Craig Stauffer at TPM
6 April 2022

Recapping TPM22

The theme for the 2022 TPM conference was “Relationships Matter.” At a time when relationships are being tested more than ever, a very timely theme for this meeting of global leaders that Vanguard’s Group CEO Craig Stauffer and Chief Business Development Officer Dirk Winkelmann attended.  

The TPM conference took place at the end of February 2022 ironically at one of the most challenged port locations – Long Beach California – in the world.  The TPM team was well aware of the transportation environment as noted by their chosen theme, “To say the environment will be “complex” when TPM reconvenes in February for the first time since 2019 is an, um, understatement. So much service interruption and fundamental change has occurred, and still will exist next February as a result of the pandemic and its ripple effects, that when the industry gathers in person for the first time in three years, it will be a cauldron of intense and memorable interactions — planned and spontaneous. The bottom line: Relationships matter.” 

Stauffer participated on a panel during the conference titled Cool Cargoes III:  What Do Shippers Want and at What Price? Craig was joined by Steve Spencer- VP Pacific Seafood, Chris Swartz – Managing Director AJC Logistics, and moderator William Duggan from Eskesen Advisory Services.  

The biggest takeaway – the lack of visibility and service. Organizations are asking very simple basic questions such as:  

  • Where are our vessels? 
  • Why isn’t the container getting picked up? 
  • When will the vessel be in port and when can I take delivery of my cargo?

Answers are near impossible to come by, so passing on timelines and updates to end customers is an impossible feat.

Now, more than a year into historic capacity constraints that have caused an exponential increase in shipping rates, carriers are awash in profits the likes of which has not been seen in decades, if ever.  How are carriers delivering on refrigerated shippers’ expectations? And most importantly, what do refrigerated shippers truly want, and how much are they willing to pay for it — or, to the point, how much more can they afford to pay?  

 At the end of the day, the theme is true – these relationships matter. As distrust and misunderstanding have spiked alongside freight rates, no one is going anywhere. Everyone needs everyone – carriers need shippers that ship 52 weeks per year and can move volume when supplies exceed demand, and shippers like Vanguard need carriers that will partner with them to move volume consistently, on time, and with market-competitive rates – everyone needs trusted partners to be successful. The challenge is to find a common basis for doing business going forward, however difficult that might seem from today’s crisis-ridden vantage point.