Run it like a business

Your Pulse editorial [June 2009] about the ability of smart, hardworking owner-operators to run a profitable business, even in difficult times, is correct. Tell me it can’t be done and I’ll show you it can.

I’ve supported my family as a trucker for 20 years, and for the last 14 as an independent. I’ve made a few foolish decisions. But I soon realized that a trucker must value his customer and be profitable.

As the economy changed in late 2008, I changed from hauling van freight in lanes that went from Iowa to Georgia and Florida to, instead, hauling walking floors within 300 miles of my home.

I operate a walking-floor trailer carrying bulk and van freight. Less than 5 percent of my business is with brokers. Fuel surcharges be damned – I itemize it any way I want as long as the figure on the bottom line is what I need. My customer buys and sells by the ton, so I adjusted my rates to tonnage increments monthly as needed, with each destination according to the miles. It took a lot of figuring, negotiating and the purchase of a larger trailer. But I got the deal.

Also, I increased my fuel mileage by nearly 1 mpg with the same truck. I slowed down and made my truck more aerodynamic.

Business cycles come and go, so truckers should not get too attached to one gig. I love the walking floor business, but if it plays out, I hope I will have seen it coming and have planned something else.

If I can do it, so can the next guy.

DEAN HUGHSON, Walk-Way Transport, Winthrop, Iowa

“At the end of the day it all kind of came down on me. I’m normally not the crying kind of guy.”

— Virgil “Tim” Philmon, of Middleburg, Fla., told the Clay Today newspaper of hauling World Trade Tower steel girders to Coatesville, Pa., where they will be part of a memorial near the mill where they were made.


How will the new health care legislation affect you?

Kenneth“I don’t think it’s going to help me a bit in the trucking industry. It’s not going to go into effect for four or five years.”

KENNETH HOLT, Leland, N.C., Inman company driver

Robbie“It’s going to affect us all. Our grandkids are going to have to pay for it.”

ROBBIE RUNNELS, Purvis, Ms., Alaplex company driver

Ronald“It’s going to affect my company. It could raise the cost of insurance so high for them not to like it. It’s not going to hurt me, but it’s going to hurt the kids I love.”

RONALD MORGAN, Conroe, Texas, Janco Limit company driver

George“The insurance plan we have at Enterprise is good, and our policy is not going to change, so it’s not going to affect us.”

GEORGE GRACE JR., Baton Rouge, La., Leased to Enterprise

Walker“I don’t know because I have insurance with the company and they haven’t let us know.”

WALKER THORNTON, LaGrange, Ga., J.B. Hunt company driver

Last Man“I’m not sure yet. I’m on the road all the time, and I haven’t had time to go over it.”

RICHARD MILLER, DeFuniak Springs, Fla., Ozark company driver

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-mail your letter to the editor to Lucinda Coulter at [email protected] or mail it to Overdrive, P.O. Box 3187, Tuscaloosa, AL 35403.