Summit Notebook

Exclusive outtakes from industry leaders

AUDIO-Pirate Avoidance 101


The best way to avoid pirates on the open seas? Outrun them, said Seaspan CEO Gerry Wang, speaking to the Reuters Manufacturing and Transportation Summit on Tuesday.

Somali pirates have wrought havoc in recent years, but Wang, who runs container shipper Seaspan, said his ships were too fast and too tall to attract their attention.

While the pirate’s speedboats are thought to top out at 22 knots, Wang said his boats generally speed through the areas patrolled by pirates much faster than that — at speeds of around 29 knots.

AUDIO – GE sees the problems … and the opportunities


On the first day of this year’s Reuters Manufacturing and Transportation Summit, one of the guests told us of the Chinese theory of the word “crisis” — the symbols for which are a combination of “problem” and “opportunity”.

On Tuesday, Vice Chairman John Rice told Reuters that both sides of the equation were in play for GE, but voiced confidence that the company would be able to hit its marks.

AUDIO – What’s going on with the economy? Ask a trucker.


That was the advice from truck manufacturer Navistar International Corp’s CEO Dan Ustian at this week’s Reuters Manufacturing and Transportation Summit in Chicago.

Ustian said the current slowdown has been worse and deeper than expected — even though the trucking industry had a sense that things were starting to go south as far back as 2007.

AUDIO – For the automakers — No Chapter 11, please


The plans are in.

Now comes the waiting, which, as Tom Petty can tell you, is the hardest part.

Now that General Motors Corp and Chrysler LLC have filed their plans of reorganization to the U.S. government and have started what looks like a long and not-painless process to make themselves smaller, more profitable and better suited to the current U.S. demand for new cars.

For Bill Diehl, chief executive of manufacturing consulting firm BBK, one thing that he would not favor would be a Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing by one of the two troubled automakers.

AUDIO – More money, more money, more money…


The U.S. government is spending a LOT of money these days.

We generally don’t go for the all-CAPS version of words, but in this case, it seemed appropriate. Every day we’re seeing new multibillion-dollar programs being rolled out of Washington, D.C. for everything from bank bailouts to auto companies programs.

But, according to Wick Moorman, chief executive of Norfolk Southern Corp, much more infrastructure spending still needs to be done for the nation’s railroads.

AUDIO-As bad as last time? Yup.


Trying to game this current recession has been a tricky — and so far, a largely unsuccessful — venture.

Most of us try (at least in the U.S.) to think of it in terms of innings (“If this recession is a baseball game and there are nine innings, where are we?”).

Welcome to the 2009 Manufacturing and Transportation Summit


It isn’t easy being a manufacturing CEO these days.  

Industrial production has plummeted around the world, falling commodity prices are hurting sales of equipment used in mining and oil and gas exploration, and even once-robust emerging markets like China are feeling the squeeze from the recession in developed markets. Another key market, construction, is in its worst decline in generations. 

Large U.S. manufacturing companies have responded to the lean times by becoming leaner themselves, in some cases by cutting tens of thousands of jobs. 

Video – Building for the future


The U.S. is expected to spend an extra $28 billion to upgrade the nation’s bridges and roads and one manufacturer is hopeful some of those dollars will flow their way.

Ruben Ramirez, Reuters, Rock Hill, South Carolina.

SOUNDBITES: Garth McGillewie, Director, Terex Hydra Platforms Steve Hueser, Director, Terex Rock Hill MORE INFO: The latest report card on the nation’s bridges and roads gives them a “D.” The latest U.S. economic stimulus plan includes billions of dollars for upgrading the country’s infrastructure and one manufacturer is hopeful some of those dollars will flow their way. 

Note to Jack Sparrow: Don’t Mess with Seaspan


seaspan-photo.jpgThe giant container ships that have come to all but define globalization can be as long as three-and-a-half soccer fields (and roughly that long in terms of football pitches if you’re reading this outside the United States).

The latest and greatest of them come with all sorts of new technology for navigation, managing their load and cutting down on fuel costs.

Audio – Consolidating the shippers


wang1.jpgThe credit crunch that’s curtailing access to funding for many companies may lead to consolidation among companies that own and operate shipping lines.

Container ships are not cheap, and they take years to build, so investors who order one have to do so well ahead of time. Some have overextended themselves, and may now be ripe takeover candidates.