Leave trucking better than you found it

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“Like a lot of young boys, I grew up in a farming and trucking environment, and as I stood on the stage a couple of years ago as our company accepted the 2021 Small Fleet Champion of the year award, it hit me that I had hit a pinnacle in my career. Because all I had ever wanted as a young boy was to get my own truck into Overdrive magazine.” --Silver Creek Transportation owner Jason Cowan

Yet Silver Creek Transportation owner and Overdrive 2021 Small Fleet Champ Jason Cowan’s story doesn’t end there, of course.

Jason Cowan onstage with two 1970s Overdrive magazine coversJason Cowan invoked his boyhood with these two 1970s Overdrive magazine cover images onstage at the Mid-America Trucking Show.Flanked by images of the two 1970s Overdrive covers you see in the image here on the Mid-America Trucking Show's East Hall stage March 22 this year, Cowan invoked a new appreciation for all that had come before that he grabbed hold of that night in Nashville, where he and his tight-knit Silver Creek office staff accepted the National Association of Small Trucking Companies-sponsored Small Fleet Champ award.

“What I began to learn that night was that wasn’t just the end,” he said. “That was the beginning.” 

What followed was a rousing talk I'm going to share in full here in today's edition of Overdrive Radio. It's guaranteed to make you think, part tale of his early-years fascination with all things trucks and trucking as a young boy, part homily on how to approach life and business to leave those around you, and the trucking business itself, better than you found them.

"I'm going to ask you, 'Who are you bringing along behind you?'', Cowan said to the assembled, "so that when they get to be in their career they can say, 'That person invested time in me.'" 

pictures of Cowan's idols from the days of yore, invoked from the stagePictures of Cowan's idols from his boyhood, invoked from the MATS stage. Right: John Baker, "California and back" from Kentucky, "every week." Left: Donald Stone, another owner-operator Cowan knew who gave his time to the young man.Cowan I'd wager needs no introduction here. His Henderson, Kentucky, Silver Creek Transportation serves as a bulwark to many an aspiring small fleet owner and remains a pillar of his community. In the podcast today, take a long listen to Cowan’s veritable sermon on the importance of relationships. With customers, sure.

Early in his career, as an owner-operator with just a single truck, he stared down the old quandary. 

Hi, I'm Jason and I want to move your freight.

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How many trucks do you have? 

Well I've just got this one. 

Come back when you've got 30. 

Yet he was persistent, seeing the same treatment when he was up to three or more trucks, even, until he established rapport enough from prospective customers to urge them to consider him when a load fell through or another problem rose. 

Truth is, he said from the MATS stage, "we were 10 or 12 trucks deep before we ever had a consistent, direct customer," after years just "picking up everybody else’s dropped stuff."

Investing in those relationships has paid off in a big way through the years -- Silver Creek's at 30-plus today.

But, perhaps most importantly, Cowan urges all of you to invest in the biggest relationship you have -- the one with that person you see looking back at you in the mirror every morning. Track through his talk here: 

Overdrive Radio's sponsor is Howes, longtime provider of fuel treatments like its Howes Diesel Treat anti-gel and Lifeline rescue treatment to get you through the coldest temps, likewise its all-weather Diesel Defender and Howes Multipurpose penetrating oil, among other products.Overdrive Radio's sponsor is Howes, longtime provider of fuel treatments like its Howes Diesel Treat anti-gel and Lifeline rescue treatment to get you through the coldest temps, likewise its all-weather Diesel Defender and Howes Multipurpose penetrating oil, among other products.

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