TIA notes that the industry has not had access to empirical data coming directly from active 3PLs to provide a view of business conditions within the market sector. Instead, the industry relied on assumptions and extrapolations of trucking and warehousing data developed by various analysts. “TIA's efforts will make available a truly comprehensive report on the trends and practices of the 3PL industry, providing a representative understanding of what is happening within this business sector,” says the TIA announcement.
A TIA study team, led by David Gee, CTB and Past Chair of TIA, has selected a representative group of TIA members in four revenue size categories to participate. Survey topics include the number of shipments by mode, total billing, and gross margins. The participants will also provide forecasts, based on their customers, to provide expectations of the near term volume of business, either positive or negative.
Dr. Joe Hanna, Chair and Professor of Supply Chain Management, Auburn University will analyze the data and create Market Reports which TIA will publish quarterly. Initially, the market reports will be exclusively available to participating TIA members. TIA looks to publish this research data as subscription publication to non-participants.
"I am very pleased that TIA, under the TIA Foundation will, in a first for our industry, offer its initial Industry Report at TIA's Annual Convention. This report will show sales volume trends that are experienced within the operating units of the companies invited to provide information," says Gee.
The initial report indicated respondents saw a 15% decline in billings from the third quarter of 2008 to the fourth quarter. Those billing under $3 million reported the lowest drop (3%) while larger companies with billings over $10 million saw billings fall 17% in the period. The middle group in the $3 million to $10 million range had an 11% drop.
On the outlook for the transportation sector, most respondents believed volumes would increase in the first quarter of 2009. The split between those expecting an increase and those expecting lower volumes was 60% forecasting an increase and 40% predicting a decrease. Of the optimists predicting an increase, none suggested growth would be more than 10%.