Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Where is The Elon Musk of the Logistics World?

I am currently reading the book  Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future I highly encourage everyone to read it.  However the book gave me pause to think about our industry. An industry that at one time was filled with innovative giants such as Don Schneider and J.B. Hunt. Now, I have to ask, where have they all gone?

Where is the innovation in logistics and supply chain?  Think of it... with all the technology, education and advanced degrees, we still shut down the West Coast ports.  And when they shut down, supply chains came to a swift halt.

I consistently hear trucking and intermodal company executives talk about "supply and demand" as a driver of price.  They say "Watch out, capacity is low.. prices are going up and you need to be a shipper of choice".  Of course, this is nothing more than commodity pricing.  They are admitting they are out of ideas and they are pricing their service as a commodity.

In my early days in the industry I was able to see huge risk takers and innovators develop the use of satellite tracking for better routing (Don Schneider) and the proper use of trains and the overall development of intermodal (J.B. Hunt).  It was a thrilling time.  Lots of change, lots of risk, great growth and huge innovation.   Today, it appears innovation is either becoming a broker or buying a company.  In some cases, financial engineering has become the innovation of logistics.

I ask, where is our Elon Musk?  Where is our Steve Jobs?  The industry is screaming for someone to innovate.


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