ABBOTSFORD, B.C. – The trucking industry is thriving in B.C., with recent growth around 5%, and expected to remain at that level, which is well above the national average.
That’s according to Helmut Pastrick, chief economist for Central 1 Credit Union, who told Truxpo 2018 conference attendees that the trucking industry would grow faster moving forward than it had in recent years, with employment numbers also expected to continue to rise.
“It does look promising,” said Pastrick. “As long as we have long-term growth it should go well. In a growing economy there is a growing demand for the movement of goods, and that is certainly depicted here.”
Pastrick highlighted that B.C.’s overall economy was much stronger than the rest Canada, with recent growth around the 3.5%-4% range compared to 1.5%-2% in the remainder of the country.
He did anticipate B.C.’s economic growth to slow slightly in the coming years to the 2.5% range, but remain higher than Canada as a whole.
“I expect your industry to outperform the B.C. economy, which has typically been the case,” Pastrick told trucking industry attendees.
Pastrick also pointed to rising fuel prices and its effect on the industry, saying prices have reached the highest level since 2014.
Despite an upsurge in demand in emerging markets, such as India and China, demand has declined in the U.S. and Europe, according to Pastrick.
South of the border, the U.S. economy has seen growth around the 2% mark and is expected to swell to 3% in 2018 and 2.5% the following year.
Pastrick said 2% growth is historically low for the world’s largest economy, which is still recuperating from the largest recession since the Great Depression.
“Whatever happens in the U.S. really matters to us,” said Pastrick, adding that the U.S. economic recovery could stretch into 2022.
Fiona Famulak, president of the Vancouver Regional Construction Association, said trucking companies must prepare for the City of Vancouver and province’s zero-emissions mandate for new construction builds.
Starting in 2025, residential buildings constructed in Vancouver will be required to emit zero emissions once complete. Famulak said this version of the mandate is just the beginning, and discussions on a new version would include carriers bringing materials to site to also be emissions free, as well as the sourcing of those materials.
Famulak said when changes occur in the construction sector there is a ripple effect that trickles down to trucking, and zero-emission buildings were an example of that.
Carriers will see an impact due to the varying types of materials that will be needed to construct zero-emission buildings, such as the kind of vehicle and trailer that will be used to haul the freight. The new buildings will require the use of increased amounts of wood, panels, and solar panels, as well as modular buildings constructed off-site and transport to permanent locations.
Buildings in Vancouver emit 57% of the city’s total GHG emissions.
In an effort to address the common labor shortage issue seen in many trade industries, Famulak said her organization was employing a school outreach program, and encouraged the trucking industry to join the effort.
She said many students are unaware of how sophisticated and technological the construction industry is, and said the same would be true with truck transportation.
Famulak said trucking should not be afraid of using technology as a recruitment tool.
Andrew Wynn-Williams, divisional vice-president of Canadian Manufacturers and Exporters, said his organization was also involved in the school outreach program, as it is getting more and more difficult to find good workers.
Wynn-Williams underscored that B.C. exports were no longer dominated by wood, pulp and paper, and metals, with technology and innovation now taking a lead role.
“We make cool stuff,” said Wynn-Williams, adding that food is the second most exported product from B.C.
B.C. Trucking Association president and CEO Dave Earle closed the conference by highlighting the importance of sustainability for all of today’s industries, including trucking.
“It is going to define and drive the next 20 to 30 years of how every industry operates,” Earle said.