They said he'd fail, but he proved them wrong: Overdrive's Trucker of the Year, owner-operator Jay Hosty

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Updated Jan 15, 2024

By the mid-late 1980s, when Jay Hosty was in his mid-20s, he'd already been through three trucks as an owner-operator -- a 1971 gas-powered International and then a couple of cabovers bought used -- hauling containers for Brown Transport. He then made a move his elder container-pulling owner-operators on his Southeast runs told him was going to be a career killer in the out-and-back niche

It was 1987. "I never thought I'd own a new truck that soon," said Hosty, yet it was working out right -- the trade-in value on the cabover he was pulling with, the cost of the 1987 International 9300 conventional he was about to replace it with... "Associates Finance -- they were famous for doing commercial vehicles, they took me on in the very beginning" for the financing, he said, much to his surprise.

His rate for revenue at the time, as he told: "72 cents a mile, loaded and empty."

He was working with Brown early on running local around New Orleans with a lot of older men. They called him a kid. Owner-operators who've been around a long time may remember Brown for a kind of mascot that was the company's emblem. "They called him 'the Brownie,'" said Hosty. "He looked like a little Robin Hood or something, a little character."

Those seasoned experts amongst the prior generations at Brown and related companies got one look at the kid's sharp new 9300 and "started asking me what my payments were," Hosty added -- $1,400 every month, for five years. "They said, 'You are never going to make it pulling these containers for 72 cents a mile. You're going to have to go over-the-road.'" 

What they meant: The young upstart owner-operator would have to make that truck his very life -- "to go out [OTR] and stay out," he said. His young wife wouldn't go for that, he knew, and for as much as he loved the work, he didn't want that sort of life, either. Besides, owner-operator Hosty had done the math, knew his costs back and forth, and was confident he could in fact make it work.

"I can make it, and I will make it," he told himself.

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"And I did," he says today, telling the story as part of this week's special edition of Overdrive Radio, and proving wrong the naysayers in process. The tale showcases a quality held by many a successful owner -- willingness to think outside the box, to push the envelope to find just what's possible, for himself. It's a quality Hosty made good on time and again throughout his 40-plus-year career at the helm of the Jaybird Express business he pilots behind the wheel of a Detroit Series 60-powered 2006 Western Star out of Diamondhead, Mississippi.

That's among many reasons Hosty, we're happy to announce, is Overdrive's Trucker of the Year and will sit at that pinnacle for the next 12 months.

Overdrive 2023 Trucker of the Year logoWith a big congrats due to Hosty, we'll also invite you to put your business in the running for the 2024 award, which you can do via the form at this link. Owner-operators with up to three trucks are eligible, and if you've controlled costs and maintained revenues amidst inflation and freight-market difficulties in the last years, you’re no doubt a worthy contender.

The 2023 Trucker of the Year field was crowded and the gap between most of the contenders extremely small, ever tighter between the top three finalists highlighted again earlier this week in Hosty’s Jaybird Express, the Veterans Transportation Services two-truck business of John and Sarah Schiltz, and Tim and Shelley Pulli's now-four-truck Pulli Express. 

Hosty separated himself for a variety of reasons spelled out in the podcast, and will join us at the Mid-America Trucking Show in a couple months’ time. Meanwhile, custom model builder Eston Hoffman up in Pennsylvania is working on what will be a particularly faithful scale version of that workhorse ’06 Western Star in commemoration of Hosty’s achievement.

If everything goes according to plan, we're looking forward to presenting it to Hosty in person at MATS.

Fine pick-me-up for a tough start to the year

As an owner-operator "what works for you and your family” should guide you. “And Jay has followed that, through and through.”
--OOIDA VP Lewie Pugh, reflecting on Hosty's outside-the-box approach to business 

The recognition is a bright spot in what's been a tough couple months for owner-operator Hosty. His 2006 Western Star is approaching 1.5 million miles on the odometer. Knowing full well that going that far without at least an in-frame overhaul was living on borrowed time, in some ways, he truly knew something wasn’t quite right this past Fall.

Hard starts with a little white smoke to top them off. Rough idling. At certain times, too, it just seemed like the power wasn’t there, like he "had a fuel filter locking up," he said. A couple months ago, he took the Western Star to a trusted mechanic who took more time with the rig than expected, only to hit a brick wall when he had trouble removing an injector. So he advised Hosty to go ahead and do what both of them felt needed to be done, ultimately.

Jay Hosty's 2006 Western Star and 2013 Utility dry vanLeased to Landstar now for more nearly two decades, Hosty's 2006 Western Star and 2013 Utility dry van have enabled the owner to be choosy about freight to make the absolute most of every mile for the past 14 years. He'd fully paid off the truck by 2010. (The "Life in the Slow Lane" insignia on the driver-side hood is extra-literal in Hosty's case. Finding a cruise-speed sweet spot at 58 mph early in his ownership of the rig, he's run the right lane there ever since for 7-plus mpg.)

Jay Hosty with his 06 Western Star at an ATHS showOwner-operator Hosty is pictured here with that 2006 Western Star at a 2022 show of the American Truck Historical Society.

The Western Star now sits at a different diesel specialist’s shop awaiting delivery of the in-frame kit for the ’05-built 60 series engine. With any luck, Hosty will be back in full swing with the truck in good time. It might well represent the longest time he’s spent off the road throughout his now more than four-decade career, he said, yet here’s the thing about Jay Hosty.

At this point, even with the rates challenges of the last year and more, he can afford it. Another reason he's risen to the top among contenders. 

"You can give me a million dollars, but I'm still going to drive because I like it. It's not just about the money."
--Jay Hosty

Overdrive News Editor Matt Cole's Trucker of the Month feature about Hosty in April last year detailed his laser-focus on cost control, likewise his triumphant return to trucking after disaster when his then-Gulfport, Mississippi, home was destroyed by Hurricane Katrina. Through it all, he and wife, Katt, too, have fostered more than 100 children, ultimately adopting six, a commitment to others that's uncommon, to say the least, among much of humanity. 

Reflecting on that fact, Landstar Vice President of BCO Retention Gregg Nelson, who's known Hosty for years, noted "that moral fiber of what makes his family ... extends into his trucking business. And so something tells me when Jay tells somebody, 'Hey, I'm gonna be there,' unless there is a hurricane, Jay will be there."

Current Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association Executive Vice President Lewie Pugh met Hosty when Pugh joined the OOIDA board in 2004. (Hosty was a board member there from 1994-2010.) Both men were running leased to Landstar then, and became fast friends. Calling his friend a "good steward of the industry and a good steward of the business," Pugh went on to reinforce Hosty's excellence in truly making the business, and the Landstar system, work for him, not the other way around.

That's "what you have to do as an owner-operator," Pugh said. "Sometimes we in this industry get too busy pointing at one another, saying, 'you should do it this way or do it that way,' [but] I think Jay would agree with this, that there are certain things you should follow in this industry, but at the end of the day it’s what works for you and your family” that should guide you. “And Jay has followed that, through and through.” 

To wit: Think it's a bad idea to stretch oil change intervals in an '05 Detroit 60 Series to 100,000 miles without the benefit of a bypass filtration system? Hosty has done that over the course of 15 years now, getting an oil analysis from Horizon and changing the standard oil filter every 20,000 miles, saving untold amounts of money on service, and oil, in the process.

As noted, at close to 1.5 million miles the engine's getting its first in-frame as we speak. That job's finish will no doubt be another bright spot to start the year.

And that's not all for Hosty. Listen to the podcast for details on a custom sleeper he's having built for a 2022 Western Star daycab he's purchased and has sat on for almost two years now -- he made the move to buy the truck when he did as Western Star was set to cut production of the 4900. He's been waiting since then for the right time -- and importantly, the right price -- to make the conversion. 

2022 Western Star daycab of Jay HostyHosty's 2022 Western Star daycab, soon to get an upgrade

He's in planning stages with Alliance Truck Group now turn the truck into an OTR-capable unit with the comforts of home, in some ways finally making good on a replacement to what he'd hoped would be a million-miler in a 2000 Western Star model he lost to Katrina along with his home -- it had been outfitted with an 80-inch Star Class custom sleeper originally built for his previous 1993 model and transferred to the 2000. This ATG unit will be a 100-incher with a shower and kitchenette, back door and more. 

"My wife is starting to say she wants to do a little traveling," Hosty said, also, explaining the move. "That was part of the reason for wanting to do a bigger sleeper. If she gets on the road with me we’re just going to enjoy it a little more. … not looking to run it as a team or anything. You know, take her places she's never seen, a lot of places I’ve never seen besides passing by the exit."

Hosty's quick to point out that, behind all his success, Katt's truly been that "woman behind the man behind the wheel," as the old song goes. He can't thank her enough, particularly, for her support.

With the new sleeper, in any case, he hopes to “make it an enjoyable deal for the last years, the later years,” over the road.

Getting under way as we speak. 

Hats off to Diamondhead, Mississsippi-headquartered Jay Hosty, Overdrive's Trucker of the Year. 

Read about all 10 2023 Trucker of the Year-contending businesses via this link.  


You can enter your own owner-operator business or nominate another for Overdrive's 2024 Trucker of the Year competition via this link. Nominations will be accepted throughout the first half of 2024.

Transcript

Todd Dills: It was a tough end to 2023 for owner-operator Jay Hosty. With his 2006 Western Star approaching 1.5 million miles in the odometer, knowing full well that going that far and that long without at least an in-frame overhaul was living on borrowed time in some ways. He knew something wasn't quite right. Hard starts with a little white smoke to top them off. Rough idling. At certain times too it just seemed like the power wasn't there, like he had a fuel filter locking up, he said.

A couple months ago he took the Western Star to his trusted mechanic who took more time with the rig than expected only to hit a brick wall when he had trouble removing an injector. So he put it back in and Hosty pivoted to go ahead and do what the mechanic felt needed to be done, ultimately. The Western Star now sits at a different diesel specialist shop and awaits delivery of the overhaul kit for the '05 built Detroit Diesel 60 series engine.

With any luck, Hosty will be back in full swing with the truck in good time. It might well represent the longest time he's spent off the road throughout his now more than four decade career. Yet here's the thing about Jay Hosty. At this point, even with the rates challenges of the last year, he can afford it. That is but one reason he has risen to the top of the crowd among contenders for Overdrive's 2023 Three Trucker of the Year Award.

That's right. I'm Todd Dills and for this edition of the Overdrive Radio podcast, we are indeed making it official. Though the field was crowded and the gap between most of the contenders was extremely small. Even tighter between the top three finalists highlighted again earlier this week in Hosty's Jaybird Express, Veterans Transportation Services and Pulli Express. For a variety of reasons though, spelled out and what follows, owner-operator, Jay Hosty of Diamondhead Mississippi will sit atop the crowd as Overdrive's Trucker of the year for the next 12 months.

He'll join us at the Mid-America Trucking show in a couple month's time and meanwhile, custom model builder Eston Hoffman up in Pennsylvania is working on what I'm sure will be a particularly faithful scale version of that workhorse 2006 Western Star for what amounts to commemoration of Hosty's achievements in lieu of your standard type award trophy. If everything goes according to plan, I'm looking forward to presenting it to Jay in person at Matt's.

Meantime, settle in for plenty today from Jay Hosty's history.

Jay Hosty: I'm not saying I knew all my costs perfect, but I looked at all of that and figured no, I can make it and I will make it, and I did.

Todd Dills: And also, some recollections from a couple friends and business associates.

Gregg Nelson: Great guy and I couldn't be more thrilled for him than I am to get this award. We're really about people finding their niche and Jay for, geez, almost 19 years now, has found his niche.

Lewie Pugh: It's kind of funny because I wasn't here, but the story with Jay was always he told Jim at his first board meeting that someday he'd be sitting in his seat.

Todd Dills: That first voice was from one among the folks at the fleet in whose system Hosty's been operating for almost 20 years now. Landstar,

Gregg Nelson: Gregg Nelson. I am the Vice President of BCO Retention. Landstar couldn't be prouder of Jay for attaining this award and Jay is now that new generation that carries that banner. And it's not just for Landstar, it's for all owner-operators, it's for the trucking industry. Like you said, that fiber of what makes his family, his family, that extends itself into his trucking business. And so something tells me when Jay tells somebody, "Hey, I'm going to be there," unless there is a hurricane, Jay will be there.

Todd Dills: That's Gregg Nelson again and Gregg with two Gs on the end of it, for the record. That hurricane reference he made there longtime, regular readers of Overdrive might recall from news editor Matt Cole's Trucker of the month profile of Jay Hosty early last year detailing what Hurricane Katrina did to his home in Gulfport, Mississippi at the time and what he'd hoped would be a million-mile truck in a 2000 Detroit-powered Western Star talks about in what follows here.

Now for that second voice you heard, that of Lewie Pugh, current Executive Vice President of the Owner-Operator Independent Driver's Association. He was delivering what amounted to a bit of apocrypha about Jay Hosty's time on the OIDA board from 1994 to 2010.

Lewie Pugh: Story with Jay was always, he told Jim at his first board meeting that someday he'd be sitting in his seat.

Todd Dills: Indeed, Pugh, a long-time now-former owner-operator, served with Jay Hosty on the association's board for several years before Hosty stepped down after 16 years there. The pair have remained fast friends through the years though, and what Pugh referenced has followed Jay around OIDA apparently for years. The Jim that Pugh referred to is long-time OIDA Founding President Jim Johnston, who passed in 2018. To correct the record though, Jay Hosty did not tell Jim he'd be taking over for him at some point at his first ever board meeting. Hosty was voted in, in the 1990s. Rather, Hosty said this was a joke between two friends ultimately that took on a life of its own in later years. Any case, you'll hear a little more from Lewie Pugh throughout the podcast.

To set the stage for a dive back into Hosty's long history in business as an owner-operator since he was but 19 years old. Half of that history pulling containers, the other half a drive van. Most recently a 2013 van he's owned since it was new. Hosty's detailed current moves toward finally building a custom sleeper to in some ways replace the unit he lost to Katrina. This one will be a 100-inch sleeper addition to the 2022-Day Cab Western Star he's purchased and has been sitting on for nearly two years now, biding his time for the right price to get the job done here in 2024, working with Alliance Truck Group out of Indiana.

Here's Overdrive Trucker of the year, Jay Hosty again out of Diamondhead, Mississippi.

Jay Hosty: Yeah, actually I was just on the phone with him just a few minutes ago going over some details. He's got to send me some different colors to pick for the interior. It's a 100-inch ATG sleeper. In custom sleeper standards it's really not that big. Just a little bigger than your factory sleepers. It's going to be set up with the, they call it I think a gaucho bed where it folds up against the wall. But I'm going to do it, running it along like the side wall behind the driver's seat along that wall. The bed folds up against the wall and then the table comes down and you got your little seats on each side, but we're going to shorten the mattress a little bit to make room for about a two-foot wide closet on the end of the bed, right behind the driver's seat.

Yeah, it'll be a closet there. And that's it on that driver's side wall. Then all your kitchen side is on the other, the countertop with a little sink, refrigerator, microwave. Just the basics. I'm not living in it or anything, but I'm going to have it set up where it'll be pretty much self-contained. And then the shower will be actually up in that front corner, actually. The shower on the passenger side and then the countertop with the little sink and your other stuff, little countertop. And that'll run all the way basically the back wall. Little TV set up in that back corner, a little flat screen in that back corner that'll face towards the front of the truck. And to top it off, a back door.

But I've had a back door on ... Actually my first Western Star, I did an 80-inch custom sleeper. My first Western Star was in '93, and we had that custom sleeper built up in Newcastle, Pennsylvania. That was a company called Star Class and they've been out of business a long time, but they built a really nice sleeper. But the really great thing was the price. They were nearly half the price of the other custom sleeper people at that time, and when I found them, that was the people I wanted to go with. Anyway, I had basically the same setup in an 80-inch sleeper and door and oh, that just seems so convenient. Once you're in the sleeper it's like why climb through the cab in between the seats to get out when you got that nice back door? Just step right out onto the frame of the truck and go out that way.

Todd Dills: He actually moved that sleeper from the 1993 Western Star. He had it moved to the 2000 model he would eventually lose in Katrina. When he bought the 2006 he's run for the past 1.5 million miles, then…

Jay Hosty: The sleeper is a factory sleeper, but it's a nice setup. Western Star has what they call a stratosphere sleeper, and the best thing about it was you could get up and stand up in the cab and just walk back through, and I never had that before because the other sleeper you had to duck through and now this new one you'll have to duck through. I got used to that, being able to just stand up and that was a nice feature, which I won't have in the brand new one.

Todd Dills: Among the best things about that Western Star 4900EX and its stratosphere sleeper though: reliability through the years as it served him for two decades and most of the last 15 years of them without the requisite truck payment.

Jay Hosty: It makes it easier to be able to be picking and choosing, picky about the rates and stuff. Pick and choose because I don't have that truck payment with me, so that really just makes it ... I mean, I understand a guy who's got 2,500 a month. He can't be quite as choosey because that's going to be rolling in every month.

Todd Dills: Matt Cole and his feature about Hosty early last year told the story of the owner-operator's early years with what Hosty said were indeed well-used trucks. His first in 1970 International gasoline powered unit, purchased when he was just 19 years old in 1981. Likewise, his self-education on counting the costs, knowing the numbers to assess what's worth when it comes to freight and equipment investment and a naturally frugal nature too. That's meant he's been able to make the absolute most of every mile.

After the break we'll dive into some of that history, starting with the story of just how he was able to parlay his own education into something experienced owners hauling containers in the mid-1980s told him he'd never succeeded in. Keep tuned.

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Todd Dills: That's H-O-W-E-S. Howesproducts.com. Here's Overdrive Trucker of the Year, Jay Hosty.

Jay Hosty: The third truck was where I really started going over the road. That was the International TranStar cab over. And I was doing containers, so it wasn't as much cross-country like I do with Landstar, but it was containers, but I was going 500, six, 700 miles out, stuff like that.

One thing that's always stuck with me, and I'll never forget it. When I bought my first new truck that was the '87 International. Brand new. Never thought I'd own a new truck that soon, but it just worked out. The trade in on my cab over and the whole deal just worked out and I didn't think that a finance company would take me on at that time as young as I was, but they did. It was actually the old Associates Finance. They were famous for doing commercial vehicles. That was their thing. And anyway, they took me on in the very beginning, but when I bought that new truck, I was hauling containers and the rate was only 72 cents per mile. Now, this is in 1987. 72 cents per mile. Of course, that's loaded and empty, but you went out one way and came back vice versa. You wasn't looking for loads. It was round trips.

But I was working with all these older fellas, much older than me and much more experienced and most of them that I can remember, I don't know if you remember a company called Brown Transport. Well, a lot of the old school drivers will remember Brown Transport. Their emblem was a little picture of a little brown ... They called him the Brownie and he looked like a Robin Hood or something, the little character. But oh, they were out of home base, I think was Atlanta, Georgia or somewhere in Georgia. I was pulling the empty containers for them when I had my first truck, and then I worked my way up through the different trucks and started going over the road.

Well, a lot of those guys had been doing it for many more years than me. They used to say, I'm just a kid. They would say, "You're just a kid." Well, compared to them, I was a kid. And when they seen that new truck and they started asking me about what my payments were, my payments were, if I'm not mistaken, $1,400 a month for five years. They said, "You are never going to make it pulling these containers for 72 cents a mile. You're going to have to go over the road." And they meant pretty much go out on the road and stay out for weeks at a time, which is something I didn't want to do. I had a family at home. My wife didn't want me to do that. Of course, she wanted me to be home as much as I could, so I proved them all wrong though because I succeeded. But they would say, "You're never going to make it. 72 cents a mile with a truck payment of $,1400."

But I did the numbers. I'm not saying I knew all my costs perfect, but I looked at all of that and figured, no, I can make it and I will make it. And I did. Of course, diesel was less than a dollar a gallon, but even at that time I just said, "Okay, a dollar a gallon." I was getting usually about five miles to the gallon. So I said my fuel cost is 20 cents a mile. Still leaves me with 52 cents a mile. And then just work it down from there.

Todd Dills: You found ways to save beyond what a lot of people think is possible and one of the things that was eye-opening for me, particularly last time we talked, was the oil change interval that you have been able to achieve for much of the life of that Western Star, it sounded like. Tell us about that, if you can go through that a little bit more. When did you start doing oil analysis and extending the drain interval that way, and tell us how far you got with it?

Jay Hosty: It all started from when I found Kevin Rutherford on satellite radio. I had never heard of him. Started listening to him and ideas he had and stuff, and I've had an open mind to try different things. Well, I never did actually ... He promoted as an all-filtration system. OPS.

Todd Dills: Yes, the bypass filtration system.

Jay Hosty: Right. He promoted that. I never did actually buy one of those and get into that because he also said, "You got to do all analysis." And he said, "If you do all analysis and it comes back good, there's no reason to change that all if you're doing a good all analysis program." So I thought, "Well, I'm not going to buy the OPS. I'm just going to see how the oil does by just doing samples." I can't tell you. I'm thinking. I was looking at some of the records I had, and it looks like I've done 30-something samples, I think. But I was doing them at 20,000 miles each sample and I've got up to 30-something of them. So that's hundreds of thousands of miles that I've been doing that. And as I was telling you, I would do it every 20,000 miles. I would change the filters, but if the sample came back good, I'd leave the oil in and I would go 100,000 miles on the same oil and it's not even synthetic. It is Mobil DelVac 1540 straight mineral oil and at a 100,000 the samples usually ... I don't ever remember them coming back saying that the oil needed to be changed, but I would just do it there. I would just say, "Okay, that's enough."

Felt like I achieved quite a bit to get a 100,000 miles on the same oil. I did that with that truck from probably I'm going to guess around 2010 is probably when I started doing that. And here we are in '24 and it never was an issue. Now, there's been a few times where something came up and I had some fuel dilution or something and it said you could keep the oil. It wasn't bad enough to say change the oil, but it would say monitor or maybe drain two gallons out and add fresh oil or something like that. And I'd do that, but I think one time I had some coolant in the oil or something and I think that time it came back change the oil and I did, and I don't remember what it was, but whatever it was, it was okay and I kept on going. But that was a few times that-

Todd Dills: You fixed whatever the problem you had.

Jay Hosty: Right. And that was a few times over the years, but I've never done a head gasket or anything like an in-frame. And the rods and mains are the original rods and mains from 2000. Well, the engine was built in 2005. That's a 60 series Detroit. I have to give kudos to Detroit because that's pretty amazing.

Todd Dills: What's the cost of an oil analysis?

Jay Hosty: I think it was about 35, 40.

Todd Dills: Versus oil to change.

Jay Hosty: $300 plus.

Todd Dills: That's quite a lot of money not spent and a lot of oil not used.

Jay Hosty: Well, now I have to say, as the truck was getting older, I was adding fresh oil, adding to it because it was burning off, but nothing extreme. And you always note that on the oil sample. It asks oil added and you'd always put that because they would make, I guess, adjustments for adding fresh oil. But even before I brought it into the shop, from what I can remember, it wasn't using oil at any alarming rate. It was probably getting to where they would've said, "Okay, it's time to start looking at doing an overhaul." And the more fresh oil you put in there, really the better you're building up the base of the oil, when you put fresh oil in. That was saving me money.

But I also was doing it just as my own personal test just to see how it would work. And that's why I say when I always said when I got to a 100,000, yeah, it might've been able to keep going, but I would just say, "Okay, that's going to be a nice even round number and I'll just stop there." But of course it did end the long run save me money but that wasn't just my main purpose there.

Todd Dills: Hosty pushed the envelope there to see just what's possible without the added investment in the bypass system, which admittedly has produced for some owner-operators twice that 100,000 mile full drain interval with analysis as Hosty knows. Yet, thinking outside the box with a desire to run the experiment and find the answers himself, it's a motivational force that close associate Lewie Pugh sees in many an owner-operator and Hosty's got that in spades, particularly when the opportunity to boost income is a possible end result.

Lewie Pugh: Jay loves trucking. He's like me and most owner-operators and truck drivers. He loves the industry, he loves the business. He's a good steward of the industry and a good steward of the business. He learned a long, long time ago that it isn't about how many miles you run, it's about how much the money is per mile, which is good. Unfortunately, some folks have never learned that. But how to make the business and the best work for him. He will tell you, I'm sure that just like Landstar he's been here a long, long time now just like I was. But he found a home there and one, because they treated him, but he learned how to work the system and make it work for him and make them work for him, which is what you have to do as an owner-operator. Whether you're going to be leased to a customer, have you're an authority. You have to learn how to make it all work for you.

We, in this industry sometimes get too busy pointing to one another about you should do it this way or that way. What you should do is what's best for you. And that's what I try to tell people. Here's some guides you can always follow, and I think Jay would agree with this. There's certain things you should follow in this industry. But at the end of the day, it's what works for you and your family and what you need and what makes you successful. And Jay has followed that through and through.

Todd Dills: To that point, before Jay Hosty got to 100,000 mile intervals, he was already extending his drains based on improved fuel miles performance, itself a result of sticking to the right lane at a cruise speed of below 60 miles per hour. Practice he continues to this day.

Jay Hosty: Okay, Detroit in the owner's manual back then for this truck said 15,000. But then when you talk to experts about oil changes and stuff, people that have been in the industry with Engine and it's the truth. They say your oil change really should be based on your fuel consumption. The better fuel mileage you get, the longer you can extend that oil is what they say. And I started going from 15 to 20,000 on my own because I was getting better fuel mileage. I went from less than six to seven miles per gallon because I also slowed down my driving.

So to me that said, okay, I don't need to change it at 15, I'm going to run that up to 20. So I started doing that before I started doing the oil analysis stuff.

Todd Dills: Before all of that, Hosty continued to pull containers up to the time he moved into the Landstar system, yet another shift that hinged on his forward-looking vision of the fashion. Just prior to that move, he spent five years, leased to a small fleet in his area of southern Mississippi before Katrina.

Jay Hosty: Landstar 19 years. Last year I made 19. I'm in my 20th, I guess you'd say. Before then, I had a neighbor of mine who had his own authority, who got into trucking through me when I was already living in the community. He moved across the street from me and I was in trucking and he was doing industrial painting or something. He was getting burnout on it so he started talking to me and learning about trucking. Anyway, wrong story. He got his own authority. We had a port in Burlington, Mississippi, port Bienville it's called. And there was a company out there, Linear Peninsula is the name of the company that shipped containers to Mexico.

And he, as the owner of the company, it was one man, owned the shipping company. He owned, I think six ships. They were small ships when you consider container ships. They were considered smaller, but all he did was ship stuff to Mexico and back. Progreso, Mexico. So anyway, we lived in this community very close to the port and my friend got his own authority. There was already other people out there hauling for them, but as they had more business, they were taking on more companies. Well, my friend got his own authority and I leased to him for about five and a half years to him, because he went and got the authority. At one time I think he owned two or three trucks and he had a couple of others leased to him.

And even at that time we were running for, I think it was a dollar a mile. I think that was the gross. He paid us 90%, that's what it was. The company paid him a dollar a mile for all miles and we got 90% of that. And he covers our insurance and all. We were leased to him, so he covered the insurance and everything. And then we would get a nickel a mile fuel surcharge. I remember that was the most we ever got. But this was even then fuel dollar, I think $1.30, $1.40, $1.50 and he would give us a nickel a mile fuel surcharge. And I was-

Todd Dills: Boy, that changed fast after that, did it not?

Jay Hosty: Yeah. Well, hurricane Katrina hit in 2005 and wiped that whole operation out. The whole thing at the port. Yeah. And they ended up moving their operations to Panama City Beach, Florida, to the port over there. And a few of the guys were working for him, even over there was trying to make it work. But I had left. Before Katrina I started with Landstar in 2005. I knew about Landstar for years. I had considered them way back one time. And I talked to a guy, an owner-operator and he said, "Yeah, you can do what you want." But this was before you were really dispatching yourself and all. You did. You called the agents and all, but it wasn't as open as it is now. Anyway, back then he said it would be tough to get home as much as you want to get home. You'd have to get out in the system and run a little bit.

So I passed on it at that time. But as time went by, it was starting to strain me and my buddy's relationship because if you think about it, we were friends before I leased to him. He didn't just get his own authority right away. He was leased to some companies and did some other things and then decided to go and work at the port. But it's hard for friends to work together. It can really push stuff. Just people are different and his wife was basically our dispatcher. He was on a truck. He drove, but it was still him and his wife's company. And sometimes they'd want me to do something I didn't want to do. "Take a load here." When I said, "I don't feel like going." "I need you to go, you got to go."

So I started feeling like I was getting pushed sometimes and didn't maybe have the freedom that I would like to have and it was pushing our relationship a little bit because we were bumping heads basically. And I just started looking at Landstar and thinking maybe this is the way to go. And I talked to guys and by that time they were getting dispatches over, well, on the computer. And I had a guy show me a load board on the computer and show me exactly how it works. And I said, "Oh, that's pretty neat." I said, "And you just pick what you want?" And he said, "Yeah, if you don't want it, you don't take it. But yeah, here it is." And he showed me all that and I said, "Oh, that's pretty interesting." So that's how I made the switch to them.

Todd Dills: So it was like once they had that technology piece in there and you had some visibility into it, you realized the potential there for just that operational flexibility and freedom, in a system where you're leased to somebody and you don't have to go out and get your own authority and do all that.

Jay Hosty: Right. And I think it wasn't just about money. Of course money is a good thing to make as much as you can, but I just seen the freedom, like that guy told me. He said, "If you don't want to take a load, you don't take it. If you want to take it, you call." And this is a Landstar agent, and you book the load with him. And at that time, let's see. I had been trucking for let's say about 22 years. So I wasn't new and I had done a lot of different things and I just figured well, yeah, maybe make a little change here and see how it goes.

Todd Dills: Two decades of self-dispatch on, it's clearly been a good fit for him

Gregg Nelson: To most people, and I'm sure Jay would agree with this.

Todd Dills: Landstar Vice President, Gregg Nelson.

Gregg Nelson: BCOs are, or independent contractors that come to Landstar are looking for two things. They're looking for freedom and they're looking for opportunity. And the load board, when he saw that for the first time, which it's come a long way since then with increases in technology and he saw opportunity on the freight board and then of course they pick and choose when they run, how they run, where they want to run. And that's the freedom. So yeah, we do see that replicated in a lot of our owner-operators and that's great, but it's not easy. There are folks that struggle with that. They come here. In that first year it's a struggle because they're used to having someone tell them, "Hey, pick up here and deliver here and have it here by then." But yeah, that is the Landstar story and thankfully that's Jay Hosty's story because he fits that bill perfectly.

Todd Dills: When Lewie Pugh joined OOIDA's board of directors in 2004, Jay had already been there for a decade. Hosty traces his initial involvement back to the late 1980s and he became a member and made an active pursuit of letting leadership know what he thought about issues.

Jay Hosty: All right, I've been a member since '89 with OOIDA, and I used to call in about stuff, different things I'd read in the magazine and all. And I want to say it was Todd Spencer asked me if I'd be interested in being a board member. I never met him or anything. It was just because I'd call in and question stuff or just give my opinion on something. Not saying it was good or not. But anyway, he asked me if I was interested in being on the board of directors, and I was blown away. That was 1994 so I was 32 years old. And I said sure. But I was thinking I wasn't really expecting actually for it to work out. I figured they'd think I was too young, especially when I got there. Everybody seemed a lot older than me and I thought, oh man, what am I doing? But I guess they saw something in me that I didn't really see in myself.

Lewie Pugh: First and foremost, Jay's one of the nicest people I've ever had to meet. Very honest, very straightforward, trusting person. He's a very good follower of God and that's good as well. And I'm proud to have him as a friend. Like I said, I met Jay the first time here at a board meeting. We became friends pretty quickly actually and we'd get him and his wife and myself and some other people here. We'd go to dinner and do some things on our own together and kept in touch. And then Jay and I working at Landstar, even though we did completely different things and lived halfway across America from each other, we still kept in touch with each other that way as well.

Jay Hosty: He was leased to Landstar when he came on.

And I was leased to Landstar. I leased to Landstar in '04 so it was after that, that he came on. I had been there, I'm going to say ... Well, I had been on the board of directors for quite a while. Yeah, 12 years. But he came on and I remember him, if I'm not mistaken, it was he had the load alert on his phone and I wasn't doing that yet. And he showed me that and I said, "Wow, that's pretty neat." And he was showing me how it worked and all. And then I also remember he had been with Landstar before me in other words. I'd been on the board of directors before him, but he had been with Landstar years before me.

And man, he told me the kind of money he was making in a year and it blew me away because I wasn't anywhere close to that. But he just had some really good contacts. Well, really there was one solid agent that he had that used to run him and he would tell me some of the money and I was like, "Are you kidding me?" He said, "No, man, I'm telling you." I ended up linking up with that agent just I think just last year and started using her. And she still has the really good rates and it's actually the agent that he was dealing with, that was the mother, which she's still alive, but her daughter has taken over the agency now. And I was dealing with the daughter.

Lewie Pugh: I think it was a great loss to our board when Jay stepped down. But I do respect the fact that he felt that he had done all he could do here and it was time for him to step down and let other people take his place and bring some new blood in, new ideas. There's a lot to be said for a man who can say that and admit that.

Todd Dills: I asked Jay Hosty just why he left that involvement with the association. By 2010, he said, the year he moved on, his mind was elsewhere essentially. On his own business. With the politics of it all holding less and less interest, the more indeed political the work of advocacy felt to him by then. He felt like they needed space for new blood. Nonetheless, he clearly values the friendships he made through the experience and Lewie Pugh's recollections make that clear too, no doubt. Through it all, meticulous approach to oil analysis, filter changes, cost control, advocacy and more ... Gregg Nelson looks at the record of Jay Hosty and finds this central through line.

Gregg Nelson: Number one is Jay is safe. He's a safe BCO. He operates with the general motoring public in mind. He operates with his vehicle and his livelihood on the line every day. And that shows with his safety awards, with his Million Mile status. All of that is just a reflection of probably the base that he's built his business on. And then secondly, especially in this day and age, there's a lot of anxiety and there's a lot of tension and there's viral videos and there's all these things going on that just have our attention, that negative news cycle. And Jay's just easygoing. He just takes it as it comes. He processes it and then he moves forward.

Todd Dills: Hosty and his wife, Katt, have fostered more than 100 children now over nearly four decades. Jay's been a relief volunteer with the Eight Days of Hope organization a couple different times, recently paying it forward after the assistance that his own family received during the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. The decades long commitment to foster parenting showed a commitment to others that's certainly an uncommon quality among most of us. But for Hosty just a fact at this point that he's felt called to bring into reality. As noted, it's been such--

Jay Hosty: --over 35 years. Yeah. We've been doing it a long time. We have a foster child living with us right now as we speak. In this case, the mom and the dad just got out of line somehow. I don't think there was any drug type thing, which is a lot of the cases, but I think somehow they lost that little girl. But they're trying to get her back. They have steps they have to go through with the state, and she's getting weekly visits right now or maybe every other week visits with her mom and dad. And the goal is to get her back to her parents. But in a lot of cases, well, we've adopted like six kids because they wasn't getting back to their parents. It was just a messed up situation where they terminate the parents' rights and that's how we ended up adopting kids.

Todd Dills: Two children you've adopted are still living with you guys at the house? The rest are grown up?

Jay Hosty: Actually just one now. 14-year-old, yeah. But I call them round one and round two because round one they got out and I figured we were over, but God had different plans. So we started round two and I'm at the 14-year-old. I got a 19-year-old that's in college and actually is engaged to get married this coming year. So we had those two at home earlier this year, but the one is in college. She moved out. So we're down to one, but we still have the little foster child that's 10 years old that's with us right now also.

Todd Dills: Did any of the folks you've adopted or foster take any inspiration from you and get out into trucking?

Jay Hosty: Not a one of them and not because of me. My first son that we adopted, he rode in the truck with me summers and he just never really liked it. I remember him saying, "Dad, your job is so boring."

And I even told him. I said, "If you wanted to get into this when you get older, I will help you. I help you get into it." And now as a ... What is he? 36 years old. He says, "I wish I would've got in the trucking way back then." And I said, "Well, you said it was boring. You didn't want to do it." I don't think it's that he didn't have a love for it or anything. He's saying it now because he wishes he was a little more stable into something. I guess he looks at me and says, "I wish I was like you. Had a career like that all my life," because he doesn't really have a set career. He jumps around.

I've always told all my kids, "I don't want you to do trucking because of me or anything." I said, "The main thing is do something you enjoy. Find something you like to do and then do your best at it. And getting paid for it is a blessing to do something you enjoy doing." And that's what I've tried to push him to do. Just do something you like. Don't have to go to work every day and hate it. I've told a friend of mine that plays the lottery every ... Well, he used to play it weekly. I don't know if he does anymore, but he's always said, "If I win the lottery and it's millions of dollars, I'm going to give you all a million." And he would say, "So you can stop driving that truck and being on the road." I said, "You can give me a million, but I'm still going to drive because I like it. It ain't about the money as much. I like doing it."

Part of the big sleeper is my wife is finally starting to say she'd like to do a little traveling. As we work kids out of the house that can be possible. So that was part of the reason of wanting to do a bigger sleeper, besides I just like the way they look. And if she gets on the road with me, we're just going to enjoy it a little more. She won't be a certified driver or anything. She's not looking to do that. We're not looking to run it as a team. Just take her places that she's never seen. A lot of places that I've never seen besides passing by the exit. And just enjoy it a little more, but still run, still be leased to Landstar and anyway, just make it enjoyable deal for the last years, the later years.

Todd Dills: Getting underway as we speak it sounds like. Here's the best of luck on the in-frame, on the sleeper conversion for the 2022 day cab. And a big congrats to Trucker of the Year Jay Hosty and all the owners right there with him in the 2023 competition. Find profiles of everyone, likewise podcast round tables with most published just last month via overdriveonline.com/trucker-of-the-year. It's a mouthful. Overdriveonline.com Trucker of the Year.

Truly a joy to meet everyone involved. And please look for us at MATS this year. I'm certain Jay Hosty would love to shake your hand, as would I. Finally, find a way you can nominate an exemplary owner, your own business too, for the 2024 Trucker of the Year program via the show notes wherever you're listening.

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