Owner-operator Chuck Kumalaa on his decision to stay out through the holiday weekend

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Updated Feb 13, 2023

Update: Owner-operator Chuck Kumalaa, interviewed for the story below in 2019, passed away February 6, 2023, at age 60. Those who knew the Kumalaa family are urged to reach out privately for information about a celebration to be held in his honor, according to this obituary. Overdrive Extra contributor, life coach and road chaplain Clifford Petersen offered a personal story and his personal support to anyone struggling with depression and/or other stresses in the wake of Kumalaa's passing via the story published here at this link February 13, 2023.  

Leased to Landstar with his 2013 Paccar MX13-powered Kenworth T680 and pulling dry vans, Chuck Kumalaa of Marion, Ohio, had a few different loads he could’ve booked looking ahead toward the end of last week at an origin point in Texas. While he’s sure he “could have found something” headed in the direction of Marion, and which would put him at or near home for the Memorial Day holiday with his wife, he says, “I made the choice not to go home.”

Owner-op Chuck Kumalaa and his T680Owner-op Chuck Kumalaa and his T680

The reason? A multi-stop run picking up in Texas that wouldn’t be able to deliver until Tuesday at the earliest, given receivers were shutting down for the long weekend. “I chased the dollar,” he said, and the rate on this particular load was just too good to pass up, even with the extra time involved. His wife, who ran team with him in the past, agreed. “You couldn’t have turned that down,” she told him on the phone when he called to give her the news he wouldn’t be home for the holiday this year.

Big downside of the choice. “I’ll be completely sitting still for at least two days,” he says, an extra day down on this holiday weekend.

The 2013 T680 Kumalaa pilots.The 2013 T680 Kumalaa pilots.

That all was no surprise for him. For others, without recognition of the long weekend, and a little advance planning, it’s easy to get in trouble from a cash flow perspective, notes Overdrive Extra blog-contributing owner-op Gary Buchs. We talked late last week about the variety of ways a shortened work week can be worked around. If it happens you’ve just found out that your electronic load confirmation with a delivery appointment for today was bunk because the business is shut down for Memorial Day, what do you do?

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Keep that calendar handy and mark July 4, Labor Day, Thanksgiving and Christmas on it, the remaining big reliably short weeks for many facilities. “I encourage people to look a week ahead to plan your schedule around it,” Buchs says. Those big loads picked up Friday to deliver Monday in some cases “might not be able to get loaded as the shipper closes early, or not get unloaded” with a receiver shut down Monday.

As always, try to talk to an actual human at both facilities to confirm they’re in fact going to be open. “Part of the problem with electronic confirmations for pickup or delivery is they’re often scheduled” in automated fashion, Buchs says, without any human interaction. And the programming’s not set up to know that the facility is going to be closed.”

Auto parts shippers are “particularly bad for that,” Buchs has seen over the years; agents or load reps say “this thing really has to be there,” but come to find out the place is closed when you arrive, without much if any hope for layover/detention compensation. “That’s where an extra phone call helps — you have to vet the information” you’re given. “If you’re in a position to choose your own loads” — or turn them down, as it were — “be aware of the customer and the history of that customer. A lot of times you can find out closing information online as well. Too often, people just blindly put freight on the truck” with no thought other than running miles. “That’s where they get into trouble.”

For his part, owner-operator Kumalaa was prepared to make an opportunity out of the extra time this weekend to “get some new steer tires put on the truck,” he said Friday. “I’ll probably do a good bit of cleaning things you put off here and there. Maybe find a theater somewhere close and see a movie” — stay away from casinos along the Texas-to-Missouri route, nonetheless.

“Sometimes you have to bite the bullet when you’re looking at your bottom line,” he adds of his decision to stay out. “This load was profitable enough” to justify the decision.