‘Learning to truck’ with W. Joel Baker, and a verse salute from Kevin Barrett

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Independent owner-operator W. Joel Baker has created a new resource for those treading the waters of independence as an owner-operator, his LearnToTruck.com site.Independent owner-operator W. Joel Baker has created a new resource for those treading the waters of independence as an owner-operator, his LearnToTruck.com site.

I know this has been in the works for quite a while — owner-operator W. Joel Baker first notified me of the new owner-operator resources website he’s been working on back in December, attendant to a little conversation about the subject of the month in that edition of Overdrive, the ELD mandate’s pre-2000 model year exemption. Baker’s owner and operator with his own authority of a 1999 International 9900i, and yes he plans to hold on to the unit.

At once, his is the opposite of the head-in-the-sand approach to the future and general success of the business, and his long efforts around his TruckBytes IFTA and free, simple accounting software is well of a piece with that notion, likewise the LearnToTruck.com site he’s now launched. The site offers distillations of Baker’s knowledge of an array of topics, from basic business-model building for new independents or those who are testing the waters of trucking with authority, to the intricacies of negotiating/crafting rate proposals for direct customers. It all rose out of questions headed Baker’s way from users of his TruckBytes software. “Many of our customers were asking me a wide variety of trucking business-related questions,” he says. “It became apparent to me that I could help them and other drivers by sharing my learned experiences through a blog. I especially enjoy sharing lessons I learned the hard way so that others will not make the same mistakes I made when I first began trucking.”

Among those mistakes, chronicled in his post in response to a question about maximizing profitability, was not fully vetting the used truck he’d just bought when he started out. “In my first week of owning my first truck I suffered a major setback,” he writes. “My truck blew out the front rear end. To make matters worse, the mechanic discovered that the previous owner had custom-machined gears and put them in both rear ends.” Read more via this “Choosing the right truck” post.

He’s been through a lot in his career, the vast majority of it independent with his authority, between stints on active duty in the military, as I’ve chronicled in the past. In any case, keep in mind LearnToTruck.com is another resource, from one among you. You can explore it via this link, and don’t hesitate to ask a question, as Baker notes there. I suspect for whatever it is, he’s likely to have a good answer.

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A little about truckers, by Kevin Barrett

I think I’ll write a little poem to tell you folks about
Trucker folk who bring the stuff that y’all can’t do without!

You gotta be just sorta “super” to climb into a rig
And drive it into traffic because, damn, this thing is big!

We tool about the country makin’ stops both here and there,
Watchin’ the rear view mirror for the local law dog bears!

A trucker’s life is busy, it’s rolling night and day.
If y’all are thinking it’s a cinch, climb in my truck, OK?

The scenery is amazing! Fills the heart with reverent awe.
Utah mountains, Kansas plains and my favorite, Florida!

We are a special breed, it’s true, because it can be tough.
To put up with the time alone, road rage and other stuff.

Without the folks who do this work, you other folks won’t eat.
No pizza, beer, no soda pop, not even doggie treats!

I hear folks cussing truckers and I hear it all the time.
Without us, people, you won’t get that stuff you bought online!

Trucker Joe works ’round the clock and so does Trucker Sue.
They sacrifice and make the runs that bring your stuff to you.

The work may not be glamorous, the drivers rich or cute.
But they deserve, like everyone, an occasional salute!

Appreciate-cha, Kevin! Barrett’s a company drive for ShipEx Inc. out of Salt Lake City who resides in Orlando, Fla., with 30 years in “all kinds of trucks,” he says. Otherwise, he’s a proud Vietnam vet aircraft, diesel and shade-tree mechanic with an A.S. in medical science.