Jim Mele

Jim
Mele
Editor-in-chief

Nationally recognized journalist, author and editor, Jim Mele joined Fleet Owner in 1986 with over a dozen years’ experience covering transportation as a newspaper reporter and magazine staff writer. Fleet Owner Magazine has won over 45 national editorial awards since his appointment as editor-in-chief in 1999.

Articles
Daimler optimistic after strong January truck orders
LOS CABOS, MEXICO. One month does not make a trend, but exceptionally strong new truck orders in January are "very encouraging," according to David Hames, GM of marketing and strategy for Daimler Trucks North America.
The 2014 Fleet Owner 500 

Much like the overall economy, status quo is the overriding theme for our 10th annual Fleet Owner 500 ranking of the top private fleets in the U.S. Just like America’s sputtering economic growth in 2012, there’s little change from last year in the rankings and equipment totals among the country’s largest private fleets.

Staying strong 

A private fleet’s trucks come in many sizes and configurations, filling roles that range from distributing products to delivering services.  It’s the tractor-trailer keeping a plant’s supply chain full and the van carrying the cable guy and his tools.  It’s the mixer at the construction site and the packer circling neighborhood streets.  It’s the bucket truck restoring power after the storm and the tanker bringing you heating oil.  And there are a lot of them, with private fleets accounting for roughly three-quarters of all commercial trucks

Meritor launches training by truck

LAS VEGAS. Fitted with tools, working displays and other educational aids, two dedicated mobile training units will make a five-city tour later this year to train both maintenance executives and technicians on critical brake system components, according to Meritor Inc. The trucks are part of a new push by the company’s Aftermarket business to educate customers on what they say are critical brake and tire issues coming under more intense scrutiny with the federal compliance and safety accountability (CSA) program.

Fleets will buy more trucks, parts in 2014

LAS VEGAS. Calling his forecast “reasonably bullish,” economist Stu MacKay doesn’t believe fleets will add capacity this year, “but they are at the point where they do have to replace stuff.”

Trucking forecast a good one

LAS VEGAS. Trucking’s economic activity should continue recording sustained growth through this year as the overall economy continues its expansion, according to Dr. Bob Dieli, president and founder of RDLB Inc., an economic research and consulting firm. While admitting “they call them surprises for a reason,” Dieli reassured a group of industry suppliers that “the risks of a recession are quite low, especially in the near future.”

Paperless drive 

Company: DeMaris Transportation, Cincinnati, OH

Operation: Expedited carrier providing 48-state service with a small fleet of straight trucks and cargo vans.

Problem:

Charles DeMaris started his expedited service business in 2007 with one truck and one driver—himself.   “I got authority to book my own freight and had no thoughts of expanding, but within a year I had other drivers asking to sign on,” he says.

Went to the fortune teller 

Predicting the future has long been considered nothing more than guesswork, educated or otherwise. And whether it involves pundits with advanced degrees or tarot cards, we’ve learned to approach predictions with a healthy skepticism.  Now, however, it looks like trucking at least will have to put aside that distrust and begin peering into the future for its next major leap forward.

Free of violations 

COMPANY:
Empire Express, Memphis, TN

OPERATION:
Dry van carrier specializing in hauling hazardous chemicals and high-value, time-sensitive loads primarily in the eastern half of the U.S. and across Canada

Trucking’s hidden genius 

While trucks are part of everyone’s daily lives, few outside of the industry really know much about them other than they’re big and they sometimes deliver that stuff you’ve been waiting for.  Last month I wrote about the new perspective that comes from describing the industry and its major business characteristics for an outsider.  Taking a few steps away from my own deep immersion in trucking was a revealing exercise.

Paying for the next highway bill

With Federal infrastructure funding due to expire in 2015, highway users are gearing up to build support for the next reauthorization bill. Much is uncertain, but odds are high it will include new and higher tax sources for the Highway Trust Fund.

Daimler expands global/local strategy in Mexico
Guadalajara, Mex. Bringing its European cabover Actros tractor to Mexico for an extended customer test, Daimler Trucks is continuing its strategy of developing global vehicle platforms that can be adapted to its broad range of local markets. In addition to the Actros, Daimler's booth here at Expo Transporte, the country's largest truck show, offered numerous examples of the "global as possible, local as necessary" strategy. It included a new Freightliner-badged Class 5 cabover based on the Fuso Canter, a new medium-duty M2 with a Mercedes Benz 4- cyl.
Maintenance: Double-edged sword 

The impact of new government regulations on equipment, drivers and daily fleet operations is readily apparent as new rules dictate major changes in truck efficiency, scheduled time behind the wheel, and safety-related recordkeeping.  Although less obvious, many of these same new regulations are also affecting maintenance operations in significant ways and in some cases requiring a full-scale rethinking of how, or even if, a fleet should carry out the work needed to keep its trucks up and running.

The rules are changing 

To say rules and regulations have an over-reaching effect on trucking operations is like saying the sky is blue.  No one will dispute it.  Yet, outside of the industry, few understand just how much regulation there is in trucking these days, and how much is still on the loading dock waiting for delivery.

A view from the bridge
A different perspective can sometimes make big problems look smaller
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