Owner-Operator of the Month
Janet Burdette, fleet manager at Hogan, has known Ledbetter for 10 years. “He’s always here first thing in the morning,” she says. “With the other guys, he’s always helpful with directions. It all boils down to his dedication.”
Amy Reynolds, operations manager at Hogan, says Ledbetter goes above and beyond what the company expects from him.
“He’s always thinking outside the box and giving us creative ideas on how we can better service our customers,” Reynolds says.
At safety meetings, Ledbetter encourages other drivers to speak up and pools ideas collectively, which is helpful to the management, Reynolds says. “He’s just top-notch in every way,” she says.
What keeps him grounded, Ledbetter says, is his wife of 26 years, Karen, and their two children, daughter Morgan, 24, and son Dylan, 21. In his spare time, he enjoys golf and other hobbies.
When he’s on the road, Ledbetter says, he lives by three simple rules.
“Always remember that you’re the professional and give the other guy the break,” Ledbetter says. “Always be aware of what’s around you, which means as far ahead as you can see and as far behind you as you can see. Never, ever, put yourself or your truck in a position for something bad to happen.”
Keeping his engine tuned, driving at slower speeds and having an APU help him conserve fuel and lower the impact of emissions, he says.
“I cut my idle time down as much as I can,” he says. “My dad taught me how to drive and he could always get better fuel mileage out of a truck than anybody I ever met.”
Ledbetter tracks all of his income and expenses, including fuel, on a computer. If necessary, he can alter fuel stops or driving habits to help cut expenses. He has netted $43,000 to $62,000 in recent years.
His main advice is to take care of equipment. Ledbetter performs most of the maintenance on his truck, but leaves heavy engine work to mechanics.
“If you’re going to make money in this business, you need to learn to work on your own equipment,” he says. “You can’t afford to pay $75 an hour to a shop to do little stuff.”
Ledbetter says he enjoys every part of being an owner-operator.
“It’s just the freedom of being your own boss,” he says, “no one looking over your shoulder all the time. It beats punching the clock and doing the same thing every day.”