Going independent on TV: Todd and Tamera Sturgis
The latest season of the “Shipping Wars” reality-TV show, in which a set of hotshot and some Class 8 haulers try to outdo each other on a variety of loads, features the now-hotshotting duo of former Class 8 haulers Todd and Tamera Sturgis (pictured, above) among some new cast members — also including Pennsylvania-based DMS Transport owner-operator Jessica Samko, a finalist in last year’s Overdrive‘s Most Beautiful competition (see below for more on Samko).
The Sturgis duo have been trucking for nearly two decades — longtime readers may well remember them from Overdrive and Truckers News coverage of Todd’s run through mixed-martial-arts training and the subsequent video-documentary Tamera produced about his training and subsequent MMA match, Under Pressure: Diary of a Cage Fighter. About six months prior to involvement in Shipping Wars, Todd says, the couple had been in a delivery application as company drivers running copies of People magazine largely on the West Coast when burn-out got them thinking about a change.
They were thinking about going expedited in a straight truck and leasing to Panther and likewise potentially hotshotting with their own authority, when an opportunity opened on a dedicated run as independent contractors leased with Forward Air, running from near their Sacramento, Calif., home base to Chicago and back. At the end of six months, the couple then shifted course, as Todd tells it, getting their own authority and going out hauling in a Ford F350 with a 26-ft. bumper-pull trailer.
The opportunity to do so via involvement in Shipping Wars came at almost the same time. “Tamera filled out a form online,” and that was that, Todd says.
On the show, says Todd, you’ll see the couple “feeling our way around to see if it’s something we can expand upon and keep going forward with it,” he says. “We had enough money in the bank to do a test [in a new operation]. We tried to go ahead and make the leap and see if we could make it work.”The necessity of quick-thinking customer service in a hotshot operation like what they’ve created in He is With Her Transport LLC has been one of the biggest hurdles, he adds. “It’s all new to us. Because we’ve had dedicated customers for so long that we knew very well, this is completely different for us. Every customer is a new customer, with a different personality.”
Time management with load selection for maximum profit, too, utilizing the uShip system exclusively at this point given the couple’s work with the show, is no small consideration, Todd says, “but you really have to focus on individual customer service, as each customer has a different expectation of what they think is important.”
This Shipping Wars season’s 14th and 15th episodes aired last night — episodes are available to cable subscribers via this link, and some select episodes and clips can be viewed there by others as well.
Samko’s DMS Transport Volvo
Derek M. Smith of DMS Transport sent along the following shots of the Volvo Jessica Samko runs, now under her own JMS Transport authority. Prior, she ran under the DMS Transport small fleet authority, which typically runs grain locally and regionally. Samko, however, had been hauling containers into and out of the port at Newark, New Jersey. Needless to say, since the show began, the engaged pair have been on the move on several fronts.
Stay tuned for news around Smith’s own project Peterbilt 379, a 333-inch stretch job and extensive customization he’s dubbed the Triple Threat.
Smith adds that Samko’s Rig is fairly basic, but though it’s not obvious in these daytime photos, at night a host of added lights provide quite a show.