Thursday, April 21, 2011

Can one man change the world?

  Yep.  Malcolm McLean did.  In ways even he never imagined.

The humble shipping container.  It just changed about everything.

Malcolm McLean was not a man to sit and enjoy his success......His inventive brain churned out idea after idea for making money.

     One such brainstorm came in 1953, as McLean was fretting over increasing highway congestion and worrying that domestic ship lines, able to buy war-surplus cargo ships from the government for almost nothing, might undercut his trucking business.  Rather than driving down crowded coastal highways, why not just put truck trailers on ships that could ferry them up and down the coast?  By the end of that year, McLean was proposing to build waterfront terminals that would allow trucks to drive up ramps to deposit their trailers on board specially designed ships.  The ships would move the trailers between North Carolina, New York City, and Rhode Island, circumventing the worsening traffic jams at a time when expressways were few and far between.  At the port of arrival, other trucks would collect the trailers and haul them to their destinations.

     In the context of the 1950's, McLean's plan was revolutionary.  Law and regulation ensured that trucks and ships had nothing in common:  trucking companies ran trucks, and shipping companies ran ships.

-excerpted from The Box: How the Shipping Container Made
the World Smaller and the World Economy Bigger, by Marc

More to follow........................

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