The Two-Truck Transition

Max Kvidera | June 03, 2011

Now Curl runs I-5 from Olympia, Wash., to Southern California solo. He hauls lumber and other loads south and hot tubs and an occasional load of steel north.

“I had experience with direct employees and a leased operator,” he says. “Frankly, there’s not enough money in it to make a profit that’s worth the liability you put out there.”

Curl calculates a minimum 10 hours of administrative time per truck per week, a cost of at least $50 an hour if you paid someone to do it for you.

“For me to make another $1,000 to $1,500 a week by putting another truck on to give me compensation for my risk, I don’t see that happening,” he says. “I can barely pay myself.”

With his 2009 Kenworth T660, he grosses $200,000 to $250,000 a year, running roughly 100,000 miles. He pays himself $2,000 a month. His wife draws a salary, too, for keeping the books, billing and dealing with brokers.

Azmi Azad thought he could make money hiring a friend to drive his truck. He hired her in November and paid cash for another truck that he drove.

But the friend peppered Azad with questions about directions and complaints about loads. “She was trying to make as much money as quick as she could,” says Azad, who’s been driving since 1990 and has been leased on to Schneider National Inc. for 18 months.

“A second truck is too much, mentally and financially. I was exhausted at the end of the day. I had no time to think about anything.” After three months, he sold the truck she was driving.

Azad says he had been taking home $2,000 a week from the truck. But while his friend was driving for him, he was losing $500 to $600 a week. “I lost $10,000 in that deal,” he says.

What did he learn? “You want to make money, you work it yourself,” he says.

He recalled a warning from David Wolff, an adviser at financial services provider ATBS. “He said if you want to make money, you have to have at least five trucks. Some people can run five trucks, but I don’t know how.”


SURVIVING THE RECESSION

After driving for more than 18 years and working in operations management for different fleets, Bruce Barton decided in 2001 to work for himself. He bought a used truck and found loads by tapping into his industry contacts.

When the economy crashed, Bruce Barton of Idaho Roads had to find new freight and routes to keep his trucks running.

By 2007 he owned five trucks, operating his Idaho Roads fleet from his New Plymouth, Idaho, base. Clients asked for more capacity.

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