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Donald Trump. Robotics. Omni-Channel Fulfillment. The New NAFTA. Freight Marketplaces. Autonomous Vehicles. The Internet of Things. Andrew Scheer. Brexit. Climate Change. Last-Mile Delivery. Legalized Marijuana. E-commerce. Emmanuel Macron. The Amazon Effect. Drones. Digital Freight Management. Uber. Clean Energy. This is just a partial list of the major forces shaping the world of Freight Transportation in 2017.

This year's Surface Transportation Summit (www.surfacetransportationsummit.com) will focus on the strategies and tactics that shippers and carriers can employ to address these forces. The event will take place at the International Centre in Toronto on October 11. This is a joint venture between Newcom Business Media and Dan Goodwill & Associates with the support of the Freight Management Association of Canada and the Canadian Trucking Alliance. Northbridge Insurance will be the Gold sponsor, with Navistar, Volvo Trucks and Isaac Instruments, the silver sponsors and Trailer Wizards, the bronze sponsor.

In a year when political and economic alliances, new technologies and environmental policies are changing rapidly, the Summit will provide strategies and tactics to address these forces.  Here is an overview of the agenda and speakers.

The first track is entitled, The Donald Trump Effect and The Economy in 2018: What trends will impact your business? Carlos Gomes, Senior Economist with Scotiabank, will share data on the Key Economic Indicators for 2017 and then provide his insights into the economy in the New Year. John Larkin, one of America’s foremost transportation industry analysts, will share his thoughts on the some of the most important developments in the US transportation industry. Walter Spracklin, Equity Transportation Analyst, RBC Capital Markets, will provide his insights on the Canadian transportation industry.  Sylvie Messier, Corporate Transportation & Customs Manager, IPEX and Doug Munro, President and Owner, Maritime-Ontario Freight Lines Limited will share their thoughts on this topic in a panel discussion.

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The 2016 Surface Transportation Summit will take place at the International Centre in Toronto on October 13. The event will be co-hosted by Newcom Business Media and Dan Goodwill & Associates in partnership with the Ontario Trucking Association and the Freight Management Association of Canada. There will be some exciting changes this year.

As always, the conference will be kicked off by a look ahead to the Economy in the year ahead. Carlos Gomes, Senior Economist, Scotiabank will share his overview of 2016 and make some projections for the coming year. For the first time, the Summit will showcase two of North America’s top freight industry investment analysts. Walter Spracklin, Managing Director, Capital Markets, RBC Investment Securities, will offer his insights on the freight transportation industry in Canada. John Larkin, Managing Director of Research, at Stifel Financial Corp., will provide a status report on the current state of the freight industry in the United States.

Wendell Erb, President & CEO, The Erb Group of Companies will provide some commentary on the economy from a trucking company perspective. He will be joined by a Rob Bryson, recently retired Vice-President at Parrish & Heimbecker, who will provide observations and perspectives from a shipper’s perspective.

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The 2015 Surface Transportation Summit (www.surfacetransportationsummit.com) will be held at the Mississauga Convention Centre on October 14. We are delighted to report that the event has a new partner, the Freight Management Association of Canada. Here is an overview of the day.

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The 2015 Surface Transportation Summit (www.surfacetransportationsummit.com) will be held at the Mississauga Convention Centre on October 14. Dan Goodwill & Associates and Newcom Business Media are delighted to report that the event has a new partner, the Freight Management Association of Canada. FMA will bolster shipper participation at the event. This year’s Summit will feature more shippers as speakers as compared to previous years. The Summit is now open for registration with a lineup of high quality speakers and a new networking feature. Here is an overview of the day.

The one day event will be kicked off with a discussion of what happened to the economy in 2015 and where it is going in 2016. Carlos Gomes, Senior Economist with the Bank of Nova Scotia will provide his annual overview. He will be followed by Walter Spracklin, Managing Director, Capital Markets, RBC Capital Markets who will provide an investor’s perspective, on what is going on in the freight industry in Canada. Lou Smyrlis, Publisher and Editorial Director, Transportation Media, Newcom Business Media will lead a panel discussion with Wes Armour, President & CEO, Armour Transportation Systems and Mark Bylsma, President, Spring Creek Carriers Inc. on how they see the economy playing out in the trucking industry in 2016.

This track will be followed by an Executives Perspective panel. This year we will hear from six leaders, each from a different sector of the freight industry, who will share their perspectives on where they see their businesses going in 2016. The panel will include David Zavitz, Senior Vice President, Sales & Marketing, Canada Cartage, Mark Lerner, AVP, Intermodal, CN Rail, Joe Lombardo, Director of Transportation Processes, Purolator Inc., John Ferguson, President, SCI Logistics, Anne McKee, EVP, Trailer Wizards and Silvy Wright, President & CEO, Northbridge Financial Corporation.

Shipper-Carrier Collaboration will be the theme of the next panel discussion. This track will include three prominent shippers, the leaders of three trucking companies and the head of a 3PL. Dan Einwechter, Chairman & CEO, Challenger Group, Jason Dubois, President, Len Dubois Trucking, Doug Munro, President, Maritime-Ontario Freight Lines, Kelli Saunders, President, Morai Logistics, Ginnie Veslovaitis, Director, Transportation Operations, Hudson’s Bay Company, Alex Boxhorn, Logistics Manager, Loewen Windows and Kim Wildenmann, Traffic Coordinator, Lantic Inc. will engage in a panel discussion on how can shippers and carriers work together more effectively. This is a session not to be missed.

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A sold out crowd attended the 2014 Surface Transportation Summit at the Mississauga Convention Centre on October 15. This year’s conference had 30 speakers and panelists and two networking tracks. While I was not able to attend all of the tracks, here are some of my key takeaways from this year’s sessions on Trends in the Economy and Trucking.

The 2015 Economic Outlook track featured a leading economist and transportation equity analyst along with two trucking company executives. Despite the recent turbulence in the stock market, Carlos Gomes, Senior Economist with the Bank of Nova Scotia, highlighted that the US economy is trending positively and expects this momentum will carry into 2015. Mr. Gomes stated that U.S. and Canadian household balance sheets are in their best shape in some time as interest rates remain low and energy prices have trended lower. In terms of economic activity, orders for manufactured goods in the U.S. have picked up and the number of backlog orders is at the highest level in years.

In addition, annual automobile sales are above 16 million units and will likely remain at elevated levels due to the average age of cars in the U.S. and Canada. Exports are also trending upwards in Canada and should be sustained by the low Canadian dollar and the fact that the U.S. remains Canada’s largest trading partner. This combination of variables suggests that Canada will benefit from the strong relationship with the United States. Mr. Gomes expects GDP growth in Canada of 3.5% this year and 4% next year.

David Newman Equity Research Analyst, Cormark Securities, noted that regulatory changes in the U.S. and driver shortages are leading to pricing improvements in the trucking and rail sectors. These shortages are pushing spot and contract rates upward. Looking at the PMI (Purchasing Manager’s Index) and ISM (Institute of Supply Management) indices, there is momentum in freight volumes. This could support healthy freight activity through the first six months of 2015. Truck orders are back to 2006 levels that reflect the confidence in the economy. Truckload carriers are consolidating with TransForce and Celadon making major acquisitions. Mr. Newman expects more consolidation in the Canadian market but he also expects the truckload division of TransForce to be spun off.

Mark Seymour, President, Kriska Holdings Limited, talked about the “discipline” and technology that Kriska employed to drive improved pricing and profits. This discipline has allowed his company to have a good “run rate” over the past few years. Driver wages and the treatment of drivers are keys to future growth at Kriska. Mark highlighted the requirement for short term (one year) pricing with long term commitments (“annual pricing conversations”).

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