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Todd Dills | August 01, 2011

Man in the Middle

Former broker launches online marketplace connecting carriers with shippers

Valerie Hemmings is married to an owner-operator running under his own authority. She recently wrote to me with a plea for owner-operators to stand together for better rates, with the ultimate goal of eliminating the middleman in the carrier-shipper transaction. “Owner-operators,” she says, particularly since but also before the big downturn in 2008, have been “gasping for financial air because of the middlemen like brokers, agents and double-brokerage side-line agents” taking ever-larger cuts in freight transactions.

Truckers News Senior Editor Todd Dills is the author of a novel, Sons of the Rapture, and blogs daily at www.overdriveonline.com/channel19. Write him at tdills@rrpub.com or http://twitter.com/channel19todd.

 While the greed of some freight middlemen is noted by veteran haulers, the advantages of reliable, honest brokerages are also well-known. Many an owner-operator sticks with just a broker or two they trust as an outside sales agent for their business, taking some of the burden of finding freight. All the same, if former broker Dave Fussi is correct, his company’s new No Broker Freight load board service (http://www.nobrokerfreight.com) stands to provide respite from big-percentage broker cuts into freight rates for independents in the spot freight market.

Recently launched, the load board contains only shipper-direct loads, Fussi says, catering exclusively to carriers in the 1-to-50-truck range.

“You’ve got these owner-operators out there who can’t get their own freight” direct from the shipper, Fussi says. “What they need is a marketplace to the shippers, and that’s what we are. We’re a virtual window where shippers and carriers can meet.

“Our system’s pretty cool,” he goes on, offering pinpoint searching and sorting by height, weight, location and other variables. “What it does is end up saving the carriers time” on phone calls, particularly LTL haulers, Fussi notes.

When Fussi started the company, he vowed to every owner-operator he talked to he wouldn’t sell out to any larger interest, something he believes has happened when others attempted a shipper- and small carrier-only freight marketplace like NBF. “He’s that determined to change the trucking industry,” says Shawn Hamilton, a former driver sidelined by an injury who is now working with NBF to spread the word.

Headquartered in Ohio, NBF is offering a promotion to haulers on the $39.99 monthly service fee to help fund the startup and get more shippers on board. Shippers are not charged for posting to the board, Fussi says, so “we need the carriers’ support.” Use promotion code 1017 to obtain the special offer, unlimited free months until you book your first NBF load, via the company’s website.

And as of late June, Fussi was marketing to shippers already, with a concentration of Midwest loads and gaining ground in other areas of the country. “We’ve probably got around 700 companies putting loads on there daily,” with around 500 carriers signed on.


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Custom combo’s final fix

I heard from J&C Investments small fleet owner Jeff Hardage that his combo at the Great American Trucking Show may feature two power units, his past winning 1986 Peterbilt 359 and his son Eric’s newly refinished Mack B83 toted on a pristinely reworked RGN trailer. Says Hardage, “We had the trailer built [in 2004] for hauling the B83 as well as freight. It is a fully self-contained hydraulic detach, with a 30-foot well. This past winter we painted it with PPG automotive-quality black to get some depth out of the paint, reworked the floor and painted that with tintable truck bed liner in maroon.” For finished and in-process pictures of the trailer, see the June 9 entry on my blog, or check it all out at the Custom Rigs Pride & Polish at GATS in Dallas this month: http://www.gatsonline.com.

Top trucking songs Truckers News sister magazine Overdrive is looking for your nominations for the top 10 trucking songs of all-time, for its special issue accompanying its 50th anniversary this fall. Post your nominations to the June 20 entry on the blog or email to tdills@rrpub.com.

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