Commentary: Going to the mattresses

By John Blodgett, MacKay & Company

That headline is a great line from a great book and movie (“The Godfather”), which basically means: To enter into or prepare for a lengthy war, battle or conflict; to adopt a combative or warlike position. Like when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor — another line from a great movie (“Animal House”).

So, thankfully, we are not in an actual combat war, but we are in what likely will be a long, painful journey until we defeat this virus. Not if — when!

Last month I was on vacation (so glad I went last month) with friends and we got into a discussion about previous generations and, by comparison, we have had it easy (on average). Sure, we had 9/11, related wars, the recession of 2009, but in totality (at least through February 2020), it has been a pretty easy ride.

If I look at my grandfather’s life, the country was in WWI when he was a child, went into a market crash and deep depression soon after he got married then entered WWII. When his kids were young, there were wars in Korea, Vietnam, the oil crises, double digit interest rates … just to name a few things he and his generation had to endure through their lives. It certainly helps explain their drinking and smoking habits.

So, we don’t have a lot of training for this and, as hard as it might be, it’s our turn to “go to the mattresses” and help our country, employees and families survive this temporary huge bump in the road.

The good news is trucking is getting a spotlight like never before and trucking is shining. People are starting to understand the importance of the trucking industry, the truckers, the fleets, the companies that manufacture trucks and support and service to keep the trucks on the road. I have seen several commenters on TV in the last week praise what the trucking industry does and how it is helping mitigate some of the impacts from this pandemic.

During this time, industry associations like the Motor & Equipment Manufacturers Association, American Trucking Associations, Auto Care Association and others are getting the message out to local, state and federal government officials concerning the impacts of implementing rules and regulations on the trucking industry, like keeping rest areas open.

In the coming weeks and months, we at MacKay & Company will be assisting our clients to better understand the actual impacts and forecasted changes for the trucking industry — including new truck sales, aftermarket parts and service demand and issues we probably haven’t even thought about yet.

We know most school buses aren’t running and obviously a lot of trucking activity such as delivery to restaurants and bars and many other industries are near a halt, but demand for trucking to grocery stores, warehouses, hospitals and support of home deliveries appears to be up. Not likely enough to make up for the areas that have dropped off, but it is not all negative.

Refuse will see a drop at most commercial businesses, but I would assume residential pickups might increase (if what is packed in my refrigerator is any indication). The farming market also looks very positive for this year.

It is unfortunate that an event like this is needed to highlight the importance of the trucking industry. As a result of this pandemic, I do think it will be interesting to see what changes, new ideas and processes come from and for the trucking industry. I look forward to writing about that in the future.

John Blodgett has worked for MacKay & Company for more than 20 years and is currently vice president of sales and marketing, responsible for client contact for single- and multi-client projects. He can be reached at

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