Find all the pieces of this series in the anchor story at this link: Hotshot trucking retains its fundamental allure
Jason Kendall, 28, has long been the kind of guy who would help friends on household moves. “Want to make a friend quick? Just buy a truck and a trailer,” he said.
Kendall’s bread-and-butter rig since he started the business has been a 2011 Chevy three-quarter ton with a standard pickup bed and gooseneck hitch. For years, he’d hauled cars for friends with a two-car gooseneck while working at an automobile dealership.
The Chevy is registered at 26,000 pounds, so no CDL is required, Kendall noted, though he has one. Also, participation in the International Fuel Tax Agreement is not required below the 26,001-pound threshold, meaning he can shop wisely by pump price alone.
“My grandfather was a truck driver,” Kendall said, and his father drives for UPS Freight. About four years ago, the son “buckled down and got a plan together” for his own business, he said. He assumed a minimum of $1.60 a mile in revenue and filled notebook pages gaming out different scenarios with cost-per-mile calculations, estimations of breakdown costs and taxes, and other numbers to assess his prospects.
His business, mostly automobile hauling, was steady even through the height of the 2020 pandemic slowdowns in the Northeast. After a busy June, it was “getting to the point where I’m overwhelmed with my regular customers,” many of whom originated with contact via the Central Dispatch auto-niche load board.
“I have a Mercedes dealership really keeping me busy,” Kendall said. He’s also doing a lot to serve vehicle restoration specialists with his 30-foot trailer and 12,000-pound winch. “You’re usually pulling out of somebody’s barn, out of a garage, pulling them out of the weeds.”
Last November, he purchased a second truck: a leftover but brand-new 2018 Ram 3500 one-ton diesel dually cab and chassis and a four-car-capable trailer with a 40-foot deck and a wedge-type setup at its front to allow for loading of a fourth unit over the gooseneck. The setup is plated at 43,000 pounds, with a CDL and IFTA participation required. Now he’s looking for the right driver.
Kendall expects more growth and doesn’t rule out Class 8 rigs. “My father has talked about retiring from UPS Freight,” he said. “I talk about one day buying a nine-car trailer and having him and I drive a truck and trailer together. He rode with his dad, and with him working with UPS, I don’t have the opportunity to ride with him.”