Sharing the burden of a new-truck payment

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Got your own example of a do-it-yourself solution to a problem related to truck equipment or the owner-operator business? Send your story to tdills@randallreilly.com with the “highway hacks” subject line to be considered for the monthly feature.Got your own example of a do-it-yourself solution to a problem related to truck equipment or the owner-operator business? Send your story to tdills@randallreilly.com with the “highway hacks” subject line to be considered for the monthly feature.

The legacy of owner-operator Montgomery Morgan’s 1992 Kenworth T600 reaches back to its purchase new by his father, Don Morgan, in partnership with a fellow owner-operator still hauling today. That’s Joe Huggins, of Westport Island, Maine.

When the purchase was made, Huggins notes, “it was always going to be Don’s truck,” but the close relationship between the two — “we were the best friends in the world,” like family, he says — enabled a novel cash-flow management strategy. It hinges on the notion that, when it comes to managing cost burdens and profitability over time, two is better than one.

The new truck was purchased with a new paired trailer via Unigroup in Fenton, Missouri, then outfitted with a big-bunk ICT sleeper. Huggins and Morgan, then hauling household goods contracted to the same van line, did something they’d done with other trucks to lessen the burden of high new-truck payments.

This 1992 Kenworth T600, originally titled to the late Don Morgan, is now the power behind the business of his son, household-goods owner-op Montgomery Morgan.This 1992 Kenworth T600, originally titled to the late Don Morgan, is now the power behind the business of his son, household-goods owner-op Montgomery Morgan.

“We took turns running it,” Huggins says. “When I ran it, I handled the payments on it.” And vice versa. The operator not in the T600 would run with Huggins’ older rig and benefit from a drop in fixed costs and the attendant pressure to haul to keep up with the big payments on the note — until they switched again.

Don MorganDon Morgan

The arrangement, however, hinges on trust and a willingness to reciprocate what amounts to an investment in the other’s business. “It might be hard to find out here with guys anymore,” Montgomery Morgan says. But he believes it still could be done as a way both to afford new equipment, keep relatively older equipment in operation, perhaps to share the burden of a sort of small fleet growth or just add a
little operational variety.

Don Morgan passed in 2001, but his son maintains the T600 as a piece of his father’s legacy. Huggins, 65 this year, hauls in a 600-hp Cat-powered 2001 Kenworth W900 for National Van Lines.

More in the Highway Hacks series. 

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