owner-operator

Step right up for interest-free loan

It’s not every day someone offers you an interest-free loan. The U.S. Small Business Administration recently announced a program to do just that. As part of the stimulus package, SBA is launching America’s Recovery Capital loans June 15. The basics: Loans are up to $35,000. After you get the money, you have five years to repay. Not only is there no interest to be paid, but there are no SBA fees, either. Qualifying debt includes mortgages, lines of credit, credit ...

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Recovery on the back burner

As recently as April, manufacturing still looked mostly bad, notes the latest weekly roundup from Bob Costello, chief economist for the American Trucking Associations. April output grew for autos, paper, wood products and nonmetallic mineral products. It shrunk for furniture, primary metal and fabricated metal products. From a year ago, manufacturing production was down 14 percent in April. Inventory still has a ways to go before demand strengthens. The combined manufacturing, retail and wholesale trade inventories dwindled ...

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Oink!

 As one of my former editors was fond of saying, “The stuck pig squeals the loudest.” You can hear a little squealing from the headquarters of pork consumption, Washington, D.C., in this blog entry from U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. He tries to discredit a recent Associated Press report saying that federal stimulus spending on transportation-related projects appears headed for counties of low unemployment, not high. “Nothing could be further from the truth,” says LaHood of the ...

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Some positive trends for the first quarter

First quarter figures from ATBS show a few encouraging notes. Among all hauling segments, clients of the Denver-based owner-operator accounting firm saw average income rise from $3,892 in January to $4,074 in March, due in large part to low fuel prices. Flatbedders had a steady rise in miles, from 7,216 in January to 8,303 in March. ATBS President Todd Amen says their lot has improved, but they’re still struggling. “I don’t think we are into any ...

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Trucking meets swine flu in a variety of ways

Reports on trucking and swine flu have proliferated this week. Many media outlets picked up the Knoxville, Tenn., newspaper interview with Professional Drivers Medical Depots (cited here earlier), but other angles have followed. First, two on the lighter side: Everitt Mickey, one of the writers who contributes to International Trucks’ Life on the Road blog, cautions readers to take the alarmist news accounts with a grain of salt: “The business of the news media, as they practice ...

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Truckers and swine flu

News coverage of the spreading swine flu has pointed out the role of air travelers in spreading contagious disease. If you’re thinking that truckers, likewise being a highly mobile group, could help the swine flu bugs get around, you’re thinking like Dr. John McElligot, CEO of Professional Drivers Medical Depots.      He has put his truck stop-based clinics on "high alert" regarding the spread of swine flu. Two of the Knoxville, Tenn.-based company’s five clinics are ...

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Topics for coming webinars

Well over 100 owner-operators turned out Wednesday evening for Overdrive’s first webinar. Kevin Rutherford, our Dollars & Sense columnist and the host of ATBS Trucking Business & Beyond on Sirius XM, had a lot to say about “Surviving a difficult economy.” The overall reviews were overwhelmingly positive, and that’s saying a lot, coming from a group that doesn’t mind sounding off about anything that rubs them the wrong way.   Listeners viewing the free web presentation also ...

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Landstar rides out the storm

When the economy’s in a tailspin, some observers like to speculate that the owner-operator is about to become an endangered species. Indeed, many contractors have fallen out in recent months, but there’s no doubt about the potential for good operators to make money. The biggest owner-operator fleet, Landstar Systems, recently announced it earned $14 million in the first quarter. Granted, that’s 41 percent less than a year ago, due to decreased revenue in a serious ...

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Diesel: Cheaper than gasoline?

If you’re still smarting over last year’s outrageous diesel prices, you can take a little comfort in a prediction from the U.S. Department of Energy. The feds forecast diesel will average $2.19 over 2009, and $2.51 in 2010. “The expected continuing decline in diesel fuel consumption in the United States this year as well as the growing weakness in distillate fuel usage outside the United States are projected to result in a narrowing of refining ...

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Protecting your plastic

I doubt there are many Americans who haven’t been stung by greedy credit card companies’ sneaky tricks of raising interest rates for lame reasons to levels well over 20 percent in some cases. Owner-operators have more than their share of whelps. You often having to rely on credit while far from home. When the economy’s tough, it’s easy to fall behind on bills, a sure trigger for higher interest rates. A tremendous consumer backlash over the issue ...

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