Revisiting one owner-operator’s ‘No apology campaign’

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Updated Jul 5, 2011

It’s more proactive attitude than reactive defiance, says Florida-based owner-operator Tim Philmon, leased to Landstar — and let’s just say for the record that I jumped the shark in my last post when I said I’d see you July 5: this one’s for Independence Day, no doubt about it. Philmon’s “No Apology Campaign” can be thought of as a personal clarion call for a kind of owner-operator solidarity in hard-nosed independence, necessary, he contends, to succeed in a time of unprecedentedly low economic prospects, cultural hurdles and regulatory upheaval.

Philmonmontage“Being a small business in the trucking industry in an economy unlike what I had ever experienced,” starting back in 2009, says Philmon (pictured, in a montage on shots from a convoy to deliver World Trade Center steel to a new National Steel Heritage museum site in Coatesville, Pa., last year), “I began to become a little concerned. As I began to look around at what was going on in the country in terms of small business and what our own government was doing to hinder it, taking over so much in the private sector, I knew that in order for me to survive in the trucking Industry I had to come up with a new plan of action.”

Philmon won’t apologize for 1) keeping what he’s made on the strength of his success or 2) not lowering his standards or compromising on his core beliefs, whether religious or, more pertinent in this case, business.

Herein find a version of his manifesto, structured as a trinity — the three Rs, you can say. Here we go:

Resources. Know your cost of operation, your cost per mile. Success is less about how much you earn than how much you spend. When you book a load you may not have long to determine if it’s good for you, so knowing what your fuel cost is, for instance, will make the decision easier. Take advantage of discounts when available (tires, fuel, service, etc). Knowing your cost will also help you to navigate where to make cost-saving decisions, sending up flags when certain costs seem to be getting out of control. Don’t overwhelm yourself; keep it as simple as possible. Stay updated on projections on freight movement, where the economy is headed, what the government may be doing in terms of regulations, etc. Don’t sweat the small stuff, but keep a close eye on it.

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Reliability. iI’s not just a buzzword. It should define your course of action. Sometimes you will have to do things and go places you just don’t want to go. Go there. Treat every load the same regardless of the rate. Remember, you booked it! Image is important, but living up to the image your want is a whole different concept. Take a little pride in what you do and who you represent. You never know what or whom you might cross paths with — just may be that golden goose you’ve been hunting all these years. Maintain your equipment. Less downtime and failed on-time deliveries. Ask yourself why you do what you do?

Resolve. I adopted my mission statement when I bought my first truck: Proverbs 24:16: “For a just man falleth seven times, and riseth again.” Don’t let them have the satisfaction. It has been said “when you lose sight of your goals, it’s because you have turned your attention on your circumstance.” When you battle through your dilemma it will make you a better individual. But remember: This is the last and probably the most important part of the No Apology Campaign. If you have the lone-wolf attitude, you’ll never make it. Surround yourself with competent poeple: agents to keep you loaded; mechanics to keep you moving; carriers to assist you daily with the intangibles; family to give you the inner strength to do the impossible.

In closing, we are the engine that drives America, and without us she fails! You have nothing to apologize for when you hold to the core values and principles that get you to your destination. We would be doing a great disservice to those who have shed blood and died for what this nation stands for. We move this great nation one load at a time, and one mile at a time. And I for one will not apologize for who I am, or what I do in the industry that I have invested my entire life in.

“I will truck as hard as I can, for as long as I can… And the road can take the rest.”

Philmon’s No Apology Campaign was previously summed up in this letter to Overdrive in our September 2009 issue.

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