Staying positive

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Good news is all around us. Just look around – it’s not hard to find.” –Jim Walton, president & CEO, Brand Acceleration, Inc.

As I get ready to fly down this morning to Louisville, Kentucky, to attend the 2009 Mid America Trucking Show, I paused to reflect that it’s hard to stay upbeat in trucking these days – much less in the U.S. as a whole – facing the steady drumbeat of bad news we do.

Take your pick: average unemployment rates in the U.S. rising to over 8.1%, spiking to to 13.2% if you include part time workers; AIG executives greedily scooping up over $100 million in “bonuses” after getting a $178 billion bailout courtesy of the taxpayer’s hard earned buck; or teams in the National Basketball Association lining up to try and get government bailout funds.

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You could really get down after reading that litany – or you could dig around and find out that, hey, there IS actually some good news out there.

For example, the American Trucking Associations (ATA) for-hire truck tonnage index rose 3% in January 2009, marking only the second month-to-month increase in the last seven months, following a 7.8% contraction in December.

“We’re beginning to see non-durable goods starting to recover, and there has been an upturn in retail sales in some segments,” Chris Brady, president of Commercial Motor Vehicle Consulting (CMVC), told my colleague Justin Carretta in a recent news story. “We’re starting to see some positive signs within the supply chain.”

One of my “oracles of positive thinking” is longtime reader Steve Myers at Moser Motor Sales out in Berne, IN. While car and light truck sales are bad indeed, he’s seeing some “respectable numbers” of late in his small corner of the world – and that is news worth acknowledging.

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“Sales are slower than I'd like but we are selling vehicles,” he told me the other day.

“I know light vehicles are still selling although no records are being set," Steve said. "On the positive side, my December 2008 was better than my December 2007 and January 2009 was better than Jan 2008. I don't have all my February numbers but at least what I do have are respectful.”

“Good news however, is all around us. All you have to do is pay attention,” noted Jim Walton, president & CEO, Brand Acceleration, Inc. , in one of recent missives.

“I’ve ranted a little about all of the negative news coming from the mainstream media and our elected officials. I often think they are trying to lower our expectations as we work our way through this economic downturn,” he said. “It’s common knowledge that bad news sells newspapers and attracts viewers. People seem to be attracted to it like moths are attracted to a flame. It’s completely up to us to tune out the gloom-and-doomers and seek positive input. “

Walton noted, for example, that after CitiGroup announced that it had two solid months of profit (imagine that), Wall Street traders reacted like a bunch of starving wolves. “The first glimmer of positive news sent the markets soaring,” he stated. “Unfortunately, the loud roar of negativity drowns out the good news. Well, the truth is that there is good news everywhere.”

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For example, Walton (pictured at right) noted that Ford Motor Company called back workers to fill rising demand for the ever-popular F-150 pickup truck. “Another positive sign is that the average price of a used car has gone up $600 in the last three months. This could be an indicator that inventories are dropping and demand is on the rise,” he noted.

On another front, Walton found out that Haywood Vocational Opportunities, a North Carolina-based medical supply company which employs 315, announced it would open a new facility in Waynesville, adding 50 jobs. British banking firm Barclay’s is opening a new credit card processing facility in Wilmington, Delaware -- initially employing 300 people but planning to grow that to 500 in five years.

Nestle, which recently opened a new facility in Anderson, Indiana, originally planned to employ just 300 people there – but, apparently the Nesquik and Coffee-Mate business is doing pretty good, because the company has already announced that it will expand and add another 100 jobs.

“This is just a small sample of the good news that is all around us if we just look,” Walton emphasized. “You may not see these on page one of your local paper or on the evening news, but with just a little effort you can infuse your life with positive daily input.”

What's Trucks at Work?

Trucks at Work: Sean Kilcarr comments on trends affecting the many different strata of the trucking industry.

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