Owner-Operator of the Month: Bob Stewart

Elizabeth Manning | September 12, 2012

“When we got back on the road, Bob chuckled and said, ‘He asked me if we had hit that deer, and I wanted to say no, we just stopped to give it its last rites.’” Murray says.

Stewart bought his current truck, a “Marine Corps-tan” 2007 Freightliner Columbia, with a 515-hp Detroit Diesel and 13-speed transmission, in 2008. His wife christened it “Goldie.”

Stewart’s tips for good mileage include accelerating smoothly and never being in a rush. Since many of his hauls take him to California, he was able to procure a government grant to pay for 40 percent of his $14,000 APU.

Stewart doesn’t have a CB handle, but the radio did come in handy for one facet of his life: meeting his wife.

While Stewart was working for Nalley’s, he met Janet Bowman, who had a home-based CB near Olympia. The pair talked on the CB for about three years before meeting face-to-face. They married in 1992.

Besides spoiling grandkids when home, Stewart works on his burgundy 1965 Chevy shortbed stepside, with a 400-hp 350-cubic-inch engine. The hot rod has been a work in progress for 15 years. “She’s a garage queen,” Stewart says.

Of his five children, 18 grandchildren and English sheepdog named Toby, all but one child and one grandchild live within two miles of his home.

Stewart said he enjoys a month-long driving period due to two reasons, though: decreased time dealing with customers and being left alone to do the job.

“Downsides of driving long hauls are that you have to have dependable equipment, and you absolutely cannot slack on repairs,” Stewart says “I firmly believe in preventative maintenance like a religion.”

He gets oil changes every 15,000 miles and goes bumper to bumper with a regular checklist each time he is home. Stewart also has one shop that does all repairs, except for the engine, which he has done at a factory-owned shop.

With a net income of approximately $38,000 in 2011, Stewart has found a routine for handling his income, too. He uses Quicken software, where all of his expenses are broken down by category. A service called Nothing but Trucks does his taxes.

Stewart reminds owner-operators to carefully research the carrier they are going to work for and talk to several of the company’s drivers.

“Some companies don’t take care of their drivers or their trucks – you’ll see rolling wrecks on the highway,” Stewart says.