Site Visit: Advocacy Visits Small Transportation Company following Virginia Roundtable
By Bruce Lundegren, Assistant Chief Counsel
The Office of Advocacy hosted a Regional Regulatory Reform Roundtable in Glen Allen, Virginia — just outside of the state capital Richmond — Oct. 16th that attracted dozens of small businesses and their representatives who were eager to discuss federal regulations that burden small business. The meeting also featured participation by Congressman Dave Brat, who represents the district in the U.S. House of Representatives.
Following the roundtable, Advocacy staff visited VHI Transport, a woman-owned transportation company that was established in Chester, Va., 40 years ago. VHI operates two distinct lines of business, a trucking transport operation and a transportation brokerage service. Advocacy was hosted by Bruce Gee, the President and Chief Operating Officer of VHI Express (the trucking operation), and Kristy Seaton, the Chief Operating Officer of VHI Transport (the brokerage service).
Ms. Seaton explained how transportation – or freight – brokers operate. They are the intermediaries between a shipper who has goods to transport and a carrier who is able to move that particular freight to the desired location. While this is mostly done by truck, VHI also arranges for transit on rail, air, and barge. While they are not directly regulated by trucking regulations, the companies they contract with are. VHI arranges for the movement of everything from agricultural products and pharmaceuticals to aggregates and electronic equipment. While they mainly service the mid-Atlantic and Midwest regions, their services cover the entire country as well as Canada and Mexico.
Ms. Seaton also demonstrated VHI’s computer system which identifies qualified transporters who are authorized and qualified to handle the particular cargo to be picked up and delivered. There are, literally, thousands of companies. She also explained how they use Safer Web, a service that tracks companies’ qualifications and links the broker to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s (FMCSA) safety evaluation database.
Mr. Gee oversees the trucking side of the VHI operation, which has its terminal in downtown Richmond. These are the actual trucks that carry and deliver freight. Mr. Gee, who attended Advocacy’s Glen Allen roundtable, noted several regulatory issues that impact his business. The two main ones are the FMCSA’s impending mandate to install and use Electronic Logging Devices and the FMCSA’s use of Safety Measurement System data to evaluate carriers and drivers. Mr. Gee would like a delay in the ELD mandate and a complete re-thinking of the SMS methodology.