North America encompasses countless industries and markets, all with their own unique challenges. But most of them share one concern that affects everything from the early stages of production to the end user’s ability to use the product: transportation.

That was a topic of discussion this week during the Northeast Window & Door Association’s (NWDA) summer meeting in Vernon, N.J.

Photo: Maverick Transportation
Photo: Maverick Transportation

Among the meeting’s presenters was Jason Bohannon of J.B. Hunt Transport, who updated NWDA members on the trucking industry, which is facing a severe shortage of qualified drivers.

Bohannon said stagnant wages, tough drug testing requirements and a wave of retirements have left the trucking industry with 190,000 fewer drivers than what’s needed.

He also said the industry needs 100,000 new drivers a year just to keep pace with demand.

“There’s an intense competition for good drivers,” Bohannon said, adding that other fields such as construction, plumbing or oil and gas extraction often pay more and don’t involve lots of travel.

According to Bohannon, more than half of U.S. truck drivers are over 45, and 17 percent are over 55.

“We really don’t have a good funnel of drivers. It’s forcing us to be creative,” he said.

According to IBIS world, the category of National Trucker Services saw annualized price growth of 3 percent from 2011 to 2014, and that growth is forecasted at 3.2 percent from 2014 to 2017.

The finite amount of hauling assets and an increase in demand mean glass manufacturers and fabricators, as well as door and window makers, are tasked with becoming more strategic in how they sell, ship and manage lead times.

And while getting product around the U.S. is challenging enough, there are plenty more hurdles in the way when trying to meet the demand in Canada, which doesn’t have a float glass plant domestically.

“In Canada, the glass shortage is definitely an issue. But we also have a trucking issue,” Bruce Butler, general manager of Hartung Glass Canada, recently told “Just simply crossing the Canadian border is a big challenge for them, believe it or not.”

With the heightened stringency and requirements of customs between the U.S. and Canada, companies struggle to find drivers who are eligible to cross country lines, whether it’s due to a lack of proper documentation or problems that come up in a background check.

Trey Barrineau and Nick St. Denis contributed to this report.

Check out USGlass magazine’s (sister publication to DWM) January feature, “Driving Demand,” which goes in depth on the topic of transportation challenges, here.

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