Trucker of the Month

James Jaillet | October 01, 2010

‘Life’s pretty hectic’

Brad Conn’s professionalism and passion for trucking help him balance owning and operating two businesses.

 

Owner-operator Brad Conn says he picked up “the itch” riding in trucks that drove cattle to market from his family’s farm near Greene, Iowa. He rode along when he could, he says, and somewhere along the way, “I just got hooked.”

Brad Conn left his family farm in Iowa to start driving when he was 21. Today, he drives his 2003 Peterbilt 379 on a dedicated run and helps his wife manage a gift shop the couple owns.

During his 23-year career, he’s never really been able to get his fix. “I still have a strong desire to do it,” the 44-year-old says. “It’s something I still enjoy, and I’ve been lucky enough to be successful with it.”

The Cedar Falls, Iowa, resident has a dedicated run hauling John Deere equipment for Warren Transport, running four trips a day between Iowa towns Waterloo and North Liberty. Passion for his trade, he says, helps him balance his other responsibilities. He and his wife, Emily, own the Bitter Sweet Branch gift shop in Cedar Falls and have a 1-year-old son.

“It keeps us busy. There’s no question about it,” Conn says. “We don’t have a lot of free time.”

Conn started as an owner-operator for the freight division of North American Van Lines when he was 21. After his grandfather had a stroke shortly after, though, he had to return to working on the family farm. Six months later, however, his father sold the farm, and Conn returned to driving. He bought a 1974 Freightliner cabover and trailer and started hauling grain as an independent owner-operator.

In 1990, he landed a job hauling for Stanton Livestock, the company that hauled cattle from his family’s farm. Five years later, he found his current run with Waterloo, Iowa,-based Warren.

Conn has driven 2.25 million accident- and violation-free miles. His safety record helped in his being named a finalist in the Truckload Carriers Association’s Owner-Operator of the Year contest in 2009.

Conn says owner-operators must watch expenses and anticipate problems, especially with maintenance issues. He does most of his own maintenance – a craft he learned working as a full-time mechanic in a local repair garage after graduating from high school.

“You have to keep up with things,” Conn says. “If you see something that’s going to be a problem, fix it or change it. Maintenance is a big issue with costs and making things work. If you’re broke down all the time and just don’t take care of things, the costs will overwhelm you eventually.”

Conn’s dispatcher, Dan Davis, says Conn uses his “good head for the business” to make his operation run smoothly. “He’s been doing it for a long time,” Davis says. “He knows the ins and the outs of long hauls and he’s also done local dedicated hauls where it’s just a daily grind every day. He keeps a positive attitude and takes things the way they come and deals with it the best way he can.”

Warren safety director Clayton Fisk says Conn’s safety record speaks for itself, and his well-maintained appearance and professionalism make him one of a kind.

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