Noël Perry

Transportation Economist

Noël Perry

Provoking the transportation market for more than 40 years.

Transport Futures is a North American Heavy Freight Consulting firm headed by the transportation economist, Noël Perry. It is the third iteration of the consulting firm founded by Mr. Perry in 2008. The previous two are Transport Fundamentals and Transportation Economics. The services provided by the three iterations are similar, although this latest version is explicitly focused on the rapidly changing future of transportation and supply chain operations.

Mr. Perry performs the bulk of work within the firm but will engage similar experts when the subject matter or scope of work requires. His most significant collaboration is with Larry Gross of Gross Consulting on matters pertaining to intermodal transport.

Transport Futures deals with all matters of freight transport within North America, with special emphasis on truckload, rail, intermodal and domestic water markets. The firm follows all aspects of transportation, from strategy, to market sizing, to operations, to technology, to modal competition, to pricing, to regulation and public policy. It maintains an extensive historical database and will forecast out to 2040. In addition to transport economics, Transport Futures has an abiding interest in macro-economics and its interaction with transport as well as the intersection between transport and supply chain design.

Transport Futures

Although independent, Transport Futures has a close relationship with Inbound Logistics; Truckstop.com, the Internet load board; TransSafe Consulting; Gross Consulting; and Women in Transportation. It also maintains working relationships with a wide range of logistical organizations, including the Transportation Intermediary Association and Tucker Worldwide. It is no longer affiliated with FTR Intelligence, a partner organization from 2008 until the end of 2017.

Transport Futures is physically located in Cornwall, Pennsylvania about 30 miles east of Harrisburg. It accepts engagements throughout the United States and Canada, having served customers from Southern California to Washington State, to Ontario, Canada, to Maine, to Florida. Normal business hours are 8 AM to 5 PM Eastern Time, although Mr. Perry will gladly accept calls from 7 AM to 10 PM, seven days a week.

Read More About Noël

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Noël Perry continues to be endlessly fascinated by transportation.

By the time he was born—1946, Summerville, New Jersey—he already had transportation rolling through his DNA. His father and grandfather both were Pennsylvania Railroad employees. His brother was a railman. His early memories also fueled his passion for transportation. Among the first:

“We lived on the first floor of an old Victorian house in Flemington, New Jersey. Behind it was a roundhouse. In the evening, when the commuter engines would come back into the roundhouse, my mother would prop me up on the sink and we’d watch the trains go by. I was about two. I also remember waiting at the station in Lambertville, north of Trenton. My father was coming up from Philadelphia, and the train was pulled. By steam locomotive. And I remember riding behind steam on the Redding.”

At five, after his father died, Noël grew up in roadhouse Philadelphia, spending his school years in a very good yet, nonetheless, charity school (“like Hogwarts without the magic”) that was reachable by trolley cars.

Noël took his first job, in 1968, as a loading dock manager. Soon after, joining the Air Force, he trained and stationed around the country—San Antonio, Sacramento, Merced, northern Maine, Westover—before tours of duty in Vietnam.

“In essence,” he says, “I had a logistics job in the service. I learned about fuel load, efficiency, timing, geography, planning and teamwork. That’s the advantage of the military: responsibility and work habits. As an officer, you’re responsible for managing yourself.”

By his last year in the service, Noël knew he wanted to study logistics at Harvard. Never one to bide his time, he took a job as a trucker for most of a year before studies began.

At Harvard, Noël was the research assistant to the assistant dean at the Department of Economics, John Meyer, who is acknowledged as creating the discipline of transportation economics. That connection opened doors to government work, studying productivity in mass transit. (“We were the guys who recommend articulated buses, back in 1975, that we use today in New York City.”)

Walter Gropius, architect and founder of The Bauhaus, taught at Harvard’s Graduate School of Design. During Noël’s time there, the school moved away from design and toward economics. This combination created an interesting situation: is economics a design discipline like architecture? Noël will tell you economics is more an analytical discipline, one with design aspects to it, of which he references and uses frequently. Still, economics has an efficiency affect rather than an aesthetic effect.

Harvard’s combination is one example of many: cross-disciplines, clashing and melding, with students and experts campaigning to make order from seemingly disparate disciplines that often have competing agendas. Noël thrives in such a milieu.

“Harvard is one hundred percent the case method,” he says. “You’re graded heavily on your class participation. I was graded on my ability to speak about transportation. A large difference was that others were book smart, whereas I knew a lot about transportation, from experience.”

That participation solidified for Noël’s passion for public speaking. Today, it serves as one of the many reasons why audiences appreciate his provocative, engaging and insightful presentations.

His endless fascination with transportation combines with a true passion about his work and a thorough grounding in the details. From that, he explores the edge of the envelope: the extreme elements of the industry that grab his attention. “My specialty,” he says, “is the counterintuitive hypothesis.” Though sometimes he may seem to provoke just for the sake of provoking, he always has statistics and analysis to back up the provocation.

Brent Hutto, Chief Relationship Officer of Truckstop.com puts it simply and directly: “You’re gonna be less wrong if you use Noël.”

Another way to look at the arc of Noël’s career: Since 1976, he’s been an analyst, sometimes closely connected with operations. Before that, he was in operations. With deep study in the disciplines of observation, he’s trained to see things other people don’t.

Through Public Speaking engagements, Market Research and The Transport Navigator: Transport Futures has become the perfect synthesis of Noël Perry’s work experience and analytical expertise.

Susan Collins

Consultant

Susan Collins

Consultant.

Susan Collins is President of 63rd & Eliot, a marketing firm in Gainesville, GA, established in 2015, and serves as a Business Development Consultant to Transport Futures.

Susan is a transportation and logistics professional with more than 15 years of leadership experience. Her focus includes deepening relationships with associations, media companies, financial institutions and interest groups that serve the carrier, broker and shipper markets and developing beneficial interactions between these markets that will lead to improved customer access to and understanding of Transport Futures’ products.

Prior to joining Transport Futures, Susan served as Director of Industry Relations for Truckstop.com, the Internet’s first load board, and Vice President of Agent Relations for GTO 2000 Inc., a non-asset based transportation brokerage.

Susan resides in Gainesville with her husband Tim. They have raised two daughters, Erin and Jillian.

Read More About Susan

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Susan’s first memory:

She was in kindergarten, staring at a tub of glue paste. Everyone around her was using her paste, and she was happy to share.

That memory completely honors the passion and expertise she brings to consulting with Transport Futures. Susan Collins is the glue that keeps it all together.

Let’s push the metaphor a bit further. She’s a force of nature. Years of professional experience inform her strategy, and everyone who encounters her sticks with her initiatives. Because they’re good. They’re well thought through. She’s still sharing that tub of glue paste.

Born in Brooklyn. Raised in Queens. Youngest of four children. Dad was a marine; the family moved around often. Mom was a widow at 39 and took a variety of jobs: part-time in retail, cleaning at a local funeral home, tallying receipts on a comptometer at home and then finally working full time as a bookkeeper for a construction company in Queens.

Susan’s high school was in Manhattan, and then she attended Katharine Gibbs business academy, also in Manhattan, before the working life.

Her first job was as an assistant to the sales group at Westvaco Paper Company (more on that in a bit). Then she worked in the research department as an assistant at The Penn Central Group.

“From there,” Susan says, “I worked for House Beautiful magazine. I started with Hearst as assistant to the sales department. When a position opened as assistant decorating editor, I took the job. Though I left the sales side, I remained friends with them. In my new position I frequently went on photo shoots and gathered materials for upcoming issues and began building relationships with the magazine staff. I was very involved with putting all the pieces together.”

We begin to see how her first memory of that glue paste works into Susan’s way of doing business. It also speaks to the longevity of her relationships. She met Tim when they were in elementary school together. They married in their 20s.

From Queens, they moved to Douglaston, NY, where both daughters were born. Then they moved to Huntington, Long Island. Susan worked various part-time jobs in retail, selling cosmetics, handbags and clothing.

The family relocated to the South—first Raleigh, NC, where Susan worked at John Deere HQ as a relocation specialist and then Gainesville, GA, where she joined the PGA Tour as their HR expert. She loved the work but needed to be closer to home. She joined the HR department of Course Crafters, a local golf course construction company.

And networked. Susan took on consulting jobs for various concerns in Gainesville. She first became involved in transportation through a logistics research project for GTO 2000, which evolved into ten years as their Business Services Manager. Which turned into VP of Agent Relations, overseeing 35 offices strategically placed around the country.

Susan started her consulting firm, 63rd & Eliot, in 2015. First assignment: Director of Industry Relations with Truckstop.com, a natural and perfect next step. Some three years ago, Susan met Noël Perry, who soon joined Truckstop.com as Chief Economist; Susan identified, encouraged and organized opportunities for Noël’s unique writing and speaking style and carefully positioned his industry engagements.

Today, Susan champions the organization of Noël’s initiatives with Transport Futures. “I know Noël is very respected in the industry, and I believe in him,” she says. “For me, it’s exciting and challenging to get this lifted off. There are a lot of analysts out there, but Noël thinks about things like no one else does. He’s real. He’s genuine. That’s very important to me. There’s no way you cannot be successful if you have that authentic talent.”

We could explore Susan positioning herself as Ed McMahon to Noël’s Johnny Carson. But what we really want to do is take you back for a moment—to her first job, at Westvaco. Her words:

“I was assistant to the sales department. They’re all running out to sell the paper. There was this older gentleman, I thought he was 95 then. He was little, not even five feet tall, kinda crusty, with curly hands. He ran his own department and was in charge of all the sample paper. If you had a customer that wanted samples—matte, gloss, super glossy or of a certain weight—the sales team would ask me to put together a sample kit to take on their sales call. And that was this man’s department.

“When I first started working there, this guy never spoke to you. Did not want you in his area at all. He’d cut and then graduate the paper samples—six inches, eight inches, ten inches. I remember telling him I need this and that, and he’d tell me I had to wait. ‘Could you please get it ready?’ ‘Well, I’ll see what I’m doing.’

“I worked there a few years. Eventually, we’d have conversations. In time, he showed me how to cut the samples. And this guy never let anyone else into his area. I think he grew to trust me. He knew I wanted to do a good job. He knew it was important for me to get things done for the people who relied on me. It wasn’t about threatening. He understood that I respected his time and, if I could be trusted, it would all work. Eventually we talked about other things: lunch, his wife, family matters. What a dear, sweet man!”

Susan Collins. Building and growing relationships the right way. She’s our glue that binds.

Transport Futures

Initiatives

Transport Futures

Our Initiatives

Writing

Commentary, Publications & White Papers

Since entering the world of transport consulting Noël Perry has created more than 1,500 pages of the narrative market analysis, covering all the aspects of North American Transport and the supply chains that employ it. The majority of this is contained in his subscription service, The Transport Navigator, an offering that has blended in-depth discussion of transport fundamentals and reviews of current market conditions and events.

In addition, he has produced a variety of white papers on topics such as the Uberization of Trucking, plus timely commentary on unfolding events, including the hurricane events of 2017. Watch this space for quick-hitting commentary, subscribe to The Transport Navigator, acquire a publication offered on this website or commission your own white paper.


Speaking

Lectures & Events

Noël combines superior content with an entertaining and dynamic speaking style that has delighted audiences across the industry. He is best known for translating the often complex working of transportation into language easily understood by the full range of listeners, from truckers and loading dock personnel to senior executives.

Even after more than 40 years of work he retains a child-like fascination in all things transportation. His audiences can tell. The best part: his presentations are data-intense, light on lecture and heavy on graphs that lead the observer to solid conclusions. His listeners also have post-event access to all the visual material presented that they can use for further study and to share with colleagues.

Noël’s frequent appearances cover the gamut of industry venues, state and national carrier groups, a wide variety of shipper trade associations, individual company events, investment house conclaves. They include speaking for The American Trucking Association, Ameriquest, Stifel Nicolaus, Cowan, Schneider National, Landstar, CSX, BNSF, IANA, Transportation Intermediaries Association, Great West Casualty, Tucker Worldwide, National Oil Processors Association  and JB Hunt. Contact Mr. Perry to invite him to your next event.


Analysis

The Future of Trucking

All of Mr. Perry’s work is based on his career-long analysis of the full range of transport factors in the North American heavy freight market (truckload, rail, domestic water). His understanding of the influence of macro-economics on transport demand is unmatched. His analysis of trucking productivity includes innovative measurements of capacity utilization and the premier measurements of regulatory effects.

Clients engage Noël for all manner of market analysis, ranging from modal conversion and pricing to government policies and the fundamentals of transport demand. He has an abiding interest in the mid-to-long-term future of American logistics, with special emphasis on the digital revolution’s effects on supply design from truck automation to the current retail revolution. Watch for his full-length book on the future of trucking in the Spring of 2019.


Market Sizing

American Truckload Estimates

Transport Futures is your one-stop source of American transport market sizing, with an emphasis on truckload trucking. Mr. Perry’s estimates of revenue have revolutionized the understanding of the American truckload market, adding more than 70% to previous estimates. Other analysts were missing more than half of the market!

He produces estimates by loads, trucks, drivers, ton-miles, tons and revenue. His segmentation includes fleet and customer sizing, customer vertical and horizontals. Most important, Mr. Perry in the only source of sizing for the full range of equipment assignment segments, private, dedicated, defined route, network asset and non-asset. For a full discussion of those segments refer to the white paper on market segmentation found on this site.


Strategy

Strategic Plans

Carriers and shippers have found it valuable to have Mr. Perry review and enhance their strategic plans. Those engagements routinely uncover misconceptions as to market conditions, missing data that leads to expanded opportunities or vulnerability to possible market shocks.

Noël is the rare economist and advisor who is comfortable with the prevailing risk that plagues today’s outlooks. Armed with his often surprising perspectives, you are ready to make far quicker and more effective adaptations to the events that inevitably challenge a plan.