Dan Oren, current Dart vice president and grandson of the company’s founder, Earl Oren, remembers riding with Severson during high school summers when they’d unload packaged chocolate syrup. For Oren, that meant riding on the bench seat in Severson’s second truck, a 1978 Ford LNT9000 conventional powered by a Detroit 6V92.
Dart President David Oren, also a third-generation Oren family member in the business, singles out Severson for the education he received doing night city dispatch in his early days with the company. Back then, Severson “knew the city, the equipment, the customers and everything better” than almost anyone there, says Oren.
Today, “getting the drivers involved in the decision-making” is a priority for Oren to engineer the end result of “better decisions,” he adds, noting Severson’s recent work streamlining service on the Silgan Container account. Severson eliminated a lot of back and forth between Dart dispatch and Silgan by communicating directly with the manufacturer to run dunnage from a company warehouse in Shakopee, Minn., one of his frequent destinations, back to the plant in Savage.
Though his income has varied in recent years as he’s slowed down in anticipation of retirement, 69-year-old Severson say there’s no doubt the last decade was his best financially.
Continued success as an owner-operator, combined with the sale of a vacation home he and Linda built piecemeal years ago, should set him up for many a Canadian walleye fishing venture, a favorite activity.
Given recent investments, though, he won’t be retiring in the immediate future. After coolant kept leaking into the oil in his 2001 International’s Caterpillar C12, just this year he replaced the 12-liter with a 2000-model C15.
“A lot of the plumbing is different now,” he says. “The air compressor is now on the opposite side of the motor – a lot of the hoses had to be cut” and reconnected in different configurations. Severson’s happy with the change, and he’s hoping for several more years of operation.
“The way I look at it is – my health is pretty good,” he says. “I’ve got to drop some weight, but I’ve got my hair and my teeth and, as long as I feel good, I’m going to keep going.”