a customer go back and see things, you know.


[00:46:27] Now, as far as where your order is that you couldn’t, you know, even as a as a company, see, you know, 10 years ago. So just, you know, more people are becoming aware that more visibility. And it’s it’s, you know, driving, you know, everything else to to meet those demands.


[00:46:45] Great point. And we’ll dove into the NBA later. So we’re not really that that can top on a can of worms. The. We get it, we got to make sure, Bobby, before we we wrap up here today that folks know where they can get the freight payment index.


[00:47:04] How can they how can they subscribe? They can subscribe to going to create that U.S. bank dot com. And fill in your information and it’ll be delivered to you quarterly automatically.


[00:47:17] Yeah, standing. And we’ll include that link, of course, on the show notes.


[00:47:21] And for those of you that do subscribe to it, we’re gonna expect you to provide commentary next time.


[00:47:28] And we’ll have questions for you next. Yes, absolutely.


[00:47:32] So kind of bring it to a close. Michelle, any final. You know, there’s so much here. Yeah. And now we’re just doesn’t do justice. But any final thoughts from your end, what we talked about or forward looking or what have.


[00:47:45] Yeah. You know what? I think it’s a great time to be in Supply chain, great time to be in transportation. And a lot of great things are happening. And I appreciate the opportunity to be on the program and say, yeah. Thank you. I mean, it’s good. It’s it’s great to have a venue like this to help share ideas and gain additional information. I applaud your efforts.


[00:48:04] Thank you. Thank you. We love having. We love having facilitators and and data providers and practitioners. And everyone who’s involved in supply chain being able to sound off here, because this is where it becomes real for people is when they get to see the people who are doing this day to day.


[00:48:22] Right. Because we have not always been in the fore. Yes. Ryder Scott loves to say Supply chain has a seat at the table, but it has not always right. And I think it isn’t a big part of creating that awareness. So thank you for participating and YouTube, Bobby. Thanks, man. To the whole gang. Malcolm shot me.


[00:48:38] Note Malcolm leads our research team here. Supply chain now. And I mentioned poultry and everyone doesn’t understand the context of that. So here in the state of Georgia, poultry is one the number one exports. So when China opens up that market, as Malcolm pointed out, it’s a huge deal. I mean, billions of dollars of poultry opens about reopens a brand new market for key export here in this state. So thank you, Malcolm, for taking my foot out of the mouth, as usual. All right. So I really enjoyed it. Really appreciate your time and your perspective and really just great your frank insights. You know, that’s what drives, I think, the conversations that I learned most from some of our best chefs. No doubt. So, again, we’re going to include a link for for folks to not only that can view this current edition of the U.S. Bank Freight Payment Index, but also link where folks can subscribe. A historical one there. Yeah, they’re all out there. Yep, that’s right. I could study of it. That’s right. One of the one to thank our guests again, Bobby Holland Vise president, group product manager, director of consulting services at U.S. Bank, and Michelle Livingstone Vise, president, transportation for the Home Depot, Bobby Michel. Really appreciate it. Time.


[00:49:51] Thank you so much for having me on really short notice. Bobby, we’ll see you next quarter as well.


[00:49:57] Yes. Suffixed stick tight. Stand by for seconds. Tick tight. Stand by. Same thing. Real quick. Go away. That’s right. We want to make sure folks know where they can come get the replay of this conversation beyond or supply chain now linked in and probably sometime next week. We’ll be publishing a podcast addition of the same conversation so you can get that where you get your podcast from, including you can check that out at Supply Chain Now Radio dot com. So on behalf of YouTube. Any type. That’s right. Always. Thank you.


[00:50:29] Malcolm, too. I’m always I’m always I always got to.


[00:50:34] On behalf of Bobby and Michelle and Greg and myself, really appreciate y’all tuning in to our first Linked-In lob at Supply chain now. Yeah, I can’t find us an Apple podcast, Spotify, where we get podcast from Scott Luton here, wishing you a wonderful week ahead. And we will see you next time on Supply chain. Thanks everybody.

 Bobby Holland is responsible for the Freight Data Solutions team at U.S. Bank. Bobby has over 36 years of broad-based data processing, software engineering and consulting experience. He has leadership in multiple industries including insurance, large-scale billing, customer care services and banking. His specialties include systems integration, enterprise applications architecture, agile methodology, DevOps practice, systems engineering, object-oriented development, analytics, and product and project management. Bobby’s current focus is in analytics and data-related product management for the freight industry. Bobby holds a degree in Computer Science from Metropolitan State University.

Michelle Livingstone joined The Home Depot in 2007 as Vice President -Transportation, and is responsible for the movement of domestic and international shipments into and within The Home Depot‘s multi-channel supply chain to support 2,200 stores. Prior to joining The Home Depot, Michelle served in leadership positions at Kraft Foods, JC Penney and C & S Wholesale Grocers. She has been active throughout the industry and serves on the boards of the Transportation Institute of the University of Denver, Indiana University Transportation Executive Board, and the Coalition for Responsible Transportation. Strongly committed to advancing women’s leadership, Michelle was recognized in 2019 with the AWESOME Legendary Leadership Award which acknowledges extraordinary professional excellence and for advancing the changing landscape of women’s supply chain leadership. She also serves on the board of the Network of Executive Women for the Atlanta region and is an AWESOME Advisor. Internally at Home Depot, Michelle serves as the VP Advisor to Velvet Hammers (female directors and above) and Women’s Link, an associate resource group. After serving six years on the Executive Committee and Development team of the Atlanta Children’s Shelter, Michelle rolled off and joined the board of Rainbow Village whose mission is to provide housing for homeless families with children and help parents become self-sufficient. Michelle has a BS in Business, with a concentration in transportation, from Indiana University and an MBA with high honors from Lake Forest Graduate School of Management.

Greg White serves as Principle & Host at Supply Chain Now Radio. Greg is a founder, CEO, board director and advisor in B2B technology with multiple successful exits. He recently joined Trefoil Advisory as a Partner to further their vision of stronger companies by delivering practical solutions to the highest-stakes challenges. Prior to Trefoil, Greg served as CEO at Curo, a field service management solution most notably used by Amazon to direct their fulfillment center deployment workforce. Greg is most known for founding Blue Ridge Solutions and served as President & CEO for the Gartner Magic Quadrant Leader of cloud-native supply chain applications that balance inventory with customer demand. Greg has also held leadership roles with Servigistics, and E3 Corporation, where he pioneered their cloud supply chain offering in 1998. In addition to his work at Supply Chain Now Radio and Trefoil, rapidly-growing companies leverage Greg as an independent board director and advisor for his experience building disruptive B2B technology and supply chain companies widely recognized as industry leaders. He’s an insightful visionary who helps companies rapidly align vision, team, market, messaging, product, and intellectual property to accelerate value creation. Greg guides founders, investors and leadership teams to create breakthroughs that gain market exposure and momentum, and increase company esteem and valuation. Learn more about Trefoil Advisory:

Scott W. Luton is the founder & CEO of Supply Chain Now Radio. He has worked extensively in the end-to-end Supply Chain industry for more than 15 years, appearing in publications such as The Wall Street Journal, Dice and Quality Progress Magazine. Scott was named a 2019 Pro to Know in Supply Chain by Supply & Demand Executive and a 2019 “Top 15 Supply Chain & Logistics Experts to Follow” by RateLinx. He founded the 2019 Atlanta Supply Chain Awards and also served on the 2018 Georgia Logistics Summit Executive Committee. He is a certified Lean Six Sigma Green Belt and holds the APICS Certified Supply Chain Professional (CSCP) credential. A Veteran of the United States Air Force, Scott volunteers on the Business Pillar for VETLANTA and has served on the boards for APICS Atlanta and the Georgia Manufacturing Alliance. He also serves as an advisor with TalentStream, a leading recruiting & staffing firm based in the Southeast. Follow Scott Luton on Twitter at @ScottWLuton and learn more about SCNR here:

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