A&E to offer “Shipping Wars” program featuring truckers, load-matching service, uShip; first show to air January 10
– by Cliff Abbott (special correspondent)
The A&E Network has announced the kick-off of a new television series pitting five independent truckers against the clock, the budget and one another.
The first season of “Shipping wars” premiers on Tuesday, Jan. 10 at 9 p.m. Ten episodes are slated for broadcast, each lasting one-half hour. The series bears some resemblance to A&E’s most-watched show, “Storage Wars,” and features uShip, a Web-based load matching service where the drivers will bid on the loads they haul.
To create the program, the successful format of “Storage Wars” was adapted to the trucking world. Drivers Marc Springer, Jennifer Brennan, Jarrett Joyce, Roy Garber and Scott Bawcom test their freight hauling abilities and their business acumen in a competition to determine the most successful operator.
As with any drama, the cast of characters brings a variety of experience, skills and personalities to the mix. Some drivers, however, will find the freight mix to be most interesting. The drivers will load, secure and haul loads ranging from oversize and bulky to the truly bizarre. According to the press release for the show, “The high-stakes race is on as they set out to deliver the loads in time, and any setbacks can cost big bucks.”
Each load begins with Austin, Texas based uShip (uship.com), an online shipping marketplace that connects people with customer-reviewed transport companies. Carriers large and small can register with uShip in categories ranging from standard freight to vehicles, heavy-hauls and even animals. A review of the site’s transporter directory shows vehicles ranging from cargo vans to Class 8 tractors with heavy-haul trailers and everything in between. The transporters on “shipping Wars” will select and bid on loads that have been posted on the uShip board.
uShip Director of Marketing Communications Dean Jutilla is ecstatic about the company’s role in the program.
“We’re excited to have uShip chosen as the platform used for load selection on the show,” he said. “Over 200,000 transporters have registered with uShip to search for loads, many of which remain active. To my knowledge, this is the first time any of them have been featured in a TV series.”
Company founder and CEO Matt Chasen was involved at the inception of the new show.
“We know some folks at Megalomedia, who produces the show and is also located here in Austin, Texas,” he said. “They were intrigued by some of the colorful characters that use our service as well as our bidding process. The developed the concept and pitched it to the A&E network.”
He points out, however, that television wasn’t considered when he founded the company seven years ago. “We set out to provide a marketplace where shippers and transporters can be matched up and our marketplace has grown organically,” he stated. “Carriers can bid on freight that ranges from traditional freight to vehicles, boats and even livestock and pets. We’re the largest marketplace for shipping and transportation services in the world.”
“However,” he adds, “not in a million years would I have expected to be involved in a television series. It’s very exciting.”
While it is yet unclear how often uShip will be mentioned in the show’s dialogue, the company’s services will be the basis for the load selection. Cast member Scott Bawcom and wife Suzanne currently own and operate Dreamtime Transportation from their base in Nashville, Tenn. Suzanne bids and books the loads, which Scott is responsible for transporting. The Dreamtime Transportation profile on the uShip site currently shows feedback from 175 loads the carrier hauled through the uShip service.
“Many transporters, especially the smaller ones, use their profile page at uShip as their company website,” says Jutilla. “Shippers can see what they say about themselves, but also see ratings and feedback from other shippers the carrier has done business with.” The rating and feedback system is somewhat similar to that found on eBay, which provides a healthy amount of the loads offered at uShip.
“About three out of four automobiles sold on eBay are purchased by out-of-state buyers,” Jutilla said. Often, the buyers are individuals rather than corporations with shipping departments. uShip provides a marketplace where they can arrange shipment of their purchase. The strangest vehicle hauled, according to CEO Chasen, was an older tank purchased on eBay and transported across the country to the new owner.
Vehicles aren’t the only “non-standard” freight offered at uShip, however.
Jutilla says, “We’ve hauled some weird stuff.” Among the most unusual loads he listed were “a giant Big Boy statue and a Star Wars hovercraft, complete with a statue of Yoda.” An early episode of “Shipping Wars” will feature an enormous statue of a horse and many other loads are expected to be oversize or overweight.
All of the show’s driving contestants have profiles on uShip and fans are encouraged to view the profiles and feedback for each. Here’s a list of characters along with their “handles.”
- Scott and Suzie Bawcom (uShip handle: dreamtimetransportation)
- Jennifer Brennan (uShip handle: texas-cowgirl)
- Roy Garber (uShip handle: arbiesteam)
- Jarrett Joyce (uShip handle: jjncsu2000), and
- Mark Springer (uShip handle: snortnboartransport).
The A&E Logo promises “Real Life. Drama.” “Shipping Wars” will undoubtedly provide a little of both to viewers. Some drivers, however, may be more interested in how the characters conduct their trucking businesses, or perhaps in how they secure and transport some of the unusual loads they haul. Whatever the reason, the producers of “Shipping wars” are confident viewers will find a load of entertainment.