'Never give up' in drive to trucking success: Pitfalls, best advice for new and seasoned owner-ops

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Updated Dec 15, 2023


"Don't be afraid to ask questions." --Owner-operator Steve Massat, leased to T Max Transportation

The Overdrive Radio podcast this week features Part 2 of our “exit interviews” with 2023 Trucker of the Year contenders. As with Part 1, the five owner-operator businesses featured here detailed the bevy of challenges faced down through the year. All put a special emphasis on short-term tactics, on proven long-term strategies, that others might also adopt on the drive toward success with healthy profits.  

This exemplary group, too, as the quote from owner-operator Massat above illustrates, delivered a strong, sometimes quite simple advice for aspiring and/or new owners. 

Owner-operator Chris Smith operates the Dreamline Trucking business, our February Trucker of the Month with his wife and team owner, Ruth, leased to Southern Pride, hauling jet engines and other airport freight predominantly. Smith, as with Massat, advised not to get too starry-eyed about custom equipment with a big price tag associated starting out. "That's not what's going to make you money," he said, noting decades of hard work led to where he and Ruth Smith are today, pulling in a veritable custom showpiece, a move itself made only after considerable research and deliberation.

Howes logoOverdrive Radio's sponsor is Howes, longtime provider of fuel treatments like its Howes Diesel Treat anti-gel and Lifeline rescue treatment to get your ready for winter, likewise its all-weather Diesel Defender, among other products.Massat, who pulls with a vintage 1989 Marmon tractor, does as much work on his rig as he can himself, stocking parts he knows he'll need when he can get them for reasonable prices. He reduces his cash outlay on parts and labor both. Likewise, given ready parts availability in his truck and/or at his home shop (he's home every weekend), costly downtime, too. T Max Transportation-leased owner Massat was Trucker of the Month in August.

Rita and Roger Wilson preside over the two-truck Rita’s Absolute Trucking, Truckers of the Month for September. The pair have downsized considerably from early parts of this century when they were consolidating LTL freight from a Chicago-area warehouse with a much more sizable small fleet. Though we caught up with them on Sunday, what Rita called the Wilsons' "no-truck day" in efforts to build in the work-life balance that eludes so many over-the-road, she was also quick to note the necessity of giving it 110% for new owners to get past what can be difficult early years.

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South Mississippi-based Jay Hosty, meanwhile, kept his eye on the finsh line, with a tip particularly for younger starting owners to set up a retirement investment account and contribute as much as you can from the get-go. The Roth IRA, in particular, he finds attractive given it's not taxed when you pull the money out in retirement." Hosty pulls dry vans leased to Landstar, and pulled in the monthly nod in April. 

Overdrive Radio logoSubscribe to the podcast on your listening platform of choice for early access to the weekly Overdrive Radio series -- it drops typically every Friday to the feed and follows here at OverdriveOnline.com and in Overdrive's Youtube and Facebook feeds the following week. You can subscribe for first access via Apple and Google podcasts, Spotify, TuneIn, most anywhere you listen.Finally, with advice to simply “never give up” on the mission for those choosing the owner-operator route in trucking, Walkabout Transport independent Debbie Desiderato, based in Virginia today, was our Trucker of the Month for June. As with others in this roundtable, she noted owners are best served when they devise ways to make themselves more valuable to whoever happens to be their customer. In her case, that's lately come in the form of trailer purchases to better serve one in particular on some new lanes out of her area.

Those are but a small sample, a few little bites out of the apple of advice from this brain trust. Find much more in the podcast and via all 10 of the 2023 Trucker of the Month profiles


Owners looking for additional owner-operator advice and sound business strategy can find a myriad of topic covered in the Overdrive/ATBS-coproduced "Partners in Business" manual for new and established owner-operators, a comprehensive guide to running a small trucking business. Click here to download the updated 2023 edition of the Partners in Business manual free of charge

Transcript

Todd Dills: This week on the Overdrive Radio podcast, it's part two of our quote-unquote, "exit interviews", with our truckers of the year, this one, as with the last, detailing a bevy of challenges faced down throughout the year by this exemplary group of five businesses, with a special emphasis on tactics, on long-term strategies, that others can adopt to help weather rocky conditions. I'm Todd Dills and know that there's also a strong current of advice for aspiring owners in all of this.

Chris Smith: A nice looking truck don't pay the bills. And trust me, I can vouch for that one.

Rita Wilson: If you don't give it 110%, you are not going to make it.

Jay Hosty: No, I'm frugal, man. And it's got me a long way, so that's very important.

Steve Massat: Don't be afraid to ask questions.

Debbie: And never give up.

Todd Dills: In order. You heard there the distinct voices of all five featured today, including owner-operator, Chris Smith, who operates the Dreamline Trucking business. Our February trucker of the month with his wife and team owner, Ruth, Leased Southern Pride. Hauling jet engines and other airport freight predominantly. Then you heard Rita Wilson who presides over the Two-Truck Rita's Absolute Trucking with her husband, Roger, Truckers of the month for October.

Jay Hosty: And since we've slowed down, we've had to fill in once in a while with [inaudible 00:01:31] but we're keeping busy all the time. It's just a little more of a challenge.

Todd Dills: South Mississippi-based Jay Hosty, pulling drive vans leased to Landstar too, pulled in the monthly nod in April. And T MAX Transportation leased owner of Steve Massat in September, hauling in a well-maintained piece of history of a 1989 Marmon.

Steve Massat: Yeah, I'm working on the truck. Go figure.

Todd Dills: Working on that Marmon?

Steve Massat: Yes sir. I ended up working last night. So, I didn't get a chance to do it yesterday, so I got to do it today.

Todd Dills: Finally, with that advice to simply never give up on the mission for those choosing the owner-operator route as business owner in trucking. That was Walkabout Transport independent Debbie Desiderato based in Virginia today, and our trucker of the month for June 2023. And those were but a small sampling, a few little bites out of the apple of advice from this brain trust. On the other side of a break, we'll dive into the challenges each of the five businesses ranked number one for the year of 2023. We'll start with owner-operator, Chris Smith after this word from Overdrive Radio's sponsor.

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Todd Dills: That's H-O-W-E-S, Howesproducts.com. You can find more about Diesel Treat and Howes Lifeline Emergency Anti-Gel too, among other offerings. Okay, here's Chris Smith starting us out with this discussion of big 2023 challenges. Smith runs in a team with his wife and business partner, Ruth, in a big-bunk 389. Their truck is called Beverly II and the regular readers may well recall it from our past Pride and Polish competitions. The big yellow 389 is a category winner in 2022. And for the Smiths this year, hurdles to overcome started with the biggest expense of all.

Chris Smith: I think one of the biggest challenges is fuel price, because that's the majority of our expense. And trying to take advantage of the cheapest fuel prices that you can, but also because obviously not all fuel is the same. So, you have to be very careful even using certain mom and pops stores, and I'm not going to name names. So, you've got to take care of where you fuel and trying to get the best price for the best fuel that you can get for your truck. And that goes in using apps through discount apps which I've actually got-

Todd Dills: What do you guys use?

Chris Smith: We have three apps. And I always use the best of the lot. We have obviously the WEX card through Southern Pride, which we can check the fuel through there, the fuel price with the discount. We also have TCS, which is another fuel card, and then we also have NASTC.

NASTC. Yeah, and the NASTC and the WEX card is basically almost the same thing. So, I use that in conjunction where if we go off on vacation and come back. If we were off like a month, anyone that knows Southern Pride, one of the very difficult things about working for this company is when we go off for a month, it then takes us six to eight weeks to start getting paid again. So, if you're using NASTC, you got to damn well make sure you got the money in your account to pay for the fuel. And then when we are back at work making money again, getting a statement where we're not in the negative, then we switch back to the Southern Pride card. So, it's using it to your advantage.

Todd Dills: And that's not just fuel price issues, that's managing cashflow as well, right?

Chris Smith: Yes, absolutely correct. There are some good owner operators, but sadly because of the times, some people are working paycheck to paycheck. So, it's tough to get around the cashflow management, which you really have to have leasing on the Southern Pride.

Todd Dills: Anything else? Any efficiency measures you guys have taken in terms of saving on fuel?

Chris Smith: Yeah, efficiency-wise, I used to run around 72 miles an hour, pretty much anywhere I went except California, and then it was like 62 or 65 miles an hour, but we slowed it down. We basically now run at 68 miles an hour and with the big old truck that we have, obviously it's not made for the best mileage anyways, but we have increased our mileage with slowing down a minimum of a mile a gallon, and that's loaded or empty. So, we've gained a mile a gallon, which with the miles that we do, that is quite a big saving. And that's just the main thing, how we manage our fuel consumption, which is our... Last year, our fuel consumption for the year cost us, I believe you saw, I think it was $168,000 just in fuel.

Todd Dills: I'm sure everybody on this call can relate to that, particularly last year, but this year too.

Chris Smith: Oh, absolutely.

Todd Dills: Jay Hosty, I imagine that rings some bells for you. What is your answer to that very particular question about this past year's challenges?

Jay Hosty: Well, he touched on the big one, fuel, but just overall cost. Just everything's going up so much. So, besides fuel, just anything you buy, it's just... Have gone up. So, you just got to look for the best deals. And I slowed down too, but I've been slowed down for years, and it absolutely saves you fuel mileage, which is money in the pocket. I'm leased to Landstar and we get really huge discounts as far as fuel. But it's also about buying the fuel the right way, base price buying where you are watching your taxes too, because that all comes into play.

Your fuel taxes is what I'm talking about. But yeah, overall it's just cost. I just really try to watch everything, and that comes down to a lot of small stuff. People might like the food, how you're eating and stuff like that. All of that comes into play when you're out on the road.

Chris Smith: He's so right. I didn't even think about the cost, just not to cut him off, but last night is a perfect example. All I wanted is an oil change. I didn't even want the whole PM, and I freaked out because if I go to my mechanics in Tennessee, an oil change, just an oil change is a couple 100 bucks. Where I went to Petro, because that's where we parked up, and I went back into pay for it and I totally flipped out when they said just for the oil change was $411. Just for an oil change. That's 11 gallons of oil and one filter. It's crazy.

Todd Dills: Jay, anything you've done this year that is new to your operation that you're looking to mitigate those costs?

Jay Hosty: Nothing really different. I've always been about cost, and as things go up, it's still the same objective. Pay as little as you can for whatever you spend, and spend as little of money. But it's just really ridiculous, talking about the price of an oil change, here's probably part of that, man, when I go buy a gallon of oil at Walmart, I'll pay $15 for it. In the truck stop, that same gallon of oil, it's just $15.40 straight mineral oil, it's twice as much, it's $30. And that's just ridiculous for one gallon of oil. So, hitting us for those big prices of what they getting for a gallon of oil. So, it just comes down to watching everything cost-wise.

Debbie Desiderato: My biggest challenge this year has been getting back to my main customer. I have two customers. So, I've got a primary and a secondary customer, just like air tanks, I guess. And getting back to my primary customer has been a challenge because the back-haul freight is pretty much not worth taking the time to haul for. So, I wrote to my main customer and I increased my rates by 13.5%.

Jay Hosty: Good for you.

Debbie Desiderato: Yeah, I was very worried about doing that because they've been wonderful for me for the last couple years, but I just explained why the cost of everything is up. And they understood, and they convinced me to buy the cost of the trailer, which I didn't have any debt and I really didn't want to go into debt, but they said if I furnish the concert for them, they could give me more. Right. Well I did. I bought it I think in this year and some of my customers don't have loading the docks.

I took a chance [inaudible 00:13:00], it's the right thing to do. So they are giving me more work and they accepted the price increase, which was good. But like everybody else, the price of fuel that definitely doesn't match the Back haul freight, that's for sure. So I've found that it's pretty much more profitable to just come back empty, get back as soon as I can to my main customer and get ready for the next load. It sounds crazy, but it's working. When main customer has some downtime, then I go to my secondary customer, which is in the logging business and I have trained myself to be of more value to them by learning how to use a knuckle boom so I can load myself so that the logging company can just focus on cutting trees.

They don't need to stop and load my trailers, so that's my secondary customer. That's when nothing else is going on for my main customer. So I'm staying busy. I'm not making a killer, that's for sure, but I'm surviving paying the bills and maintaining my lifestyle. I'm also buying oil and death in bulk and having it delivered to the house and I'm doing my own oil changes and whatever I can in the truck myself.

Some things I can't handle. I've recently had to have a windshield wiper motor replaced and it was way up under the dash and I couldn't even fit in there, so I had to get a truck to do that for me. But I'm taking care of as much as I can with the truck and my logging neighbors, they help me with some stuff too. If I need any welding or anything done, they take care of that. So pretty much I've had to diversify and make myself more useful and it seems to be working

Todd Dills: Excellent.

Debbie Desiderato: And I use NASTC 90% of the time I use NASTC for fuel and on the rare occasion that I find it's more financially beneficial to use a credit card at a mom and pop store, I use American Express business card where I get triple points and that pays for my vacations, which is not very often, but I think in the last two years I've saved up enough points for two round trip tickets back home to Australia. So I'll be looking forward to when I can take that. So yeah, that's what I say points for. Definitely slowed down too, I've got a 600 horsepower Detroit and it's a pig on fuel, get six miles a gallon and my main customer's freight is very lightweight. Of course the logs are a lot heavier. You get about four miles a gallon when logs. But yeah, I've slowed down a lot too because of the fuel.

Todd Dills: Fuel I guessed was like is not a universal challenge for those on the call. Chicago headquarters, Steve Masset was no exception, but he went on to echo the cost of maintenance and subsequent downtime with repairs was emphasized by a fellow truck of the year contenders in our previous podcast who noted their own journeys toward more do-it-yourself maintenance practices were practicable as noted up top too. Masset is no stranger to that for his vintage hard-working Marmon tractor.

Steve Massat: A lot of these repair shops now they're showing waiting to get a truck in to get a repair. So if you're maintaining and staying on top of it, you don't just all of a sudden need brakes on Wednesday. You needed brakes for three weeks and you try to plan that stuff out, you want to take a vacation and have it done, take a vacation or in my instance, I go find my brake parts and have them sitting on the floor in the shop waiting for me and come Saturday, that's what I'm going to do that day. And I try to keep everything... If you don't keep a list of things that are wrong with your truck, it'll get away from you and next thing you know you've got a laundry list of things and you just give up and you don't want to look at it anymore.

So you got to keep everything up and it's important I guess to keep the truck clean because then the DOT will look at you a little different. You see your truck is clean and well-maintained, your lights are on, your tires are well, you're not running ball or mismatched tires. They tend to leave you alone because they know that if you're doing all that, then if you're doing all the little things, then it's all the big stuff that they don't have to worry about with you. Yeah, I try to keep parts on hand. Airlines fittings like that, I keep filters and all that stuff in. I keep the sets in my truck, I keep a set in the garage. I keep oil on hand, change my own oil. Even the oil now is getting expensive, but I can get it for 15 W-forty for, I think it's 60 bucks at a five gallon bucket now. So two of those, it's $120 for the oil. Get a cat filter for about $30, so 150 bucks and an hour on my Saturday and I get it taken care of and not have to worry about it. Buying your fuel where it's cheapest without the tax because you got to pay the tax no matter what. So you got to take that tax out of the price of fuel and see what the base price of the fuel is. Otherwise, you're kind of kidding yourself.

If you think you're saving money sometimes. Professionalism and courteousness with your shippers and receivers and that goes a long way. You go to pick up a load, you're nice and friendly with them. They're more willing to load you early or get you out of there or help you out if you got a problem. And same with the police and the DOT. You're not going to win an argument on the side of the road, so don't even bother trying to argue with the guy. Yes sir, no sir. And have a nice day sir. And it gets you back on the road and less hassles

Chris Smith:  Obviously, things run different for how people run.

Todd Dills: That's Southern Pride Leased Chris Smith there, what he's about to say speaks to the notion of keeping parts on hand to be able to get work done over a weekend at the house, but the time he and team owner-operator, Ruth Smith spent on the road, it's not really an option week to week.

Chris Smith: That's difficult for us because we stay out on the road 3, 4, 5 months at a time. Although we take care of our trucks and I think most people know that have seen our truck that we do take care of it. Everything like that has to be done on the road because that's the amount of time we spend at work

Todd Dills: Or Rita's Absolute trucking on our operators Roger and Rita Wilson. Like Masset headquartered in the Chicago area, this year's biggest challenge has followed broad economic slowdown as their central customers have slowed down themselves. Regular Overdrive readers will recall the pair run mostly dedicated to the Ballomer chocolate company running between Chicago and Pennsylvania. Here's Roger setting that up.

Roger Wilson: Well, our biggest challenge probably is keeping busy since our customers kind of slowed down a little bit with the economy and all of that has slowed down. Consider nature every less than they were year, last year and year before. And since they've slowed down, we've kind of had to fill in once in a while with using broker for people. We're keeping busy all the time, but it's just a little more of a challenge since the rates are down and you've got to be more careful with your costs. We have our own customers and we have our own accordion, so when we buy fuel, we buy fuel in certain states it's going to pay for our fuel tax so that we don't end up with big tax for only three quarters into the quarter. So we keep track of that as we go.

Rita Wilson: We usually get a couple hundred bucks back every quarter, but we only fuel in two states because we only run from Illinois to Pennsylvania and back, so it's not like... There's only four states, so we just buy where it's the highest because we know we're going to have to pay it anyway, so you might as well buy where it's the highest and then it kind of all evens out in the quarter. And we also have a discount program with our fuel company and they send us a report every morning as to how much fuel is. Like this morning it was 90 cents a gallon off in Indiana and fifty-eight cents a gallon off in Pennsylvania, which is where we normally fuel. So there are times where we save a couple of hundred bucks in a week and there are times where we've saved over 500 bucks in a week. It just varies from day to day how, I don't know how they figure their discounts, but we're very happy with it.

Todd Dills: What is the fuel program that you're part of?

Rita Wilson: We use Multi-Service. We've used them probably for the last 16 years,

Roger Wilson: Which is why we buy more fuel in Pennsylvania than we do Indiana quite honestly because Pennsylvania's got the highest tax in the country fuel tax in the country, so if you over purchase in Pennsylvania, you're going to get money back at the end of the quarter because all the other states are less.

Rita Wilson: Roger gets really good fuel because he's very disciplined when he drives.

Todd Dills: And in that T600, it may be alone among all the trucks, among the folks that we have on the phone and not having a big square hood.

Chris Smith: No comment. I thought we had a category order ourselves.

Roger Wilson: Well, the difference is we bought my wife a new hood. She's got a big long hood can work with. She drives. It's only two years old, three years old, three years old. I have my T 600 is 17 years old, but it's got a twin turbo, five 50 cat engine in if it gets better fuel mileage and has more power than her says. And so I'm pretty happy with it myself. I'm pretty content. It's got about one and three-quarter million miles on it. We just did the second overhaul with a cat engine and I just love driving. It's so easy to drive. I just told her the last trip, I stopped putting mine in the shop and I took her so she could stay home and quite honestly, I like driving mine better than I do hers.

Todd Dills: There's a variety of hoods in this group. We've got Jay, you're still running in the older Western Star, right?

Jay Hosty: Yes.

Todd Dills: It's got a bit of a slope to it, doesn't it?

Jay Hosty: Just slightly, but I don't classify for an aerodynamic truck by no means. Got the breather’s on the sides, got big fuel tanks, no skirts or anything and I'm pretty impressed with my mileage. I get seven miles to the gallon overall and I've been doing that consistently, but that's driving like 60 miles an hour, so I'm the guy that everybody's fussing at, blowing my doors off, but I'm in the right lane so I'm in the right lane.

Chris Smith: That's it. You're in the right lane, so that's fine.

Jay Hosty: Yep.

Rita Wilson: Repairs on the trucks. I scrutinize every invoice. I'm sure they're like, "Here comes that bitch again." But you know what? I get them to knock a couple of hundred bucks off so it's worth it.

Roger: We get most of our work done in Pennsylvania when we're taking our 10-hour breaks. We have to take two 10 hour breaks running from Illinois to Eastern Pennsylvania back, so we get most of our work done there because the labor rates in rural Pennsylvania are seventy-five to a hundred dollars an hour less than what they are here in Chicago, probably two 50 an hour.

And with our general people that we do business with in Pennsylvania, their oil changes are probably a couple of hundred dollars more than I go to Cleveland Brothers and Milesburg and Cass and they do my oil changes with everything. The coal PM service for almost $150 less than what Kendra pays us for. So you got to pick your spot. Plus when you're working every day like we are, the customers only work during the week, so sometimes we'll leave on Sunday or we won't get home until Saturday, we're doing the second trip.

But when you're doing these short runs like that, you don't have time to stop the truck at home and take the day off in the middle of the week because you'll miss a load. We're unloading or reloading almost every day on one end or the other. So you really can't take a day off during the week and most of these shops aren't open on weekends. So that's why we get our work done in Pennsylvania where the labor rates are cheaper and we get it done when we're taking our 10-hour breaks. So when we get home on the weekends we're getting out of the truck and getting away from it.

Rita Wilson: A no truck day, we have a no truck day. Today's our no truck day.

Todd Dills: No truck day yet. Here were the Wilsons talking about the operation with all of us. It reminded me of our prior conversation a couple of months back when Rita spoke to the notion of eating, sleeping and breathing trucking when the pair were running a small fleet and her daughter's admonition of her parents constantly talking about trucks, trucking and business around the dinner table. But the downsizing they've done in subsequent years at least they're grabbing some of that work-life balance that eludes so many of us hats off to them for that for certain. To finish things out with the group, as I did with the four owners featured in the last podcast, I asked everyone for their best piece of advice for new and or aspiring owners. Rita Wilson spoke up first and it wasn't work-life balance considerations that prompted her advice. That's true.

Rita Wilson: I would tell them that they need to be diligent in everything that they do, that they need to get in with someone that is reputable, someone they can trust and they got to run hard. If you don't run hard in this business, if you give it 110%, you are not going to make it. You just have to be... They got to be all in.

Steve Massat: Amen.

Todd Dills: That was Steve Massett's amen there. And he subsequently went on to advise aspiring owners not to be too dazzled by the big custom Peets and Kenworths out there, but to be more discerning in their truck choice starting out. Look for something he said, you can get for a fraction of those big price tags that can be had for much lower cash outlay and monthly payments in order that you can start with a nest egg for unseen repairs and quickly begin to build another nest egg for retirement. Planning for the big downsides though for new owners is of utmost importance, he said.

Steve Massat: And you got to plan for the downsides right now with the economy and stuff. It's going to be tight for a while here. Hey, that's the way you don't think, you don't do the extras. You take the extra work when you can and you watch your... A friend used to tell me, "You watch the pennies and the dollars take care of themselves." And say you're cheap or I got afraid. Oh, you're such a cheapskate. I'm like, it's about being cheap.

It's about maintaining my business so I can be profitable. And that's what some drivers, they don't realize that. They just look at the dollars and think they're, oh wow, look at this. Anyone can do this. And then they get in a bad spot and they can't get out. Their way out of it is walking away from the truck and that doesn't help anybody.

Jay Hosty: I just wanted to jump in because he was saying about people saying cheap, you got to tell your friends like I do. The word is frugal. I'm frugal. I'm not cheap. I'm frugal.

Steve Massat: That's right.

Jay Hosty: There's a difference. I've kind of been called that all my life, but I don't have a problem with it. But I correct them when they say, "Oh, you're cheap, Jay, you're cheap." No, I'm frugal man, and it's got me a long way. So that's very important.

Chris Smith: To me, I look at it as living within your means and money management. Yeah, okay. We've got a big truck and this, that and the other, but it didn't come overnight. You got to work to a certain and you also got to multitask coming on this call and I just loaded an engine as we talked. I just finished loading an engine. But yeah, it's living within your means is the important thing.

I mean, look, say if you get paid $2,000, you've got your expenses and everything, which people have to work out what their expenses and everything are. And then whatever you can save after that paycheck or statement or whatever, then you put whatever you can aside savings or whatever, but you can't... Whether you've got a fancy truck, you go to the Chrome shop and spend half your money in the Chrome shop, a nice looking truck, don't pay the bills. And trust me, I can vouch for that one.

Debbie Desiderato: My advice I guess to a new driver, well, company driver, I probably don't have any advice, but-

Todd Dills: Owner operator Debbie Desiderato there

Debbie Desiderato: To a new owner operator or independent carrier or something. I would say try your best to make yourself indispensable by maybe holding different types of trailers so that you can change with the season or with customer demands because a lot of freight is seasonal. Be the solution to the problems and definitely go out and get your own customers. If you're new at being an independent company, go right in your neighborhood and find your own customers and be on call for them. It works for me. They call me when I'm at home. My main customer, some of their employees live by me and they know when I'm home. They'll call me up still at moment and say, "Can you grab one this afternoon at two o'clock?" It just came up or whatever. And it's just a whole different world. I think getting back because slowing things down to save fuel.

I don't ever have ETA's anymore. When I pick up my customers free, they don't ask me when I'm going to deliver, they just know I'll get it there in a reasonable time. And that's a wonderful thing. There's no pressure. You can got time to be safe and safe, but I think diversity is the name of the game and I've done that all my truck and life. I stopped as a car hauler. I've done reefer, I've done drive van flatbeds, hotshots, logging, and I just do whatever's necessary at the time.

I've got three different trailers now, two log trailers, a translocator and a dry van. And I'll just take whatever I'm needed for it on that day. And they're all down the street from my house and I'm only one truck, so I just drop and hook to the next one, whatever I'm needed for. And that kind of is what keeps me in business, just diversifying.

Jay Hosty: Everybody's advice is very good, but just something that I've done and that I think about is a Roth IRA any young, especially the younger a guys because there's no retirement out here and a Roth IRA is a beautiful thing. And it can make you a lot of money and you don't have to put a lot into it. You invest as you can. And I don't think, this is just my guess, that most owner-operators probably don't even have any kind of retirement fund set up and it's just something that's, it's just looking ahead for the long run.

Todd Dills: And a Roth is you contribute post tax, so you contribute to it. So you're paying today's tax rate when you're contributing to it. You're not paying the future tax rates, which you can suspect will be higher than they're today.

Jay Hosty: Yeah, you don't pay taxes when you take it out. You pay them upfront. It's a great thing to have, especially when you get a little older and you want to slow down. I've slowed down quite a bit, so it's just a nice thing to have that Roth, I'm not ready to retire, but the money's there for whatever I want to use it for.

Todd Dills: Right. You haven't started drawing on that at all at this point?

Jay Hosty: No. No. I don't have any plans to really draw on it unless, I need it for some specific purchase or something like that, but as long as I'm working. I'm earning my living, covering my family and everything. But it's a great tool to have and a young person a lot of times, if they're younger starting out. I mean, I didn't start an IRA as early as I should have, but I finally did get on board and I'm glad I did when I did. But the younger you do it, the better it is. That's just how it's.

Chris Smith: I wish I did it when I was younger.

Todd Dills: Yeah. Chris, do you guys have that set up now?

Chris Smith: Yes, we do. Yeah, I've got that set up. I've got other, obviously I've done sort of started doing stocks and all that as well to diversify money a little bit here, there and everywhere. But yeah, the Roth is definitely a very good way to go and my accountant told me about it. I guess that's the other thing, have a good accountant.

You need a good accountant. And we are very lucky where we have an awesome accountant and they're not actually a trucker's accountant. They are a pure business accountant that know the trucking industry, but they know business. And so unless you're doing all the bookkeeping yourself and everything else, just need to make sure that you keep hold of everything and have someone good at doing what they get paid to do.

Steve Massat: Don't be afraid to ask questions

Debbie Desiderato: And never give up.

Todd Dills: Stay tuned for the announcement of the top three finalists though Lord knows it's a difficult judging experience with the contenders this year. No doubt. Thanks to all for the benefit of their experience. I'll post the link to where you can find all our trucker of the month profiles of 10 semi-finalists this year in the show notes, wherever you're listening. Overdrive Radio, you'll find on Spotify, Sound Cloud, Apple and Google Podcasts, Podcast Addict and via Pocket Cast and many more. If you're getting plenty out of these, leave us a rating or review there.

                                             And don't forget, you can always find the show at the world-famous overdrive online.com slash overdrive hyphen radio.