New and Notes from the 2018 DAT User Conference

A week ago, Sam Rogers, a carrier manager at AMT, and I flew to Portland, Oregon for the 3rd Annual DAT User Conference. I was really looking forward to attending with Sam, who hasn’t traveled much. In fact, it was only his second time on an airplane!

We got in a few firsts too–Sam’s first time staying in an Airbnb and his first time ubering. (It’s kind of funny, isn’t it, that Airbnb and ubering are words…)

We rented a 2018 Model X Tesla–my first time driving a Tesla. Elon is on to something with those things.  It was fun to drive and extremely functional. By the way, auto drive is a real thing. Who knew? We drove to Cannon Beach where Sam saw the Pacific Ocean for the first time. Cannon Beach is one of the most beautiful places I’ve been. Haystack Rock (check it out behind Sam and me in the picture above), only a few feet from the shoreline, is 235 ft tall and breathtaking. If only we’d had more time.

2018 Tesla Model X


But we had other stops to make. We popped in for a visit with the good folks at Delta Logistics–a great carrier we love working with. And we couldn’t leave the area without seeing AMT and Squirrel Works’ longtime friends at Integrity Logistics. In both logistics and transportation marketing, we often work with shippers and carriers from afar. It’s so much fun to meet the people we talk to on the phone, to see their offices and their facilities.

After getting in our firsts, Sam and I attended the DAT Conference. This year it was held in the renovated Downtown Hilton in Portland. Close to everything including the city’s famous MAX Light rail, it’s a huge and spacious facility. Don’t let people tell you that venue doesn’t matter–it certainly does. (kinda like your website–but that’s another post)

Every time I go to a conference, I’m inundated with information. That’s why I challenge myself to reflect on what I learned and write it up when I get back. It’s a good exercise in remembering what’s important while adding it to my professional lexicon.


So here are my Top Three Takeaways from Three Experts at the 2018 DAT User Conference


Donald Broughton

Here at AMT, we’re Donald Broughton fans. Broughton is the Principal and Managing Partner of Broughton Capital, LLC. He’s been in the transportation analyst business for years, and he always offers valuable insights.

In a keynote session, Broughton explained that in interview after interview, he is always asked the question: “Are freight brokers going to be replaced?” I was pretty happy to hear that his answer continues to be, “NO!”

Broughton believes that disintermediation (the reduction in the use of intermediaries between producers and consumers) will occur in Business to Consumer (B2C) arrangements like travel agents and rideshares, but not in Business to Business (B2B) arrangements such as Freight Brokerages.

Broughton also illuminated a trend in the world market from low-value/high density goods (think paper, cardboard) to high-value/low density goods (think electronics like computers, cell-phones, etc.). With this in mind, smart brokers will turn their attention to shippers who have these kinds of cargo to move.

I was surprised to learn that only 6 months after the official enforcement of the ELD-rule, a whopping 99% of all carriers being inspected these days are compliant. In addition, we’ve seen a 47% decrease in Hours of Service (HOS) violations during the same time frame.  


Michael Riccio

Michael Riccio is the CMO of Leonard’s Express and a Squirrel Works customer. He participated on a panel about scaling your operations. We’ve all been hearing a lot about Shippers of Choice, but Riccio made some excellent observations about working with Receivers of Choice.

He pointed out that at Leonard’s Express, they are taking steps to inform customers how important good receivers are, and how to adjust their pricing based on how well receivers can accommodate trucks.

Riccio discussed Leonard’s Carrier Advocate–a position I was excited to hear about. What a great way to show drivers you care! When drivers have an issue, they can talk to their Carrier Advocate who helps them find a good resolution.


Chad Boblett

Sam and I had a fantastic time hanging out with Chad Boblett. I’m sure you know that Chad is the Rate Per Mile (RPM) Masters Facebook group founder.

David with Chad Boblett

Chad sat in on a panel with John Gamero and Lane Lyons entitled “What Do Drivers Want?” That’s a big question these days, and I always enjoy hearing what Chad has to say. He explained that the best way to keep drivers happy is to cut down on detention. With the enforcement of the ELD rule, an hour is worth more than it used to be.   

Brokers and shippers who make sure Chad is loaded and unloaded quickly, or who are willing to compensate him fairly when he isn’t, get a big thumbs up. Those who don’t might have a more difficult time finding trucks the next time around.


I love conferences. I like meeting new people, seeing old friends, and learning.  Like everyone else, I feel like I’m always putting out fires at work. I want to remember to take a step back and work on the business instead of always working in the business.  Conferences put me in that weird transitional space–still in work mode but not glued to phone and email. It’s a good place–I can learn and think about the future and how to best position myself and the company.

I’d like to challenge you all to consider the last time you attended a conference for knowledge.  If you can’t immediately come up with a memory, you should probably go ahead and sign up for something. The next one on my list is the TIA’s 3PL Technovations.  This is the first year for the new conference, created by feedback from the TIA community to stay current on emerging technology.  Stay tuned for my notes!