Equal partners: Chris Litzinger and Henry Kuperus

| August 12, 2013

Chris Litzinger and Henry Kuperus
Truck: 2005 Volvo VN, pulling open deck and van freight
Leased to: Brenny Transportation, brennytransportation.com

“His strengths are my weaknesses, and my strengths are his weaknesses,” says Chris Litzinger (left), half of a Brenny Transportation-leased owner-operator team with Henry Kuperus. “Henry’s a paperwork guru” and is the team’s business-record keeper and go-to guy come tax time. The co-owners cite an enduring friendship as key to their partnership on their 2005 Volvo.

“His strengths are my weaknesses, and my strengths are his weaknesses,” says Chris Litzinger (left), half of a Brenny Transportation-leased owner-operator team with Henry Kuperus. “Henry’s a paperwork guru” and is the team’s business-record keeper and go-to guy come tax time. The co-owners cite an enduring friendship as key to their partnership on their 2005 Volvo.

Chris Litzinger was in his early 20s when he met Henry Kuperus, who trained him. Litzinger was hauling locally for a food-service company, then jumped into over-the-road work with a carrier hauling intrastate, trying his hand in a lease-purchase deal that went sour. There, though, he met drivers who ended up moving to Brenny Transportation, a 50-truck fleet based in St. Joseph, Minn. Those drivers described Brenny as “odd, not like normal trucking.”

One oddity was that President and CEO Joyce Brenny, a former driver, has a reputation for putting drivers first. Litzinger was only 21, but he’d been bitten by the trucking bug and eventually convinced Brenny to bring him on. He was trying to hold on to the truck he’d leased at the former carrier, but ultimately it didn’t work out. When Brenny was looking to sell a 1999 Mack CH 613 that Litzinger says “was probably meant more for a gravel pit” the way it was spec’d, he jumped at the opportunity.

“It never left me stranded, and it made me money,” he says, “I came out of a rut I’d gotten in with the first fleet.” Such good times continued three years later through his purchase – likewise from Brenny – of the 2005 Volvo that he still drives.

In the interim, he and Kuperus had become fast friends. Kuperus is five years older, and they have children of similar ages. “We do a ton of hunting and fishing together,” says Kuperus.

“If I have a problem with something, I can call him, and I don’t have to worry about” that problem anymore, Litzinger says. “We got to talking about it, and we decided we both wanted to have more flexibility with family things.”

Obstacles to a partnership | Chris Litzinger (left) and Henry Kuperus’ partnership didn’t come about without salesmanship. “The hardest part was convincing our families it was a good idea,” says Kuperus. Litzinger described his sales pitch: “I had to try and tell my wife why I was ‘giving away’ half of my business, in exchange basically for home time.” Now their success has the families convinced.

Obstacles to a partnership | Chris Litzinger (left) and Henry Kuperus’ partnership didn’t come about without salesmanship. “The hardest part was convincing our families it was a good idea,” says Kuperus. Litzinger described his sales pitch: “I had to try and tell my wife why I was ‘giving away’ half of my business, in exchange basically for home time.” Now their success has the families convinced.

They struck a deal for Kuperus to assume half-ownership of the Volvo. Today, the team is one of three leased to Brenny.

Almost a year into the arrangement, their goal of maintaining a respectable income while boosting home time has been achieved, and ancillary income opportunities on the local level have expanded for the off-time.

The first six months in the truck together, they ran team two weeks on, followed by two weeks at home. Brenny’s freight is diverse, but Litzinger says they haul mostly “open-deck stuff … stretch double-drops, RGNs, step decks, flatbeds,” including some oversized loads.

When summer came, the two went back to a solo schedule, usually a week each. Litzinger covered two weeks straight around the July 4 holiday when Kuperus’ brother was in town, and Kuperus has done the same for him.

“Family is the biggest thing,” says Litzinger. “Given that we both have kids, it’s just nice in the summer” to have the flexibility the drivers are afforded in their partnership. “In the winter, all the kids are in school.”

And that’s a perfect time to go back teaming over-the-road to build income, which they’re likely to do.

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Next up in the Teamwork series: Landstar Ranger-leased owner-operators Jon and Miriam Brown.

  • No Reform

    The industry will be promoting Teams again…for obvious reasons….with these HOURS RULES