A - Historically, transportation did not rely on marketing, but it needs that type of capability to survive in the future. The survivors of the industry will come from the marketing side of the business.
There is a drastically reduced regulated environment, and we are learning to deal with all the facts and elements of business that any other business deals with. I think we are going to see actually, we are already beginning to see-a great deal more quality, high-caliber people coming in. The long-term successes are going to require more sophisticated strategies year after year.
The business is changing, particularly in transportation. It's being changed primarily because of deregulation. Being a traditional traffic manager is passé. In the past they would come with their pads of paper, pencils, matches, pat you on the back, and bring you whiskey at Christmas, but that's all down the tube. People can't do that anymore.
People are very cost conscious now. I think what you're going to find in the future is that a traffic manager is going to be a traffic purchasing agent, someone who looks for the carrier that will provide the best services possible at the best price. In the past, all prices were equal. In the past, the traffic manager was responsible for securing safe passage of the product on a timely basis. Good service is the key now.
We have come a long way, but we still have a long way to go. Not as far to go, I guess, as we have come.
Q - How have changes in the field affected your company?
A - I think our company has recognized what materials management is and what it can mean to the corporation's bottom line. It takes all functions to put together a good materials management effort. This includes the distribution, transportation, production planning, inventory control, and purchasing functions. Then there are the system support and financial functions because of the large expenditures that we represent to the corporation. When you add in the purchase of all the raw materials transportation, freight, and the warehousing and inventory carrying costs, it has a significant impact on the corporation. I think something you would find unusual is that when the chief executive officer of our company made his press release about our achievements for 1981, he mentioned specifically that distribution contributed significantly to our overall operating results. If you look at most companies, it's unusual for the chief executive officer to understand that.
Q - What advice would you give to college students interested in traffic?
A - Try to get as wide a background as possible with exposure on an entry-level basis to a truck dock or loading dock. Being able to use the jargon is very beneficial. One of my complaints is that aspiring employees do not specifically state what they want on their resumes. They say something as general as "management with future management potential." They should say "Right now, I want a job as a traffic manager." Now they may not have a long-term goal as yet, and, of course, stating one would narrow them down a bit. So it's a disadvantage too, a two-edged sword. But, they shouldn't say, "I want to be a vice-president or director of distribution first crack out of the barrel"!
By joining the various traffic organizations in this city, I was able to meet people from every facet of transportation, from airplanes to import and export. If I didn't know what to do with something or how to do it, I knew who to call on to get the information.
Q - What if the student is a woman?
A - As more women get into this field and prove to the men that they know what they are talking about, it will be easier. But, it is not easy now. I have a little advantage being a shipper, because a carrier has to talk to me. The people here have been very supportive of me. Several times a carrier representative has asked if there were someone else he could talk to. Well, right away I'm not going to let him haul our freight. I think a woman has to really prove herself, so that others know that she knows what she's talking about. And in order for her to know what she is talking about, she has to learn it like anyone else. It is not really hard to convince people if you know what you are saying. I am the one they have to negotiate the rates with, no one else. They have to accept that. But, it has not been easy, and it is still not easy. There are a lot of women in transportation who… well, there are a lot of social activities that go on in transportation. Does the woman want it for the social activities, or does she want it for what she can learn and contribute? It is up to the woman herself. It's up to her what kind of respect she gets from traffic and transportation people.