Channel 19

Todd Dills

Meet owner-operator of the year Larry Severson

| March 25, 2012

Leased to Dart Transit since the late 1970s, Truckload Carriers Association/Overdrive Independent Contractor of the Year Larry Severson’s longevity with the company beats that of even some of the Oren-family management. Dan Oren, grandson of the company’s founder and one of three brothers who continue to be active participants among the company’s family ownership, remembers riding along with Severson (pictured) in his 1978 Ford LNT9000 conventional, powered by a Detroit 6V92, the second truck Severson had leased on with the company.

“I was a high school kid,” says Oren, when he got his first experience with Dart loading and unloading trucks for certain of the city drivers at the time. Severson, running mostly local and short-haul regional then and now, and Oren trucked around Minneapolis/St. Paul in those days on no more than a basic bench seat in the Ford daycab.

Severson, finally, had found an ideal home for his owner-operator business, which started in 1976 when he bought a 1975 International TranStar cabover and leased to International Transport for a short time.

Before that, though, he’d worked for many years as a company driver with Northwest Transfer, the origin story of which he tells in the following video. Severson, whom I met a week ago now in the Twin Cities, is nothing if not a storyteller. Enjoy the vid — ‘How Straight-Truck Carrier Northwest Transfer Got Its First Tractor’ — here, as well a gallery, following, from my photo shoots with Severson, his current 2001 International 9900i (fresh from a swap of the 12-Liter Caterpillar engine for a Cat C15 — yes, it took a great deal of doing to get ‘r done) and his prize in the IC of the Year contest, a brand-new Cummins-powered Dodge Ram 2500 pickup (pictured with the International).

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  • Pingback: Meet John Borofka, Dart Contractor of the Year | Overdrive - Owner Operators Trucking Magazine

  • Steve Gundale

    Hi Todd,
    Thanks for the article on Larry Severson and John Borofka. Both are great guys and wonderful representatives of the professional independent contractors who power Dart Transit Company!
    Here’s a correction for the first paragraph of Larry’s story. Dan Oren is the grandson of Dart’s founder. Dan’s father, Don Oren, succeeded Earl Oren, Dart’s founder, as president. Dan is one of three brothers who are active third generation members of the company’s family ownership.

  • Todd Dills

    Appreciate it, Steve. I have that correct in the more extensive version of this on its way to the pages of Overdrive, but mistakenly wrote “son” here. Apologies!

    Hope things are well in Minnesota!

  • Tom

    I bought a truck very similar to Craig Ryan’s in 1982, when I was 22 years old and had just graduated from college. It was a ’72 year model if I recall. It had a 335 Cummins and a 13-speed underdrive/direct as opposed to a direct/overdrive. It had manual steering, steel spring suspension, bias tires, and did NOT have an air-ride seat!! It would literally rattle your teeth when you went over a good bump in the road. I was as green as they come and the old guy I bought it from taught me how to drive, helped me get my license and then somehow got me leased on with the company he was with — Everette Truck Lines, out of Washington, North Carolina. I got a 40-foot flatbed trailer with the truck and hauled mostly lumber and roofing products north and steel back down south. My stint as an owner-operator was harrowing to say the least and I wonder how I made it as long as I did without a major incident. I lasted less than a year before selling out. Like Craig, I have regrets. I now know that I should have kept that truck, swapped out the tandem drive for a single air-ride drive axle and gone into household goods hauling with a van line. After a 5-year hiatus from trucking, I ended up going to work as an owner operator for Mayflower and I really enjoyed that segment of the industry for a while after again leaving for a non-trucking job. Several times over the subsequent decades, I have gone in and out of trucking, earning an MBA and J.D. degrees along the way. Now, here I am again at 55 years old driving a truck. strives to maintain an open forum for reader opinions. Click here to read our comment policy.