Frugality only goes so far after getting used to $4/mile freight, but Jay Hosty's staying choosy

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Updated May 12, 2023


A natural inclination for frugality is a winning quality for most anybody in the world today, I’d wager, and no doubt an owner-operator. That's one of the central qualities Jay Hosty, our Trucker of the Month for April, put dead center of his now 41-year-long history of success as an owner-operator in trucking. As Overdrive News Editor Matt Cole wrote in our profile of owner-operator Hosty last week, he got his start in trucking as an owner pulling containers around New Orleans, Louisiana, at the young age of 19 in 1981.

Frugality's certainly served him well during the last year and a half’s rising costs, yet it only goes so far after a couple of years' worth of getting used to $4/mile freight. The squeeze is on, coming from both sides of the profit equation.

"It's hard to come back to the reality of $2/mile freight," Hosty said, and thus far in 2023 his net income's a bit behind where it sat this time last year. In part, it's the luxury of being freight-choosy at work there. He's spent more time sitting at the house in Diamondhead, Mississippi, this year, waiting on profitable loads from one of a couple of nearby Landstar agents he works with regularly to take him outbound.   

[Related: Enter Overdrive's 2023 Trucker of the Year award competition]

Hosty’s been leased to Landstar now for most of the last two decades, pulling today in a 2006 Western Star that replaced a 2000 model, after the truck was destroyed in Hurricane Katrina, when he and wife, Katt, were living in Gulfport, Mississippi. They lost their house there, too, with the direct hit. The comeback from that disaster is made all the more remarkable by the family the Hostys have fostered throughout their entire four decades together. 

We’ll hear much more about that in today’s edition, likewise a 2022 Western Star daycab Hosty’s been sitting on for a year with plans to outfit the rig with a custom sleeper built to his needs, as he’d done with the 2000 that Katrina sent to the scrapyard. That frugal nature he mentioned has kept him from moving forward with it to date, given pricing he’s gotten from some of the big sleeper manufacturers. For the builders in the audience, he put out a call, too: 

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"If there's anybody out there who can point me in a good direction of getting a custom sleeper built" without sacrificing an '"arm and a leg" on the build, as it were, he said. "I'm looking to find somebody." Take a listen: 

Also in the podcast:  Heads-up on an online seminar we’ve got upcoming on Tuesday, May 23, part of a series sponsored by the Bestpass company — it will dive into the topic of work-life balance over the road as an owner-operator, particularly in a down market like the present, and features two men who’ve been in those shoes over the decades. You can register to attend it live at 1 p.m. Central, May 23, via this link.. What we aim to deliver are tactics, strategies to gauge and achieve balance to improve quality of life for yourself -- and/or your operators if you’re managing a small fleet. That's whether you’re a one-truck owner leased to a carrier or with authority, or a small fleet owner hoping to deliver better balance to drivers and, ultimately, to yourself. 

The two presenters regular Overdrive Radio listeners have heard here on the podcast before: Innovative Logistics Group founder and managing director Adam Wingfield and Overdrive's 2021 Small Fleet Champ Jason Cowan, founder and leader of Silver Creek Transportation out of Henderson, Kentucky.

Join us.   

Upcoming Webinar: Catching elusive ‘work-life balance’ as an owner-operator, small fleet owner

DATE: May 23 at 1:00PM Central

More are looking for that elusive goal of work-life balance with healthy profits and maximum time efficiency on the road to justify time spent on other pursuits. In this webinar — sponsored by Bestpass — two men who’ve been in those shoes in a variety of roles present strategies toward gauging and achieving balance to improve quality of life for yourself and/or your operators, whether you’re a one-truck owner leased to a carrier or with authority, or a small fleet owner hoping to deliver better balance to drivers and, ultimately, to yourself.


Transcript

Jay Hosty: I was born with the gift of being frugal.

Todd Dills: A winning quality for most anybody in the world today I'd wager, no doubt an owner-operator, wouldn't you say?

That was the voice of Jay Hosty, our trucker of the month for April, putting Hosty in the running for Overdrive's Trucker of the Year award.

Today on the Overdrive Radio podcast for May 5th, 2023, we'll be hearing the results of Overdrive News editor Matt Cole's principal talk with Hosty about his very long history in trucking as an owner-operator, having gotten his start pulling containers around New Orleans, Louisiana at the age of 19 in 1981.

I'm Todd Dills, your host as usual, and though Hosty's naturally frugal, which has certainly served him well during the last year and a half's rising costs, trucking certainly hasn't been without its challenges given the squeeze coming from the other side of the revenue/cost profit equation.

Jay Hosty: It's hard to come back to reality of $2 mile freight when we was doing $4 mile freight.

Todd Dills: Hosty's been leased to Landstar now for most of the last two decades, pulling today in a 2006 Western Star that replaced a 2000 model, after the truck was destroyed in Hurricane Katrina, when he and wife, Katt, were living in Gulfport, Mississippi. They lost their house there, too, with the direct hit. The comeback from that disaster is made all the more remarkable by the family the Hostys have fostered throughout their entire four decades together.

We'll hear much more about that in today's edition, likewise a 2022 Western Star day cab that Hosty's been sitting on for a year with plans to outfit the rig with a custom sleeper built to his needs, as he'd done with the 2000 that Katrina sent to the graveyard.

That frugal nature he mentioned has kept him from moving forward with it to date, given pricing he's gotten from some of the big sleeper manufacturers. For the builders in the audience, he put out a call, too.

Jay Hosty: If there's anybody out there that could lead me in a good direction of getting a custom sleeper built, without going through one of the big three that take an arm a leg on building them, I'm trying to find somebody.

Todd Dills: Reach out to me or Matt Cole directly and we can put you in touch. Alternately, dial into the podcast message line at 615-852-8530 and leave us a callback number.

Before we dive into it with Hosty, too, I wanted to highlight an online seminar we've got upcoming on Tuesday, May 23rd, part of a series sponsored by the Bestpass Company. It will dive into the topic of work-life balance over the road as an owner-operator and features two men who've been in those shoes for decades. You can register to attend it live at 1:00 PM Central Time, May 23rd, and/or to catch the replay overdriveonline.com. I'll drop a link to the registration page in the show notes, too. What you'll find there will be strategies to gauge and achieve balance to improve quality of life for yourself and/or your operators if you're managing a small fleet, that's whether you're a one truck owner leased to a carrier, or with authority, or a small fleet owner hoping to deliver better balance to drivers and ultimately to yourself.

Two presenters regular listeners have heard here on the podcast before most recently, innovative Logistics Group founder and managing director, Adam Wingfield. You'll recall his rousing “weathering the storm” talk at Mid-America Trucking show we featured here a few weeks back. Likewise, Overdrive 2021 Small Fleet champ, Jason Cowan, founder and leader of Silver Creek Transportation out of Henderson, Kentucky. Wingfield's story in particular of balancing life on the road and the needs of a one-truck business with those of family back home draws on experiences and lessons learned during the Great Recession and the very difficult conditions, particularly in 2007 and '08.

"It was extremely rough." Wingfield said of that time. Dedicated freight tailed off and he spent more and more time away from his home area. Involvement of the family directly in the business became part of the strategy to keep his home fires burning, so to speak, as he ran the roads to remain profitable. Those experiences have continued to inform Wingfield's, work with scads of owner-operators and small fleet owners through the consultancy and carrier services firm he now leads in Charlotte, North Carolina.

 Cowan, for his part, has tailored freight at Silver Creek Transportation with an eye on diversity, helping to meet the home-time needs of drivers employed there, among many other support systems he put in place to help improve quality of life.

 I'm excited about hearing the full breadth of what comes from it, I'll say. You can be involved too. There might be a CB in it for you. I've got a COBRA 19 mini back in the box after a test run you'll remember from earlier in the year. It's been scarcely used only by my trusty, 14 year old assistant, T-Bone.

Speaker 3: Well, T-Bone, I appreciate you helping me out on this little here thing...

Todd Dills: So tell me what's been your biggest work-life balance issue trucking through the years? What question might you have for Adam Wingfield or Jason Cowan at the session? Relay answers to either or both of those questions via our podcast message line, first person to do so will be the new owner of the 19 Mini CB. Dial 615-852-8530 and leave your thoughts on the podcast line. That's 615-852-8530 with your biggest work-life balance challenge through the years.

OK, after the break, we'll dive right in with April trucker of the month Jay Hasty and his early career in New Orleans. He's joined by Overdrive News editor Matt Cole. Here we go.

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Todd Dills: You can find more about Diesel Defender at Howes, that's H-O-W-E-S, howesproducts.com.

Jay Hosty: Started out at 19 years old, didn't really know a thing about trucking, never had anybody in my family, so I'm first generation, but just knew that's what I wanted to do. And I actually rode in a few trucks just locally, really just a couple blocks with a guy.

He was there getting fuel at a local station and I asked him, "Hey, could you give me a ride back to my house?" And he said, "Where's it at?" I said, "Oh, it's just down the street there." And he said, "Sure."

So it was in a Kenworth W900 and I was hooked. That was it. He told me he was going to Nashville, Tennessee. And I said, "Man, and you get paid to bring that there? And he said, "Oh, yeah. That's why I do it." And I was like, "Yeah, this is what I want to do."

And that was at about 16 years old when I rode in my first truck. 19 years old, believe it or not, I bought my first truck and went straight in as an owner-operator. I bought just a little single-axle, gas burning International to do local work with in the city of New Orleans, just moving containers around. And the fella that I bought the truck from said he could get me the work if I didn't mind having to pay my own insurance, my liability insurance, for local operation. And like I said, I never had a clue of what I was doing. He just gave me some contacts and it all started from there, and that was in 1981 when I was 19 years old.

Matt Cole: But in those early years, not really having any business experience behind you, what was that like? How did you adapt to the business?

Jay Hosty: One of the biggest things I say is I was born with the gift of being frugal, and that means that I like saving money. And I just liked that as a kid.

As a kid, I bought my first motorcycle 'cause my parents said, "If you can save the money, we'll let you get a motorcycle, a dirt bike." And I saved, I worked and I saved. I've never had a problem saving money. And so I'm still like that, well definitely still like that. And when I was about, I want to say I was about 17, I come across an Owner-operator magazine before over, well, I don't know if it was before Overdrive, but I don't know if you remember that. It was Chilton Publishing and it was Owner-operator magazine.

Todd Dills: So Overdrive was founded in 1961, so it was in fact around at the time. If my memory's correct, Randall Riley, Overdrive's parent company, became the publisher of Owner-operator in later years, in fact.

Jay Hosty: I came across one of those, and I was interested, of course, in trucking and being an owner-operator, and they had an article in there about cost per mile. And this magazine, I think it was 1979, and I read the article and was just intrigued about how you break everything down by the mile, all your costs. And that stuck with me through my career.

I'm real big on per mile. Some guys will ask, "Well what's a load pay?" Well that really don't tell me anything. I got to know what's to pay per mile. That's what tells me what it is, if it's good or not. But between that and just being frugal, it's really, I think, helped me succeed in business.

Matt Cole: Your first job was in New Orleans, is that where you're from originally?

Jay Hosty: Yeah, I grew up in Chalmette, Louisiana. It's a suburb of New Orleans. And I started out hauling containers just, like I say, locally, just moving them from the yard to the port, bringing them for the drivers to take loads out. I'd go turn their trailers in a day and bring them other trailers back so they'd be on the yard at night for them. And that was with a company called Brown Transport, they were a big freight company way back then, and they had a container division in New Orleans. And for about the first year, about first two years, that's basically what I did. I just ran locally for them.

I bought my second truck, which was a 1970 model Freightliner cab over, and it was a big step up from that little gas-burning single axle, and I was still hauling containers, but I'd stretch out a little bit further. I didn't go cross country or anything. I'd go from New Orleans to Baton Rouge, pick up a container, or load a container, bring it back, or Lafayette, just in a short hauls type deal. And that was in, like I said, that was in 1982 when I bought that truck, and I ran it for a year or so, and then just progressively got into better trucks.

And the third truck was an International cab over, and that's when I started still with containers, but going out a little further, it was a better truck, more road worthy. And I'd take some, still not cross country, but stretched out a little further from New Orleans.

And in 1987 I traded the cab over and bought my first new truck, brand new. And I wasn't even really looking. I didn't think I could get a new truck at that time. And I went in there looking just to trade up in another used truck and a salesman had this beautiful 1987 International Conventional with a double sleeper, flat top sleeper. And he said, "I might be able to put you in that." And I couldn't believe it. And he let me drive it, and of course I fell in love with it. And I said, "Man, if you can put me in that, let's do it."

And we worked it out and I ended up in a brand new truck. That was 1987, I was 24 years old and my truck cost more than the house I was living in. My dad thought I was crazy. My stepdad was actually a New Orleans policeman and he thought I was totally out of my mind.

Matt Cole: How long did you hold onto that truck?

Jay Hosty: '87 till right up to '93.

But one thing I want to say, just to say how things have changed, pulling containers, brand new truck, 72 cents a mile was what we got loaded and empty. That was when we was going by the household movers guide.

Todd Dills: Otherwise known as "short miles" and there's a reason for that.

Jay Hosty: So you were getting ripped off on your miles on every trip. Actual miles, it was probably doing more like 65 cents a mile. And I wouldn't even consider or starting my truck up anything near that right now, but totally different times back then.

But I had a brand new truck, and I had some of my older acquaintances that were owner-operators, but much older than me said I'd never make it pulling containers with a truck payment, 'cause I think at that time it was $1,400 a month truck payment. And I proved them wrong, 'cause I paid that truck off in I think four and a half years. I had a five-year contract on it. I think I paid it off in four and a half. And there I was still pulling containers.

Matt Cole: Move into when you sold that one?

Jay Hosty: 1993, traded it in for a brand new Western Star. And I've been in Western Stars now for 30 years. I had that one. Let's see, that was a '93 model. In 2000 I traded it for a 2000 model and I had a custom sleeper on that one. I lost that one in Hurricane Katrina in 2005. It went underwater, basically, and they said it was ruined.

And so I got out of it, took the insurance money and bought a brand new 2006, which I am sitting in right now talking to you. And it has 1,438,000 miles on it. And it's a great truck, best truck, longest truck I've ever kept, and it's just been a great truck. I have not overhauled the engine. All I've done is injectors. Truck still runs good, and here we are.

Matt Cole: Wow. Which engine does it have in it?

Jay Hosty: It has a 60 series Detroit. And like I said, this is my third Western Star, they've all had Detroits, but I've taken this one...

The one before this, I was planning on making that at least a million-mile truck, keeping it that long, and then seeing where I was at then. But I lost it in the hurricane, so this is 1,438,000 and she's still going. So I'm just a Western Star guy and I actually have a 2022 at home. It's a day cab. I ordered it to make it my last truck, and I wanted to do a custom sleeper on it, and I'm running into some issues between the price of the custom sleepers has went through the roof, and the wait time...

I'm amazed at, even though these things, they're actually running about a thousand dollars an inch. I was wanting to do a hundred-inch sleeper, which is not huge compared to what some people do. And that was going to run me around a hundred grand just for the sleeper. I'm sitting on the truck, I'm not sure what I'm going to do. I have it, it's brand new, it's a 2022 with 2,800 miles on it, and it's hard. As a frugal person, it is very hard to justify spending that much money on a sleeper. And that's where I'm at right now.

But that the plan is for that to be my last truck. And besides the price, they are still backed up with people putting these sleepers on trucks. When I was talking to the big three sleeper guys, they were all about a year out. They said it'd be a year before we could even start on you, and this was a year ago. I've owned the truck for over a year now. I'm contemplating what direction, if I do the sleeper, or if I just sell the truck, keep this truck and just refurbish this truck when it needs it and just make this my last truck. I'm really not sure what way I'm going to go.

I'm actually trying to find somebody who might be interested in trying to build me a custom sleeper, somebody that has some of that knowledge. I did have a guy that refurbishes Airstream campers, and him and I were talking, he's in Mississippi... Oh, by the way, I live in Mississippi now. I've been a Mississippi resident for about 30, 36 years. And this fellow was interested in it. He came out and looked at the truck. He said, "I think I could do this." And I thought we were going to proceed, and when I finally got back with him after the holidays and all last year, he decided it was too much. He was too busy already with his business, and he said it would just take too long, so he backed out on me.

So if there's anybody out there that could leave me in a good direction of getting a custom sleeper built, even without being going through one of the big three that take an arm a leg on building them, I'm interested. I'm trying to find somebody. I always, when I started buying new trucks, well the first few I didn't really think about putting a million miles on them, but by the 2000 model I thought, "I want to keep a truck a million miles if I can without having to overhaul it." And then looking at where I'm at and then I'll make my decision. Do I want trade it in, buy another truck?

Well, the truck that I lost in Katrina, that was going to be the truck to do that with, 'cause I ordered it as a day cab and a... It was only an 80-inch custom sleeper, but that was an 80 inch that had a back door on it, had the windows in the sides like you see in all the sleepers now. And had the... In other words, I had a little sink in there, a countertop. I didn't have a shower, but it was customized for me. And I really wanted to have that to be a million-mile truck. Well, I had 665,000 miles on it when the storm hit, so I wasn't quite there. It was still running good and everything.

But when I got this truck, I said, "Well, I guess this will be my million-mile truck." Well, when I got it to a million miles, it's still doing really good. So I don't have a set business plan where I say, "Okay, at a million miles, I'm getting rid of the truck." This truck was still doing so good to me, and I felt like, "Man, I don't want to get rid of this truck. It's doing great."

So, really right now I'm just running it and just taking it day by day. If it goes out on me tomorrow, I'll get the engine rebuilt, but I'm not getting rid of this truck, per se. I have the new truck at home. I didn't trade this truck in. If I get the new truck going, I would like to make this into a show truck. And I'm going to keep it, but I'm just running it, and just seeing how it does, and it's doing great.

Matt Cole: Well, I did see that your PO box is in Diamondhead, Mississippi. Is that where you call home?

Jay Hosty: Oh, yeah. We moved there after Katrina. We lost our home and everything else in Katrina, which was about seven going on 18 years ago. And we bought a home there. And we've been there ever since.

It's in the same county that we lived in before. Its own city. And it's still down on the Gulf Coast on Interstate 10, not far from Gulfport, Mississippi,

Matt Cole: That time period 2005, you had a five-year-old truck, and obviously you dealt with the aftermath of Katrina.

With that, can you talk through what that experience was like for you, how long insurance took to pay out on the truck, and just that whole experience really?

Jay Hosty: Storm hit October 29, I mean August 29th, and I bought this truck August, September, October, the end of October. I was actually in Springfield, Missouri buying this truck right around Halloween. I think I actually signed the papers on it November 1st, and so that didn't take very long. I had my truck, my, I'm OIDA, I'm a life member of OIDA, and all the tractors I've owned, insured through them, and their insurance treated me very well, fair, on the truck. And I was able to get... I was out of a truck for what, two months, and I would've liked a special order a truck, but I just felt I needed to get back to work. And I just found this truck. I wanted a Detroit, I wanted the 60 series for sure, I wanted the 13 speed overdrive, and I wanted the Stratosphere Sleeper, which is the biggest one that Western Star makes. And you can stand up in the cab and just walk back, you don't have to duck through a hole. And this truck had the main components that I wanted in a truck.

So Springfield, Missouri has a dealership called Jenkins Diesel that's still in business in Springfield. And that's where I found this truck in the truck paper, and made the deal and went up there and got it. And like I said... Here's another, just in comparison to nowadays, this is a brand new truck, of course, well I bought it brand new, 265 inch wheel base, owner-operator truck. Aluminum wheels, aluminum fuel tanks, stacks, the whole deal. $108,000 out the door, FET included in late 2005. 108, time's have changed.

Matt Cole: At least double that now.

Jay Hosty: Yep, at least. Yes, sir. Even looking back, the '87 International was $72,500 in 1987.

Todd Dills: Times have changed, indeed. Reflecting on that 2005 and later period, too. Husty was in the middle of a perfect storm for an upsetting of the apple cart of work-life balance, as it were.

Matt asked him just how he managed to navigate all those issues. The house gone, the truck gone, but replaced fairly quickly. Not so the house, as you'll hear.

Jay Hosty: We were homeless, and we bounced around a little bit. We lived with my sister for a little while. Her home had just minimal damage. They were out of power for a little bit. And we stayed there for maybe a couple of weeks. We bounced around a little bit with, we were waiting on a FEMA camper to come in, you had to get in line, well you had to order, put your order in, tell them you that needed a camper, something to stay in.

So waiting for that, there was a Christian retreat in Panama City Beach, Florida. Some friends of ours were there and they told us, "You come out here, they feeding you, putting you up, anybody that's evacuees and stuff." So we went over to Panama City Beach, and I think we were there a week or two and it was almost like a vacation. They fed us three meals a day. The place was set up for a Christian retreat, so you had a little motel room and we stayed there. The kids swam in the pool. I have a bunch of kids at that time, and they were able to swim in the pool, have a good time, but just waiting for that FEMA camper to come in.

As far as the trucking business, I was leased to Landstar at that time. I've been with Landstar, I'm in my 19th year now, and at that time I started with them in '04. The hurricane was late '05. So that was no issue. I told them everything that was going on and they just put me on hold, but I stayed leased to them, and it was just a matter of getting a truck and getting back.

Well, got back to the county and lived in a FEMA camper and it was me and my wife, three daughters, and two dogs in about a 30-foot FEMA camper, so it was tight.

Matt Cole: I can imagine.

Jay Hosty: I think we lived in that for six to eight months and then we found a house to rent, because it was tough. Everybody was looking for places, so it was hard to find something. And we found a house to rent in Diamondhead, and got there, and I think we rented for six months. We did a six-month contract and within six months we actually bought a house there, 'cause we liked it enough to say, "Let's just stay here and move here." And we found the house and been there ever since.

Todd Dills: Since his early days of local and regular runs. Hosty today is taking advantage of the Landstar Nationwide Agent Network to maximize income with careful load selection, going pretty much anywhere the money takes him.

Jay Hosty: It's basically general freight. I pull my own 53-foot drive in. I do trade shows when they're available. I do a lot of chemicals. I'm sitting in Denim Springs, Louisiana right now trying to find me. This is a good area to get chemical loads out of, and I do a lot of hazmat, but it's just whatever.

I'm not locked in there any certain thing at all. And I run everywhere but California, 'cause California don't like my old truck out there anymore, so can't go out there.

Matt Cole: I was going to ask if there's any specific lanes that you tend to try to run or if you're just wherever the money takes you.

Jay Hosty: Pretty much. And wherever the money takes me, I'm typically gone from home between seven to 10 days. I don't stay out real long. I can go up north, like week before last I took a load out of Baton Rouge, a load of propane in my van. It's the five gallon tanks I could use for barbecue pits and such. Took a load of those up to Boston, Massachusetts and delivered that, and the freight was so cheap up there, just $2 a mile, $2.10, $2.20 and that's gross, I get a percentage of that. And I ended up bouncing 700 miles into Ohio to pick up a good-paying load that actually brought me back down to Orange, Texas. The whole route was like six days. I was gone for six days. So that's what I mean, generally 10 days is a stretch for me.

The main thing is you need to know your cost. I think a lot of guys just look at what the revenue is and not so much as much, "Well how many miles is it to make that revenue?" And will book loads that way. Where to me you just got to know where your cost per mile's at to know if you're profitable or not. I have a paid for truck, so of course my cost per mile is lower than the guy with a $2,000 a month payment. I can run some cheaper freight and still be profitable, but if you don't know your cost then you really just shooting from the hip.

I just don't like running cheap ... Well we all got spoiled over the last two years, I have to say. The trucking industry broke records in '21 and '22 for freight rates and it was a crazy world. You couldn't help but make money, and I think me personally, I got spoiled off of that, and it's hard to come down off of that. It's hard to come imagine back to reality. It's hard to come back to reality of $2 mile freight when we was doing $4 mile freight.

Matt Cole: Especially with fuel, and maintenance costs, and everything as high as they are right now.

Jay Hosty: Absolutely.

Now with Landstar we do get some pretty good fuel discounts, I have to say that. I feel bad for guys who are actually paying the price on the pump where we average 50 to 60 cent lower than that off the pump price, but that's all part of the cost. That's all part of... You got to have all that figured in, really.

Matt Cole: So how often do you reassess your costs? Is that a monthly thing, or how often do you look at everything and figure out what it costs you to move your truck?

Jay Hosty: I'm always looking at fuel costs 'cause that's the biggest one and the easiest one to work on as I'm going. So that's pretty easy. And I just have a general idea in my mind of where I like to be as far as revenue per mile.

And then of course a lighter load is always more enticing than a heavier load, even if the lighter load maybe is paying a little less. Overall it's just more driver friendly, truck friendly, when you can haul something that's lighter, even if it's paying a little less, but I'm not saying I don't do heavy loads, too, I just try to get the right money for them.

Matt Cole: As long as you've been an owner-operator, you've seen the best and the worst in trucking as far as business opportunities go. Can you talk about some of the more challenging times that you faced through the years, whether it was post-Katrina or the Recession in 2008? Last year and this year has been tough for a lot of people.

Jay Hosty: I've really been blessed as far as financially, and I have to say it's the frugal part of me really helps, because there's been years, like you said, where we've made a lot of money, well even when we make a lot of money, I don't really splurge on anything. I'm not out buying brand new vehicles because I can afford it. I always keep putting money aside and that's not hard for me to do.

And I have a wife who is actually pretty thrifty herself. She's not as frugal as me, but she's a good partner with me, because she don't mind saving a buck here and there wherever we can. And so I'm glad we're both not as frugal as me, because that would probably be a problem. So she's a little more freer with money, but it's not like I got to worry about her going charging stuff on a credit card or something like that. We don't even use credit cards. We don't do them.

I can remember back, I think it was '08, when things were pretty bad. My truck was paid for, the truck's been paid for many years. So even then, didn't really struggle but I can remember running a lot cheaper freight than I would ever want to run today just to be paying the bills basically. Looking at $1.50 mile freight as compared to today, I try to look at $2.50, no less than $2.50, $3.00 a mile. But back then, it got pretty slim, but we were never struggling because, again, truck was paid for and we live within our means. We're not that way. So the saving part comes natural for me, so whatever.

But what I do with Landstar is they have a maintenance account, and we can put up to 10%, minus the fuel surcharge, it's 10% of the line haul, in a maintenance account, and that's what I do to have that separate. You know the old saying, "You don't miss it when you don't see it." And that that's very true. So they take that 10% right off the top and it's in a maintenance account that I have with them and I can get money out of there anytime I need it, and for anything, it doesn't have to be maintenance. Generally, I use that for my income tax at the end of the year. I use that to pay my taxes. But besides that, I just save, my wife and I, we live on a budget as far as our home bills and everything, we've always budgeted since we were young and that's how we live. So we meet our budget and whatever's left pretty much goes in the bank.

Matt Cole: Last year is obviously fresh on everybody's mind, and it was a tough year for a lot of operators with fuel prices going through the roof, and obviously you said Landstar helps out with some discounts and stuff there, but how did you manage fuel prices and other rising costs last year and so far this year, too, that a lot of owner-operators are really, really struggling with?

Jay Hosty: The discount we get is really good. I actually drive for fuel mileage and I'm one of the slower trucks on the road, basically. I average about 58 miles an hour everywhere I go. I know some people don't like that, but that's how I run my business. And I average seven miles to the gallon with the old Western Star, and it's not an aerodynamic truck. So for me that's pretty impressive. Oh, Kevin Rutherford, man, I heard him. I started when he first came on the radio and he was preaching back in, I think it was '07, about driving slower. You drive slower, you will get better fuel mileage. And I wasn't a speed demon, but I was a speed limit driver. If it was 65 I'd be doing 65. And he always said, "You're going to get about a mile per gallon, a 10th of a mile per gallon for every mile you slow down."

And I thought about that. I had been driving for a while and I felt like that can't be true. I said, "I'm going to try this stuff." And I have a computer in my truck, it's built in the dash, it's from the factory to monitor fuel mileage and stuff. So I started slowing down. Well I got to the speed of about 60 miles an hour, 58 miles an hour to be exact, and I seen the difference in fuel mileage, and not only from the computer, but I actually fill it up and check it that way by the mileage.

And I was a guy that never got six miles per gallon in any truck I've had driving the speed limit. I never got six. The best I ever did was like a 5.7, 5.8. And I would've never believed that slowing down would make that much of a difference. I run 58 miles an hour, I pull some heavy loads, I pull some light loads, and of course I deadhead if I have to, and my yearly average is seven miles per gallon. So I always say, "You can't pay me to drive faster."

The fuel prices, of course, they hurt us, but with the discounts we get, between that good fuel mileage, and just trying to, of course, trying to pick good loads. Oh, and the fuel surcharge. We do get a good fuel surcharge. It never really hurts, 'cause if the fuel, I don't like seeing the fuel prices go up 'cause it's just not good for our country in general, but if the fuel goes up, my surcharge goes up, our discounts seem to go up, and it all averages out. But again, I'd rather see diesel down around $2 a gallon or so, and not much of a fuel surcharge, and we'd all be better for that.

Matt Cole: We're a little over three months into 2023. How do you feel like business is going so far this year as far as your bottom line goes? Do you feel like you're on par with 2022 or ahead, or behind, or what are you thinking?

Jay Hosty: No, I'm running behind a little bit. Landstar actually has a site we can go on and compare last year to this year. You can do it by the week, by the month, by the quarter, and I'm behind a little bit, but some of that is because I'll stay home for a week, even two weeks just to wait on that good-paying load, because I'm at home, rather than take a mediocre load just to be running. So, I can take a lot of time off just because I'm waiting for something good. When there's loads on that, I could still be profitable, but I know I got a couple agents that I work with in the area that come up with these good-paying loads, they're just not real regular.

So I'll wait on them and just go out to go to Boston, Massachusetts. That's not a area I'm really crazy about going, but it was one of my agents that gets good pay, he pays good, so that gets me to go.

But this year has definitely been tighter, tighter than last year, and the rates are just in the can right now. That's why I'm sitting here right now. God really blessed me. I give so much credit to finding an on that Owner-operator magazine at 17 years old and I had that magazine up until Hurricane Katrina, with a lot of other memorabilia that I had from the old days of trucking, truck brochures... I lost all of that. Well anyway, that magazine, I had it up until 2005. That was something I had never... I was just a kid, I never knew what cost per mile meant, but that article just always stuck with me, and I feel like that's always been just a part of my business to know your cost per mile, and that's just a big thing. And between that and being frugal, I've never really struggled in business as an owner-operator.

Now I've never made the big bucks. I know some guys, two, 300,000 a year, one truck, I've never been there, but I live comfortable. It's not always about how much you make, it's about how much you keep. And I'd rather make less and keep a bigger percentage than make more, and keep a lesser percentage, and be running the wheels off my truck. Through all this journey I've been married to my wife of 41 years. Her and I got married right at the time that we were buying the truck. We were getting married. We bought the truck, my first truck in October of '81, we got married November 21st. So just I was eight 19, she was 18, we were just two kids figuring it out.

She's been a big part of the journey. When we were young, she used to ride with me a little bit, but the road and the trucking life just wasn't for her. And I wasn't really going over the road, per se. I hauled [inaudible 00:41:18] containers. I hauled bananas for a while for Chiquita, and when you do one of those, it's usually a type of round trip deal. You deliver the bananas, then they reload, you and you got to bring the trailer back to Gulfport, Mississippi. So she rode with me back in those days and never really... It just wasn't for her. And so over the years, she's just pretty much been a part-time worker and raising children.

We have been foster parents for about 35 years. We adopted eight children. We were never able to have our own children. And we went into foster parenting for that reason, just to have a child and experience having a child, and we ended up adopting a very first foster child when he was three years old. He's 34 years old now, but we've adopted eight over the years, two boys, six girls. Now this is not all at once of course, and stretched out. We've fostered over a hundred children.

Of course there's certain ones that hit you, and they come up for adoption, and that's how we ended up with eight. But it's some that just don't, God don't speak to us. We always say God built our family, and I have two girls still at home right now. I'm 60 years old. My wife is 60. We have an 18-year-old, she's graduating high school this year, and then we have a 13-year-old and I called them the second round, because I thought I was done. After the first round, I thought we were finished, but God had other plans. So they're the second round girls. And I like to say we're finished now, but I can't really... Never know what God has in store for us, but I hope we're finished now. And I mean with adopting children, I don't mean with... My wife still likes to foster, still wants to do that. So I don't mean fostering, I just mean adopting the kids from for our own.

Todd Dills: Work-life balance, again, no doubt. Here's a big thanks to owner-operator Jay Hosty for his time. He's our April trucker of the month, as noted earlier, putting him in the running for our 2023 Trucker of the Year award. Congrats on that nod, for sure.

You can enter your own one to three truck business or put forward an exceptional owner-operator who's well deserving via the nomination form at overdriveonline.com. I'll put a link to it in show notes wherever you're listening. And if you haven't, leave Overdrive Radio a rating or review there. No doubt it helps interested owners find podcast. Again, too got an answer to that question of the most pressing work-life balance issue you've faced throughout your career, dial into our podcast message line at 615-852-8530 for a chance to win that COBRA 19 Mini CB. And I do hope you'll join myself, the fine folks at the sponsor Bestpass and Adam Wingfield and Jason Cowan, May 23rd. Hope to see you there.