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I-95 corridor center of Target's trucking efforts

by Tim Linden | January 16, 2011
Based in New York City, Target Interstate Systems focuses much of its efforts on serving the buying community in the surrounding area.

"Our main emphasis is on the I-95 corridor from Washington, DC, up through Maine," said Paul Kazan, president and founder of the firm. "We service most of the major growing regions -- California, Texas, Florida -- getting produce from there to this area."

The company has two divisions -- one dealing in produce and one hauling other goods. Mr. Kazan said that the firm's business is split fairly evenly between those two freight sectors.

In the produce arena, he sees a continuation of the higher rates that have been par for the course for the past couple of years. One major reason is the continuation of the difficult economic times, which have resulted in a decrease in trucks competing for those loads. "The amount of equipment available for produce loads is less than it was," he said.

Mr. Kazan added that there are just fewer shipments being sent from manufacturing regions to the produce producing areas. Because produce truckers have a difficult time getting back to those areas, or they have to take low-paying loads to reach those destinations, the cost for the produce haul increases. "For example, let's say a truck needs to make $9,000 or $10,000 for a round trip," said Mr. Kazan. "If he is only getting $3,000 to get out to California, he's got to make the rest on the produce haul."

If the economy heats up this summer and results in more shipments of manufactured products out West, Mr. Kazan said, one could theorize that produce hauls will be less expensive. But he quickly added that it is virtually impossible to make projections in the produce industry. Weather and many other factors have a great deal to do with the eventual supply needs with regard to trucks. In fact, those factors can easily overshadow anything else.

Founded in 1981, Target Interstate Systems is a third-party, full-service transportation and logistics company dedicated to providing the highest level of quality and reliable service to the perishable fresh fruit and produce industry. The company employs a non-asset based approach, allowing it to custom-tailor logistics solutions for its clients' needs.

While providing over-the-road truck transportation is its main business, the company also will get involved in arranging for intermodal transportation hauls if that is what the customer requires. In fact, Mr. Kazan believes that alternative transportation methods, most notably the use of rail, will increase for produce hauls in the coming years. He said that a number of factors are combining to make rail more attractive. Two of those factors are increased emphasis on green technology and increasing government regulations on the trucking industry.

There has been much written about the idea that rail transportation is "greener" than trucks since the carbon footprint as measured by tons shipped per mile is much less. But Mr. Kazan said that trucks obviously offer advantages, especially to the produce industry, that far outshine rail transportation. He didn't totally discount the concept that some of the new regulations on truck drivers are taking away some of those advantages, which may be the point of those regulations. "Trucks are much faster than rail" in cross-country deliveries, he said, "but if you continue to limit the amount of time a trucker can drive and add a day to the trip, and make the rail a day faster, the time difference is much less."

He added that there is a role for logistics firms such as his as the use of rail transportation increases. He said that it will still take a broker to arrange the load from the original point of shipment to the rail terminal, and then once again from the end of the rail line to the final destination.