Ake’s (Final) Take: The Relentless Pursuit of Accuracy

By | September 27, 2022

The relentless pursuit of accuracy ……

It can’t be the relentless pursuit of perfection because we are talking about forecasting, and perfect forecasts are as rare as winning the lottery.

In October 2013, I became FTR’s Vice President of Commercial Vehicles. I had been considered an expert in the trailer market but was washed out of my job at a trailer component supplier in 2009 when the Great Recession hit. As the market rebounded in 2013, FTR needed someone to lead truck and trailer forecasting. Eric Starks offered me my dream job, so I left my position at a tire wholesale firm and began my relentless pursuit of accuracy.

I had something to prove. Regardless of the Great Recession, I took my downsizing personally. I relished getting back in the game and worked diligently to catch up on the trailer market and learn the truck markets.

The complexity of forecasting the commercial vehicles markets is challenging. There are so many factors that influence demand, and they are constantly changing. But due to this long, relentless pursuit of accuracy, I believe my knowledge and understanding of this sector is unrivaled.  However, when I tell people outside the industry that I forecast commercial truck and trailer production, some respond with, “How difficult is that?” I am not offended by this but amused. The task appears much easier looking in than it does looking out. It is a challenging job because the market is dynamic. You must learn something new every day to stay on top of things. And I love doing the relentless pursuit of accuracy.

My methods and analyses were often unconventional. Economists and analysts, both inside and outside the industry, would not approve of all my techniques. But in the relentless pursuit of accuracy, I don’t care how I get to the correct answer; I just want the right answer. And often, I got to the right answer before the competition knew there was a question.

I’ve been fortunate to work in my dream job for nine years, but it is now time to retire. Why do this? Well, I’m also an author, with my fourth book scheduled for release next year. I plan to write more books, including a book on the qualitative side of forecasting.

Also, the market is going through several technological shifts, including electric trucks, autonomous trucks, mega-data, and artificial intelligence. Tracking all the changes here requires much more energy than I can give. There is a chance that within ten years artificial intelligence will produce more accurate forecasts than I could with a push of a button.

Although I will no longer be relentlessly pursuing accuracy, do not be concerned. The skilled team at FTR is fully committed to providing you with the best forecasts available.

Thank you, everyone, for your help over the years. I will miss working with you and for you. Farewell.  

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About Don Ake

Don has more than 20 years of experience in the transportation industry, including 16 years with industry supplier Hendrickson International. Don has a very strong forecasting and market analysis background. While at Hendrickson Don developed forecasting models, methods and processes to accurately forecast Truck and Trailer builds and product demand. Don wrote an industry economic newsletter and gained a reputation as a top industry analyst. His industry supplier background provides a "customer perspective" now that he is with FTR.

2 thoughts on “Ake’s (Final) Take: The Relentless Pursuit of Accuracy

  1. cliffa@thetruckermedia.com'Cliff Abbott

    Thank you for the support and information provided over the years. You’ve been a great resource for me and for others I work with. Many blessings in your “retirement.”

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