Going where others won’t: Owner-operator Jimmy Nevarez

Tara Bullock | November 29, 2013
Owner-operator Jimmy Nevarez
Owner-operator Jimmy Nevarez

Owner-operator Jimmy Nevarez grew accustomed to hearing the word “No.” As a young trucker, he was told that he wouldn’t be able to make it as an owner-operator running short-haul driver in Los Angeles. Just the same, he says, “I’m all about proving naysayers wrong.”

Based in Chino, Calif., and leased to J.B. Hunt Intermodal today pulling containers (previously running 53-ft. dry vans), Nevarez has found success with short-haul in L.A. through customer service. “People would say, ‘You can’t pay me enough money to come to California,’ but I liked the niche. You can do what no one else wants to do, and do it better than everyone else. If you please the customer, they’re going to want you back.” Nevarez has built a client list in the area and receives personal requests because of his success in making deadlines.

Driving regularly in L.A., though, is no easy feat. Nevarez says his truck’s automatic transmission makes dealing with the traffic easier. He uses the automatic’s “creep mode” often, cruising without his foot on the accelerator.

Nevarez hauls today in this 2014 Freightliner Cascadia Evolution, part of the Team Run Smart real-world test-drive program.
Nevarez hauls today in this 2014 Freightliner Cascadia Evolution, part of the Team Run Smart real-world test-drive program. A recent blog post detailed Nevarez’ efforts to enhance tractor-trailer aerodynamics when he made the move from pulling dry vans to containers. Biggest thing he did? Reduce the gap between the back of the cab and the front of the container. 

Nevarez is part of Team Run Smart, a Freightliner-sponsored program that functions as both a real-world test-drive and a program of sharing information to help drivers with anything to from fuel efficiency to exercising. Nevarez, along with the other four Pros in the effort, give advice to their fellow truckers through Team Run Smart’s blog and meet-and-greets.

“It’s been an adventure. A very welcoming whirlwind,” he says. Nevarez enjoys sharing knowledge with drivers that he wishes he would have known when he entered the business 11 years ago. He says he learns from the other pros as well as site members who post questions and comments to the blog.

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“You don’t have to worry so much about being judged,” he says. “It’s more of a friendly community.”

Since graduating Magna Cum Laude from DeVry University in Pomona, Calif., Nevarez’ degree in business administration has helped him better understand the business aspect of trucking. His specialty as one of the Team Run Smart’s Pros is business, and he frequently contributes to the “Business Smart” portion of the blog.

“[At Team Run Smart] we all do something different, and we’re all successful. It can be done,” he says. For truckers starting out, he recommends researching the business and understanding costs. He says that it’s important to not just rely on a recruiter.

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Nevarez hauls in the program in a 2014 pre-production Freightliner Cascadia Evolution. The truck is powered by a 12 speed transmission and a Detroit DD15 engine. Nevarez uses the large sleeper as his office while on the road.

From bouncing around seasonal jobs to driving a company-owned cement truck to becoming an owner/operator, Nevarez has constantly worked throughout his career to better himself and learn more. “If it can be done, Jimmy can do it,” says his wife, Molly. “He’ll find a way to make the impossible happen.” 

  • Tom T

    Good for him. That is what American ingenuity and entrepreneurship is all about. Being creative, smart,

    taking an opportunity and carving a specialty

    market for yourself. Having an education helps. Only
    one drawback I can see, now that everyone knows

    what he is up to, look out, here they come. Continued
    sucess to you and keep looking for new opportunities
    for what I have found in trucking, as in many of today`s
    corporate challenges, once the word is out it gets
    very competitive. You could possibly build a client
    base from your relationships and get your own rights,
    build the business and sell it back to J.B.. Now that

    would do my heart good.

  • mousekiller

    That sounds like a great idea. Lets hide and watch to see how this goes . He does have a head on his shoulders.

  • ilovdieselsmoke

    an amazed story. it’s a wonder how he makes out so well with what container rates are today while most of his fellow truckers are working for peanuts. that’s bizarre! i know a few dozen of those port truckers who do even better on their fuel cost though because they’re running stolen red hot reefer stuff but they still can’t make ends meet in the middle. most intermodal customers want the five star red carpet service but only for the same pi$$ poor poverty wages so it’s good to hear that he is an exception to the rule if true..

  • Tom T

    I wondered about that myself. I did a lot of intermodal
    pier and rail for about 7 or 8 years and the rates were
    terrible. The only thing that paid were port reefer loads for a company that had many loads coming in from overseas and that only lasted till a third party came in and took over the account and cut the rates to nothing

    and there were plenty of do da trucking outfits that

    fought for it. Knowing what I do of J.B.`s rates, I have to wonder. Now Sealand is charging for the use of their chassis. I wonder who`s pocket that comes out of.

  • Fred

    Sure makes it a lot easier when Freightliner supplies a new truck at no cost to the “O/O” with no maintenance costs either…….

  • William McKelvie

    Another plug for Team Run Smart? This is getting very old, very very old. TRS gets their trucks at a steal of a deal. Running container freight? Really? Most of your regular responders like myself know the rates they haul those cans for. So what is so grand? Come on, let’s be honest. My last can paid me decently, it was EMPTY as well. This stuff they haul, is sharecropper wages freight. Please stop promoting this crapfest freight as a good deal, thanks. Credibility is getting shorter with the more articles like this one and more plugging for TRS, honeslty.

  • William McKelvie

    You could make it too, with a new TEST truck.

  • MW Girl

    Jimmy we are in and out of California and while we enjoy our time in the LA area it is nice to get away from the city and all of the traffic. You must have a constitution of iron to handle that traffic every day and the rough roads. I would imagine you have some great times and hints on how to get around a lot of that traffic! I know you were successful before becoming a Team Run Smart Pro and it is great to read your success story!

  • Jeff Clark

    It has been a privilege working with Jimmy. He is a smart young man and I have learned from him.

  • Jeff Clark

    Free truck-no maintenance costs? not really It is a program designed to do a few things. Freightliner hired 5 different owner operator operations. Each one of these operations were successful before Freightliner. That is why Freightliner contracted with us. We can find problems that only true road tests will find. Our blogs are about what makes us successful. Personally-I have been in this industry for 30 years. 12 of them as an owner operator. I have a BA degree in Business Administration with concentrations in Accounting and Economics. I failed my first DOT physical because of high blood pressure. I have lost 3 grand parents my dad and my brother to sudden death from heart disease. Yet-I have finished 9 marathons as a trucker. I care deeply not only about the health of the industry, but the health of the drivers. Each one of us brings something different to the program-and we are trying to help improve the industry.

  • Tom T

    No maintenance costs? Truck supplied? I did not know that.
    That`s not making it. He owes his soul to the company stove.

    He works for Freightliner and J.B. What happens when that all comes to an end and he has to start paying for everything. Making it is having your own rights a truck that`s paid for and a good steady well paying client base. This is the way it has been since de-regulation. People come into the business, he has what, 11 years? and they think they are making a fortune running for nothing. Sounds like another newbe story to me.

  • Jeff Clark

    Smart matters. He was successful before Freightliner and JB. He’ll always be successful.

  • Tom T

    I am glad to hear your health is improving and I am
    also happy to know you have a positive attitude towards trucking. I have lived through a few tragedies myself. After 45 years I found out a basic fact of life.
    Smart as you your friend Jimmy are, in trucking as every other industry, there are no free lunches. I suspect that you just haven`t figured out yet who is paying for this one. Success as they say, is in eye of the beholder. I have a son who has been a truck driver for the same company for 24 years. It is a union job and he is home 4.5 days a week with paid holidays, 4 weeks paid vacation every year, all the benefits and he grosses between 80 and 90 thousand a year. When he retires he will have a hefty pension along with SS. This is another, in my view, form of success. In other words,
    if you have to work for J.B. along with Freightliner, why not get paid for it? After all, they are getting most of the profit. If they were not, they would not have a program. I do wish you and your friend all the best though.

  • Jeff Clark

    Thanks-Tom-Trust me we know. We work very hard for all of our customers-including Freightliner. I think that your son sounds like a smart driver.

  • Chuck C

    My hat is off to anyone who can make it in such a tough operating market as local intermodal. From everything I have read about Jimmy, he was already successful prior to TRS. Way to go Jimmy for being successful in a market where many fail… Good Job!

  • Kevin J. Reidy

    Add the true cost of operation, subtracting the TRS subsidies from the equation and then get back to me.

    If running cans for JB while carrying all the costs involved in running a tractor off of your own gross ,with no freebies from sponsors involved was so lucrative, drivers would be flocking to sign on with them.

    I’d don’t see any numbers, so any claims made should be taken with a grain of salt…in the end, this is just a puff piece for Freightliner.

  • Kendall Oakleaf

    Run containers and go broke >