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Missing business skills isn’t the problem
Your statement in “Your missing billions” column (Pulse, April 2009) about other people’s lack of business skills is stroked with a pretty broad brush. The trucking industry is in its worst decline financially in at least as long as I have been involved and that goes way back to when I bought a tractor in Philadelphia and leased with Riss International.

Some of the best and brightest minds in the industry are hanging on by a thread, so by that standard, should the average guy hang it up, as your column seems to imply? In my more than 30 years in trucking, it’s never been this bad, including the recession of 1982 and ’83. So lighten up on telling people they don’t have the basic business skills to sustain their businesses, good times or otherwise.

Guys are desperate: They are forced to choose between bad loads going to dead spots or deadheading from dead spots to a bad load, hoping they can get to a good spot, only to find they can’t.

I am not saying you cannot navigate your way through this mess, but it takes a lot more than great business skills to do so. Some nice niches are available, such as ODs and aviation, where I have prospered, but that’s atypical. The average guy or small fleet is struggling to make ends meet.

The real problem with this industry is that too many people in it deep down inside hate it but choose to stay and take what they can from it. Though I retired this spring, I really loved it.
Weirsdale, Fla.

“Once you unload you might sit a day, a day and a half, possibly two days. It’s really gotten sad. You learn to have patience. If you don’t have patience, it will drive you up the wall.”

– Gulf Coast Transport driver Odell
Haggerty, 42, in the Baltimore Sun

What is the most cost-saving part on your truck?

“It’s the onboard computer that holds the speed down to 65.”
Rockmart, Ga.
Southeastern Freight Lines

“The generators these days save quite a bit of money as far as fuel goes.”
Elizabethtown, Ky. | Quality Carriers

“Your air and oil filters have a big part in saving fuel. Especially air filters – you have got to keep them clean.”
Hollywood, Fla.
Owner-operator leased to Landstar

“The new fuel-saving Turbo 2000 helps disperse the spray as soon as it leaves the nozzle. That’s the number one overall savings device.”
Hastings, Mich.
Owner-operator leased to Carolina National

“I like those little satellite [GPS] gizmos. I don’t know how I ever trucked without one of those things.”
Jasper, Ga. | Cherokee Tank Lines

“My APU. It saves money, time and fuel. It keeps the temperature much better and gives you the 110 plug so you can use a microwave and other appliances.”
Millington, Tenn. | Allen Freight Services

The Business Manual for Owner-Operators
Overdrive editors and ATBS present the industry’s best manual for prospective and committed owner-operators. You’ll find exceptional depth on many issues in the 2022 edition of Partners in Business.
Partners in Business Issue Cover