That Big Truck Blog

An American Car Hauler's Blog

ADESA GOES GPS

HA !!! Somebody listened !

I have been emailing several sources recently about developing software or an “app” for a smartphone that could assist us, as transporters, in locating and retrieving vehicles at the auto auctions we all work in and out of at times. The responses, for the most part, were not positive. I could foresee an app for the Droid platform (or the iPhone) that could be accessed to provide accurate, up-to-date locations of the individual vehicles on the auction grounds. This week, I discover there is no need for such an app…the software is already in operation. I knew it was being utilized by the Manheim auctions for some time but ADESA just recently integrated this for some of their locations. I know the Manville, NJ site and the Plainfield, IN sale have this tracking capability in operation.

This past week I was able to speak with the proper folks that made me aware of exactly how it works and who is responsible for the software. That would be AuctionTrac.com. If you visit the site, you can see demonstrations and read about the services they offer to ADESA and possibly others. AuctionTrac claims that their Basic Package offers “each Vehicle on the property will be located to within approximately 20 feet“. That’s great for the auction management and employees but it’s not very beneficial to transporters and others working the logistical end of the buying/selling process.

Well, today is your lucky day. See what you get for free?  Just for visiting my little “blambling” blog? Next time you get dispatched to the ADESA sale in Manville, go to this link on your smartphone’s browser or from your laptop:

http://ad.nj.auctiontrac.com

In the Vehicle Find criteria block, enter the last 6 of the VIN from your gate release and Voila’…you will be shown the last scanned location of the vehicle in question. There is also a link to a map that will display the car’s position on the lot…satellite image and as recent as the last scan. I have found this system to be fairly dependable with only one discrepancy so far. And that instance was probably due to an employee (or driver?) using the vehicle for an unauthorized shuttle.

Apparently AuctionTrac develops a separate website for each ADESA location and it seems they also have a part in at least some, if not all, Manheim locations. For example, the Manheim Dallas Auto Auction site for vehicle tracking is:

http://daa.auctiontrac.com

I have a request in for other auction URL’s and will post when I get updates. Keep in mind, not all locations allow this access from outside sources. I asked the nice folks at the Manheim, PA auction and was told the tracking info required a log-in. Maybe the future will bring more locations allowing access for these tracking services.

Finally, huh? 🙂  Truck safe, Driver !

 

 

 

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March 30, 2011 Posted by | ADESA, Auto Auctions, Car Haul, General Auto Transport, Manheim Auto Auctions | 2 Comments

TEAMSTERS TRY A NEW ANGLE

As late as December 2009, the issuance of yet another blatantly biased, half-baked report by the Teamsters organization takes aim at trying to circumvent the livelihood of many men and women involved in the auto transportation industry as independents and non-union personnel. Purporting that auto manufacturers GM and Fiat/Chrysler have begun the practice of shipping vehicles “by cut-rate and inexperienced carhaul companies“. May I begin my rant?

Hoffa and Obama...Pretty Happy Pair, Huh?

This author is a 35-plus year veteran of the car haul industry. Auto transport is the ONLY kind of trucking I have ever been associated with. My father was one of the pioneers in the business and hauled cars back when they were transporting 3 and 4 at a time, most of the cargo had tail-fins on their rear quarters and “erector set” trailers were the norm. Interstates were non-existent for the most part and President Dwight D. Eisenhower was about to put his signature on the Federal-Aid Highway Act of 1956 which would begin the Interstate Highway System. My life has been lived within the car haul industry and all the changes it has seen. World changing? No. Top-level importance on the world scene? No. But it has been MY world and I have survived within it.

I have been an owner/operator in the auto transport business from the beginning with a short stint briefly as a company driver for the now-defunct E & L Transport Co based out of the Detroit, MI area. (You will read the words “now-defunct” a lot in this Teamsters expose’…it seems the larger union companies have a tremendous history of being unable to continue successfully and they have failed 100% of the time since my early beginnings back in the 1970’s). My beginning years were as an owner/operator. This meant I owned my truck and leased it to a union car haul company pulling their company-owned trailers for a percentage…in those days 65% of gross revenue. I was a due-paying Teamsters union employee for the first 10 years of my car haul career, being forced to begin my own small auto transport company after yet another union carrier bit the dust and bounced half-million dollar payroll checks. At this time, I had worked for: (1) Automobile Transport Inc (Teamsters affiliated) headquartered in Wayne, MI, a large Ford carrier as an import terminal owner/op in Dundalk, MD. Company Closed – Cause: Bankruptcy. (2) Dixie Auto Transport Inc based in Jacksonville, FL (Teamsters affiliated), a Nissan (then Datsun) and other import carrier operating mainly out of the Port Of Jacksonville at Blount Island and also the Talleyrand terminals, eventually securing a position at the new Nissan Motor Manufacturing facility in Smyrna, TN as the main carrier and opening several other import terminals around the country. Company Closed – Cause: Bankruptcy (3) Kenosha Auto Transport Co (Teamsters affiliated) based out of Kenosha, WI and operating an import terminal in the Port of Wilmington, DE for the Volkswagen of America cars that entered the U.S. there. Company Closed – Cause: Bankruptcy. These are my own personal experiences but there were so many more. From Anchor Motor Freight, the large GM carrier and predecessor of Leaseway/Penske/etc to M&G Convoy and Baker Driveaway, the Chrysler carriers in the east to Complete Auto Transport Inc and the beginnings of the Ryder car haul network which is largely a group of bankrupt, absorbed union carriers that has enjoyed their own bankruptcy status for several years now. All of the aforementioned auto transport carriers were Teamsters union affiliated companies…100 % of them with many more “now-defunct” carriers only a memory for the multitude of relinquished employees fighting to create a living for their families today as TARP money and bailouts are doled out to Teamsters and other unions, auto manufacturers (again Teamsters realizing the political excesses), banks, etc. Let me share just a bit of my Teamsters experience to anyone that cares to read it. Facts…not spin…livelihood based…not political. What follows is an accurate depiction of the history of Teamster influence on the auto transport business and the companies they have helped to put asunder.

Scene: Port of Wilmington in Delaware. An east coast exclusive import terminal for the German automaker giant, Volkswagen. Kenosha Auto Transport Co managers have contacted my brothers, my father and I in a preliminary proposal soliciting our experience, expertise and reliable history as KAT (Kenosha Auto Transport) is considering “bidding for the VW work” in Delaware. Bidding against another brother Teamster carrier is OK even if it involves rate-cutting…as long as the due-paying members of the local brotherhood are retained. Mr. Teamster brother…those are your words in your “news” awareness campaign against non-union carriers…”rate-cutting”. At this point, Porsche, Audi and Volkwagens entered the U.S. via this port, were unloaded off the ships, stored, prepped and readied for the trek to the dealership networks serviced from this location which included locales as far away as the Kentucky area and down into the Carolinas. Sometimes special moves sent an occasional driver to the west coast but mostly we operated within the span of the east to mid-west and mid-south dealers. Crossing the Atlantic took a few weeks back then and storage in Germany as well as in the U.S. after unloading the ships many times took their toll on the batteries installed in these cars. VW Rabbit diesels were especially notorious in those days for hard-starting but many units were “dead” come time to load on the trucks. Union employee…let’s call him Spanky…his job as a Teamsters union employee is to help the drivers as they load these dispatched units, checking documentation and signing off on any discrepancies noted on pre-load inspections, etc. Another part of his job was to “jump start” the dead cars the drivers encountered. As he drove around the yard in his crashed brown Volkswagen Rabbit (retained by VW as a yard vehicle after a Teamsters union driver destroyed it in a loading mishap…one of a multitude over the years I knew of), he never got in a hurry to aid. For the record, I was a friend to this guy and liked him as a person…his work ethics stunk. My opinion and I am entitled to it. With dead Volkswagens and Porsches all over the yard…the influx of transporters waiting on this guy at morning dispatch was an incredible waste of human resources as well as equipment delays. Tremendous delays…and these were Teamsters “brothers” that were being delayed. “Get on the clock” was the commonplace response as he took yet another union-required mid-morning coffee break, leaving the loading area littered with drivers standing with gloves on, tie-down bars in hand, wanting to get loaded and be on the way to the receivers dealerships. No delivery, no pay…unless you are of the mind that being on the “clock” is a pay day. Maybe in that respect, I was not a good union employee. I believed that I should give an honest days work for an honest days pay. That’s why I remain a blue-collar working stiff today I guess and I did not advance into the management or union side of the industry. I had opportunities to do so in my career and I chose to do what I was best at. Today I am proud of my history and nobody can ever take my experiences away from me. I am not ashamed of my job and am quite proud of the way I do my job, the way I take care of my equipment and my customers cars. In an effort to quicken the process one morning, I got out my jumper cables and was going to jump start one of my dead units so I could hurry along the process. After all, Spanky is not there when I have to jump start the car at the dealership in Kentucky. I am perfectly able and capable of attaching the cables in the proper sequence and making sure there is no damage to either vehicle nor injury to myself in the process. Jumping dead batteries is NOT rocket science…a feat that needs to be carefully observed but any dummy can do it once a 2 minute explanation has been performed. Spanky sees my jumper cables and my attempt to start the dead unit and immediately (he is moving at a human pace now in his brown Rabbit, not the usual speed of a slug on a cold sidewalk) he is speeding toward me, sliding up to my staged row of cars, yelling about how I am not allowed to do this! This is his job! I am putting him out of a job! Remember…I said I liked this guy. I still do. He is just showing me a part of the Teamsters union employee that I refused to accept then and still today I despise in any human capacity. I put away my cables, sat back into my truck, watched the clock as I waited for him to get time to get around to jumping this one car so I could load it on my truck and secure it. We are talking 8, 9 and 10 car loads here…times 30 to 40 trucks usually on any given weekday morning dispatch at one scene in Wilmington, DE. The number of man hours that this one Teamster employee cost everybody involved in the process over the span of his union career would have been a staggering report should anyone attempt to calculate it. From Volkswagen of America, the transporting company, the drivers, the dealers…unbelievable, needless, hurtful delays and costs involved with this obnoxious operational “norm” in this one union site. Again, I have to remind the reader…I WAS a Teamster too at this time! I was a Teamster “brother”. This is what the union is about today. Greed or power…or both. A total and complete disregard for the work ethic and they are the first to belittle hard-working people from which they have no way to collect dues or bestow upon them limiting regulations for their authority “fix” for the day. Are you surprised, Mr Teamster, at that statement? All this time, you were huddled down into your little base, stripped, rusted out Sterling day cab truck breathing exhaust fumes to the point of blowing your nose creates a blackness on your handkerchief that resembles coal dust…your ears ringing at the day-long screaming of the 2-stroke diesel that sounds like it’s rotating the earth on its axis but can barely get over the slight rise of an interstate ramp…behind you, toting a years-ago obsolete, rusted out, patched up piece of junk trailer that has been well-documented in many states (i.e. Maryland, etc) with a penchant for “neck” breaking off and losing the entire trailer with load out on the nation’s highways for the public to deal with. How about it, Mr. Allied car hauler…Mr Teamsters brother??? Were you in the rusted, white/pastel green Allied transporter clearly marked by the way, that was wedged under the overpass on New Circle Road in Lexington, KY recently? How was it that you forgot to lower your ramp after delivering a unit at the Paul Miller Ford dealership and proceeded to clip the nice Ford F150 making it a veritable rare convertible model? You did have training, didn’t you, Mr Teamster car hauler? It’s not much to worry about though. That $40,000.00 pickup truck will be scrapped and that will just be another truck for a union carrier to haul, right? Probably you will get to haul it’s replacement after you file the grievance and your brothers get your job back citing either Ford Motor Company for making the truck with tires too tall or the transport company did something that caused this accident to happen. Hey, Mr Teamster ex-brother…was that you that told me, laughingly but seriously meant it, that you would “run across 3 lanes of traffic to run over a piece of metal that might get me a flat tire”…so you could go “on the clock”. You are fortunate I did not vomit in your face at that statement because it sickens me even today. Multiple examples can be detailed over and over again of this kind of blatant, flawed union work ethic. And Mr. Teamster, I will not be one-sided and biased as you obviously are in your report. I see this laziness in the non-union employees too. Your Teamsters card in the hip pocket does nothing to affect the heart of a man or woman in the workplace today. You either care or you don’t. You’re either proud of your job or you’re not.

Teamster Union Carrier Goes Up In Smoke

Teamsters Union Carrier Goes Up In Smoke

Try as they might, the Teamsters roll out this “news” that a non-union car carrier is incapable of performing not only a satisfactory job of auto transporting, much less an OUTSTANDING job of vehicle moving. I have personally trained several dozen “union” car haulers and independents galore along the way. I have introduced guys that needed and wanted jobs to feed their families to a hard job…some made it, some didn’t. Some good, some uncaring, compensation-seeking slugs. Live and learn but calling it as I see it. For the Teamsters to find a California representative and a Missouri senator to get on their bandwagon and then find a PR contact to publish this sleaze (Democrats all of you??? How is that??? and then I should add…Oh, what a surprise that all have Democrat affiliations??) is as wrong as Spanky with his all-powerful jumper cables. The examples of Teamster union drivers in the car haul industry that have destroyed automobiles, light trucks, vans, etc in their day-to-day jobs as car haulers could not be contained on all the internet paper here. Mr Teamster car hauler…were you the driver that ran a new Fiat 131 off the headrack onto the ground some 13 feet below in Wilmington years back? An acquaintance bought the engine and related drive-train prior to the Fiat being crushed it was so bad. Can you say total loss, Mr Teamster car hauler? Oh, maybe you were the driver over at the Newark, DE Chrysler plant that ran through a staged line of new Dodges as you played around with the new model in the yard. Never did make that one stick on you, did they? It might be something to mention at this point that this plant recently closed too. More union brothers out of work. I don’t mean to infer that you were responsible for the plant’s closings…it just comes to mind. And, by the way, non-union carriers have been operating out of that plant for many years before TARP was an acronym in a Democrat’s mind.

For the record, I am aware of the many car haulers purporting to be “professionals” operating in the non-union side of the industry today. Wedge trailers, rollbacks…unscrupulous fleets utilizing anybody they can find to steal a dime from and lay the burden of expense on wishful-thinking drivers and operators. They will not stay in the business but as they fall, new ones with new hopes and “tickle-my-ear” dreams of big $$$, enter the fray. I, too, have seen the supposed “professionals” tying to the wheels of the transported units. I have moved many used auction units and noticed the wrongly-applied tie-downs that have distorted the undercarriage. But I can also attest to the fact that I know Teamster union drivers that have been the culprits of such practices. The implication by politician and union heads that a Teamster driver is a more capable person because he pays dues and carries a union card is as absurd as the TARP program itself and the socialist direction of this country’s leaders today. I’m not making this political…they did. I am simply standing up for myself and the “non-union” car haulers I know to be outstanding and top-shelf drivers that are being slandered by an uncaring, greedy base of Teamster-union led, politically motivated, running-scared cretins that have no respect for the facts and the truth. This NON-UNION and PROUD OF IT auto transporter of 35 years will put my ability up against anyone in the world today and as for the foolish woman (I won’t even mention her name to prevent any credit being given to her) that makes the statement that “non-union carriers are not as proud of their job” as a union carrier…you pen-in-hand, mouthy imbecile…you wouldn’t know a t-hook from an s-hook if it smacked you between the pampered eyes…go back to writing what you know about if there is such a subject. I am proudly non-union today and have no desire to enter the ranks of the soon-to-be-taxed-by-Obama-insurance-plans companies that will no doubt go the way that ALL previous union affiliated auto transporters have gone. The union car haul graveyard is not full yet…there are a few left…but as they enjoin one another to survive…as they find yet one more hedge-fund investor/group to stave off bankruptcy legal proceedings, the cavernous hole in the automobile transport memorial park has already been dug.

One more note, Mr. Teamster Democrat supporter…the late and beloved Ted Kennedy was widely held as the responsible mover of the legislation leading to the deregulation of the transportation industry with Pres. Jimmy Carter signing on. Leaning toward smaller government in this very brief moment of his career, he saw it as a way for the consumer to realize lower prices. If you are looking for the changes that bring us all to this point today, you really should look at one of your own in Sen. Ted Kennedy. That enabled me, Mr. Non-Union_and_Proud_Of_It Car Hauler, to apply to the “now-defunct” (that word again!) Interstate Commerce Commission in 1991 where I received operating authority certificates to begin my present non-union-and-loving-it career today. In one of his opening statements for the deregulation hearings, your beloved Senator said, “Regulators all too often encourage or approve unreasonably high prices, inadequate service, and anti-competitive behavior. The cost of this regulation is always passed on to the consumer. And that cost is astronomical.” If that doesn’t exactly call down the Teamsters union attitudes from Spanky and his jumper cables to the convening heads arguing and negotiating for a careless, employee’s job back after destroying the entire number of top-loaded cars on his union carrier truck…well, I’ll eat my non-union-textile-workers hat.

That feels better now…and it didn’t cost me one penny for the dues, and I keep my self-respect in the process. What a deal.

January 11, 2010 Posted by | Auto Auctions, Auto Manufacturers, Auto Transport Trailer Review, Car Haul, General Auto Transport, Non-Union, TARP, Teamsters | , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

LOCKED IN A TRUNK – Car Hauler Tales

You just can’t make this stuff up.

One of the very interesting stories I encountered during my 33-plus years of auto transport involves a young man from eastern Tennessee. “Stevie” was a car hauler for many years…raised in the biz much like I was, taught by his father whom I knew to be one of the top-shelf car haulers in the country. My father, Claude (i.e Baltimore Kid, Kentucky CatFish, Gold Digger for you that only remember folks by their CB handles), was simply the best and Stevie’s dad worked along side my own father for many years. Both eventually would train many new recruits to the business, teaching them “old school” ways of making this difficult job successful. They were owner/operators in addition to the tough job of hauling automobiles so there was much to be attentive to if they were to survive the tests of many years down the road.

There was a time when Stevie became a driver/operator for one of the independent owners that had a truck leased to an enterprise of mine, Carl’s Car Carriers, many years ago. At the time, southern California was a route that we serviced from several of the northeast U.S. automobile auctions. Stevie was dispatched on a load from the Newburgh, New York area destined for El Monte, California. Back in that day, early 90’s Ford Thunderbirds & Mercury Cougars were a favorite model for this particular buyer. These cars also had the dreadful trait of trunk lids mysteriously popping open during transport when loaded in a “back on” position. (This eventful personal discovery was not a pleasant one for this author, I might add.) To be sure, I don’t think the engineers and designers at FoMoCo in Michigan had planned for these cars to go down the road at 65 miles per hour…backwards! Not all of these cars had this problem…seems like every now and then one would just open but when it happened, it was usually a costly problem as the wind forced it up and back, bending hinges and sometimes breaking that cute little rounded rear window, spraying shards of safety glass all down the following cars on the trailer.

This mixed load of used cars headed into the Los Angeles basin just happened to contain one of these particular model cars and Stevie chose to load it first…which meant it went on the top, front position out over the cab/hood of the shiny red Peterbilt car carrier he was driving. This placed the trunk facing forward, catching all the turbulence of some 2500 miles cross country. It was a cold night, as told to us the next day, when Stevie pulled out of Newburgh, NY and began his journey south. It wasn’t far down the road and he received a CB call from a passing truck driver advising him that “the trunk on that first car is open!” Stevie pulls into a rest area to check things out and sure enough, the trunk lid is popped and now sticking straight up, hinges bent and fortunately the rear glass had not been broken.

There is no way to access this one position on a car hauler from the front…obviously it is resting some 13 feet off the ground with nothing to stand on. The only way to access it is to climb the ladders and carefully “hug” the car as you inch along the side of the car, holding onto door handles, windshield wipers or anything you can grab onto for support. Stevie accomplishes this task and sees that the hinges have been bent and the trunk will not close back completely without some force. Hanging from his precarious position and attempting to slam the trunk lid down proved to be difficult but he did get it to latch…only to have it pop back open again. Stevie decides he needs a few tools to check out why the latch mechanism is not working and holding the trunk lock securely. After gathering a few tools, he climbs back into position but is unable to reach the locking mechanism from the side of the rack. His next move placed his head, arms and upper body over the edge of the open trunk as his legs slid in behind him. Inside the open trunk, now he had good “safe” access to the lock mechanism and he began his investigation and adjusting. Are you still with me here? Do you have this picture in your head? It is cold…dark…frost is covering the car surfaces…a man is sitting cross-legged inside an open trunk on top of a car carrier 13 feet in the air in a rest area parking lot at some early wee hour in the morning…holding a flashlight in his mouth while he tries to repair the lock so the trunk lid will stay latched as he makes his way to California.

Stevie felt he had found the problem and made a simple adjustment to the catch by bending it so the lock would hold. Before he got out of the trunk, he wanted to check it to make sure it would line up. Yeah…you are ahead of me here…I can tell. Stevie decides to lie sideways and pull the trunk lid down while observing with his flashlight from the INSIDE of the trunk. His words were…”I knew I was in trouble when I heard the trunk latch click on the first attempt.” Yeah, when I heard this story, I gasped too at that moment. It is one of those impossible to make up stories. I did not discuss with Stevie about his claustrophobic nature…I was laughing too hard at the time. Scary, for sure, but at the telling of the incident, I was aware the man had survived the ordeal. He could have been locked in that trunk for days until the truck was located and even then, I don’t even want to imagine what would have led an investigator’s K-9 companion to the trunk of a car loaded backwards on top of this car hauler.

The good ending to this story is that Stevie kept his head and was eventually able to bend the latch assembly with the small screwdriver to get the trunk to pop open once again. He said he spent some very scary, uncomfortable time inside that cold, dark trunk that night. I can only imagine.

A few years ago, car manufacturers began installing pull tabs on the inside of trunk cargo areas so this kind of problem could be avoided. I’m certain they were brought about by a rash of car-jackings and somebody said “there outta be law” or something as simple as that. I’m pretty sure the engineers at the Big 3 automakers didn’t create this pull tab inside the trunk area due to errant car haulers finding themselves prostrate and locked in a cold, dark place never intended for human occupation…unless you were on the bad side of Tony Soprano. But in the latter instance…you probably wouldn’t be able to reach the pull release tab anyway. 😉

January 4, 2010 Posted by | Auto Auctions, Auto Manufacturers, General Auto Transport, Manheim Auto Auctions | , , , | 2 Comments