Dream hauls

| December 21, 2008

The Patricks wouldn’t do anything else, says Brian. “You never drive at night,” he says. Plus: “An older gentleman who has a master sergeant’s stripes told me, ‘If you work for the government, they never run out of money.’ There’s always opportunity out there.”

The best perk of the job is the gratitude of those who receive the equipment – “the latest, the greatest and the best that’s available,” Brian says. “When you see the soldiers’ faces who’ve got to use these things… I wouldn’t give it up for nothing.”

CARGO: Food-grade sweeteners
RATE: Varies per haul
HAULER: Bryan DeKock, leased to Trans-Distribution
SHIPPER: Sweetener Supply
RECEIVER: Foods producers and distilleries
EQUIPMENT: 2008 Kenworth T800 with 5,000-gal. stainless steel tank trailer
LOAD/UNLOAD: One hour or less; one-hour washout after unload

Owner-operator Bryan DeKock’s father sold him his first truck, a 1989 Volvo/White, which he ran from age 19. “Being 19 was worse than having a DUI would have been,” he says of the $10,000 in insurance he spent that first year. “Overall it was nice, though, that my dad encouraged me and helped me out. As much complaining as there is about being an owner-operator and going broke, I felt like I was making money. Looking back on it, I didn’t make any money, but I was learning.” Almost 15 years later, the former dump-trailer hauler’s made good on that experience.

Leased to Trans-Distribution and dedicated to Brookfield, Ill.-based Sweetener Supply’s food-grade sweetener products, he’s found the green grass: he gets home most nights and the incoming revenue is satisfying – DeKock nets $70,000 a year.

The success with the tanker allowed him to feel justified in spec’ing a brand-new Kenworth T800 he took delivery of in 2007. “They’re making it where I’m comfortable having that new truck,” he says. It helps him with his shipper, too. “Their main business is making this product and selling it – they want us to be somewhat invisible, really. Having good equipment helps me do that.”

The T800′s 62-inch Aerocab sleeper and set-back steer axle for a shorter length give DeKock the weight savings he needs to haul 50,000-lb. tank loads. Paid on a percentage of the load’s gross, which the shipper sells by weight to the receiver, the heavier he can haul without permits, the better off he is. The shorter wheelbase has an added benefit, too. “I can get around the city with no problems,” he says about his frequent Chicago deliveries.
“What makes this job really nice is that you’re in clean environments at the food producers you deliver to,” he says. “For a guy like me, coming from the dump business, it’s great. My floor stays clean, I stay clean.” Not only is the pay good, but it’s steady, he says.

Though rates vary depending on the receiver and the product, DeKock’s revenue is steady, he says, even with a relatively large amount of deadheading daily to the Brookfield plant, or home at day’s end.

“I’ve been able to do things in my business and personal life I’ve never been able to do,” including a major remodeling of the home he shares with his wife. Out of debt (aside from the truck payment), DeKock had the money to do the work, as well as the time: He’s away from home only two nights a week at most.

“As busy at it is in Chicago, I’ve been able to get good jobs and stay regional,” he says. For him, that’s a dream itself.

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