Truckers Face Parking Woes

by Mark Westby | Category Company | August, 2023

I was driving one early morning this week from our office in Tulsa to see some customers in Oklahoma City. I was taken back by how many big rigs were parked on the shoulder of the freeway. In some areas, they were parked 2-abreast.

Over the past several years, our government has restricted the hours a driver can operate. Drivers cannot be behind the wheel even one minute past the time when their clock runs out. They must park somewhere. For years, the American Trucking Association (ATA) has been warning our government of the need to add truck parking to infrastructure planning and spending. The ATA reports that over 90% of drivers complain about access to safe parking, and on average spend 56-minutes looking for alternate parking if the existing lots are full. Estimates suggest that in addition to supply chain disruptions, inadequate truck parking causes a $16.6 billion dollar loss of productivity and wasted fuel every year.

In every federal infrastructure plan, it is a fact that has been ignored until this past May. The House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure wrote “The Parking Act”. Now it must go through markup hearings, and red tape before a bill is voted on in the full House. If passed, the government will spend $755 million over the next 3-years to expand truck parking capacity.

It’s not fun to imagine a bunch of politicians sitting around deciding how and where our money will be spent, but how did they come up with $755 million?

There are currently around 2,000 registered truck stops in the country offering 1-single parking spot for every 11-trucks looking for one.

With 750 locations of their own, Pilot Flying J has the most. Building a new one costs them $5-7 million. Their standard set up includes 12 islands for diesel fuel.

I’m not suggesting the government should be in the business of building large full service truckstops. More rest areas that can accommodate a lot of trucks would be nice. However, I am baffled by how $755 million over 3-years is going to help fix a $16.6 billion a year problem. In the meantime, those who are in the business of building truck stops for profit are being cautious. How many diesel fuel islands? How many hydrogen islands? How many electric charging stations?

I hope that now when you see a big truck parked on the side of the road or highway, you might consider that driver really doesn’t want to be there. They often have nowhere else to go.

Be safe,

20 Years and Going Strong!

by Mark Westby | Category Company | May, 2023

Mark Westby Company just celebrated 20 years of being in business. Please check out our Facebook page to see some pictures from our celebration. The day really was about giving thanks to those who helped us get off the ground. Our banker, our accountant, financial planners, graphic designer and our systems engineer...our first cable guy even made it! As I reflect on those early days, months and years, I realize our story of starting a small, family-owned business is like so many others across the country.

Even though I had already been in the trucking industry for 19 years, no bank would give us a small business loan. Instead, we cashed our 401-K and took out a loan using our home as collateral. Our first employees were sometimes paid with whatever cash we had on hand and the only benefit we could offer was “Employee Meals.” We cooked at home on Sundays, brought it all to the office on Mondays. My “company car” was an old Ford Explorer that my father-in-law George donated to me. Our office furniture consisted of metal folding chairs and a card table. None of it matched!

I had always heard that most folks work for small companies, so I set out to learn how many there actually are. Here are some interesting statistics:

  • Companies with less than 500-employees are considered “small businesses” and represent 99.9% of all businesses.
  • 94.5% of Americans work for “very small” businesses consisting of less than 50-employees.
  • As of January 2023, 61.2 million citizens work for small businesses.
  • Small businesses have been creating 64% of all new jobs since 1995.
  • The average small business reports an annual profit of $53,000

We have all seen the news about the big corporations laying off thousands of employees. Maybe they ran out of new ideas and/or lost some edge over their competitors. Regardless, their sales were sliding, and they predicted a gloomy future. They would still make money…just not as much. With public shareholders and board members (always impatient and hungry for high returns), cutting people is the fastest and easiest way for them to shore up the bottom line in time for the next quarterly report.

Small businesses owners usually have much different relationships with their employees. They know their people and their families well. Our mantra around here is, “We work hard to take great care of our customers so we can take great care of our families.” Our Company will weather a storm instead of sending people to the unemployment line. As noted earlier, small businesses not only employ millions of US Citizens but are responsible for the majority of new jobs. So when politicians boast about all the new jobs they somehow helped add, I think it’s important to remember that whatever that real number is…most of those new jobs will be in a small business.

For that reason, I wish our 20-year anniversary to be a celebration of all small businesses in America. May they find a customer or two to simply give them a shot. May they find great people to work for them and in turn, treat them well. And may we all keep in mind that in spite of what dominates the news…good things are happening everywhere.

Looking forward to the next 20,

Be safe,

Are you Properly Vetting Carriers?

by Mark Westby | Category Company | February, 2023

There are 3.91 million Class 8 trucks on the road owned and operated by 416,355 trucking companies with "Active Authority” granted by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). Most of us easily recognize the larger carriers when we see them on the road. However, 97% of trucking companies have less then 20-trucks; and 91.3% have 6 or less trucks.

The larger carriers have more resources to invest in robust safety and maintenance programs. With more trucks and drivers on the road, they are subject to more DOT inspections. Positive inspections result in good records of safety. However, of the 416,355 active trucking companies, only 43,407 have a "Satisfactory” safety rating…and most satisfactory ratings are in the hands of the larger carriers.

18,350 carriers are "Pending Revocation” from the FMCSA. 1,604 have an "Unsatisfactory” safety rating, and another 15,699 have a "Conditional” rating. The other 337,295 trucking companies are "Unrated”. That leaves us with 372,948 carriers with "Active Authority”, but FMCSA safety ratings somewhere between none, and about to be revoked. The FMCSA is processing 66,846 applications from new trucking companies seeking authority. Those accepted will be added to the "Unrated” column. The process for an "Unrated” trucking company to be granted a "Satisfactory” rating has been described as "long and arduous”. It starts with them wishing to apply for it. They don’t have to.

At the same time, transportation buyers may find themselves having to defend their transportation hiring process and procedures. "Vicarious Liability” and "Negligent Hiring” litigation can arise when plaintiffs argue that a shipper and/or a transportation broker could have prevented a serious accident had they demonstrated some due diligence in checking the safety records of a trucking company prior to engaging its services. Years ago, the FMCSA made safety information for every carrier available for public view. In essence, it said, "Go look for yourself and decide.” Plaintiffs contend that since the information is available, it should be investigated and used in decision making. The question is something like, "What guidelines does your company follow in selecting it’s transportation providers.”

Several years ago, many shippers thought that if they only used carriers with a satisfactory rating they would be immune from plaintiff action. One challenge was finding enough trucking capacity to meet shipping needs. The other was the discovery that "Satisfactory” carriers can have negatively trending safety scores (in public view), but the FMCSA has yet to intervene.

The point I wish to make is that your company should consider putting some guidelines in place. If you are working directly with trucking companies, prepare yourselves for defending your hiring decisions. If you work with a logistics/brokerage company, ask for a copy of their carrier vetting procedures and make sure you agree with them since the question could also be, "Why do you use that broker for hiring carriers hauling your freight?” If you wish to see our carrier vetting and compliance procedures, email

Be safe,

November 2022

by Mark Westby | Category Company | November, 2022

November Newsletter 2022

In August, we reported the trend of hydrogen gradually replacing diesel as the most broadly used source of fuel in the trucking industry. Again, electric engines had a big head start and were able to raise a lot of money and government endorsement. No doubt, electric trucks will have their place, but battery weight and access to charging infrastructure will always be limiting factors.

Read More

August 2022

by Mark Westby | Category Company | August, 2022

August Newsletter 2022

The Federal Government and 15 states led mostly by California are pushing truck manufacturers to increase the production of Class 8 electric trucks. By 2035, California expects 75 percent compliance. There are only 1,000 of them in commercial use today.

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June 2022

by Mark Westby | Category Company | June, 2022

June Newsletter 2022

WOW! It’s hard to believe we are nearly halfway through 2022! I have recently been thinking about the year 2019. During much of 2017 and all of 2018…the manufacturing economy was strong, and truckers were ordering new equipment like crazy. The smaller carriers could buy road-worthy, used trucks for less than $40,000. In 2019, freight levels softened, and the truckers were caught with more trucks than there were loads to haul. Contract rates started to fall, and spot market rates collapsed. There followed a record number of larger carriers going bankrupt while the smaller trucking companies parked their trucks and quit answering their phones.

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April 2022

by Mark Westby | Category Company | April, 2022

April Newsletter 2022

I don’t often write about railcar or intermodal trends. We don’t offer either service but do study them as they are obviously tied to whatever is happening in trucking. Just last week, US News & World Report published an article that included a story of grain elevators being so full that farmers had no place to store or sell their crops. Several customers of ours in the food business are paying to truck their goods at a price higher than their value. There is simply very limited rail capacity in many parts of the country. That seems to be particularly true in the western agricultural areas where farmers and ethanol producers face cutting production.

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March 2022

by Mark Westby | Category Company | March, 2022

March Newsletter 2022

"Imagine all the heavy-duty vehicles that keep our supply lines strong and allow our economy to grow. Imagine that they produced zero emissions. Well, you all imagined it.” VP Kamala Harris. March 7, 2022.

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February 2022

by Mark Westby | Category Company | February, 2022

February Newsletter 2022

While trying to help a customer here in Oklahoma ship a load to Ontario Canada, I became more interested in the ongoings up there. It really is not just about vaccine mandates. It’s bigger than that. First, some geography.

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October 2021

by Mark Westby | Category Company | October, 2021

October Newsletter 2021

We all understand how COVID has interrupted the supply chain. However, there are festering problems that have led us to the road we are on. For starters, due to our reliance on Chinese manufacturing our trade imbalance now stands at $67.76 billion; almost double what it was in September of 2020, and $20 billion more than predicted. The cost of shipping a container from China to Long Beach/Los Angeles hit $20,000. At the beginning of this year, the cost was $5,000.

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July 2021

by Mark Westby | Category Company | July, 2021

July Newsletter 2021

The tsunami of pent-up freight rocked the U.S. supply chain which had been relatively stable and predictable for 20 years before COVID. Even at two or three times normal freight costs, shippers waited for days and weeks to get a truck. We all wondered how long it would last and knew we would have a clearer picture halfway through the year. Typically, U.S. businesses make the decision to "throttle up or throttle down" going into the second half.

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June 2021

by Mark Westby | Category Company | June, 2021

June Newsletter 2021

The Ugly Truth About Internet Load Boards
Internet load boards have changed our industry in many ways. What concerns me most is their influence on freight prices. We are seeing that now. It starts when a shipper offers the same load to more than one broker. The brokers then go post the loads on the internet. For many, that is the only tool in their bag, and they will post the same load several times to gain visibility. There is no policing of that whatsoever. A broker can post one load as many times as they want.

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April 2021

by Mark Westby | Category Company | April, 2021

April Newsletter 2021

The lack of equipment to meet the demand for flatbeds is at a point I have not seen in 35 years. Some of our customers would define it as "critical.” We are looking at freight paying well over $4.00/mile on the spot market.

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March 2021

by Mark Westby | Category Company | March, 2021

March Newsletter 2021

Although more pronounced during the recent streak of bad weather across the country, truck availability started falling short of demand in the Spring of 2020.

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January 2021

by Mark Westby | Category Company | January, 2021

January Newsletter 2021

The Struggles of Automation in Freight Pricing and Tendering

In practice, a customer sends a Request for Proposal (RFP) to their carriers. Historically, the pricing is meant to hold true for one year.

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    Tulsa, OK 74145
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