Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Dead Horses

As we head into The New Year, we should all think about this:

• Buying a stronger whip.

• Changing riders.

• Appointing a committee to study the horse.

• Arranging to visit other countries to see how other cultures ride dead horses.

• Lowering the standards so that the dead horses can be included.

• Re-classifying the dead horse as living-impaired.

• Hiring outside contractors to ride the dead horse.

• Harnessing several dead horses together to increase speed.

• Providing additional funding and/or training to increase dead horse’s performance.

• Doing a productivity study to see if lighter riders would improve the dead horse’s

• Declaring that the dead horse does not have to be fed,it is less costly,carries lower
overhead and,therefore, contributes substantially more to the bottom line of the economy
than do some other horses.

• Rewriting the expected performance requirements for all horses. And of course….

• Promoting the dead horse to a supervisory position.

Monday, December 26, 2016

2016 Over….2017 Over the Top?

Last December I made my predictions and as usual, some were pretty good and some were pretty bad. So how did we do?

The 2016 Predictions:

1. Hillary Clinton wins the election. (I’m not sure any Republican could win a national election these days.)

Enough has been said about this. I didn’t see a Republican winning, much less Donald Trump. And, let’s not forget that Hillary did win the popular vote. But, Trump won where the Constitution says it matters. I lean to the right on most issues, so I’m glad Clinton did not win and I’m glad that the Republicans control the House and the Senate. My prediction on Trump follows below in the 2017 Predictions.

2. The U.S. economy muddles along. The second half of the year is better than the first half.

Pretty accurate with this prediction. I’d give it an A

3. Oil prices stay below $50 barrel.

Just missed it. Oil prices have creeped up over the $50 mark.

4. The Arizona Cardinals beat the New England Patriots in the Super Bowl.

Wrong, Wrong, Wrong

5. The Chicago Cubs win the World Series over the Houston Astros.

Cubs Win…finally and I called it. Got the opposing team wrong, but I’m still giving it an A.

6. Jordan Spieth does not win a major this year.

Correct- A

7. “Spotlight” wins the Academy Award for Best Motion Picture.


8. The Supreme Court will rule against the University of Texas’ affirmative action admissions policy (Fisher v. University of Texas)

Wrong- F

9. Terrorists attacks against Western targets will escalate in 2016.

I wish I’d been wrong on this one.

10. Federal Debt will remain at levels above 100% of GDP.

Of course it did.

And now for those 2017 predictions:

1. This one is easy…Alabama wins the National Championship

2. E-commerce retail sales will exceed $450 Billion

3. Oil prices go up a bit but remain under $60

4. The Cleveland Indians beat the Los Angeles Dodgers in the World Series.

5. GDP growth at 3%

6. Moonlight wins Academy Award for Best Movie

7. New England beats Dallas in the Super Bowl.

8. Going out on a limb here, but the next Supreme Court Justice will not be a white guy.

9. Significant M&A activity in the final mile delivery space

10. Trump gets a lot done in his first year and drives the mainstream media crazy.

On the Chinese calendar, 2017 is the year of the Rooster, more specifically the Red Rooster, also known as the Fire Rooster. Yep, 2017 is going to be interesting.

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Toilet Paper and One More Christmas

“I've learned that life is like a roll of toilet paper. The closer it gets to the end, the faster it goes.” – Andy Rooney

There comes a time when you accept that you’re closer to the end of life than you are to the beginning. That time for me came when I hit 50. But 50 became the new 40, right? So not to worry. And now 60 becomes the new 50. So it’s all good. I call it Baby Boomer Twilight Savings Time (BBTST) or the “dial of denial”. But sometimes even BBTST isn’t enough. People still die, no matter what time it is. And 2016 has been one of those years.

Close to home, my wife’s mother passed away last week and we had the funeral yesterday. My wife was a late in life baby and barely qualifies as a baby boomer. But her older brother and sister and her husband, yours truly; definitely qualify. Even BBTST can’t change the cold reality of losing a parent at Christmas time. To make matters even worse she had previously lost her father on Christmas day. It seemed like only yesterday, but it was actually 21 years ago. My parents are long gone. So her mother was the last of ours. And now we have become the oldest generation and the next in line for goodbyes and flowers. And if traditions mean anything, I guess for at least one of us, when our time comes it will be around Christmas .

And then there was a friend I grew up with who passed away two weeks ago. Based on BBTST he was way too young. But, I guess the disease that took him had its own clock and now he’s gone. Some other friends of ours recently lost a son-in-law in an automobile accident. Earlier in the year we lost a good friend to cancer. And my business partner’s father finally passed away this year after a long battle with illness and disease. He and his baby-boomer brothers are now officially the old folks of that family. And the roll just keeps turning faster.

Which brings us to another Christmas. Christmas at the end of a year filled with the passing of friends and loved ones. And I ask myself, what would it mean if this were all there is? There just has to be more. We were created for more. If not, then we were created for nothing. So I believe and in that belief welcome Christmas. Perhaps more so this year than most. After all, there are only so many Christmases left on my roll.

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Full Employment

While the news is loaded with stories about the lack of good jobs and young college graduates living in their parents’ basement, the reality is that there is a shortage of talent. Employers are having a tough time filling jobs. The unemployment rate for people age 25 and over is now 3.9%. For those with college degrees it’s down to 2.3%. Let that soak in. While economists debate the definition of what level of unemployment effectively translates to “full employment”, the numbers range from 3.0% to 5.5% with 4% being the most widely accepted number. After the Great Recession, there were 6.5 unemployed people for every job opening. That is now down to 1.4 unemployed per job opening!

When you look at the total labor force 16 years of age and over the rate is 4.6% but that number is heavily impacted by high rates of unemployment in the 16-19 year old group. African-Americans, Hispanics and those without high school degrees also have high rates of unemployment. So we do need to figure out how to get these folks into the work force. It’s a big issue, no question.

But, if you are an employer looking to hire experienced, qualified talent; you’ve got a problem. They are out there, but they are working and they are not likely to change jobs without a really good reason. It could be money, job content, company culture, career path, work schedule, location, travel requirements, benefits or any number of things…but they need a reason. And you need to know how to reach them.

What we are seeing at High Road is anecdotal, but relevant. Over the past year, for the first time in my career, we are getting multiple calls weekly from companies that have been openly and actively trying to fill positions. They are running ads with no results. They may be trying to recruit directly on their own or have engaged search firms. No results. We are getting a lot of calls for front line supervisory talent. Fleet managers, customer service reps, load planners. These are positions we’ve traditionally not worked and, frankly, seldom got calls about. That has changed. There may be enough demand now and with companies stepping up to higher compensation levels, we plan to start actively recruiting for these positions.

And the demand for management and executive talent remains strong. That is not to say that there aren’t people out there who are unemployed or under-employed. But if they are mobile, have a stable work history, solid references and reasonable compensation expectations; they can land a good job.

The biggest constraint to economic growth in the U.S. is not going to be our infrastructure, our tax code or our political circus. It’s going to be a lack of employable people.