Recent growth in technology spending by motor carriers may be an indication that the economy is improving and that trucking companies will continue to view information systems as a tool for achieving efficiencies and identifying competitive advantages.

IT companies that produce management software for the transportation and logistics industries are noticing this trend. Arsenault Assoc., Atco, NJ, and Cleveland-based TMW Systems both report that business is beginning to turn around.

Charles Arsenault, president of Arsenault Assoc., which designs, develops, markets and supports the Dossier32 family of fleet-application computer software programs and services, said his company's software had a 30% increase in sales for June.

“We won't see a lot of frivolous buying as we had in the past,” Arsenault told FLEET OWNER. “To say IT is a cautious purchase is an understatement, but it's the best way to describe it.”

Tom Weisz, president and CEO of TMW, said his company believes that carriers are optimistic about the future and are choosing TMW for enterprise solutions that favorably impact carrier productivity and efficiency.

“As last year ended and 2001 began, many carriers postponed purchasing decisions longer than usual. Responding to the economic slowdown, they went into short-term survival mode,” Weisz said. “Now, however, we are seeing carriers again broadening their planning horizons and shortening their decision cycle.”

Arsenault points to the Y2K scare as the start of the economic downturn for companies in his sector. Companies spent extra in 1999 to make sure their systems wouldn't crash on New Year's Day. However, once the year 2000 began, IT departments had people “sitting around” without much work to do, and with a lot of outdated Y2K software.

Then during the Presidential campaign, around July or August, the economy started to see a downturn, Arsenault said, adding that customers started taking a wait-and-see approach when it came to IT purchases.

Although business is starting to pick up, and projected sales are at an upturn, Arsenault said there most likely will not be as much random spending on IT products.

In its second quarter, TMW's sales volume was up 272% over the previous quarter, which also leads Weisz to believe carriers are confident that the economy will turn around.