Plan for success designed, executed for a long-term home: Truckers of the Month Ruth and Chris Smith

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Updated Mar 23, 2023

Owner-operator Chris Smith, one half of the team that is Dreamline Trucking, is today headquartered in Crossville, Tennessee. His trucking career follows a beginning far from U.S. shores across the pond in continental Europe, the Middle East and where his family's originally from, Britain.

As regular readers will know, he and the other half of the Dreamline team -- Ruth, his wife and business partner -- were Overdrive’s Truckers of the Month for February. Follow that link if you missed Overdrive News Editor Matt Cole’s feature report about the business, or dive into Cole's interview with them in this podcast.

After meeting and marrying during those early UK days, the Smiths’ Dreamline business is now anchored in their long relationship and team operation leased to Southern Pride Trucking, hauling jet engines and other aviation-related freight. They’ve got almost 10 years behind them as business owners, hauling today in a big-bunk 2020 Peterbilt 389 that is their second unit, outfitted with a 192-inch ARI sleeper with the creature comforts of a home on the road.

dreamline truckingIn addition to their history, in the podcast you'll hear about general maintenance practices -- a regular 15,000-mile oil change interval, coordination with a preferred shop in their home area even with long stretches of time out -- as well as some bigger work upcoming.

The beautiful yellow Pete took damage down the driver's side and to the Herd bumper on the front end in an accident. A "perfect storm," as Chris put it, of distraction factors and rash lane-change decisions saw two four-wheelers collide in the lane right in front of Beverly II in Arkansas. Hear Chris narrate the disaster and much more in today's podcast.

Howes logoOverdrive Radio sponsor Howes wants to hear from you. If you've used Howes' fuel treatments, lubricants or other products through the years, send me an an email or leave a voicemail with your story on the podcast message line. Leave your name and address and we'll get a prize pack with Howes' Diesel Defender treatment and Multipurpose penetrating oil to your doorstep: 615-852-8530.As February's Truckers of the Month, Ruth and Chris Smith's Dreamline Trucking is in the running as a semi-finalist for the Trucker of the Year award. I’d encourage you, too, if you’ve thrived even through the tough conditions of the last year, or if you know of a deserving owner-operator who fits that description, to get over to our nomination page for the Trucker of the Year award and get in the running. It’s open to owner-operators leased or with authority, operating up to a maximum of three trucks as part of the business.

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Chris Smith: ... we stay on East Coast time, so it works for us because if we're on the West Coast then we're three hours early. If we're on the East Coast, we're on time.

Todd Dills: The voice you heard at the top is that of owner-operator Chris Smith. One half of the team is Dreamline Trucking, today headquartered in Crossville, Tennessee. And I'm happy to be able to report Overdrive's Truckers of the Month for the last month, February. That puts Chris Smith and the other half of the owner-operator team, his wife Ruth Smith, the running as semi-finalists for Overdrive's 2023 Trucker of the Year Award. If you missed Overdrive news editor Matt Cole's feature report about the business, find it at or just listen on, as today Cole will walk us through Smith's history in conversation with the pair.

Chris Smith: And we decided...

Ruth Smith: Well, you didn't know. I'm just-

Chris Smith: Excuse me.

Ruth Smith: Oh, Carry on.

Chris Smith: Have you ever interviewed a husband and wife before?

Matt Cole: A couple of times. This is totally normal.

Todd Dills: Understatement of the year for Matt Cole, no doubt. I'm Todd Dills, your host as usual for this edition of Overdrive Radio Podcast for March 10, 2023, where we'll drop into Smith's Dreamline business, anchored today in Ruth and Chris Smith's long relationship and team operation leased to Southern Pride Trucking, hauling jet engines and other aviation related freight. The roots as a team are in the United Kingdom where Chris cut his trucking teeth from the late 1980s on, hauling on the European continent as well as into Eastern Europe and Russia, the Middle East and more. They've got almost 10 years behind them as business owners now here in the States though. Today hauling in a big bunk 2020 Peterbilt 389, that is their second big bunk unit. Outfitted in this case with a 192 inch ARI Sleeper with the creature comforts of a home on the road.

Chris Smith: Exactly why we bought these trucks for the toilet. It had nothing to do with restaurant features or things like that. It was purely the toilet, the shower.

Todd Dills: You'll hear today about maintenance practices including a regular 15,000 mile oil change interval. Stay on the safe side there, in coordination with a preferred shop in their home area.

Chris Smith: I make sure that if things... little minor things, we make a list and then boom, we go home to Tennessee and I've got my guys there. I give them the list, "Here you go." She's rolling. She's three and a half years old and we've got 630,000 miles on her already.

Todd Dills: That shop will also do some more extensive work on the raid quite soon. The beautiful yellow Pete took damage down the driver's side and to the herd bumper on the front end in a not at fault accident the Smiths were involved in recently. Here's Chris narrating how the disaster happened.

Chris Smith: We were going through Arkansas and we were on 440 heading west to get onto 30 and a car was in a left exit. There was a left exit on 440. She decided she didn't want to turn left so basically cut right in front of us.

Todd Dills: There was another car on the Smith's right that they were in the process of passing that driver.

Chris Smith: Then decided to speed up and was undertaking me and just at the last minute he wanted to get in front of us, so as he went into the left lane she spared right. They both hit in front of us. One ended up being spun out where he hit the left side of my truck and did a lot of damage. The other vehicle got T-boned by us, thanks to my herd bumper. Fantastic thanks. Yet put some gashes and stuff on the bumper where I could have lost my whole front end, it didn't do anything.

And basically we're still able to work, because we're going to be taking some time off soon where I can schedule everything properly and do it when it benefits us, whether is an, "Oh God, here we go. We got to take more time off of work." Damaged my boxes. My fender was also... because my fender are joined with the support in the middle. It damaged my right fender as well. It put a crack in it. But yeah, at the moment it's tough because I love my truck. She is a beauty. I hate going to the left side of the truck and seeing the damage. So I try to stay away from the left side of my truck at the moment.

Ruth Smith: I don't blame you.

Todd Dills: On the other side of the break, we'll drop into Chris and Ruth Smith's story right from the get-go. With Chris's move to the United Kingdom after childhood, spent mostly in the US and then time in the US Army for his maiden voyages following an uncle into trucking across the pond. So stay tuned.

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Todd Dills: Here's Chris Smith.

Chris Smith: I got involved trucking after I left the army in 1987. I went back to the UK because I was wondering what I was going to do after I got out of the army. There's not much call for people killing people, so obviously I was looking to see what I was going to do. So my uncle was driving trucks in England and Europe and I thought, "Wow, that seems like an interesting job." And so I went back to the UK, started driving over there and drove all over Europe.

And then just on the later edges of the eighties in basically 88, 89, I drove the transcontinental runs from the UK to the Middle East and that was an eye opener for me as well. And then came back to the States, drove over here because I went back and forth from the UK to the US because my parents were obviously living over here, so I always missed them, so I went back and forth. And trucking was actually main job, then it became a backup job, where... because I was a musician, so when I wasn't doing anything musically, my backup thing was always get a job working for a trucking company and do that. So I've been driving since 87. Half of my career was spent driving in the UK and Europe and the Middle East and the other half was over here, which is the half I met Ruth through driving. She used to work at a... what we call a weigh bridge.

Ruth Smith: When Chris and I met was one of his stints in the UK.

Todd Dills: The other half of Dreamline there, owner-operator Ruth Smith.

Ruth Smith: I'm English as well. So we met up over there. I was working for a speed merchant with a public wave bridge and he came in with-

Chris Smith: Scales.

Ruth Smith: The scales. We call them wave bridges, the scales, same thing. When he came in... We met when I was working there. Subsequently, we got married and about three months after we got married there was a change in our situation, let's say.

Chris Smith: Slightly.

Ruth Smith: Slightly.

Chris Smith: I was driving for a trucking company over there called Alan Furman. They're actually still in business. I still know some of their drivers. One of my best friends actually who we worked with, he's over here as well, working over here.

Todd Dills: The carrier at the time had a shirt and tie policy for all personnel and Chris just wasn't complying 100%. Another driver reported that to the company but it would turn out to be something of a blessing in disguise. Opening up new opportunities for the young couple.

Chris Smith: And I actually got fired because I wasn't wearing my tie.

Ruth Smith: On Christmas Eve.

Chris Smith: On Christmas Eve.

Ruth Smith: I showed up to pick him up from work. I had the turkey sitting on the back seat my company had given me as a Christmas gift and Christmas Eve roll up, pick him up, he gets in the car, "I'm fired. I've been fired." "Oh great, thanks a lot. Merry Christmas."

Chris Smith: My wife gets a turkey and I get what they call in England, they call a P45, which is like a bank slip. We came over to the US for our honeymoon and while on our honeymoon because we went down to Atlanta, then we went to Florida, we heard about couples that drives. And we actually went for a job interview slash I guess, job date thing and it was CR England at the time.

We actually went well on honeymoon to see what that was all about. So we did talk about it briefly when we first got married, but obviously we had a life. I had a decent job in England. I wasn't driving in Europe anymore. The job that I got fired from was just driving the UK, which is about as boring as I guess driving in California all the time.

Ruth Smith: And Chris said, "Well, you know what? We can always go to the States and drive a truck." And I'd never driven a truck at that point. I was an office girl, country girl, office girl. That was it. That was my background. So I said okay. So off we went. Moved to the US, based in California initially, that's where Chris's house was. I went to truck driving school. He had already got hired on with a company that was training me.

Chris Smith: Dick Simon.

Ruth Smith: The skunk truck called Dick Simon, kind of defunct now. So he became my trainer and there we are. That was it. And that was in 1998. So that was my first introduction to truck driving.

Matt Cole: Chris, what took you to the UK after your time in the army? Did you have ties there before?

Chris Smith: Well, yeah I'm English. You can't tell by my accent but I'm actually English with an exception of my mom, my dad, my sister who lives in California because basically my family immigrated from the UK to California in the sixties. I was like five years old. So I have half of my life spent in the UK and half spent over here. That's why I never settled down. I was always... I liked living here and I liked living over there, and I was trying to get the best of both worlds. And so when I got out of the army it had nothing to do with what I didn't like or what I didn't. I was figuring out what I wanted to do and-

Ruth Smith: He was young man-

Chris Smith: I was still young. I was still young. The grass never grew under my feet, that's for sure. And I knew about my uncle driving trucks over there and it's like, "Well, I can drive over here. And you stay in the same country pretty much, or I can drive over there and I can actually drive to other continents." I went back there. Well, driving in the UK and especially down in the Middle East, which is basically doesn't happen anymore because obviously tensions and all that stuff, war wise. But it opened my eyes. I believe it made me what a better driver, because of all the situations that I had to deal with at the time. If I was older, I probably wouldn't have done it because it was... At the time I was doing the Middle East, there was a war with Iraq and Iran. They were both at war with each other. So you had bandits and we carried cash. There wasn't no credit cards or fuel cards, telephones or anything like that.

When I left England, I left England with three hard... what we call hard currency at the time, which was the US dollar, the German Deutschmark and the English pound sterling. And I had like 10,000 in cash on me because that's how you have to pay for everything. So the bandits knew this and they went after drivers to steal their money whichever way they wanted to do it. But like I said, I think driving over there made me... it's a tough job over there, not taking anything away from over here. During the winter this is a tough job, which is why now at my age I like to stay far away from the north as I can during the winter. But it made me better at the time looking after my own truck during road services on my truck, myself. If I had flat tires, you get to change them yourself because you couldn't pick up a phone and call the breakdown people.

Ruth Smith: We didn't have the services.

Chris Smith: You didn't have the services. Once you left Western Europe, once you got into Eastern Europe, which at those days you still had East Germany and everything else, it was a whole different ballgame. The US is made for trucks. Okay, it's not made for this many trucks at the moment but that's another story in itself. But the US truck stops and everything like that it's... and it's always been that way. Even in the olden days, you still had truck stops before my time. So it was always built for trucks. You never had that in Europe. You might have had what they call motorway services, which is actually more geared for cars than it is for trucks, which were always highway robbery because food and all that cost so much.

So yeah, there's a couple people I know in this country over here, one of the guys lives in Florida. We met through Facebook because we belonged to the same European page and he used to do exactly what I did, and we know all the same places. So it's nice reminiscing with someone that actually knows what you did. But it didn't help me or anything over here because everybody wanted... When I came back over here, my driving career was more over there at the time. Everybody wanted verifiable experience from this country. They didn't care what I did in Europe.

Matt Cole: You came over together in 1998, Ruth learned how to drive a truck. You were her trainer and you guys started driving team at that point. Talk about what happened in the years after you got to the States.

Ruth Smith: At that point I think we were driving for about three years, team driving. And then Chris at that point had been driving for so many years. He was starting to feel a little bit like he needed a change. So we did actually come out of tracking for a short time. We went to work for a telephone company. I was working for an oil company, for BP in the office.

Chris Smith: Arco.

Ruth Smith: Well, it was Arco, which was actually subsequently bought by BP in the trucking terminal for the fuel carriers. And then we made a decision that we actually wanted to leave California. Strangely enough, it wasn't the place that Chris had grown up in anymore, obviously there's been a lot of changes over the years and we couldn't decide where we wanted to live. We looked at various places, Florida being one of them and we were on the point of deciding to move there. And then that was in 2004 and I think there were three...

Chris Smith: Five.

Ruth Smith: Five major hurricane-

Chris Smith: Well, there was five hurricanes that hit Florida that year.

Ruth Smith: We thought actually Florida's probably not such a good idea after all. We didn't fancy having a brand new house built and then having it flattened. So we actually made a decision to go back to England. We thought that was the best thing to do for us. So we did go back to England in 2005 but it was the worst move we ever made.

Chris Smith: Oh yeah, worst 10 years of my life.

Ruth Smith: It took us 10 years to leave again because of just different things going on, and we regretted moving back there and we made a plan to come back to the US again. So we were out of trucking totally for that 10 years. But then we'd said, you know what? That was Chris's idea, it was his idea to buy our own truck. He'd been looking online and he'd seen Southern Pride and the trucks that Southern... a lot of drivers have switched up with Southern Pride. And that caught his attention and he said, "You know what? We could go back there, buy our own truck and go and work for this company." And that looked really cool. So that's what we decided to do. But it took us 10 years to come back. So we were back in 2015. We didn't immediately buy our truck because we wanted to decide what we wanted and size the truck and everything.

So we went to work for a couple of different companies as company drivers for the first couple of years, because we've been out of trucking for 10 years and we needed to get some more background behind us, and for the US hiring requirements, a lot of these trucking companies hiring requirements. So yeah, then-

Chris Smith: We were working for Meiborg Brothers. Really, really, really good company. Anyone that wants to work for a company as a company driver, you got to work for them. They're just fantastic.

Ruth Smith: They're out of Rockford, Illinois.

Chris Smith: Out of Rockford. But we were going through Texas and I was humming the horn, not that I'm skin flint, but I was humming the horn about, "Do we buy a normal truck for 120,000, or do we get the bigger truck, which is double that price." So I couldn't quite make my mind up. But we were going through Texas and I just woke up, Ruth was driving. I asked her, I said, "How long for the next rester? I need to go to the bathroom." So about 45 minutes. I'm like, "That's it, we get the bigger truck. I want a truck with the toilet in." On my father's crave that's exactly why we bought these trucks for the toilet. It had nothing to do with restaurant features or things like that. It was purely the toilet, the shower. Yeah, and we had a plan and you know how plans go, but surprisingly enough, our plan hit letter for letter and it worked out great. We bought our first truck in 2016. It was a 579 Peterbilt with 144 inch ARI Sleeper on it, which was our first truck.

Now you got to understand, I've never been in business for myself at all ever. I've always worked for a company. But the one thing that did help me is when we went back to the UK, I worked for the phone company over there, but I was a manager slash the senior manager as well. So the managerial side of things and how to do that, that obviously helped me with owning our own business. But the good thing is that I didn't have 187 employees that I had to worry about, which is why we came back to the US because as I said to Ruth, I came home, I said, "Look, if I got to keep doing this job, I'm going to be dead within a year," because it was a heart attack waiting to happen. You work 24,7 and I love golf and it took away from my golf and all that.

And I'm like, "That's it. We're done with this." And so yeah, we got our first truck in 2016. We worked, we leased on with a company called STI, which we did museum artifacts and fine art movements in their climate control fleet. We were always basically going to work for Southern Pride, but I went with STI first and we actually changed the design on the truck because the first truck should have been a 389. But because I've never worked for Southern Pride, I didn't know what it was like working for them.

I thought, "Well if I buy a big truck, now we're stuck." We reduced basically what we can do because the size of it. So I changed the design of the truck to the 579 and my friend who I worked with in England, Alan Fermans was a driver for STI. And so I decided to go with them and we worked for them for a couple years, and then we finally... they were bought out by CRST and when that happened it's like, "Okay, we need to move to Southern Pride now." I got in touch with Southern Pride and we came over here 2017 or 18.

Ruth Smith: 18.

Chris Smith: Yeah, we love it. We're looking at making some changes now to the trailer. We're going from an open step deck to a Conestoga, because we're not getting any younger and I want to keep my driving capabilities for a lot more longer. So we're going to the Conestoga, so we don't have to see the tarping anymore. And we like what we do. We do have a life on the road. We spend a lot of time on the road. We do have a home in Tennessee, although we don't go there very often. On our truck, we've got our golf clubs, we've got barbecue and all that so we can actually have a life on the road as well, so...

Matt Cole: Yeah. In your normal day to day, how do you guys typically split your driving time?

Chris Smith: We stay on a schedule. It's a lot more easier on my wife, than it is me because we both have to be awake during the day when we get loaded or during the nighttime. But most of the time it's during the day. So my sleep always gets interrupted. But we stay on a five to five schedule. We don't alter from that. So Ruth does 5:00 AM to 5:00 PM. I do 5:00 PM to 5:00 AM. Now if we get loaded and it's 4:00 o'clock, then Ruth only has to worry about driving for an hour.

But it all works out because sometimes we get where she's been driving all day and we get to somewhere, then it's my turn and I've only got an hour to work. So although she can stay on her sleep pattern and mine gets interrupted, it does work out. It's what we've found works the best and we stay on the one time zone. We tried altering time zones when we went through them, that just doesn't work for us. I might go to bed in California and I'll wake up in New Mexico. And so changing time zones like that, I know some truckers do it, but yeah, it didn't work for us.

Matt Cole: Yeah, keep your body clock on the same schedule.

Chris Smith: Yeah, it's nice on a personal level. When we come anywhere west and like I said... our big thing is playing golf. If we're waiting for a load, we look for the nearest golf course. We don't just sit in the truck doing nothing. So when you're on the West Coast, you can take those early tea times, which are always available because they don't want them. So that's a non-work thing. It works out really great for that.

Matt Cole: Tell me about the truck that you're in now. Beverly two.

Chris Smith: Yes. Beverly two obviously named after my sister. Everything about the truck is to do with my family. It's yellow because of the house I grew up in, which I have the most fondest memories with my family.

Todd Dills: You can find a picture of that house in the story I wrote about Beverly two when it won Overdrive's 2021 Pride & Polish virtual truck show in the working combo category. Got a link to that story in the show notes and in the post that houses of this podcast for March 10th, 2023 at

Chris Smith: The truck number is my sister's date of birth. Lights on the top of the sleeper are for the month my dad was born. On the bumper for the month my mom was born. Ruth doesn't know this yet, but the new trailer we're getting, the lights on the top of the trailer are for the month my wife was born. So I always... Everything's in the family. It's a 389 Peterbilt 2020. It's my biggest truck with 380 inch wheel base. We got 192 inch sleeper, at the moment a 48 foot open deck. Soon be a 48 foot Conestoga. He's got fantastic Cummins, 605 engine with a 18 speed manual.

We had the automatic in Beverly number one and didn't like it. So went back to a manual. Yeah, I love it. When you get to these trucks, there's more customizing capabilities out there. There's more full of places to spend your money for chrome, than there is the modern trucks and the Volvos and all that kind of stuff. I drove Volvos before they were even in this country. They are nice trucks. European trucks are really, really nice trucks. You drive an European truck, it's like driving a Mercedes car. It's very comfortable. They look at these trucks as really backwards. And they are, they're basic shake, rattle and roll.

But that's what I wanted. I wanted old school truck like what I actually took my first test in was a Peterbilt. And yeah, I love her to bit. She does us good. We take care of her. Maintenance wise, I don't mess around with maintenance. Oil changes every 15,000 miles. Tire changes, tire rotations. I make sure that if things... little minor things, we make a list and then boom, we go home to Tennessee and I've got my guys there. I give them the list, "Here you go." She's rolling. She's three and a half years old and we've got 630,000 miles on her already.

Matt Cole: Do you plan on keeping it until retirement or do you have plans for another new one at some point down the road or hadn't quite decided yet?

Chris Smith: No, Peterbilt won't go this long anymore. There is one truck out there which is Tony Bennett's old yellow truck that used to work for Southern Pride. His is actually the longest 379 ever made, factory wise. I guess we're the second longest and they stopped doing them. They will not let you go this long anymore. So I'm going to keep her until till we're retired. We are looking at planning on updating the sleeper inside, just changing things around like you would do at your house. A little bit of remodeling type of thing. But no, this girl's going to be around me until we stop driving and then maybe I'll sell her or if not, I'll be buried in her, one of the two.

Matt Cole: There you go. Just turn it into an RV and travel the country recreation style.

Chris Smith: Absolutely. Yeah. And there are RV's trucks that have been transformed like that.

Matt Cole: Absolutely. Is it financed or are you still... or do you own it outright?

Chris Smith: No, we've got a year left to pay on it. Yeah, on the financial side I've got a great accountant. They're not actual truck accountants. They're real good CPAs and bookkeepers that take care of all that. There's enough for us to do on the road, we're working that. The last thing I wanted to do was do that as well. So we got great bookkeepers, again, great accountants that do that every year for us. They help also do our personal taxes as well. And yeah, that's just one less thing I have to worry about. They always send me emails for quarterly taxes and all that. We went from just an LLC to now a LLC escort, because the money that we make.

And, yeah that side of things it's done by a company in Arizona called Chaston Tax Services, really great people. Like I said, they don't actually specialize in... you got these trucking companies out there that are... these tax companies that are specifically for trucks. I went with someone that's more into corporate tax. We sent him receipts. He has access to my business account so they can see what we spend and what we spend it on through that, so we don't have to send him loads of paper for the business. 99.9% of the time I use my business card to buy anything, whether it be oil changes, tires, all that kind of stuff. So it's easier for them to look at. So we do keep business separate from personal. Makes it a lot easier that way, especially on the business.

Matt Cole: And the last two or three years have been tough on everybody and especially last year for expenses with fuel and everything else going up. How did you guys manage the rising fuel prices last year, parts prices?

Chris Smith: Funny enough, last year wasn't a big issue. Not for us. 2020 was the big issue for us because although you had certain freights moving, general haulage obviously was very good, but we haul aviation. And during Covid no planes were flying. People weren't going on business trips. They weren't going away on vacation. So if you went at the time and went to an airport, you would see. I was shocked by what we saw. We saw if that place had three runways, two of their three runways were stacked up with airplane parked. It was the most horrific thing you'd ever want. You would think it was Armageddon and we're not talking just one airport. We're talking airports across the country, especially in Arizona, the dry States that have a lot of wrecking yards for airplanes anyways. Airports were stacked up with airplanes just parked, not moving.

Their engines were all taped up, the intakes and the exhaust. The windows were all taped up. It was like the world came to an end, so we went from... which made it hard on us. Which I think with me, I felt proud of my business plan that I did for the trucking payments and stuff because we went from doing 14 loads a month, four, and that was pretty much anyone that worked for Southern Pride. We had a lot of people that left Southern Pride because they could not obviously afford to put up with it. But that's how Southern Pride shared it with pretty much most other people that worked for this company. We were only doing four loads a month. We survived when people have massive truck payments. I'm lucky enough where we don't have massive truck payments.

Todd Dills: I had a conversation just last week with Seth Keck, owner of JT Carriers out of Sorrento, Florida, about this very subject. The 30 truck fleet owner noted something of a sweet spot, he felt he'd finally found when it comes to equipment debt. A well less than 50% of the truck and trailer equipment's value at the time of purchase essentially. The Smiths, when they bought that big ticket home on the road, 202389 big bunk in 2019, couldn't have known the storm was coming for them in 2020. Yet they hit that sweet spot ratio and then some, financing only 150,000 the purchase that left plenty in cash reserves and allowed them to stay the course through to 2022.

Chris Smith: With fuel prices going up. But we were working and we are taken care of financially. We make pretty good money. Not the best. There's a lot of people out there that do make more money than what we do. So with the fuel prices, basically we turn the speed down instead of doing 71, 72 baseline made it, where we do... no, we don't go any faster than 68 miles an hour. That increased our mileage, which obviously increased the distance we can travel. Also instead of filling up every half a tank, we started filling up every three quarters of a tank.

Sometimes I put more fuel in this than I thought it would hold because we could go from... obviously we shopped around for fuel. We still used a lot of the major truck stops. There are some mom and pop places that I will go into. But fuel wise, there's a company out there called TA Petro. I believe we get better fuel mileage used in that fuel than I do other fuels. So we'd can go anywhere up to 1400 miles in a fill up. So within that 1400 miles, I can shop around, right, what's the cheapest within that 1400 miles? And that's how we made up a little bit. We would never fill up in California, that's a get go.

Ruth Smith: We spent a lot more time planning our fuel stop than we used to. It used to be when we needed fuel, we stopped and got it. Now it's like Chris says, we plan depending on our roots, depending on which States we go through, we're constantly checking to see what the prices are on that day and then planning, planning, planning, planning. And it makes a big difference over the course of a year. We haven't actually sat down and worked the difference out, but I know it makes a lot of difference on trying to keep those fuel costs down.

Chris Smith: What my fuel bill was last year?

Todd Dills: A whopping $165,000.

Chris Smith: It's a lot of money in fuel for a one truck business type of thing. Obviously yes, everyone else does that as well. But it's a big chunk out of your money.

Ruth Smith: Well, the other thing we tend to do more of now, we used to just go interstate route wherever we were going, if it was longer miles, if it was more miles, we'd take the interstate. But now we look for the shorter trips, the shorter route to save on the mileage as much as we can. So we've been a bit more adventurous.

Chris Smith: It depends.

Ruth Smith: Given the size of the truck and how tight some of those turns are going to be. As long as there aren't too many left and rights through small towns and whatnot, we'll try different routes, especially during the daytime when you can see where the heck you are. So we do that. We try and shorten this trip a bit where we can as well, and that all helps cut down on the mileage.

Matt Cole: A fuel card or any sort of discount through Southern Pride or are you a member of any groups that give you any discount?

Ruth Smith: Yes.

Chris Smith: We've got the EFS card... through Southern Pride. I've now also just joined another company, TCS or TSC. TCS. I just joined their fuel, got a fuel card through them for myself because I'm looking at maybe what Southern Pride gets, maybe I can do better.

Todd Dills: However that recent exploratory shift turns out, the Smiths for sure have found a home where they're leased culmination of a plan, mold over, designed, and executed in full over the last decade.

Chris Smith: My truck was built... Beverly two was actually built for Southern Pride. We don't plan on going anywhere else. I plan on being here until I can't drive anymore. Southern Pride basically wrote the book on aviation and how to haul it and everything, because they're now expanding on letting trucks get a Conestoga and all that stuff. But no, we like working for Southern Pride.

Todd Dills: Here's a big thanks to owner operators Ruth and Chris Smith for their time and congrats to the couple as well. Trucker of the month win for February puts them in the rank for OverDrive's 2023 Trucker of the Year Award. Best of luck to them there, but we've got a long way to go before the final wrap on the program. You can enter your own owner operator business, or nominate a fellow owner operator you know well, who has the qualities of success for profit in these tough times. You do that via the entry page you can find at

With a link in a post that houses this podcast for March 10th, 2023, or ultimately find it in show notes wherever you're listening. Overdrive Radio gets out to most all the podcast platforms where you can leave us a rating or review, and I'll say I truly appreciate all the recent feedback on it. Keep it coming via our message line at 615 852 8530. Thanks again to our sponsor for making it all possible. That's the Hows company with their line of winter anti gel and other fuel treatments, alcohol-free penetrating oil that got them started more than a century ago, and much more. Find at H-O-W-E-S,

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