2018 was a record year for Class 8 truck ordering, with North American truck-makers set to manufacture an estimated 335,000 big rigs this year. What was typically a 5-month ordering backlog is looking closer to 10 months, caused in part by increased demand and supplier issues. But at the end of 2018, we saw a cool down in demand. Evans President Ryan Keepman discusses the current state of the big rig manufacturing backlog.
[begin video transcript]
Hi, I’m Ryan Keepman, President at Evans Transportation.
What is the current status of the big rig manufacturing backlog?
The [big rig manufacturing] industry did see a record year in 2018. A lot of the big trucking buyers they all stopped taking orders because their backlog was was basically full. At this point in time, I think they're all predicting that this slowdown will occur. Well, it has. So, into the first quarter of this year, we're seeing a slowdown.
Now, for our business, we’re fortunate; we do service this industry pretty heavily. And a lot of those parts that still need to go out get manufactured and shipped out. So, I think you'll start to see the parts industry pick up. Whereas, the capital equipment side — where some of the bigger rigs were being manufactured at record levels over the course of the last year-and-a-half/two years — that will slow down naturally. It, again, goes in ebbs and flows, just like our economy does. Supply and demand changes over time.
Should we anticipate cancellations or other negative outcomes?
Obviously, it’s a fear for all — salespeople and all those with budgetary responsibilities — that cancellations do occur or will occur, especially if we are coming into a slowdown in the economy. But, right now I think the the outlook is still very positive. I think the start to 2019 has been maybe stronger than some had predicted, or in line with what others had. Me, personally? I was a little bit more skeptical.
The industry saw significant slowdown in late August and into early October of last year 2018. I thought that would carry over into 2019, but we have not seen a slowdown at this time.