With leniency on truck payments and a new carrier, owner-op couple starting to climb out of COVID’s hole

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Updated Jul 9, 2020

In recent months, Overdrive has talked with dozens of owner-operators and small-fleet owners about their experiences through the COVID-19 economic downturn. We’re checking back with many of them to see how they’re faring as the economy slowly begins climbing back.

Pedro Leiter and his 2015 Kenworth T680.Pedro Leiter and his 2015 Kenworth T680.

In mid-May, husband-wife duo Pedro Leiter and Shirley Rodriguez, who own and operate the one-truck Jade Transport out of South Florida, were in a tough spot.

Not only were they asking their lender for flexibility on the monthly payment on Leiter’s 2015 Kenworth T680, they also were suddenly strapped with a pricey repair, financed at a hefty 12% loan by the carrier Pedro was leased to.

Over the past six weeks, the couple has made progress, albeit slowly. Pedro switched carriers, Shirley said, after feeling he wasn’t treated fairly by their former carrier. Not just from the expensive repair loan, but also by the carrier’s pay rates for its leased operators, among other issues.

Another bright spot is their lender has offered flexibility on truck payments. Their contact “has been extremely patient with us,” said Rodriguez, and they’ve been accepting partial payments each month. Leiter’s been able to find slightly better per-mile freight rates than before, and Rodriguez took a job as a dispatcher at another local trucking company, which also is helping them climb out of the hole of the coronavirus downturn.

“He’s hauling dry van loads — whatever he can find,” said Rodriguez. “We paid [the lender] about $500 a few weeks ago,” of their usual $1,300 payment. The lender called last week “asking me when we can start making the next payment,” she said. The couple’s working to get current on their loan.

“It’s still really tough,” she said, “but it’s a little bit better” than where they were in May.

Comments from Shirley Rodriguez appeared in this story from May:

See other recent check-ins with owner-operators: