Chasing the Green

Todd Dills | January 01, 2012

Rate analysis tools for independents

Transcore publishes data for independents seeking ways to maximize revenue with a mix of spot and contract freight. Rate data is based on the Transcore DAT load board and reports from carrier partners and is published weekly at Transcore’s Trendlines site (at, click “Trendlines” under the resouces menu).

Transcore’s “Best Lanes in America” quarterly report, comparing spot and contract rates, spotlights areas of the country where demand for trucks by equipment type (van, flat and reefer) is highest. And the “DAT Trihaul Report” often highlights the “Worst Lane in America” with ideas for breaking it up into shorter segments to make it more profitable.

“We look for some of the worst backhaul lanes,” says Mark Montague, giving readers indications of destinations to either avoid, seek out or consider alternate “trihaul” strategies for maximizing revenue.

Check out the current “Best Lanes” comparison report via the site’s main page, and find the DAT Trihaul Report under the resources menu. There you can also download a primer on the “ABCs of Trihaul Routing.”

Flatbed is back

After dipping below refrigerated for several quarters through the first three months of 2009, income for flatbed owner-operator clients of business services firm ATBS have returned to traditionally higher levels.

Flatbed hauler Tim Philmon experienced the same spike that happened nationwide in 2011. “I’m having a banner year all across the board,” he said late last year. Here are his 2010 and estimated 2011 revenues:

2010: $165,000, $1.50 / mile

2011: $200,000, $1.75 / mile

How $12,580 became $1,800

Owner-operator Steven Abell, leased to Greentree Transportation, hauled a “rock bucket” on his double-drop three-axle step deck primarily for the learning experience, he says in retrospect. The $12,580 it promised to pay to the truck was a good incentive, but he knew it wouldn’t be easy.

The load, destined for a mining operation in Edson, Alberta, started out in Casper, Wyo., and was 20.5 feet wide and 16 feet tall, Abell says. It moved 1,300 miles through two states and the Canadian province on off-interstate routes. “I had to pay all my fuel, wear and tear, all your pilot cars and escorts — anything that I do comes out of my pocket,” Abell says. “All of the permits, I pay for it.”

He’d ordered his Montana permits in advance at 95,000 pounds GVW, but when he “finally got the thing loaded,” he says, “I was 1,600 lbs. light on my Montana permits.” After waiting for a week in Casper to get loaded, he then had to sit another five days waiting to get the Montana permit corrected before leaving Wyoming. He spent nine days under the load, averaging 150 miles per day and 4.68 miles per gallon.

For video of Steven Abell’s haul of a mammoth mining bucket to Alberta, visit

“Pilot cars really ate me up” in terms of costs, he says. “I had to have three in Montana and Wyoming and two in Canada.” At least one of them made $3,100 on the haul, well more than the $1,800 he eventually took home himself.

  • Big R Phillips

    Congrats Tim! I too have an older truck i’m trying to get leased on with G&W Tanks in Savannah,Ga. 1996 KW W900l 3406e cat. Maaan i am busting my hump to get away from these containers! As of today my truck is down due to air compressor problems and i dont have enough money on hand to finish the repair. I have to borrow money from my company i’m leased on with to get back rolling. I know two guys that have signed on with G&W and thier revenue has doubled with out working thier trucks to death and good home time with the family. And they have older trucks too. You can keep your truck in great condition if you make enough money to set aside for not if but when something breaks. And you dont have to beat your truck up to make the money! Congrats again and God Bless!

  • localnet

    The oil patch is good money… ;) strives to maintain an open forum for reader opinions. Click here to read our comment policy.