The Oregon Association of Nurseries Board of Directors recently announced the launch of Advantage Oregon, a transportation management services corporation that will provide long-haul freight management services to Oregon producers and processors of perishable products. Service is expected to commence in the spring of 2006.
According to Pete Brentano, president of the OAN and co-owner of Brentano’s Tree Farm in St. Paul, Ore., Advantage Oregon will focus on “increasing the availability of trucks and drivers during peak shipping seasons and improving service reliability through contracts with qualified national and regional carriers.” He added that contracted freight arrangements will also help growers and their customers better anticipate and manage freight costs, “because terms, conditions and service parameters will be spelled out in black and white.”
In August 2006, Governor Ted Kulongoski signed into law legislation that appropriated $600,000 in the form of a forgivable loan to support the launch of Advantage Oregon. This fall, the OAN Board of Directors worked with a team of consultants to develop the Advantage Oregon plan.
During the past few years, growers of nursery stock and Christmas trees have grappled with a worsening capacity crunch in long-haul trucking. With limited, seasonal shipping needs, these growers do not ship enough loads throughout the year to attract the attention of major truck companies. As a result, most growers of nursery stock rely on brokers to procure trucks on the spot market, generally with only a few days’ notice. Consequently, freight rates can vary dramatically from week to week, and many growers do not know who will haul their loads and have little advance notice as to when a truck will show up.
Advantage Oregon will address these challenges by putting out for bid the combined freight business of many nursery and Christmas tree shippers and awarding that business to the most competitive carriers. In addition, Advantage Oregon will seek to serve other Oregon shippers of perishable products. The nursery industry alone spends approximately $110 million with motor carriers to haul plants to destinations outside of Oregon and Washington.