Freight: What is it and where does it come from?
When I was completing my undergrad at Western – 20 something years ago – a few older guys recruited me to play on their ball team in the summer. One of the guys on the team owned his own freight brokerage called MSM Transportation – his nickname was ACE.
I remember on the bench one game he asked me what I was planning to do after I graduated. I said I wanted to be a lawyer and was going to write my LSATS and apply to Law School. He said “You don’t want to be lawyer, believe me I know a lot of them”. He also told me that if my plan didn’t work out to come and see him and he’d put me in sales. Great, I thought – an ACE in my back pocket.
In the meantime, I had another buddy who was already in the trucking industry and I asked him about it at a party one night. I remember my first question…
“WHAT IS FREIGHT ANYWAY?”
It’s actually a little embarrassing that I asked such a stupid question, but in reality, I didn’t quite know what freight was. I guess I was book smart back then but not street smart – half book smart if you ask my wife.
His answer was simple he said “FREIGHT IS EVERYTHING”. Then I asked if it was a good industry to get into and he had another memorable answer for me on that one. He said “MIKE, LOOK AT ALL THE TRUCKS ON THE ROAD”… he could have put “DUH” after that but was kind enough not to.
Guess what? Law school went the way of the dodo bird and I got real familiar with the Mid-Continental Truck Terminal in Etobicoke and the offices of MSM Transportation. The rest is history as my dad would say.
Over the next two and a half decades, I would answer my own question as to what FREIGHT actually was. I remember my first customer and my first “pound of freight” as they call it in the industry. A cosmetic company located in Mississauga – named Bonne Bell – tendered us 2 pallets of lipstick to haul from Westlake Village, Ohio. The best part of it is somehow I managed to endear myself to the traffic manager that I was put on the routing to handle the lane full time, not just a one shot deal. A good start for a 22 year old right out of College. That was the beginning of my bountiful and tumultuous relationship with freight.
One thing about it is that it’s always been challenging to explain exactly what I do for a living. I still look at people’s faces when I mention I’m in the freight business. I swear some people look back at me and I can tell they don’t know what freight is either – just like me 25 years ago. Throw the term brokerage in there and they get totally mixed up. I have to break it down a little further and explain I’m in the trucking business. “Are you a truck driver?” is usually the next follow up question. After I answer “no” then it’s “Do you sell trucks? You said you were a broker, right?” – nope to that one too!
Chances are if you are reading this blog you already know what Freight is but in case you don’t,
According the FREE dictionary online:
1. Goods carried by a vessel or vehicle, especially by a commercial carrier; cargo.
2. A burden; a load.
For some strange reason after 25 years of it, I get a kick out of # 2