Friday, August 31, 2012

Follow the money !

As a small businessman, I am always looking for signs or clues as to what is going to happen with this
economy in the next few weeks and months.   As someone who has some retail trade and some trade in the transportation sector, I am among many in the small business world who is wondering if the end of
summer has any meaning as to the question of how is the economy going to be in the next few weeks,
quarters--especially with the general election coming in about 60 days.

While there is a lot said in these political times, the economic reports that are issueed monthly or weekly
are both up and down, take your pick.   But there is little to no question that for small businesses, who rely
on the consumer or other small businesses, everyone is either non commital or politically linked to whatever
answer they seem to give.

The truth is always in between those two points, but people are still not spending as they used to a few years ago.   The unemployment situation is still real bad and I blame the past and current administrations for that, even though they keep coming up with excuses and blame for everyone else but themselves.   They bet or guessed wrong, one would have to think, as so many qualified people cannot find work, it is sickening.

What is worse is that most people get scared about their own situation when they hear this news or the employment report, they redfine what is a necessity and what is not a necessity.   And I know this is true
as I am always thinking that what if times actually get worse.

A lot of people are warning that might happen if the tax cuts expire for all taxpayers, by the end of the year.
I am already extremely dismayed that the Social Security Tax rate is going up 1/1/13 and no one seems
to care, as for most Americans, this has helped pay the extra high fuel bills we are dealing with.  

Am I the only one in America to think that the oil firms and the banks are the only ones that are making money because they can charge whatever they want as there is not any real competition in these and many other markets today--almost a de facto price fixing situation, as how can a commodity go up 20% in one
week, when our use has only gone down steadily over the past three years?   Follow the money, it pays for them to manipulate the market and no one in government does anything about it.  And why doesn't this administration go after the oil industry as anyone can tell you that there is something wrong here, that when
Chevron is negligent and allows a fire to one of its refineries, and then all of us have to pay more for their
negligent act.   How come they do not have to pay, as they were the ones who were negligent, right?

What about the banks, who are all making money and still not loaning it, as they have learned how to make
money overcharging their customers and they do not have to lend to do it.  They are all the same, none of them today are giving any deals or paying any interest and which business do you know of, that has a cost
factor (for money) that is as low as it has ever been (i.e. 1-1.5%) and they charge you 8% if you are a good
commercial customer and 18% or more on credit cards.   Who makes 1500-1800% on their margins?

This was the industry the taxpayers had to bail out?   I do not get this yet, a couple of years later as they
never say thanks for the bailout, they just act like we are here for them to mess with and overcharge.

I do not see anything positive from the street either, as the only places that are newly opened are Chinese
masage parlors and dog grooming sites.   How is this economic activity meant to show positive change in the economy?

I hope I am wrong and that the economy gets better fast as this downward cycle has gone on long enough,
that my new byline might as well be hope and change--for the better and hopefully soon.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Stop The Illegal Operators And The Perpetrators Of Fraud

First the regulatory efforts.   Next.   Neither the industry itself, or the organizations that lead the
industry's efforts, have the dedication, commitment or desire to stop the thieves from taking the
innocent customers away from the legitimate operators in this field.

If they really wanted to stop the illegal operators and the perpetrators of fraud in this industry,
then set up stings with movers help to catch and prosecute them, seize their assets, and publicize
it, so that the word gets out.

I really do not understand why the industry does not see or feel the need to police itself so that
moving can be a true profession with standards and best industry practices for the mutual benefit
of its customers, its own employees and the moving business itself.   You would have to ask the
Board of Directors of the American Moving and Storage Association, as all the van line heads sit
on this board.

One possible explanation today, is that the van lines, have no capacity to even handle what they
have with the illegal and fraudulent operators taking share, as they do not seem to care what
happens to the customers they do not service.   I say this because all these "leaders" do is talk
and sit at their desks, and nothing changes.   Suffice to say, that if anyone wanted to find illegal
or fraudulent operators, all they have to do is work with the authorities (enforcement and prosecution
together) and go on the Internet and find them, book the moves and when they try to scam the customer,
arrest them and film it, publicize it, and do it in the biggest cities on the same day.   Put it on the nightly
national news.  If they want to eliminate the problem, they can.

As I alluded to earlier, the van lines this year have had capacity issues and I do not need to review the effects
this housing slump has had on mover, Realtors, escrow officers, lenders, brokers, etc.   The result has been
that van lines have embargoed their agents from booking more jobs, sending customers in all directions,
other than standard moving services.   I understand U haul is up this year, 5%.  I am sure the van lines
will do the same, but this year, there have been joint efforts to push more moving freight into the freight
or general trucking industry.

My firm, Box Brothers has been using general freight to move household goods shipments to customers
for over 25 years.   While we have become the moving industry's best kept secret, it has been fun to
watch how ridiculous this played out when movers simply thought they could put sofas, dressers, customer packed boxes, loose and inadequately packed, into the freight system.   All those decision makers who did not get out of their chairs to ever go see how the freight industry breaks bulk, or how the freight industry
loads and unload and segregates freight.   Who could not see this train wreck coming, can only be someone
who needs glasses or a brain transplant.

In doing freight, you have to protect what you ship and household goods are bulky, easily damaged.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Back To School The Vacation Is Over.

Its about time, now, for the college kids to return to school, and we have seen so many advertisements,
from the nationial players, like Target, Macy's, Home Depot, Staples, Officer Depot, UPS stores,
and of course, Fedex Office, to only name a few.

Some of these retailers only sell dorm room items, like the pillow chairs, small fridges, wall items,
and others sell new computers, combo tv's with dvd/blue ray players built in and of course, you have
the stores who are interested in selling you sheets for beds, that only are at dorms---who figured that one

For firms like Box Brothers, we specialize in being able to package and ship toasters, computers,
tv's, books, clothes and any other item you can ever think of, that someone might want to take to college
with them.   And when Box Brothers does the packaging, it is all guaranteed, as the idea is that college
is hard enough of a transition for these young adults, and the less stress they have about getting their dorm
rooms set up and comfortable, so they can begin their studies and focus on their college studies.

Not that this is not a good time to digress, but this is a so called right of passage, as many of us tired
to make our parents think that it was all about studying and being focused; dorm life that is.   But no
matter how much these stories get embellished, it is clear that the parents want the kids to go away from
home and they, the parents, in my opinion, are not that naiive.    The kids are the ones who are naiive.  But that is another story......

If you need any help with standard shipping and packaging services, or even freight services, Box Brothers
is the answer to being able to get your kids to college with their belongings safely and without hassles
as we have multiple ways to doing these services, and the more options today, the better.   Slower service,
targeted delivery, guaranteed packaging for your high value breakable items and the peace of mind that
comes with a firm who performed these services for college bound students for almost 3 decades, so long
ago in fact, that everyone could afford college, not like today.

But like all knowing and intelligent parents, sending the kids to college is the best news any parent could wish for, but do not tell the will be our secret.........