The book, Long Haul Legacy by F. Martin Harmon (Atlantic Book Printing), tells the tale of long haul trucking in the U.S. This is a story that has been told more than once, but Harmon fills in some important details left out of many accounts on the unique evolution of trucking in the U.S. The subtitle “SMC3 and the Evolution of Motor Freight” is frequently missing from most accounts, and frankly the omission is as big as Superman without his cape.
In the world of LTL (Less-Than-Truckload) Georgia-based SMC3 has been the spiritual center of the industry, which is amply illustrated in Harmon’s text. SMC3 functioned as a pricing mechanism (rate conference) but over the 80 years since its founding (1935) it has become much more. The group now acts as much as a clearinghouse of new ideas and educational initiatives as it does a pricing group.
Although there are many interesting details in the book (not to mention a very engaging set of photos), the chapter on “regulation and collective ratemaking” caught this reviewer’s eye (probably because I was reporting on deregulation at that time.) The quote Harmon chose to illustrate the “moment” was a good one from former Con-Way President and CEO, Raymond O’Brien who wrote, “When the trucking industry was regulated, you were able to pass along increases created by inefficiencies to the customer. Then, when deregulation occurred, vast competition arose that wasn’t beholden to traditional labor contracts. This created a new environment, where the loyalty of the employees was to the company rather than to the union.” (Reviewer’s italics).
The book does a great job capturing that snapshot of a moment, which forever changed long haul trucking in the U.S.
The book covers the industry literally up to the present. In that regard, reading the postscript of quotes taken from SMC3 “Jumpstart” events 2012-2015 made thought provoking reading. Under “On exports” Harmon quotes Francisco Sanchez, U.S. Under Secretary for International Trade, “There are exciting new overseas opportunities: 95 percent of the world’s consumers live outside the United States. American companies deserve every chance to succeed. They need a level playing field and transportation and logistics are the key to building, buying and moving products.”
The book is a nice addition to anyone’s library with an interest in long haul trucking and how it evolved.
“Long Haul Legacy - SMC3 and the Evolution of Motor Freight” by F. Martin Harmon is listed at $24.95. For further information on the book or SMC3 in general, contact SMC3 at www.smc3.com.