40 minutes | Jun 2, 2023
Another reason to fight traffic tickets: Convictions can now impact independents' safety ratings
This edition of Overdrive Radio touches on a area of long-well-founded concern for owner-operators. That’s the importance of, when possible, fighting the stains on the motor vehicle record that can come in the form of tickets for moving violations of all types. Pay the fine, and it’s like pleading guilty and doing the proverbial time. A "conviction” will be paid for in a myriad ways beyond just the cash fine: higher insurance rates, marks on your company’s CSA SMS profile and its scoring, possible audit hassles given more violations on the record mean greater likelihood of prioritization by federal or state investigators for an audit. Yet there's another, relatively new way anyone with motor carrier authority could pay, too –- Jeff Davis, longtime Fleet Safety Services compliance consultant, who supports mostly small carriers in the event of an audit, outlines it here. Last year, FMCSA modified its safety rating methodology, Davis said. For the first time auditors will be able to include traffic-ticket convictions in a carrier's overall safety rating. That’d be the Satisfactory, Conditional, or Unsatisfactory system long in place and which the agency is set to put up for ideas for improving this year: https://www.overdriveonline.com/overdrive-radio/podcast/15382419/fmcsa-to-key-in-on-problems-with-conditional-safety-rating-limbo A public affairs spokesperson again confirmed that with me just this week, in fact, noting an Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking requesting industry and public input on the safety rating remains for this year as a possibility. With traffic-law convictions on the table during audits, Davis notes in the podcast, that’s even more for owner-operators and small fleet owners and managers to keep in mind in case an audit is likely. And: Further incentive to manage those convictions, too, for any violation for which you or one of your drivers receive a citation – recall, too, that citations successfully adjudicated by a court can be removed from the data profile in the CSA SMS and the broader MCMIS database itself –- you use the DataQs system to do that: https://www.overdriveonline.com/regulations/article/15063812/how-to-dataq-to-challenge-a-violation More resources on fighting tickets: https://www.overdriveonline.com/business/article/14891468/fighting-tickets-how-owneroperators-succeed Jeff Davis at Fleet Safety Services: https://www.fleetsafetyservices.com/
55 minutes | May 26, 2023
Owner-operator evolution: 'Partners in Business' on Red Eye Radio's 'Extra Mile'
'Owner-op business, start to finish' -- it could be the motto to describe Overdrive's annual coproduction with business services firm ATBS of the Partners in Business manual: http://overdriveonline.com/pib And it was the broader topic of this talk with the great Red Eye Radio host Eric Harley at the Mid-America Trucking Show, on the occasion of the 2023 PIB book's release, now available for download via the previous link. The talk includes Overdrive Editor Todd Dills and longtime contributor and owner-operator coach Gary Buchs, along with PIB collaborator Mike Hosted from ATBS. It originally aired in its full form as part of the Red Eye Radio “Extra Mile” podcast extra series, available via https://www.redeyeradioshow.com/the-extra-mile-podcast/ Overdrive’s also released a series of short video excerpts of the talk via the YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLc1lg9rs1dUBRbJKjvc7UUcJRRd4iI2v3 It’s a wide-ranging talk focused on vital aspects of owner-operator business practice, from basic task management from Harley, spinning out the metaphors to put things in perspective; Mike Hosted letting you know what you might well be giving up if you’re not paying close attention to the tax code; and Gary Buchs ever mindful of the absolute necessity of cost/revenue awareness, and real engagement with the numbers in as close to real-time as possible. Hopefully it's an engaging back and forth for some new ideas for the long haul this weekend, this coming week, whatever the case may be. Here's wishing a great Memorial Day upcoming for you -- take time to honor, to remember.
38 minutes | May 19, 2023
A wrap on Roadcheck with the 'Mustang' | Introducing Mother Truck Yoga proprietor Hope Zvara
Truck show platform personalities come and go, but Hope Zvara's mission to improve truckers' quality of life with a program that leans on small, incremental changes in their daily routines continues to gain traction. Founder and CEO of Mother Trucker Yoga, Zvara's the author of "Trucking Yoga: Simple Fitness for fhe Long Haul," a book in which Zvara gives us an unvarnished account of how her own struggles with addiction and depression drove a personal need to get healthy. "I've struggled with depression and anxiety on catastrophic levels," she said. "Yoga, and movement, saved my life." Included in the book, too, is a regimen of down to earth, practical yoga exercises adapted to the ergonomics of a semi-tractor. At the Mid-America Trucking Show, as you can see in the thumbnail image for today's edition of Overdrive Radio above, she led our own Long Haul Paul through a few of them. And in Paul and Zvara's talk here, she offers answers to these questions relative to notions of a mental-health crisis all around the nation. "What if it's not a mental health crisis?" she said." What if it's a movement crisis?" Find more about Zvara's tools for OTR drivers via her website: https://www.mothertruckeryoga.com/ Also in the podcast: An audio diary from owner-operator Mike "Mustang" Crawford, who poses his own answers to what was a pressing question no doubt for some during this week of the CVSA's annual Roadcheck inspection event: Is it possible to get through the entire blitz week without passing an open scale? After Overdrive editor Todd Dills talked to the longtime flatbedder last week, his plans to spend much of the May 16-18 event at home in Long Lane, Missouri, changed. He finished what he needed to do at home early and the freight called him out. After he passed two closed scales early Tuesday, the first day of the blitz, on his way toward Chicago from the Springfield, Missouri, area, he started calling in with reports from the road. Three days later in Florida, then .... And: On the diet side of the health/quality-of-life equation, at MATS the CDL Drivers Unlimited group hosted family-practice physician Ken Berry, who spoke to principles of what he sees as the PHD, or “Proper Human Diet,” akin in some ways to a Keto high-fat, very-low-carb diet. Trucker and CDLDU founding driver council member Scott Reed introduced Berry at MATS with some detail of his own experience with the diet. Reed's dropped well more than 100 pounds over the course of a year into it. Find CDL Drivers Unlimited via this link: https://www.cdldu.com/ More from Overdrive Radio on the world-famous http://OverdriveOnline.com
40 minutes | May 12, 2023
Double brokering a 'cancer' requiring whole-of-trucking battle plan | New Pete 589: Go inside
This week on the Overdrive Radio podcast, a bit of a double feature. We'll hear from General Transportation and ART Trucking's Jason Decker. Regular Overdrive readers will recall reporting on some of Decker’s talk at the Mid-America Trucking Show back in March that was something of a rallying cry for a “whole of trucking” battle approach to the fight against double brokering, leaching money from the freight markets through fraud as it is: Rates are bad enough already, it’s sure, as Decker emphasized. Fraudulent actors insert themselves into a freight transaction, disappear with a fuel advance or the entire load’s payment. If the trucker’s paid at all, then, it’s a double payment on the part of whoever was the original broker and/or shipper on the load. That's but one double-brokering scenario. Perhaps worse than that, in Decker’s and I know many owner-operators’ views, legit brokers who knowingly "give the load to another brokerage," Decker said. "They are double-dipping. Rates are tight enough as it is that one hand in the pot is one too many." Two? Three? Market distortion is all the worse for it, with the trucker on the short end of the stick. Listen for ways owner-operators can recover payment after getting involved in a scam, but more importantly, ways to be fundamentally proactive to avoid and shut out the fraudsters, and those double-dippers, to begin with. Also: Peterbilt’s sunsetting of the iconic Model 389 and introduction of the new 589. Our colleague with CCJ, editor Jason Cannon, took a test drive of the unit out in Texas and offers up a walkaround talk with Peterbilt’s Jacob White, detailing some of the unique features of the 589. Find Cannon's test-drive story via this link: https://www.overdriveonline.com/equipment/article/15382918/test-drive-of-the-peterbilt-model-589 Deron Salmon's Truck'N "Trucker Networking" app for broker look-ups and reviews you can read/hear about via this past podcast: https://www.overdriveonline.com/overdrive-radio/podcast/15383844/closer-look-at-new-truckn-broker-review-nav-and-accounting-app
46 minutes | May 5, 2023
Frugality only goes so far after getting used to $4/mile freight, but Jay Hosty's staying choosy
A natural inclination for frugality is a winning quality for most anybody in the world today, and no doubt for an owner-operator. That's one of the central qualities Jay Hosty, our Trucker of the Month for April, put dead center of his now 41-year-long history of success as an owner-operator in trucking. As Overdrive News Editor Matt Cole wrote in our profile of owner-operator Hosty last week, he got his start in trucking as an owner pulling containers around New Orleans, Louisiana, at the young age of 19 in 1981: https://www.overdriveonline.com/trucker-of-the-year/article/15383689/frugality-focus-on-costs-pays-off-for-owneroperator-jay-hosty Frugality's certainly served him well during the last year and a half’s rising costs, yet it only goes so far after a couple of years' worth of getting used to $4/mile freight. The squeeze is on, coming from both sides of the profit equation. "it's hard to come back to the reality of $2/mile freight," Hosty said, and thus far in 2023 he's a bit behind in net income where he was this time last year. In part, it's the luxury of being freight-choosy at work there. He's spent more time sitting at the house in Diamondhead, Mississippi, this year, waiting on profitable loads from one of couple of nearby Landstar agents he works with regularly to take him outbound. Hosty’s been leased to Landstar now for most of the last two decades, pulling today in a 2006 Western Star that replaced a 2000 model, after the truck was destroyed in Hurricane Katrina, when he and wife, Katt, were living in Gulfport, Mississippi. They lost their house there, too, with the direct hit, and the comeback from that disaster is made all the more remarkable by the family the Hostys have fostered throughout their entire four decades together. We’ll hear much more about that in today’s edition, likewise a 2022 Western Star daycab Hosty’s been sitting on for a year with plans to outfit the rig with a custom sleeper built to his needs, as he’d done with the 2000 that Katrina sent to the graveyard. That frugal nature he mentioned has kept him from moving forward with it to date, given pricing he’s gotten from some of the big sleeper manufacturers. For the builders in the audience, he put out a call, too: "If there's anybody out there who can point me in a good direction of getting a custom sleeper built" without sacrificing an '"arm and a leg" on the build, as it were, he said. "I'm looking to find somebody." Hosty's Trucker of the Month designation puts him in the running or Overdrive's 2023 Trucker of the Year award. You can enter your own business or put forward another 1-3-truck owner-operator via this link: https://www.overdriveonline.com/page/toptrucker Also in the podcast: Heads-up on an online seminar upcoming on Tuesday, May 23, part of a series sponsored by the Bestpass company — it will dive into the topic of work-life balance over the road as an owner-operator, particularly in a down market like the present, and features two men who’ve been in those shoes over the decades. You can register to attend it live at 1 p.m. Central, May 23, via this link.. What we aim to deliver are tactics, strategies to gauge and achieve balance to improve quality of life for yourself -- and/or your operators if you’re managing a small fleet. That's whether you’re a one-truck owner leased to a carrier or with authority, or a small fleet owner hoping to deliver better balance to drivers and, ultimately, to yourself. The two presenters regular Overdrive Radio listeners have heard here on the podcast before: Innovative Logistics Group founder and managing director Adam Wingfield and Overdrive's 2021 Small Fleet Champ Jason Cowan, founder and leader of Silver Creek Transportation out of Henderson, Kentucky. Join us: https://randallreilly.zoom.us/webinar/register/2716820986241/WN_h9CP6dZ0QOq-bkpG1spTOw#/registration
30 minutes | Apr 28, 2023
New app for broker-lookup/review, navigation, IFTA and other accounting -- designed by an owner-op
This Overdrive Radio podcast edition drops into our talk with Charlotte, N.C.-based owner-operator Deron Salmon about his brand-new Truck Networking application for iPhone and Android devices -- Truck’N for short. It's available now for a 14-day free trial with monthly subscription thereafter. Iphone: https://apps.apple.com/us/app/truck-networking/id1606433569 Android: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.semnexus.apps.truckn.truckn The app’s origin story stems from a void Salmon felt like he saw in broker-lookup and review tools for owner-operators. There are some out there, for sure -- the big load boards are principal there -- yet Salmon wanted to take the concept further to allow for quicker, more inclusive ways to rate and review experiences. His thoughts on the matter stemmed from a brokered run some years ago with an appointment time that, nonetheless, had him facing the prospect of waiting quite literally all day for the pickup. The broker offered nothing in the way of support in that regard, and after he canceled the load, driving back north toward home he wondered which of the southbound truckers across the median was about to get themselves into a situation on this load and with this broker they might do best to avoid. What's the first thing a broker does when you call on a load? "They ask for your MC number," he said. "Why aren't we doing the same thing" for them. They’re asking for your MC, of course, to validate that you have authority -- but also to access via third-party vendors other brokers' reviews and ratings of your service. With enough owner-operator uptake of Salmon’s Truck Networking app, owner-ops will be able to read such reviews about brokers as well, he envisions, and share their own experiences, as you’ll hear in the podcast. That’s not all there is to the app, though. It’s got robust accounting and IFTA functionality, premium truck-specific navigation, and is all in all significantly aided by the reality that owner-operator Salmon has been behind the development of a lot of the tools himself. With its release last month, owner-operator Salmon’s slowly transitioning away from the road himself, also training in aviation as a commercial pilot, but he’s still the proud owner of his last rig after a couple decades in the business -- a 2000 Kenworth W900 he told us more about as we spoke at MATS. Read more about Truck Networking via this link: https://www.overdriveonline.com/business/article/15382605/new-broker-authority-lookupreview-tool-two-trucknav-platforms
46 minutes | Apr 21, 2023
Paths to 10-plus mpg in a Class 8 diesel tractor with aero, downspeeding, more
In this edition of the Overdrive Radio podcast, drop in with three operators for a panel discussion held at the Mid-America Trucking Show last month. The discussion was aimed at showing all the ways these three have done what once might have been unthinkable -- get to, and pass, the 10-miles-per-gallon mark in a Class 8 tractor-trailer hauling freight. They included a man longtime Overdrive readers will well be familiar with -- 2007 Overdrive Trucker of the Year Henry Albert, running independent and as a longtime participant in Freightliner’s Run Smart program real-world-testing new truck and diesel technologies built toward boosting efficiencies. Albert was joined by owner-operator Joel Morrow and driver Clark Reed, the latter also part of the longtime Freightliner initiative. The trio fielded questions from Mike Roeth, a leader with the North American Council for Freight Efficiency: http://nacfe.org (As Roeth notes in the podcast, Albert, Morrow and Reed were all part of NACFE's initial Run on Less campaign in 2017 -- find more about that and subsequent Run on Less efforts via https://runonless.com/ ) Questions centered on 10 different areas of fuel-economy improvement possibility, all to show how they add up to hitting that 10-mpg mark. Among what you'll hear about: Aerodynamics, of course, at which owner-operator Henry Albert has certainly excelled. Manufacturers' big strides in engine downspeeding, which yields maintenance dividends in the end for those persnickety emissions systems. Automated manual transmissions to help in the cruise RPM adjustments that come with significant downspeeding. 6x2 configurations, mechanical drag reduction generally, idling, speed, route planning, and much more. Think you can’t get there? Think again -- with the right practices, and the right equipment, as these and other operators have shown, it's certainly possible. How owner-operator Steve Kron got there, for instance: in a 2001 International no less: https://www.overdriveonline.com/overdrive-extra/article/15295717/how-steve-kron-took-his-2001-international-above-10-mpg
26 minutes | Apr 14, 2023
Making it work, and then some: Illinois-headquartered food-grade tank haulers Pulli Express
Happy Friday before Tax Day! Got those filings done? One suspects the answer is yes for our guests on today's edition of Overdrive Radio, Tim Pulli and his wife, Shelley Puzek-Pulli, our March Truckers of the Month: https://www.overdriveonline.com/trucker-of-the-year/article/15380625/path-to-profits-through-continual-adjustment-pulli-express The Chicago-area-headquartered owner-operators today run two trucks of their own and with another owner-operator leased on. They’re in the competition for Overdrive's 2023 Trucker of the Year award, and as a husband-wife team of a business, it’s close collaboration in their drive to success that sets them apart. Though since their marriage in 2005, it hasn’t always been that way, exactly. Shelley herself wasn’t so involved in the business before Tim flipped the switch to get his authority around 2012 and the pair, together, moved toward a contract with the Sweetener Supply liquid-sugar manufacturer in their area, a contract that more than sustains the business to this day with good rates, a healthy fuel surcharge built into everything they do, and in general a real appreciation for their work. That includes Shelley, today, too, behind the wheel. While Tim’s been driving in various roles since the turn of the century, Shelley made moves to get her CDL for the first time in 2018, after the pair’s fourth and youngest child entered kindergarten. Growth in revenues, and profits, for the business have proceeded since then, with plans for more on the way. With three trucks running full-time now, they do own four big Walker food-grade tanker trailers, after all. You can enter your own owner-operator business or nominate another for Overdrive's 2023 Trucker of the Year competition via this link: https://www.overdriveonline.com/page/toptrucker Nominations will be accepted throughout the first half of 2023.
47 minutes | Apr 12, 2023
‘The extra load' to boost profitability in tough times -- Overdrive's Partners in Business at MATS
If you haven’t checked in at OverdriveOnline.com lately, get over to the Partners in Business section for our newly-updated, 2023 edition of the owner-operator business guide of the same name: http://overdriveonline.com/pib Weighing in at a grand total of 140 and more pages this year, the Partners in Business manual covers owner-operator business from start to finish, all the way from the basics of business planning before start-up to going independent, growing a small fleet and prepping adequately for a comfortable retirement. New this year: **A brief primer on avoiding -- and combating -- the huge rise in double-brokering of the past few years **Further resources on saving taxes and gaining business management dividends via the S Corp tax filing structure for LLCs. **Updates on lending markets given the rise in borrowing costs for new and used equipment purchases of the last year **New strategies for how to approach fuel surcharges as an independent, and maximize efficiency whatever your operation, given 2022's historic fuel-price inflation **New ways to protect your business and personal data from wholesale identity theft running rampant **Updates on planning -- and saving -- for retirement. And more. Today, sit back and listen in on our live seminar from the Mid-America Trucking Show’s Pro Talks stage that was held Friday, March 31. There’s a full video of session available at OverdriveOnline.com, but we wanted to make sure the podcast listeners had a window on it. Here's a link to the video and News Editor Matt Cole's report from the session: https://www.overdriveonline.com/business/article/15382511/how-to-boost-profitability-in-challenging-times-the-extra-load And here's a link to where you can download the slide deck to follow along with the audio in the podcast: https://www.overdriveonline.com/partners-in-business/document/15382515/partners-in-business-presentation-at-mats-2023 Those slides feature huge amounts of data from business services firm ATBS on cost, revenue and income performance on average for owner-operators clients in the last year. ATBS is Overdrive's longtime partner on the Partners in Business project, and a Vice President there, Mike Hosted, presented at the seminar with our own contributor and longtime owner-operator, now retired from the road, Gary Buchs. Buchs also serves as mentor to aspiring and current owner-operators with an eye toward helping them sharpen their business performance.
68 minutes | Apr 7, 2023
'The spot market is not for you': On building steady trucking business with authority
The freight spot markets are undeniably tough right now, that's sure, with rates continuing their slide for vans and reefers nationally in the last week, and profitability strained for all manner of independent owner-operators and small carriers with authority. Yet Adam Wingfield, whose talk early on the last day of the Mid-America Trucking Show Saturday, April 1, makes up the bulk of today's Overdrive Radio edition, wanted to make clear to all the owners in the audience a central message: "You're going to be OK," Wingfield said early in his "Weathering the storm" talk. OK, that is, if you do the work to solidify your relationships with the brokers, shippers and others who take care of you as you take care of them. If you truly own your backyard, so to speak, and take the time to connect with freight customers in your area. You'll be OK if you predict maintenance needs with well-timed interval tracking and stay compliant to enhance competitiveness in negotiations -- the difference between good and terrible safety scores will translate to dollars on the bottom line, in the end. And, perhaps most importantly, know your numbers inside and out, Wingfield emphasized early and often, echoing a central message of Overdrive's own Partners in Business seminar with ATBS the day before and throughout the PIB program's two-decade-plus history: https://www.overdriveonline.com/business/article/15382511/how-to-boost-profitability-in-challenging-times-the-extra-load (Click through that link for video of our full session, if you missed it. Podcast listeners, stay tuned for an audio-only special edition in the coming week.) Ultimately, though there's much more to it all, Wingfield urged owners to ignore the noise, to truly take full control of what you can control, double down on all of it, and keep your eye on the finish line. Also in the podcast: More from my talk at MATS with Overdrive Radio sponsor Howes' President and Chief Testing Officer Rob Howes about issues of fuel quality rearing their heads more and more as the company hears of new issues from customers. Howes details results, too, of a survey in which the company asked its customers a series of questions about their fuel-treatment habits. Overdrive's 2023 Trucker of the Year central nominating form: https://www.overdriveonline.com/page/toptrucker Do you know a worthy owner-operator contender? Nominate them -- or your own business -- today. Much more from MATS at http://overdriveonline.com
41 minutes | Mar 31, 2023
Fit or Unfit? FMCSA keying in on problems with 'Conditional' safety rating limbo
With an FMCSA regulatory update session just concluded at MATS, one thing that stood out was that the agency didn't mention a plan to advance a rulemaking around its safety rating system for motor carriers. FMCSA Associate Administrator Larry Minor, however, speaking to the specialized carriers' Specialized Transportation Symposium just a month ago, revealed potential to begin a rulemaking process to possibly change the system as early as this year. Should the three-tiered Satisfactory, Unsatisfactory, and Conditional rating system remain? Minor asked SCRA attendees, characterizing the fundamental early question any move toward a change would ask. Or: Should a two-tiered, "Fit or Unfit" system be adopted? That’s what some small fleets and associated advocates have been calling for for years, as so very many have sat in that Conditional limbo -- some even for decades -- after an adverse review, despite efforts to improve. It's only gotten increasingly difficult to then get FMCSA out to any carrier's site to do the only thing that can result in a Satisfactory rating in today’s system -- a fully comprehensive on-site audit, generally, though there have been limited exceptions to that rule, particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic: https://www.overdriveonline.com/regulations/article/15064263/dotissued-safety-ratings-more-scarce-in-2020 In today's edition of Overdrive Radio, we'll hear more from Larry Minor in his talk at the symposium early this month to specialized carrier attendees. As it concerns FMCSA's failure to mention the safety rating issue here at MATS, ongoing through Saturday, April 1, maybe regulators believe owner-operators really could care less about ratings and how they’re conducted. It's safe to assure them they’re off the mark, there. While few one-truck owners with authority are likely to ever be rated, the same business issues that arise for small carriers from a Conditional rating -- difficulty doing business with many brokers, to name one -- hits them equally. The smallest of small carriers, too, like holds less capability to get the feds back out to their place of business for a follow-up audit to potentially move them back to the Satisfactory category. We’ll hear from Minor also on the DOT’s National Roadway Safety Strategy and FMCSA’s place within it, about how the Entry Level Driver Training program is going, about getting that program more effectively interoperable with state licensing agencies, about the late-fall ELD regs questions asked, about the notion of Universal Electronic ID for every truck (asked for by CVSA). And speed limiters, of course, and changes to Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse reporting requirements of states. Also in the podcast: Drop for a bit of fun, too, with Rob Howes, executive vice president and chief testing officer of the company that bears his name, Overdrive Radio sponsor Howes. A bit more lengthy talk over interesting results of a Howes company survey we’ll visit in a later podcast, but Rob filled us in for this one on just what’s happening for the company here at MATS, likewise plans for the next Howes Hall of Fame announcement. Hear Overdrive Radio's interview with owner-operator Angelique Temple, the last member inducted, in the December 9, 2022 edition: https://www.overdriveonline.com/overdrive-radio/podcast/15304180/hazmattank-veteran-driver-now-on-her-own-meet-angelique-temple
30 minutes | Mar 24, 2023
Tales from a trainer's truck: Good, bad, ugly with reefer operator Bill Douglas
With truck-show season fast upon us, Long Haul Paul Marhoefer takes the mic for this week's Overdrive Radio edition as the Mid America Trucking show's set to commence on Thursday, March 30th. There will be the pageantry and the pomp, the polish and the shine. Influencers, thought leaders, and micro-celebrities. (Oh my!) But you know what Marhoefer looks forward to the most? It's the war stories. It's the accounts you hear while you're waiting on a table to open up at a steakhouse, or maybe while tipping back a cool beverage or two. It's the unguarded things people tell you about their lives and work when they've had a few days to step away and decompress. This episode features one such conversation. Owner-operator Bill Douglas is an old truck show friend. Marhoefer met him at the Great American Trucking Show in Dallas back around 2016. Back then, Bill was just thinking about becoming a trucker. These days, he's a six-year veteran of the super slab, hauling with a mission, too, to be a mentor to new drivers he's training for Prime. This time last year, the pair went out for that steak, and along the way Bill gave Paul the lowdown on big fleet training -- the good, the bad and the ugly. Also in the podcast: Join ATBS VP Mike Hosted and Overdrive's own Gary Buchs 1:45 p.m. local time Friday, March 31, for the annual Partners in Business seminar. Stay tuned for the updated version of Overdrive's Partners in Business manual, too, to be released next week. Read more about the session via this link: https://www.overdriveonline.com/overdrive-extra/article/15352892/new-owneroperator-business-manual-updated-for-release-at-mats And for a full schedule of a bevy of MATS business-related programming, visit the show site here: https://truckingshow.com/education/ Hope to see you there.
44 minutes | Mar 17, 2023
One oversize hauler's mobile shower solution | Dispatch from I-80 Wyo.'s 'winter from hell'
Owner-operator Andy Freeman, headquartered in Richland Center, Wisconsin, hauls in a 2014 Freightliner 122SD pulling a much newer Trail King RGN mini-deck, outfitted for what are mostly oversize loads on the hook. Overdrive Radio caught up with Freeman in Orlando, Florida, on the site of the Specialized Carriers and Rigging Association’s annual Specialized Transportation Symposium. Freeman, leased to Landstar now for many years and hauling most aviation-related freight -- “airport to airport,” as he puts it -- had his rig empty and set up in the conference hotel parking lot where Florida Highway Patrol inspectors demonstrated a walkaround Level 2 inspection of it for conference attendees. The trailer was empty, that is, unless you looked a little more closely: About dead center lengthwise on the minideck was an itty-bitty chained-down toy loader. Turned out it wasn’t just Freeman's attempt at good humor for conference attendees -- and those inspectors -- but rather a long-used tool for cheering up fellow travelers along the road, among other things. There’s more to it in the conversation with Freeman in this week's Overdrive Radio podcast, likewise the owner-operator's fortuitous find delivering a solution to a long-suffered problem of many a heavy-specialized and/or other open-deck hauler. "Sometimes you just want to have a shower," he said, doing this kind of work, particularly after solving the securement puzzle on hot days. For those of you with no more than your standard sort of 70-inch sleeper, as is the case for Freeman's 122SD, listen on for an off-the-shelf (mostly) solution to that issue he's carried with him since this past December. Also in the podcast: Long Haul Paul Marhoefer's "The estimated opening is unknown" read by the author, detailing a rough week spent partially along I-80 in Wyoming shut down in Laramie with extreme winter weather. This year, it's been a "winter from hell" for all on the road in that state. Read the original story via this link: https://www.overdriveonline.com/overdrive-extra/article/15352433/winter-from-hell-on-i80-in-wyoming
44 minutes | Mar 10, 2023
Plan for success designed, executed for a long-term home: Truckers of the Month Ruth and Chris Smith
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 this link if you missed Overdrive News Editor Matt Cole’s feature report about the business: https://www.overdriveonline.com/trucker-of-the-year/article/15307364/how-this-owneroperator-team-earned-success After meeting and marrying during those early UK days, the Smiths’ Dreamline business is now anchored by 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 a 192-inch ARI sleeper with the creature comforts of a home on the road. In 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. Catch plenty more views of the Peterbilt in this story, written after the Smiths bagged first place in a category of Overdrive's 2021 virtual Pride & Polish custom-truck competition: https://www.overdriveonline.com/pride-polish/article/15114201/the-bigbunk-389-of-ruth-and-chris-smith-beverly-ii As February's Trucker of the Month, Ruth and Chris Smith's Dreamline Trucking is in the running as a semi-finalist for Overdrive's 2023 Trucker of the Year award. 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, 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: https://www.overdriveonline.com/page/toptrucker
24 minutes | Mar 3, 2023
Hear AM/FM CB difference -- the story behind the FCC petition that launched dual-mode radios in U.S.
For this edition of the podcast, Mark Karnes tells the story of the petition that the Cobra company put to the Federal Communications Commission some years back to allow the use of FM rather than just standard AM in CB Radios. With the petition granted in 2021, Cobra is now out with AM/FM dual-mode versions of all of its most-commonly-used models. Karnes, a vice president with Cedar Electronics, Cobra's parent company, notes the transition from AM-only radios to dual modes won't happen overnight, yet notes when more FM-capable radios are in play, owner-operators will find better voice clarity over the radio when used in FM mode on both ends. Hear a measure of that improved clarity here, as Overdrive Radio host Todd Dills recorded transmissions between two dual-mode versions of Cobra's Mini 19 radio, while running the same route in one vehicle as the other vehicle remained stationary. But for slight adjustments to squelch on both units, each radio remained at standard out-of-the-box settings other than dialing up Channel 15, otherwise quiet the night of the test. Drop into a little bit of the squawk between Ghostwriter and T-Bone in today's podcast, and get a feel for the principle difference in AM and FM modes –- sound quality and clarity when you're nearing the edges of range, or in situations with plenty interference that sometimes plague AM transmission. More about what's currently available from a variety of makers of AM/FM radios: https://www.overdriveonline.com/equipment/article/15114521/fcc-approves-fm-mode-for-cb-radios More about Cobra's line of dual-mode radios: https://www.overdriveonline.com/gear/product/15306989/cobra-electronics-cobra-unveils-first-dualmode-amfm-cb-radios And as mentioned in the podcast, track back through our 2021 60th-anniversary special-edition episode exploring the CB's role in trucking culture as the "original social media," as many truckers have called it through the years: https://www.overdriveonline.com/overdrive-radio/podcast/15064061/the-cb-radios-historic-role-in-trucking-culture
26 minutes | Feb 24, 2023
Running the lease roads to well sites with tank operator Edward Jackson of John McGee Trucking
Louisiana-born-and-raised longtime operator Edward Jackson has been running for Overdrive's 2022 Small Fleet Champ John McGee Trucking since the operation was but a project of owner-operator McGee and a just a couple other employed haulers. These days, McGee "has a whole lot more on his plate," Jackson told me, testament to the small fleet's strong growth to around 20 trucks the last several years. Jackson and I were bumping and jostling about in the cab of one of McGee's late-model Macks on our way down a narrow lease road to an oil/gas well site not far from the fleet's Simsboro headquarters, there in the northern part of the Pelican state. What we were after? A load of John McGee Trucking's bread and butter, production water that comes up from the ground with oil and gas and separates into one of two tanks down in a bottom at the end of this road. The big tanks flanked an area just big enough to turn that rig around, quite muddy in ruts from the big trucks that visit the site regularly at the behest of pumpers working the wells. The salty concoction of groundwater that Jackson pumps into the specially-lined Dragon tanker trailers he pulls, then, is destined for offload at a saltwater disposal pipeline, or in some cases blown back into the ground at an idle well site. It's short work, the single round I accompanied Jackson on, but with time enough to get a feel for the operation, Jackson's work particularly, and all the potential dangers inherent in working around oil and gas wells, to say nothing of the occasionally harrowing difficulty on those sometimes quite slippery and/or remote lease roads. In today's edition of Overdrive Radio, drop into the run with us to hear, too, more from and about the man behind the wheel. Jackson's is lucrative work, in the end, and McGee lauds his steady-eddy nature. He and other top operators at McGee are well-rewarded for their on-the-job consistency, pulling in anywhere from about $70,000 on the low end to well into the six figures at the top, where Jackson sits. He works hard for it, of course, starting at 4 a.m. and hauling multiple rounds through 4 p.m. most workdays, in and out of oil and gas well sites and saltwater disposal intakes. McGee pays operators hourly, with weekly time-and-a-half for anything over 40 hours. Find plenty images from the run at this link: https://www.overdriveonline.com/15307317 Read more about 2022 Small Fleet Champ John McGee Trucking via this 2022 profile of the business: https://www.overdriveonline.com/small-fleet-champ/article/15295593/john-mcgee-trucking-embraces-golden-rule-toward-steady-growth
43 minutes | Feb 20, 2023
Bust up the stigma around mental health for a chance at a better trucking life
The last couple weeks have been a bit heavy for several of us here at Overdrive, since learning of the passing of an operator we knew who took his own life. It's a difficult subject to know how to approach, to communicate, and one Overdrive Extra contributor/longtime hauler Clifford Petersen notes still comes with a stigma attached to it that make it all the more difficult. Namely, and more broadly, we're talking about mental health, and just how to be an effective means of support for all with whom we come into contact. On this special-edition Monday podcast -- apologies for all who were expecting our usual Friday drop -- dive in with Petersen to talk through his own journey to where he is today, with a mission to be a lifeline of support specifically to those who, like him, work over-the-road and struggle with anxiety, depression, in his case PTSD, and/or a myriad other issues. Petersen's trained in substance-abuse counseling and life coaching broadly, likewise a variety of psychological diagnoses and techniques. Though as he emphasizes, he's not a licensed practicing psychologist himself. As he's written in varying degrees of detail in Overdrive before, his journey to realizing the mission has been a long one, and to anyone who's ever felt like they were truly at the end of the the rope, as it were, as he's said many times before, "you are not alone ... Truckers need to know they're not alone. ... We are your community, and we are here, willing to help. You can always call me at 573-730-2370. I still truck, and I still work with truckers -- and I’ll never charge you a dime. I’m here to help.” Catch Petersen's stories from the last several years for Overdrive here: https://www.overdriveonline.com/authors/contact/14865336/clifford-petersen He’s written about a lot of topics, but most often on the techniques he himself uses in ongoing efforts to battle his own demons since the PTSD diagnosis sent him down the path of mental health education almost two decades ago now. A lot of what he’s written around the subject he thinks of as "tools that a person can put in their toolbox to help them out. ... The trucker knows what it means to have the right tool for the right job. If you're having an issue, get the right tool and use it. Life is the same thing. Get the right tool, and use it." Petersen's story is one we hope anyone listening will see as, yes, though the road might well be a tough one looking ahead, there is hope, if we all do our best to truly support each other. Petersen’s still here, still trucking, and his mission is clear evidence of that. In the podcast, Petersen also notes road chaplain organizations, staffed by people with willing ears and free of judgment, including Truckstop Ministries: https://www.truckstopministries.org/ And the organization he's a part of himself, Channel 21 Ministries: https://www.lonesomeroad.org/channel-21-ministries-home.html You can also call or text the 988 national crisis hotline, 24/7.
37 minutes | Feb 10, 2023
Owner-operator Kelvin Schmidt: 'You've got to be an accountant' to ensure long-term biz success
Owner-operator Kelvin Schmidt, Trucker of the Month for January in Overdrive's 2023 Trucker of the Year program, didn't come to a formula for enduring success without a tour through the proverbial school of hard knocks, as it were. In today's edition of Overdrive Radio, hear his own account of his start as a flatbed-pulling hotshotter in a one-ton dually, his stumbles through other trucks and growing "as bad as an accountant" focus on costs, revenue and profit per-trip to keep a guiding hand on the business. "You've got to know what your costs are, and I do that for absolutely every trip I do," he said. "Every trip." Diligence in tracking costs enabled some of the big early shifts in his approach to equipment. After bad experiences with a variety of used trucks -- then with a newer yet no-less-problematic glider, he changed tack and began purchasing new, realizing full well the costs not just of repairs of accompanying downtime. His end-of-year profit-and-loss statement for 2022 showed the above-average results of all of it, even with massive cost inflation and an ungodly-looking fuel bill for year. In this podcast, he tells his trucking story, which follows a childhood and decades as an adult in Canada. His move to U.S. citizenship set him on the course he's charting today trucking, likewise as a proud father of six young children with their mother and his wife, Jennifer. As January Trucker of the Month, Kelvin Schmidt in the running as a semifinalist for the Trucker of the Year award. If you, too, have thrived even through the tough conditions of the last year, or if you know of a deserving owner-operator who fits that description, 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: https://www.overdriveonline.com/page/toptrucker Read more about Kelvin Schmidt's journey via our January in-depth profile of his one-truck business, today pulling power-only for T Bros. Logistics out of Sioux Falls, South Dakota: https://www.overdriveonline.com/trucker-of-the-year/article/15306211/how-this-owner-built-a-trucking-business-to-deliver-consistently
33 minutes | Feb 3, 2023
John McCormick's long road to steady dry-bulk freight, for the whole family
In this week's Overdrive Radio, drop back into more from host Todd Dills' November run with Oakley Trucking-leased owner-operator John McCormick out of Robards, Kentucky, near Henderson. Regular readers and listeners will recall the prior podcast, where we dug into McCormick's Pride & Polish-winning 2021 Kenworth, christened "Bandit" given its paint scheme’s resemblance to the Snowman’s rig in the 1970s classic movie Smokey & the Bandit. There, we heard plenty about just how that rig got its name, McCormick’s approach to financing -- in this case direct through the finance arm of MHC Kenworth, the dealer group from which he bought the W900L late in 2020 -- and more. Today we pick up with more about the two rounds he makes daily, between Cresline Plastic Pipe in Henderson, where he unloads PVC powder picked down in Calvert City, Kentucky, from the manufacturer there. Dills spoke with McCormick this morning and, after a few OTR runs farther afield over the holidays, when the plant he hauls from was shut down for annual maintenance as usual, he’s back in gear on this his bread-and-butter run, no sign of business slowing down. Hear more about just how the owner-operator got to where he is today -- and the other McCormicks he's managed to bring along for the ride. His "little brother" Bill and his father, Charlie, are part of the team working the PVC runs, both also now leased to Oakley. While John McCormick's been leased there going on 15 years, that's not the case for the rest of the family. Follow this link for pictures of Charlie McCormick's 2020 Peterbilt 567, likewise video and more with the 2021 "Bandit" W900L: https://www.overdriveonline.com/15306419 Overdrive profiled John's truck more in-depth at this link: https://www.overdriveonline.com/pride-polish/podcast/15303882/custom-champs-a-run-in-the-bandit-21-w900l
35 minutes | Jan 27, 2023
Diesel-electric innovation in a 1969 KW: Chace Barber on 'Voice of GO(r)D' podcast
We’ve got a bit of a special edition of Overdrive Radio for you this week. There’s a guest host of sorts, who’s going to walk us through a conversation with Chace Barber, cofounder of Edison Motors. If Barber's name sounds familiar, you may have read Overdrive Executive Editor Alex Lockie’s reporting of some of what Barber’s been doing with a diesel-electric concept that’s similar to the way locomotive work. The system features effectively an on-board diesel generator serving only to charge in this case a lithium ion battery powering an electric motor capable of monster loads of both horsepower and torque. In the case of Barber and company's prototype, that's all inside a beautiful and beautifully tough old 1969 Kenworth they call, simply, Old Blue. Log hauler, writer, and podcaster Gord Magill recently drew out more of Chace Barber’s company’s origin story and plenty about just where his electric-drive trucks stand to be best applied in his Voice of GO(R)D podcast. Gord’s roots, like Chache Barber’s, are in Canada, though Magill now calls the United States home, as our own "Long Haul Paul" Marhoefer wrote in his Faces of the Road series talk with Magill: https://www.overdriveonline.com/overdrive-extra/article/15289327/faces-of-the-road-gord-magill As noted, Barber’s Edison Motors has been making a name for itself by taking advantage of big strides in battery technology to repurpose something of an old general concept for new application, with big potential. It’s not exactly a hybrid diesel-electric in the manner of much of the hybrid technology in cars today, as he told Magill, and over-the-road trucking benefits are decidedly less than more intense applications like log hauling. Yet OTR could benefit in form of fuel savings to the tune of a potential 5-10 percent or more. There’s some perhaps non-obvious benefits, too -- think things that might fall into the "weird government" classification Magill mentions in the podcast (electric-drive trucks ELD/road tax-exempt?) -- spelled out the podcast. Find the full two-hour conversation in the Voice of GO(R)D podcast via this link to Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/show/01IBVRZ1pokC94ZXvguJfR Here on Stitcher: https://www.stitcher.com/show/voice-of-go-r-d/episode/old-trucks-new-tech-how-a-b-c-logger-is-making-electric-trucks-less-cringe-211086897 Here on Apple Podcasts: https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/voice-of-go-r-d/id1663362014 Magill's writing, featured elsewhere in outlets like Newsweek among many others, is also accessible via his Substack page at this link: https://autonomoustruckers.substack.com/ Alex Lockie's reporting on Barber and his Edison Motors cofounder Eric Little: https://www.overdriveonline.com/business/article/15301066/loghauling-truckings-toughest-niche