Christmas in June

It is well-known that once you hit December 15th on the calendar, you might as well wait until the new year to get something of any substance done in business. The fact is, between shopping, holiday parties, shutdowns, vacations, and the holidays themselves, the business year ends then and doesn’t restart until the first week of January. If you take a broader look at the calendar, the roughly five-week span between Thanksgiving and the end of the year sets up the ideal conditions for the year-end wind down.Now what if I said that these conditions occur another time of the year too?They do, and they are taking place right now.Let’s start with the summer “holiday season.” There are roughly five weeks in between Memorial Day and July 4, and while the shopping isn’t as great, you do have graduations, the end of the school year, vacations, and the lot in the run up to Independence Day. Throw in on the financial side that you are at the end of the quarter and half of the year, and you have created the same conditions. We have seen it here at the railroad, where there has been a definite wind down of traffic going into the Independence Day weekend, and a number of our customers will have seasonal shutdowns or inventories taking place over the next couple of weeks.Should we be looking for Independence Day decorations going on sale around Easter? I don’t think so, but I do think that business-wise maybe we should be looking at the year in two six-month segments instead of one twelve-month one. June is the new December, and July will start out slowly, just like January does. The good news is that unless you are reading this in the antipodes, we are in the height of summer, and fortunately we only have to deal with winter (and the snow) once a year.Enjoy the summer slowdown. --By Steve Friedland
steven-fb.jpg Steve Friedland, vice president and general manager of Massachusetts Central Railroad, is a well-known leader in the short line industry who has devoted more than two decades to railroading. He got his start with the Morristown & Erie Railway, a 42-mile New Jersey short line, where he worked for 22 years in all areas of the railroad, including track, mechanical, signals, and operations. In 1999, he founded Short Line Data Systems, a provider of railroad EDI and dispatching software, AEI hardware, and management consulting to the short line industry. He has served as the ASLRRA representative to the AAR’s Wireless Communications Committee and was chairman of the joint AAR-ASLRRA Short Line Information Improvement Committee. He is currently a member of the ASLRRA’s board of directors.