Uber recently announced that it would be funding a new Freight Business Headquarters in Chicago, Illinois. They revealed plans for office space in the famous River District taking up residence in a historic Post Office that has been uninhabited for years, until now. Their goal is to streamline their entire operations by centralizing corporate space.
The branch of the popular drive-share service allows for semi-truck drivers to lend their services to a variety of businesses on a more temporary basis than traditional industry contracts. The division matches shippers to truckers than can fulfill their needs, allowing truckers to have increased control when and where they work. Drivers can select a route or trip individually and receive pricing and timelines upfront. This program is available throughout both the United States and Europe.
The young company started its Freight Division a little over two years ago in May of 2017 and has already grown at an astonishing pace. The digital broker has expanded to $350 million in gross annual bookings in that short time, according to early-year paperwork. Reportedly, the business services 400,00 drivers to 1,000 businesses needing shipping. This growth led to a need for an increase in infrastructure, hence the search for a new headquarters. This astonishing progression is what has allowed Uber to make a name for itself alongside more traditional freight companies.
Chicago has long been a popular shipping hub, making it a good place for drivers to flock to for dependable work. The transportation industry has blossomed in the area to allow for a large pool of qualified trucking experts and professionals that will set Uber up for success when they begin their employing process. The area is also known for its logistics expertise which will hopefully aid in development. Uber Freight also already had about 1,000 employees in the area, which will be a great starting point when building the operation. The area is also known for its tech talent, helping to advance the technological future of trucking.
The current estimate of investment sits at around $200 million going into the region annually through Uber Freight, which contains the potential for tremendous impact. The growth that this could bring to the transportation hub that is already thriving in Chicago is potentially boundless. While Uber faces competition from more established companies such as the Seattle-based Convoy, this hefty investment should help Uber compete with older and more seasoned veterans. To an extent, it has already paid off. The big company has already landed deals with expensive clients such as Land O’ Lakes.
The Immediate Impact
This has been an immensely controversial announcement due to the fluctuating reputation of Uber themselves. While Uber claims that their involvement in the areas has brought upwards of $1 billion through its involvement over the past few years, the company has a reputation for clashing with local government. This leaves many Chicago locals concerned for how the big business will impact the integrity of their city. Whether or not you agree with the moral standings of the company, it’s clear that this development will bring a steep increase of transport and related jobs to the area, as well as a significant amount of added income for the city and its people.
In addition to the immediate impact on the area, it brings change to the trucking industry in general with the new structure of the program. The structure of the program allows drivers to have significantly increased control over their hours since they can accept trips on a case-by-case basis that allows them to work as much or as little as is necessary. This could be an immensely beneficial revolution for the industry. It would help to eliminate excessive hours that are often forced onto truckers by their employers, which would benefit their overall quality of life. On the other hand, there is currently a national driver shortage in long-haul trucking, and companies wouldn’t have to hire full-time truck drivers and could instead fill in gaps with whatever drivers want to work on that route.
The Future of the Industry
What Uber has done with the traditional structure of acquiring drivers is revolutionary. The phone-based booking system allows drivers to have more control over their routes and see the payment plan upfront. While the rates for routes are somewhat inconsistent, experts agree that this internet-based agreement system is the route for the industry in the immediate future in response to recent national shortages. The system will additionally improve efficiency. Companies can get more routes done in a shorter amount of time because the system doesn’t have a set number of drivers. They can send more people out onto the road without having to wait for the previous drivers to return from their routes.