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Check Call: The results are in — peak season was weak

Welcome to Check Call, our corner of the internet for all things 3PL, freight broker and supply chain. Check Call the podcast comes out every Tuesday at 12:30 p.m. EST. Catch up on previous episodes here. If this was forwarded to you, sign up for Check Call the newsletter here.

Inside this edition: The U.S. Bank Freight Payment Index makes a splash; for-hire carrier rankings are out; and Nowports comes stateside.  


U.S. Bank’s Freight Payment Index tracked some pretty cool stuff over the last quarter. U.S. Bank says this index measures quantitative changes in freight shipments and spend activity based on data from transactions. Some of the notable finds from the U.S. Bank Freight Payment Index Q4 2022 report are:

  • The index has decreased in four of the last five quarters. 
  • Despite lower volumes, spending on truck freight services didn’t fall as much during the fourth quarter. 
  • The average price of diesel fuel fell during the quarter.
  • National shipments contracted 4.6% during the final quarter of 2022.

One of the most interesting things from the report was that regional shipments had a less uniform change. The only region that saw an increase in shipments during the fourth quarter was the Southwest, defined as Arizona, New Mexico, Texas and Oklahoma. All other parts of the country actually saw a decrease in regional shipments compared to the third quarter. 

We knew peak season was on the weak side, but having 46 of the 50 states all seeing significant losses in regional volume is a bit surprising. The West was down 10.6%, which is highly likely a result of shippers moving their import freight to the East Coast. 

Here’s hoping the rest of 2023 is the course correction the freight market needs to pull it together. 


Thursday FreightWaves published the 2023 Top 500 For-Hire Carriers list. Basically, if there is a carrier to hire out there, we have the scoop on it. With the rise of drivers, owner-operators and small carriers leaving the market, you’d expect things to be a little bleak. As a whole, tractor counts are up 3% and trailers are up 8%. All that equipment ordered in the summer and fall of last year has finally been added to the fleet. 

Joe Antoshak’s article goes on to talk about the growth in trailer counts and how there are more than 1.5 million trailers registered by the largest U.S. fleets. “To put that total number in perspective, if each of those trailers were a 53-foot dry van, there would almost be enough to make a stack five-high on the shortest road route between Seattle and Miami.”

As for the rankings, not much has changed in the top 10. FedEx and UPS still hold the top two spots, which is surprising to no one. One of the coolest findings from this year’s study was that Tennessee seems to be the home of more tractors than any other U.S. state. Guess Freight Alley gets to keep its nickname for another year. 

TRAC Thursday. If you have a load coming out of Dallas, you’re going to have a bad time. In case you have been living under a rock, Dallas got hit with the mother of all ice storms at the beginning of the week. Rejections have increased 106 basis points week over week as the ice storm came in and brought the city to a halt. For at least the next week, expect rates out of Dallas to be higher than they have been for the past few weeks until the city gets caught up from the ice storm. 


Who’s with whom? Mexican startup Nowports has arrived stateside. Nowports is a digital freight forwarder based in Monterrey, Mexico, that is opening its first U.S. office in Miami. According to Mexico News Daily, the rise in East Coast imports made Miami the next logical step. This is the company’s eighth country  to expand into, as previously it opened offices in Mexico, Colombia, Uruguay, Peru, Brazil and Panama. Nowports was one of the many logistics companies to hit unicorn status (be valued over $1 billion) in 2022. 

Quoted in the Nowports news release: “We believe that transforming the supply chain in emerging markets can fuel their economic growth. The opening of our Miami office is a step in that direction. We are going to see a more intertwined commercial relationship between the US and Latin America in the next few years. Digitization of supply chains will be a crucial aspect of this new era,” said Alfonso de los Ríos, its 23-year-old co-founder and CEO.

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