Any driver interested in the expediting business – or just looking for a good read – will find plenty to chew on in “Hotshot Chronicles: Expediting Life at 100 km/hr,” an impressionistic travelogue and owner-operator business guide in one, written over the course of a Panther-leased team’s first half-decade in business.
Author Gary Shade, with his wife, Barb, went out expediting after Gary’s transition from financial officer and stock broker to CDL holder — and a six-month stint at Washington State-based Gordon Trucking, next door to the couple’s home state of Oregon. When not on the road – very rare indeed – the couple call the Medford area home.
Their story is one of those classic second-career turns toward expediting, somewhat similar to that of former FedEx Custom Critical- and Landstar Express America-leased owner-operators Phil and Diane Madsen (for a time, Phil blogged on OverdriveOnline.com). But as with any good story, it’s unique in the specificities, many of them chronicled in the book, of the pair’s tour through trucking. The first two-thirds pull from travelogues written originally for delivery to a list of email subscribers, Gary Shade says.
The book is organized according to a superimposed logic appropriate to the material. Different sections pull together snippets of the highs of new business and newfound freedom, the lows of disasters, the latter of which particularly can make for gripping and, at once, humorous reading. Particularly so is a “Shattering the Myth” vignette/chapter, culminating a series of mishaps that dispels the disasters-happen-in-threes notion by several, all punctuated by the serenity prayer:
God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
The courage to change the things I can,
And the wisdom to know the difference…
There’s a 2 a.m. tow after a detour gone bad, a miscalculated move around a low branch and several thousand dollars’ worth of subsequent cargo-box repair, a report from the mouth of the Mississippi River at the height of the Deep Water Horizon oil spill – “it smelled like the inside of a truck stop service bay or a mechanic’s oily shop at best,” Shade writes. “In my mind, we all share the responsibility for this disaster and its consequences, thinking that there are no risks in our demand for cheap oil.”
Overall, Shade’s writing is clear and concise, taking in the owner-operator-business-focused third of the book and elsewhere “an approach that we are sharing a cup of Joe at a Pilot truck stop.”
This quality makes that finale — written “about you for you,” as he writes in its introduction – more than just a repetition of business basics, even for industry veterans, I’d wager. That last main section is devoted to numbers, strategies for choosing carriers and other various in-depth discussion of paths into and through the expediting business. Shade brings a stocks analysts’ sense of a bigger picture to distill the details down to what those interested in getting into the segment as a driver and business owner need to know.
At once, the continued narrative of the Shades’ personal experience as it relates to the business — the very particular way they advanced their own success – elevates the book. It’s not just a primer on starting a business, but rather an advanced guide to professionalism in hauling toward success.