Channel 19

Todd Dills

‘Shipping wars’ TV series starts tonight on A&E

| January 10, 2012

The Austin American-Statesman reminds us that the latest in the phenomenon of truck-driving reality-TV series debuts tonight, with back-to-back half-hour episodes of ‘Shipping Wars’ occupying the 9 p.m. (ET and PT) hour on A&E. The debate over whether the show will be a boon to the image of drivers in the public imagination has already begun, as evidenced by comments on my previous post on the subject, from December.

“I’ll definitely be checking it out on Jan. 10,” wrote frequent commenter and proprietor at the Dispatch Me Home social site Bruce “Bandit” Weiser, “but I’m afraid I already have some questionable feelings from what I’ve read so far. I see where the participants consist of only one class 8 driver who has only one year of experience, a young lady who is a self-proclaimed rookie, and three more hotshotters, one with several months’ experience,” another with just a couple years’ worth, and hotshotter Scott Bawcom (pictured), who trucks in part with his wife Suzanne, in business for four years.

“It seems to me,” Bandit continued, “that if the show’s producers were truly interested in shining a positive light on the industry that they could have found a more experienced cast of players. I guess we’ll all just have to wait and see how it all plays out.”

The wait is over — if you’re near a television and can check it out tonight, let us know your thoughts. Bawcom, at least, is hoping it will give viewers a true picture of the reality of his own business, if not of trucking as a whole. As part of reporting in part in this month’s Overdrive, he told me he thought the earnings-contest nature of the show, in which the haulers compete via uShip’s online freight marketplace, made it at least unique among other trucking TV shows in its presentation of the realities of running a hauling business.

“We’re all bidding on the same type of stuff,” said Bawcom, “but everybody has different equipment. Some of the things I won’t be able to move” as easily as others. “It’s very competitive, the consideration of how much we’re going to be able to offer to get the bid.”

Ultimately, he says, “I think it will be good for our business… and will shed interesting light on the transport industry on the whole, how difficult it can be for drivers to do what they do.”

Bawcom, with his wife, Suzanne, started his four-year-old hotshot business, Dream Time Transportation, after he got upset over the several weeks it took a hotshot hauler to deliver a 1940s Ford coupe street-rod he bought for his father in his final years. Bawcom decided, ultimately, he could do customer service better himself.

Powered by a crewcab 2011 Ford F450 (pictured, loaded with three boats) outfitted with a heavy-duty fifth wheel to pull a 53-foot Broward open-deck lowboy trailer, as well as a flatbed Ford F350, the former marine’s success has seen him move upward of 400 total loads since the business’ launch in early 2008, more than half of them secured via Bawcom trumpets his uShip customer feedback ratings, where he’s received just two negative responses on 200-plus loads booked there.

“It’s a great menu to get a customer base from,” he told me. All of his current direct customers he originally met via the site.

Here’s hoping his record serves him — and the rest of us — well in the show.

  • Bandit

    Well, Like you said Todd, the wait is over and tonight it was ‘Let the show begin’. I sat and watched both 30min. segments of the program and I am sorry to have to say that in my opinion, my earlier reservations were right. I found both segments lacking in trucking and business professionalism. I think that all that the shows’ producers have done is show a few wanna-be truckers that have decided to use their pick-ups and one is using his van to try to fullfill their dream. I was especially disappointed with Mr. Bawcom and his supposed 4yrs experience. For someone who was aiming to shine a professional light on his business and the trucking industry, he painted a very sad picture of himself and his business on this, the very first show of the series. A man and his company that is supposed to be experienced in the hotshot trucking business, and he has trouble loading two boats on his ‘boat trailer’, damages his truck and one of the boats as a result, runs out of fuel and has to walk with a gas can to look for some, finds a construction site and when he discovers there is no-one around, talks about stealing some fuel. Then he decides to syphon a couple gallons out of a dump truck that shows up and can’t even get that accomplished. I won’t bother to go into anymore detail. I will let everyone view the show again next Tue. and make their own judgements. I do however think that the producers would do much better if they would put a truly experienced O/O trucker/businessman on their payroll as a technical advisor. I believe it would result in a much better portraial of reality If that’s truly what they are wanting to show, and not a side-show for everyone to laugh at. Oh yeah, one last point I’d like to make, It really is no need for the blatant over-use of vulgarity by everyone on the show. I heard more ‘Beeeps’ in that 1 hour than I would hear in an R rated movie. Sorry gentlemen, I give this show a minus 10. I know you can do better.

  • Jim

    Bandit, is that a minus 10 on a 1-10 scale? If so, I am at a 2. This was a “uShame” and would never get any ratings if it was not the joke it is. I don’t know anyone who would want their items shipped by any of these providers.

  • Todd Dills

    Thanks for the feedback, Bandit and Jim. Anyone else have similar/different thoughts about the show?

  • Marc Mayfield

    Didn’t have a chance to watch it, but the YouTube trailer suggests a circus
    troupe. Aren’t these people truckers (?!) rather than shippers? Two thumbs down. Unreal. Fuggedaboutit. Leaves a bad taste and a bad impression. The voice-over–gravelly, over-the-top–doesn’t help. Should be canceled.

  • Bandit

    This past Tue. I forced myself to sit down and watch the second edition of the ‘Shipping Wars’. It was another double 30min. show and I guess I thought I owed them a chance to redeem themselves after the horrible showing in the first edition. I’m sorry to have to tell you that I was totally wrong. What a waste of an hour. The second edition was just as sad as the first and I have no idea why A&E is continuing with this farce. If there was ever a so-called reality show that needs to just be canceled and forgotten about before the completely disgrace this aspect of the trucking industry, THIS IS IT. Give the Hotshot division of trucking a break A&E and find some other occupation to TRASH.

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  • Jim

    On the monster truck haul that he made such a big deal out of 2″ . Why didn’t he just let air out of the tires??

  • Jim

    Backed up and read the other comments left about the show. { All picking the show apart. Main word here is SHOW. They are not trying to really show the main line of the trucking industry with this SHOW. This was produced for entertainment and thats it. If they really showed how hard true truckers work and the way it is really suppose to be done, they would not have a SHOW. Maybe they did not drop the air out of the tires just to make people say, ” what a dumb ass ” anybody would know to do that, so here I am playing right into their hand, or maybe his mustache just got in his way of seeing things clearly. Anyway everyone unless they are brain dead know that this is not a true view of shipping or any form of trucking. This show has to be viewed in the right frame of mind, other wise if you drive at all it will piss you off.

  • Harold Gillian

    The Problem with this show, its not reality at all…I am an Owner Operator, and what the show is not telling is that all the drivers are paid by the networks.. So it does not make any difference is they actually turn a profit or not.. In the real world, if you own a truck and trailer and with the cost of base plates, ifta, insurance, truck/trailer maintance… the break even cost per mile is $ 1.80
    Thats just hauling general freight and it goes up from there if you’re hauling specialized or oversized/overweight loads..
    The average trucks cost per mile in fuel is $0.70 cents per mile..
    There are so many shippers and brokers that are watching this type of show and still think that they can have their freight moved for these unrealistic low prices !!!
    This show is actually hurting the Trucking Business !!!

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