When it comes to intermodal operations, Jon Urban, Executive VP of Operations at ContainerPort Group, Inc. is quite literally in the middle of it all – both in terms of operations and the country itself. ContainerPort (CPG) is based in Cleveland while Urban is based in Chicago. CPG has a wide range of services that include trucking and terminal operations with a focus on international freight. It is also worth noting that CPG is part of the Cleveland-based transportation conglomerate, World Group, which includes a number of complimentary companies to CPG, such as World Shipping, Inc., UWL, World Distribution and Services.

For CPG the container drayage segment of intermodal – moving freight in and out of terminals – is one of the main lines of business and the company has a sizeable reach. As Urban, who oversees all the trucking and field operations for CPG, explained in an interview with the AJOT, “Basically if you draw a line right down the middle of the United States, we have every major city east of there. Currently, asset-wise, we go about as far west as Kansas City to Dallas, so right in the middle of the United States. We’ve got 27 ContainerPort locations, but also, we have nine Middle Bay Transportation [agency brand] locations. We’ve currently got three Bristol Transportation locations. We’ve got five Dedicated locations. There’s well over 40, probably closer to 50 site locations that are managed by ContainerPort operations.”

Reducing Driver Turnover

CPG largely deploys the “owner-operator” or “independent operator” model, so keeping a steady stable of drivers is a key component of the operation. And over the last two years, as the country was coming out of the COVID-19 pandemic, pent-up demand and snarls in the supply chain put pressure on seating drivers. When asked about the current driving situation and what it looked like going forward, Urban was candid saying, “We had a difficult end of ‘21 and early ‘22. However, we have made some significant adjustments and improvements in our recruiting departments… We’ve actually netted over 300 independent contractors, up since April of this year…we’re approaching 1,500, and we’ve had some rapid growth over the past two quarters... in January, we were about 1,100 trucks…spot rates were up across the nation. The capacity was tight. So, independent contractors took the risk to go out and get their own authority and try to start their own companies. We saw a lot of that.

As stock market rates kind of fell and the market started to self-correct, we saw a lot of those drivers returning. We saw a lot of new drivers head in our direction. In my opinion, when the market softens, independent contractors tend to flock toward more stable companies. In a softer market [drivers tend to move] to a larger organization, the peaks and valleys aren’t as significant. Really, the bigger, larger organizations have a bigger customer base and more contracted business… That’s all aiding in our success over the past two quarters.…

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