LETTER: Go niche to avoid being the last independent standing

| May 22, 2013
The May issue showed numerous examples of profitable niche short-haul operations. Read the piece online here.
The May issue showed numerous examples of profitable niche short-haul operations. Read the piece online here.

Today we say “long live the owner-operator,” but 10 years from now will we be saying the same thing? Year after year, more owner-operators go out of business. Everyone is quick to jump in, pass judgment and say he or she didn’t know how to stay in business. This could not be further from the truth.

You have to look at the factors driving the owner-operator out: the high cost of fuel, insurance and trucks. Add to that the contracts for hauling goods. The idea of an owner-operator may be the only thing we have to hold on to.

Those of us leased to a carrier think we are an owner-operator, but we’re not. We are using the carrier’s authority to operate. Oh, yes, we pay for the fuel, the insurance, the truck and trailer and all the upkeep of the truck and trailer. We have the right to refuse a load, and we can shut down and take time off when we want. But we are nothing more than an extension of a company driver with options.

As an owner-operator, I chose early in my driving career to be a heavy hauler, and with that came good paychecks. I have retired after 48 years. My last yearly gross settlement was $275,560. After expenses, my profit was $155,060.

None of the equipment or shippers or receivers ever talked back to me about what I had on my trailer. I worked for me. Not everyone can haul heavy loads that high, wide and over-length. Nevertheless, if you think you’re cut out for it, take the chance. One day you could be making some good money for your services. How many of you can say that as you sit 16 to 24 hours at a shipper or receiver waiting to get loaded or unloaded?  –Mike McRae, Elkins, W.Va.

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  • No Reform

    Today’s Editor Picks…shows a 58 year old trucker beaten near to death My Young Beefy CHP…up near Truckee…2 cops beat this trucker till he couldnt breathe….where does THIS fit into modern trucking?? read it an be AWARE it could happen to YOU.

  • No Reform

    I do agree those heavy Haulers are especially GOOD at what they do…..wouldnt want to do that…no Patience for that line of work…

  • Hooker

    The problem with an o/o is that most do not know how to figure their cost of ownership – ask them what a ROI is (Return on Investment) – COO (Cost of Ownership) – they just don’t ask questions. To many have been saddled with the driver mentality from a carrier (which the carriers want – they don’t want you to learn how to become a truly independent). Ask questions READ, READ and READ.

    Know how to borrow properly, know that chrome doesn’t pay a bill it just cost money, looks don’t make money unless your a lot lizard.

  • http://www.facebook.com/kendall.oakleaf Kendall Oakleaf

    Well said Mike there are alot of fools out there who talk like and act like they are making it.

  • ilovdieselsmoke

    if teamster leadership has their way with their nationwide clean port truck campaign there won’t be any owner-operators left. the purpose is to make trucking so expensive that that average joe lease operator won’t be able to purchase or maintain the high price tree hugging engineered trucks that the teamster environmental coalition of partners are trying to force on the industry. make everyone an employee driver on company trucks and wow the perfect organizing miracle. no independent contractor status to put a stop to unionizing the general trucker population. think this will stop at the port gates? not a chance!

  • martymarsh

    Right on the money, and I can tell you first hand, being part of the corrupt teamsters for 16 years, they know they can’t get more money by way of raises so they have to sign more people up to pay protection money. They also don’t care who they hurt or put out of business so they can stay in business.
    Of course ATA is doing the same thing by way of getting laws in their favor and training drivers a paying them next to nothing.
    It is getting ugly.

  • Luisa Nims

    Great article! Thank you Mike McRae!

  • http://www.facebook.com/luisa.a.nims Luisa A. Nims

    Hi Hooker, Would you contact me: editor@longhaulmagazine.com. I would like to talk with you more about financial savvy for drivers.