Channel 19

Todd Dills

Don’t pay for the privilege to haul

| December 11, 2012

Take a moment with me and welcome Second Wind Transport owner-operator Greg Trott to the Channel 19 halls. You may know him already: The independent’s been at it here since 2007, after nearly two decades running first a floor-refinishing business (from the 1990s, inherited from his father), then a trucking and home maintenance small business (begun in 2002) in Bermuda. He got his own authority in July of this year and has found rates on brokered reefer freight shall we say less than desirable.

In addition to writing the letter linked there, Trott sent over a copy of a rate confirmation by way of an example from a sizable brokerage that detailed a frozen load running from Mt. Pleasant, Texas, to McAllen, or around 620 miles, paying $700 to the hauler, or barely a buck a mile. He didn’t take this load, for obvious reasons. After deadhead miles to the pickup, “that rate … would just cover the fuel cost in the truck so you have to come out of pocket for the reefer fuel. And if you have them give you a fuel advance they charge you 5 percent.” Take the quick-pay option, of course, and you can take an additional 2 or 3 percent.

“A driver will pay” for the privilege of running such a load, Trott says, justifiably skeptical. Contrary to popular opinion, he adds, “some drivers do know mathematics.” (If you can make such a load work by booking a second, profitable leg to get you to a strong-rate area for freight, it may be worth considering — problem is, too many people take such a haul and it gets to be a trend among brokers unfraid to “try you” like this, as Trott puts it.)

Trott runs in the 2009 Peterbilt 387 pictured above, which he’s been in since just before he got his authority. It’s powered by a 450-hp Cummins and a 10 speed transmission, getting around 6 miles per gallon, give or take, “depending on the load and road conditions.”

Trott added his voice to the chorus of others making the connection between safety and pay/income on the road, likewise those looking for more parking options, particularly crucial given the move to electronic logs:

A driver wouldn’t have any need to run past available hours if we didn’t have to run so hard out here to make a living. And all over the country trucks stops are full after 4 p.m. Where do we park and rest when so many rest areas  are closed or weigh stations that are locked up tighter that Fort Knox? Many states are now enforcing “no truck parking” rules on the on- and off-ramps. Some of us seek out Walmart parking lots or another big-box store as a safe haven, but at times we are asked to move on. For instance, last year I was coming across the country from California. It was late at night and I was looking for a safe place to park near the Texas state line. I had two hours  left on my drive time and decided that I would keep going east into Louisiana, only to find out I had screwed the pooch — nothing, no parking. So I drove till I saw a few trucks on an on-ramp, which is where I shut down. It was around 5:30 a.m. — not even 20 minutes after stopping here I had a local officer bang on my truck, and I was told we were going to do a walkaround inspection of the truck and trailer. After doing the walkaround, then I’m told he was citing me for illegally parking on the side of a highway and that I had to move my truck to the next rest area or truck stop.

I asked the officer, So what happens if I am stopped and asked why I’m driving past my drive time. The officer nicely told me to just show them the ticket he just gave me and it will be OK. I had to move from that on-ramp, and the next place to stop and park is clear to Mississippi. Now I am driving and  thinking to myself, what if I fall asleep, crash and kill someone because I am tired, do I show them the ticket and it all goes away?

  • av

    It’s good to see some o/o can do quick math and realize that most of the rates do not add up. It would be nice if a majority of o/o if not all o/o agreed to national rates that are established once a year. This will never happen. For national prices to happen, there would probably have to be regulations again. If o/o would sit down and figure the cost / mile on a round trip basis and mark up from that price, maybe the industry would be profitable again. If shippers would disagree with my logic, then maybe they should buy trucks and realize what it cost to run a tractor trailer.(Payments, fuel, maintenance, & insurance)

  • Todd Dills

    AV, I like the notion of taking a starting point for rates at roundtrip costs from the freight origin — gives plenty of leeway for time spent loading/unloading, deadhead to the location and after delivery, and more. Not the first time I’ve heard the notion. Is it something of benchmark you use when looking at rates/loads?

  • mad as hell!

    Ask the asshole what is safe, park or drive asleep!!

  • AV

    Good evening Todd, yes this is a method of bench marking I use. Pricing in this manner means you don’t always have to count on back haul freight to make some kind of profit. You never know for sure if you will have a back haul. At least this method insures some profitability and you’re not always running your equipment hard. I use this method of pricing. Unfortunately because a majority don’t use this method, your price can get beaten down. Also, when pricing the number of loads that can be done on a particular run has to be taken into account also.Example, if I can get 3 loads in from Toronto to Hamilton, my fixed costs, travelling time round trip and fuel costs round trip can be taken into account for providing a price based on 3 loads. Hope this helps.


  • Foxfire

    Hello Todd,

    I have been doing this, all load quotes are based on round trip miles, for over 20 years, with a minimum of $4.00 per loaded mile. Now it should be said that we are more specialized in what we haul, making it harder for our customers to beat us down on shipping costs. None the less, when this happens I politely instruct my customer to search else where for a truck and almost always, when they do, something gets ruined, resulting in an extra cost to the shipper, making my original rate less expensive then their alternative.

    One other thing I would like to comment on…this back haul thing, in my opinion, there is no such thing. The freight has to move and just because its direction is where I just came from does not mean that I can do it for less….costs remain the same.

    As OOIDA has asked us to do for years….
    “Say no to cheap freight”

  • Gregga Trott

    Seasons Greeting
    Thank you for respponding to my add, I am very new to this O/O game and I am slowly finding better rates. Some brokers the first thing they ask for is my MC number and give me a crappy rate.
    I had to tell a broker not long ago I will take the rate his is giveing me if he pays for all my fuel and what ever else I or my truck may need along the way. starting from my 200 dead head miles to pick to the end with what ever dead head miles I may have to get my next load. I don’t have to tell you what he did. LOL He told me nope not doing it and hung up on me. I wonder why? strives to maintain an open forum for reader opinions. Click here to read our comment policy.