FreightWaves LIVE @HOME: Fuller Speed Ahead with Paris Cole, CEO of (with video)

Online load board laid to rest once again the rumor that it has aspirations to become a brokerage, but it will continue to build out features connected to Book It Now, a mobile app solution that allows brokers and third-party logistics providers (3PLs) to add instant load board functionality to their businesses.

Truckstop’s tech innovations and the implications for brokerages were among the topics CEO Paris Cole discussed during FreightWaves LIVE@HOME, a virtual conference taking place May 5-7. Cole’s conversation with FreightWaves CEO Craig Fuller also touched on the COVID-19 pandemic and the climate of uncertainty plaguing the freight markets.

“My personal feeling is that the worst is behind us, but I don’t have a crystal ball,” Cole said.

Founded 25 years ago, offers a range of truck transportation workflow solutions. Offerings include transactional insurance, freight tracking and visibility, marketplace rates, load matching and a transportation management system.

Book It Now, released last fall, allows carriers to see the rate, pickup and drop off, as well as broker information before booking a load. Once carriers are added to a broker’s preferred carrier list, their loads can be seen on the app.

“Without a doubt,” Book It Now is the “most exciting thing” happening at TruckStop, Cole said. 

“It sets the future for us in terms of what we want to do and the kinds of  value we want to provide.” The team will soon roll out additional products and features that will complement the first phase, he said.

Book it Now transitions TruckStop from a load exchange into “more of a firm marketplace,” Fuller observed, where “more of the consummation of the transaction happens.” It also makes the market more transparent, and thus changes the dynamic for brokers, who have a reputation for making money in an “opaque” industry environment.

Given those shifts, how does TruckStop continue to support broker customers, Fuller queried.

“So far it’s been very well accepted,” Cole responded.

Brokers don’t like to negotiate, he said, preferring instead “just to have the ability to be awarded freight at the click of a button.” Book it Now eliminates overhead costs for brokers, added Cole, allowing them to fulfill capacity selection without relying on manual processes like phone calls.

Cole and Fuller engaged in some back and forth about the persistent rumor that Truckstop is  planning to enter the brokerage business. “I always say that it is the most ludicrous thing I’ve ever heard,” said Fuller. 

He does see an opportunity for TruckStop to position itself as a marketplace where transactions take place, similar to NASDAQ or the New York Stock Exchange.

“That’s my vision too,” Cole said. 

The Truckstop team “asks ourselves with some regularity if we plan to become a brokerage,” he said, “and I can say unequivocally we have no plans to do that. As a technology company, I’m not getting phone calls in the middle of the night asking where a truck is. It’s a  completely different structure.”

Cole listed a few ways in which TruckStop is helping customers navigate the coronavirus pandemic. One is by offering discounts to both existing and new customers. Another is by providing real-time visibility of what’s happening in the marketplace.  

In a partnership announced last month, clients will have free access to FreightWaves SONAR’s freight market intelligence and forecasting platform for one full month. Any current client of Truckstop will receive free access to the platform to use in their response and recovery efforts. 

“What’s happening in the spot market is unprecedented, Cole said. “The explosion of freight in the spot market in mid-March and then a drastic decline is something I’ve not seen in my time here at Truckstop,” or even going back to the Great Recession. 

“Are we at the bottom of the market?” asked Fuller.

Yes and no, according to Cole. Rates are still declining, with the exception of reefer rates, which have started to tick back up over the last week. “But one week is not a trend. We haven’t seen the bottom yet.”

What is the next great innovation coming down the pike? Fuller asked.

“I would love to see us get away from some legacy technology,” Cole said. Unfortunately, he doesn’t see that happening, at least not in 2020. “I’ll save that for maybe next year, and see if we’ll be ready to move away from some of the old standards that are keeping the industry behind.”

Referring to IBM’s legacy system, Fuller said,  “I would guess in 2030 when you walk into some trucking companies they will still have the AS/400 and the people that have been there for many many years will refuse to use the interfaces the trucking companies have tried to move them to.  

“They will be dispatching spaceships on that in 20 decades.”