How to get – and keep – the contract
Success hauling with your own authority often requires negotiating contracts directly with shippers and keeping those contracts when competitors come prowling.
The father-son operation of John and Erick Engbarth learned this by experience. Erick makes regular hauls from North Carolina to California loaded with plastics and usually carrying motorcycles back.
When Engbarth Trucking first bid on a key contract with an N.C. manufacturer, the rate didn’t exactly seal the deal, but the prospect of regular, dependable service did. With the promise of a truck every Friday, each of the Engbarths has loaded on alternating weeks virtually every week since 2003, with plenty of home time for both men.
Though competition has tried to “under cut the rate,” says Erick, their service has kept them in freight. Features such as “not being late, taking care of the product, operating nice equipment, having a one-on-one conversation with them, just being able to talk to them about what they need and help them understand the trucking aspect of it” pay off.
After loading on July 29, for instance, the shipper noted at the last moment that a part at the front of Erick’s van needed delivery sooner than his scheduled drops would allow.
“They decided to air-freight the piece,” says Erick, which meant the entire trailer had to be unloaded, then reloaded. “It put me a little bit behind,” he says, “but to keep hauling this stuff, which pays good, you don’t want to cry about it.”
He had no problems making his delivery on time.
— Todd Dills
Plinko at the truck show
At the Great American Trucking Show in Dallas, Wright Express reps, pushing the new OTR Pro Fuel Card (otrprocard.com), channeled game show The Price Is Right with this Plinko board at their booth. Show attendees could compete for a Maglite and other prizes. The new OTR card is a credit product offering flat off-the-top per-gallon discounts to small fleets and owner-operators (with a $4 a month membership fee) at more than 700 truck stops. For more scenes from GATS, check out the Aug. 26 entry on the Channel 19 blog.
20 years driving, but still a ‘rookie’
At the banquet and awards ceremony for the Minnesota State Truck Driving Championships this summer, to the surprise of Koch & Sons driver John Borman, the emcee “called my name as winner of the Rookie of the Year award.” Strange, says Borman, considering his 20 years of on-highway experience.
Turns out that it was his maiden voyage through the competition that made him eligible for the honor. He also bagged a Second in the Sleeper Berth category.