TRUCKER: Charles Strauser
FAMILY: Wife, Deloris; daughter, Mandy Dawn
LEASED TO: S&M Moving Systems, with United Van Lines
HOME: Banning, Calif.
ACCIDENT-FREE: 3.9 million miles
RIG: 2001 Kenworth W900
Charles Strauser has hauled freight since 1953 and worked as an owner-operator since 1963. Through his half-century of trucking, he says, two things have helped him succeed as an owner-operator.
The first is a good attitude, even in the midst of loading delays, routing mix-ups, increasing fuel prices.
“If you’re not happy with what you are doing, then go do something else,” Strauser says. “Complaining all the time doesn’t get you anything.”
Strauser “is always positive and upbeat,” says Jeff Stevenson, general manager of S&M Moving Systems, where Strauser is now leased. The two have known each other since 1998 and have worked together the past four years. If there is ever an issue with a load, Strauser works hard to adjust the situation to benefit the customer, Stevenson says.
“He looks professional at all times,” says Deloris, Strauser’s wife of 26 years. “And he likes what he does so much he doesn’t ever get excited if something goes wrong.”
One thing that’s gone right for Strauser sprang directly from trucking.
“I was leased to Von Der Ahe Van Lines, out of Fenton, Mo.,” Strauser says of the now-defunct fleet. “It was a small company, and one of the drivers let us stay at his house after hauls, and we would have barbecues. That would involve people in the neighborhood.” At one of those get-togethers, Strauser met Deloris – reason No. 2 in his formula for success.
“The support of a good woman is basically how I did it,” Strauser says. “Not that my work changed any, but she rounded the situation out. She covers all the loose ends.”
Strauser is especially thankful his wife was with him during the 35 years he hauled household goods. “She could do the public relations and inventory, and all I had to do was drive,” he says. “She made my life so simple.”
Stevenson says Deloris rides with her husband 90 percent of the time and handles most of the non-driving work, such as paperwork, routing schedules and tracking numbers. Strauser, too, helps with record-keeping.
“He keeps a notebook of all his oil, filter and tire changes,” Deloris says. “That lets us keep track of a lot.”
“I keep two books,” Strauser said. “Any repair I do to the truck goes in one. In the other book I keep my mileage. I keep miles per state and miles per gallon.”