Three wise men

Brad Holthaus

Successful owner-operators are a special breed. And those who thrive in this economic climate are even more extraordinary.

Every month our editors write about one of these success stories, whom we feature as our Trucker of the Month. Then every year at this time they pick the best of the year’s 12 candidates. Our three finalists for the 2009 Trucker of the Year:

  • Sometimes Steven Brosnan flies when he’s on the road – and that’s not to say he speeds. Brosnan, of Henderson, Nev., received his pilot’s license in 2000 and still flies whenever he gets the chance to rent a plane. Like many of today’s best owner-operators, he reduces his cruising speed and concentrates on not idling. Leased to Anderson Trucking Service, he earns more than $60,000 a year.
  • Darrell James of Jane Lew, W.Va., has attracted more than a few gawkers with his loads of gun turrets and other military freight for Mercer Transportation. He uses an auxiliary power unit and meticulously documents his revenue and expenses. In recent years, the spreadsheet has spit out some healthy net income figures, upwards of $80,000.
  • As the owner-operator head of Independent Operation Inc., a small fleet based in Cottage Grove., Wis., Jerry Kissinger has no shortage of others’ needs to worry about. But he makes time to support the needs of kids helped through the Make-a-Wish Foundation and Special Olympics. Kissinger, who emphasizes choosing loads carefully, planning a month ahead and avoiding unnecessary accessories, earns more than $60,000 a year.

These operators’ business habits are but some of the practices that will help keep them on the road at the end of this downturn, when some of your colleagues might be elsewhere. Stay tuned for our February issue, when the winning Trucker of the Year will share his business strategy in more detail.