Like many people in our industry, we have been around working in the transportation business for what feels like a lifetime and have seen many changes over the years.  Listed below are some of the most significant changes I can remember:

  1. Communication. When I first started in 1989, there was no such thing as email. EVERYTHING was done on the phone. From 8 am to 6 pm offices were buzzing with the chit chat of operations and salespeople on the phones at their desks. Now when you walk into an office it is silent as everyone is on their computer communicating.
  2. Written communication with overseas partners was done on a telex machine. Now it’s all done on email.
  3. We also received written communication via fax machine (the kind that printed thermal paper). The first person who arrived at the office had the task of collecting the faxes that came in overnight and would make photocopies because you could not store the thermal copies in the file as they would turn black. Again this machine has been replaced by email.
  4. We typed waybills and bill of ladings on an electric typewriter. Thank goodness for dot matrix printers.
  5. Airline Airwaybills were assigned by the airlines and your sales rep would usually drop them off at your office or send them via courier. Now, these are delivered to you electronically.
  6. Sales reps carried a pager. If they “got paged” they would pull over into a gas station to use a pay phone to call the office. Ewww. Public pay phones were gross. We are happy to see these go.
  7. If you were one of the lucky ones you would get a company mobile phone that weighed 10 lbs and came in a bag. The evolution of electronics has been awesome.
  8. You could usually bribe the warehouse staff at the airlines to load your cargo on a flight by bringing by pizzas and beer on a Friday night. With heightened security and a change in rules, good luck getting anyone to do anything for you.
  9. We hand wrote labels for the shipments. Sometimes we would have to write over 200 labels with a black sharpie. Again, we are grateful for the invention of printers.
  10. We would create a “pouch” that contained all of our shipping documents for air export consolidations. Sometimes the “pouch” would weight over 10 pounds.  Can you say scanner and email?

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It’s fun to reminisce about how “the business” used to be. What do you remember from the early days working in the industry?

Share your observations in the comments below: