Posts filed under Trucking

Safety Starts with the Individual Not the Government

Safety Starts with the Individual Not the Government

"You drive your truck and I'll drive mine!"  

Oh if I had a nickel for every time I heard that phrase in my career. Back in "The Good Ole Days", drivers communicated via CB radio. When I was a rookie, if I did something stupid, I got immediate feedback.  "Hey! What the hell is wrong with you?!" Then, whether or not I was listening, I got the advice I needed. There were also lots of times that I learned things "the hard way" - through experience. I made mistakes and was able to learn from them. That isn't as easy in today's over-regulated, hyper-sensitive environment. In many cases, one mistake and you're done. Your driving career is over. 

There has never been a time where personal responsibility is more important, and yet most lacking. In every vehicle on the road, there is only one driver. There is only one person who can make the decisions that factor life and death or serious injury. It's also more important today because there are cameras everywhere. Information moves at the speed of light. Even after 20 years, I still don't know if there are really more serious truck crashes or if the fact that social media can spread the coverage of the ones that happens makes it look  like there are more and that they are more frequent. I've done a LOT of stupid things that I'm glad someone's dashcam wasn't able to record. If you're driving a big truck, you must understand that you are living under a microscope. That isn't going away, and it's likely to only increase. 

The "Concrete Cowboy" days are over. There is no going back. Bragging or even joking about how many logbooks you have can land you in a lot of hot water. You won't be impressing anyone if you post online that you broke the Hours of Service regulations. You will be impressing upon people that you're an idiot, not a hero. 

This isn't the 1970's anymore and you aren't the Snowman from Smokey and the Bandit. Yes, you do have "a long way to go and a short time to get there", but the thin margins and tight deadlines of you run don't give you any right or pass to make bad decisions and place others in harm's way. The economy, lanes, and customers are bigger than us. And yes, the customers' needs come before our own. This certainly doesn't mean customers are allowed to cheat us, abuse us, or treat us with disrespect, but it does mean that we need to get the job done safely and on time.

Trip planning is the key to operating in this new economy. It's never been easier to avoid traffic using Google Maps Traffic, find a place to park with a phone app, or even use Google Maps satellite images and Street View to research a customer's location so you can know what you're driving into before you even cross the state line. The great sales teacher and motivator, Zig Ziglar said, "If you aim at nothing, you'll hit it every time." Remember that saying you've seen posted in someone's office or cubicle? "Lack or preparation on you part does not constitute an emergency on mine." Professional drivers must be prepared to adjust for changing conditions and communicate any delay to the carrier and customer. We don't live or operate in a static 9 to 5 environment. Our day can be turned upside down in an instant. That is the nature of the business. Nothing will ever change that.

The Trucking Industry is safer and more efficient than it ever has been, regardless of what professional lobbyists like CRASH, Road Safe America, or the Truck Safety Coalition say or thing. What we can't do is give them more ammunition to take to the government to use to further regulate and cost us time and money. No great law or safety campaign can do what a patient, responsible, courteous driver can. As individuals, we must be able to step back or stop when things are starting to escalate. We must be ready to knock the cruise control off and fall back away from that erratic four wheeler. You'll be ready to pop a blood vessel and they'll have absolutely no clue that they're even doing anything wrong. Drivers of cars are the most under-trained and unprepared people you can come in contact with. That is just a fact of life. YOU have to be the professional that is the one that offers grace.

Patience, courtesy, respect. These should be our focus if we want to make safer highways for everyone. It's us to us.

Posted on December 7, 2016 and filed under Trucking.

Electronic Logs and the Future

So which one is the real problem? Electronic logs or Hours of Service? 

Hint: It's not e-logs.

The Hours of Service requirements placed on the Transportation Industry by the Federal Government nearly 100 years ago are no different that any other Federal rule. Laws. rules, and regulations have no effect on human behavior. The existence of the statute only provides an opportunity for government or some other authority to punish someone AFTER an injury has occurred. In other words, if someone acts irresponsibly behind the wheel of a commercial motor vehicle, the government can punish them. It's right there in black and white. "You caused someone harm or injury, and it says right here on this piece of paper we voted on that you shouldn't have done that, so here's your punishment." 

E-logs are a symptom, not a problem. An electronic log is just a device that does a more effective and efficient job of tracking someone's movements than a paper logbook does. "Well, I don't want to be tracked!" Tough. You are being tracked and have been tracked by your cell phone, your debit card, you toll receipts, your PrePass, and on and on. Any belief that you have autonomy because you're on a paper log is detachment from reality. 

So what do we do? Protest? Run for office? Disobey? Cooperate? Lobby to change the rules? That's an individual issue that has to be answered by the individual.

What did I do? I found ways to succeed in spite of the rules and the device. I chose to be an owner/operator. I chose to find a way to still make my living and not be hampered by meaningless rules that only exist to benefit the people writing and passing them. 

What should you do? Unfortunately, I can't answer that. What I can tell you is that you still have control over you and your life. The implementation of an electronic device will only cause you problems if you allow it. There are an abundant number of niches inside the industry where you can specialize yourself in a way that you will make enough money to offset any encumbrance you experience from an E-log.

Go find the place in the industry that fits with the talents and interests you were born with, Maybe it's being an owner/operator, but maybe it's not. The bottom line though is that this device can't hurt you. It's just another speed bump you have to navigate your way around.

Posted on December 6, 2016 and filed under Trucking, owner operator, business, life.


This post will not be about fuel. It won't be about financing. It won't be about freight rates, maintenance, or taxes. It is about the single most important thing that will prepare you to succeed, or fail, owning and operating your own truck - ATTITUDE.

When I began this journey in 2011, it was my last swing-for-the-fences attempt to make it in trucking as a one-income family. Until December 2010, I was a company driver. I was driving for Landair hauling dedicated for Big Lots. I was home on the weekend and my take home pay was about $750.00 per week. My wife and I had already decided before we even had kids that we would be a one-income family and that she would stay home full-time to care for them. I told her, "If I could start over again at 21, I would lease a truck from someone, learn the business, and buy my own truck." That's where it started. I started researching companies and programs and landed on Anderson Trucking Service out of St. Cloud, Minnesota. I started talking to drivers and gathering as much information as I could, but I really had NO CLUE what I was getting into. The only thing I had on my side was determination and work ethic. I learned all I could and scheduled orientation. I had decided to join their Pad Wrap division rather than Specialized. That turned out to be a HUGE advantage that I'll explain in more detail in an upcoming post on freight rates.

My first truck with ATS on the day I got it. 

My first truck with ATS on the day I got it. 

I arrived in St. Cloud on January 2, 2011 after a 26 hour bus ride from Columbus, Ohio. (I'll NEVER ride another bus as long as I live.) I started orientation on Monday and got my truck on Thursday. I STILL didn't know what was going to happen. I had the vaguest of ideas, but still no real plan. The only plan I had was that I was not going to be denied. I WILL make this work. My first dispatch was on January 8, 2011. It loaded in New Berlin, WI...396 miles away. A 400 mile deadhead? On the first load? What had I gotten myself into? 

That first load paid the truck $1693.87. (I still know that because I have a spreadsheet with every load I've ever pulled. I am a nerd's nerd, and will cover bookkeeping in another lesson.) I went to the Pilot in St. Cloud and bought my first tank of diesel. $529.26. Remember, I have no context for dropping over $500 on a tank of fuel. I continued. I ran 5 loads from the 8th to the 14th. My gross for the week was $4108.65 which included $500 for orientation pay. After fuel and other deductions I cleared $2217.42. I called my wife and said, "Hang on mama. We are all good."

The next 10 months were a blur. I worked harder than I ever had in my life. Every week wasn't as good as the first. From January through the end of October, my average settlement was $1382.00. I had to go home at some point, so with about 4 weeks off, it skews the average. The average not including the weeks I took off was over $1500. There was over $500 being deducted from my settlement each week to cover truck payments, insurance, PrePass, Qualcomm, maintenance, and road and mileage taxes. The end of October brought the harsh realization that ATS's "good" freight dries up and I found November and December a struggle just to survive back to January. (In 2012, I learned to take six weeks off including two straight from Thanksgiving until New Year's Day.)

The one thing that kept me going was my attitude. I had to stay positive. I could not quit. I had so much to learn and I had to learn it on-the-fly. It took a complete paradigm shift. No longer did I drive for "miles." My new focus was on "revenue." My vocabulary had to change. I had to look at thing from a different point of view. My driving style changed; how I shifted, how hard I pushed the accelerator, when I idled and when I didn't. I was no longer concerned about how quickly I could get to my destination. My new goal was "How efficiently can I get to my destination?'' 

That first year was rough. The second year was easier, but still challenging. The third year was a nightmare, but proved to be my most successful. (More about that in an upcoming lesson on equipment). Over those two years I met and became close to other drivers that shared my passion. We helped to keep each other accountable. We talked each other out of quitting more than once. Those men have become some of my closest confidantes. I know when I call them, I will not be told what I want to hear, but what I need to hear. Make no mistake, there is a HUGE difference. 

I've barely scratched the surface of what it takes to become a successful Owner/Operator. What you have found here in this first lesson is the absolute most important. Without the proper attitude and perspective, you WILL fail. You must change. You will no longer be working to run miles. You will be working to earn REVENUE. It is all about maximizing revenue and minimizing expenses. What is left over is profit. REVENUE. EXPENSES. PROFIT. Nothing else matters. 

In order to help you get started with that shift, allow me to offer some resources to help:

ENTERLEADERSHIP by Dave Ramsey 20 Years of Practical Business Wisdom from the Trenches

QBQ! The Question Behind the Question: Practicing Personal Accountability at Work and in Life by John G Miller

Who Moved My Cheese?: An Amazing Way to Deal with Change in Your Work and in Your Life by Spencer Johnson

Rich Dad Poor Dad: What The Rich Teach Their Kids About Money That the Poor and Middle Class Do Not! By Robert Kiyosaki

In Dr. Thomas J Stanley's book "The Millionaire Next Door," he found that the average millionaire reads one book per month. It's time to spend less time in front of the TV and more time in a book. 

Many of these books are available in audio form so you can listen while driving. I could not have made this transition myself had I not had the positive influence of these great authors and their work.

Deciding to become and Owner/Operator was the single best career decision I've ever made. I've had struggles along the way, and that's why I'm willing to share them with you. I don't want you to have to learn the hard way like I did.



I learned an important lesson a few years ago:

The axis of the Universe does NOT run through the top of my head. 

I am not the Sun and everything and everyone does not revolve around me. As a commercial driver, I am an integral part of the supply chain. It could be said that I am an important part of the chain. However, I am not the MOST important part of the chain. I share equal responsibility with the carrier, the shippers, and the receivers. 

It took me more than 10 years to come to this realization, and it has helped me to become more profitable and less stressed. In the last 4 years, I have CHOSEN not to have an adversarial relationship with my carrier. They are not my enemy. They are my partner. We assist one another in serving the ones who ARE the most important part of the chain: THE CUSTOMERS.

I've heard it all; all the conspiracy theories on what X carrier does "to" the drivers, how they "don't care about the drivers", they're "only in it for the money." Once I learned not to be such a narcissistic jerk, I came to understand that most carriers do, in fact, care about their drivers and yes, they are "in it for the money." SO. AM. I.

Trucking is not my hobby. It isn't something I do to fill my spare time. It is my livelihood. It is the method by which my wife and children have food and shelter. For me, it is ALL about the money; the more the better. I am in this business to make as much money I can in the shortest amount of time possible.

So how did I come to hold this new outlook? It was a very slow process. It started nearly 15 years ago when I had an operations manager look me in the face and tell me that the sun and moon didn't revolve around me. I'm paraphrasing his words because they aren't necessarily fit for public broadcast. It was more like, "Son, let me explain to you why you're such an idiot." He began to teach me about the business, the profit and loss. It was then that my shift began. It didn't take immediately. I had to get fired from the next company I worked for, leave the industry for 2 years, come back as a company driver and then make my way to being an owner/operator to have all the pieces fall into place.

I've worked for most of the big carriers; Schneider, Werner, USXpress, Landair, Anderson Trucking Service, Landstar. I've worked for three small carriers. They were all different and they were all the same. They are in the business to move freight and serve customers.

Many drivers, including myself at one time, have the wrong attitude. We aren't focused on service. We're focused on self. We refuse to see the big picture. This business is turbulent. It isn't static. It is constantly moving and changing as the desires and needs of the consumers change. When I started in this business, there was no Amazon, no Ebay, no iPhones, no Walmart Supercenters. The market has evolved into something completely different with different needs. Transportation is now more important than it ever has been. The entire economy is dependent on the ability to move freight efficiently, quickly, and most importantly, SAFELY. Add to that the shift over the last 20 years of government intrusion into the market and we have a greater responsibility than ever.

I've recently leased on with Landstar. Before I ever got here I was warned, "Watch the agents. They'll screw you." In 45 days, I have found that to be totally unfounded. See, they can only "screw me" if I allow it. It is MY JOB to verify their information, document it sufficiently, and be ready to respond if an issue or discrepancy arises. Have I found an agent so far I may not haul for again. Maybe. Some do a better job than others. Just because they don't do things exactly to my satisfaction doesn't mean they are out to harm me. Maybe they're just lazy or having a bad day. The one agent in question just seemed disorganized. I don't like that. It makes me nervous. BUT, their loads pay really good, so I'm likely to let it go for the right price. After all, I'm in it for the money. 

Here is my challenge to you:

Take your carrier at their word. Communicate PROPERLY with them. Document EVERYTHING - every load number, every mile, every expense. Look at your relationship as a partnership. Share equal responsibility with them in serving the customer. Give good ETA's. Always deliver on time or early, and let the know. BE SEEN as something good. Don't let them only see you when something has gone wrong. Let them catch you doing something right. 

You as a driver are not the beginning, the middle, and end of everything. You are an integral part, but you're not the only part, and you're not the most important part. 

A positive attitude causes a chain reaction of positive thoughts, events and outcomes. It is a catalyst and it sparks extraordinary results.

Wade Boggs

Posted on June 11, 2014 and filed under Trucking.

The Facebook Debate

The following is the transcript of a debate on Facebook that I entered. The only change I made was to redact the last names of the parties involved. The rest is a direct copy and paste.


Ezekiel (The original poster): Amricans are still free to choose where to work, how much for, how long to work as well as how HARD to one is forced to work anywhere. ..furthermore these "corperations" that are getting bashed hire millions of people to do UNSKILLED labor and often do not even require a high school diploma. ..I know it is difficult to make a decent living...It has been a long time since I have not worked 60-70 hours a week to feed my family. But that is my CHOICE and others can choose to make changes on their lives in order to get one is going to give you a free ride it is your INDIVIDUAL RESPONSIBILITY to make these decisions

Brandon: The point is that you shouldnt have to work 60 to 70 hrs a week just to make it. The labor unions fought hard for that. And we set back and let companys like wal-mart,mcdonald's make millions of dollars while us the tax payer foot the bill for their under payed employees. By payin for their foodstamps and medicare ect. Did you know that if the minimum wage was raised at the same rate as the 1% and with the rate of cost of living it would be around 20 dollars an hr. And we would have no reason for this conversation at all. But no the wealthy have done every thing to put more money in their pockets while stealing it from us! Makeing us have to work harder just to foot the bill that the refuse to pay!

James: If minimum wage was $20 per hour you would see millions of jobs go over sees. We can't have it both ways, we can't want to be "citizens of the world" without competing on the world stage. McDonald's would use technology to further automate the check out process, Wal-Mart would accelerate self checkout implementation and all the remaining manufacturing jobs would be gone in 5 years. We live in a free capitalist society. I have been flat broke and I have had a lot of money and while I care deeply for those in poverty and give as much as I can to help, the solution isn't to make our country less competitive or take more of my money in taxes so I can afford to hire less people. Look at the industries where unions rule and that is where you will see the bulk of outsourcing to other countries this is not a coincidence.

James: BTW Ezekiel keep working, I loved your post you are doing what you need to do to take care of your family! We need to get together again sometime I really enjoyed meeting you in KY I hope you and your family are doing well.

Ezekiel: Hey Brandon I hear sux having to work long isn't fair that some people (ceo's) make 100 times the salary of an common employee...however that drive, that GREED if you want to call it that, is what BUILT this country and the thousands of products/industry s that we RELY on for our needs as well as our jobs...I'm simply tossing in MY 2 cents and saying that I'm not ready to try and hold back anyone who desires to "GET RICH" and wind up hiring people someday by FORCING companies to do run their businesses a certain way.

Dan: We would be better off with NO MINIMUM wage! I guarantee it! Every serious economist will tell you that! America was built on the Capitalist free market system! Man.... we fed half the world... and built the greatest society the world has ever known with it!!!!!! Look at us now.... look... and weep!!!

Dan: Everything Government gets its hands into gets corrupted!!! Look at SSI.... look at the USPS.... look at every Government agency! Filled with waste ... poorly run. Look at the Obamacare train wreck!!!!!

Government needs to keep its filthy hands off private business!

Dan: If Walmart and McDonalds are forced by evil socialist Gov to raise salaries... to say.. $15.... you will see see price of food and product raise drastically.... and would see a snowball effect. eventually... the same people would be complaining and wanting it raised again.

The free market system works if Gov stays out of it. Supply and demand...

Dan: Funny... the corrupt union bosses are all filthy rich... but for some reason... nobody is mad at them.

Dan: This is applicable in the same way to business. One day... business men are going to take that profits and close up... and go to some other country. Then... those who want to rob him of his wealth... will have to go start their own business. hahaha

Dan: You folks do know... there is only one reason to start a business right?? To make money!!! You hire men to work as the business expands... but the goal is to make profits!! With all the red tape now... you have to wonder why some are still at it. When it is no longer profitable to run the business... you get out.

Ezekiel: Ayn Rand wrote the book ATLAS SHRUGGED 50 years it the people she called "the movers" the builders and creator's and business owners went on STRIKE...its fiction of course but very strongly depicts what life would be like without the great minds of whom we enjoy the benefits

Dan: Everyone needs to see this.... and don't miss the truth of it for the humor.

Dan: Yes... anyone want to see where we are headed? Watch the movie ATLAS SHRUGGED I and II
Scary how close we are to the second movie...

Dan: Yup.... the over taxing... and Gov intrusion... will run business people out of here! We shall then see what the critics do.

Ezekiel: Don't forget the original topic on this thread was WEATHER OR NOT BIG CORPORATIONS ARE ROBBING THEIR EMPLOYEES BY NOT PAYING THEM A CERTAIN WAGE...or making a profit that ranges in a percentage much greater than the employee. ...??

Dan: I would challenge anyone reading here.... go out and sacrifice.... borrow money... take a risk.... work 80 hours a week... and start a business. Get it going.... get it growing.... to where you need to hire a few guys so you can expand and make more profits. Then.... let the 22 year old boys organize a coo.... come in to your office... give you their demands of how much they deserve to be making.... how many hours they want to work.... more paid holidays... vacations.... paid sick days... health care...etc...etc...

Then you will understand.

Brandon: Lmbo at some of these comments! Im at work but trust me ill be back after my shift. Lol

James: Actually most serious economists are not against minimum wage and neither are most business owners. The minimum wage laws really came about to keep firms from stepping over the line by paying too little. Ironically minimum wage helps businesses compete as long as it is low and realistic. For instance, I am trying to run my business honestly and pay a decent wage to my employees. If one of my competitor's started paying $3.00 per hour it would be very difficult for me to compete and I would have to lower my pay per hour to my employees. This could go back and forth until you have a nasty situation with no one making enough money to buy what business sell. Minimum wage stops this from happening. There are a couple serious solutions proposed by economists on both sides of the isle but they all seem to be ignored. I would type them out right now but I have to get to work LOL. I will add more later.

Dan: My point on minimum wage is being missed. 2 things.
1. It is bogus.... the economy .. cost of living... inflation..adjusts around it.... it does NOTHING to help the so called minimum wage earner.
2. The free market system works just fine without it an
d has for decades and decades.

You mean to tell me... if I am paying my workers $10.00 an hour.... and the guy across the street offers them $8.00 I will lose them????? Or... as you say.... my competitor will be able to sell his product cheaper than me because he pays his workers less? Friend.... that makes no sense. He is gonna have a hard time GETTING workers don't you think???

Dan: No.... I say... let the system alone!!!!!

Dan: What you are saying is.... if the minimum wage was abolished tomorrow...... the McDonalds across town could lower its wage $2.00 and hour.... to say... $5.00 and thus.... sell their Hamburgers much cheaper and hurt the McDonalds across town???? I bet you would be wrong! I bet he would lose his help... have to hire the bottom feeders to work for him.... quality would go down fast......
Same illustration would be with any company.

Just my humble opinions.....

Chris Polk: I love the folklore that comes with the union history. "unions fought hard for minimum wage and hour laws." I remember too many times in my career where I was earning an hourly wage and was stifled by the hour laws. The employer says "I'll pay you $10/hour, but government makes me pay you 1.5 times over 40 hours." So the employer cut me at 40. It was a rare case that I could actually CHOOSE to work more than 40 hours. I had to go get a different job with a different company if I wanted to make more. So here's what I ended up with. 40 hours x $10 = $400. I could've chosen to work 70 hours and made $700. Instead, I was cut off at $400. To earn the extra $300 I had to go find another job to get it. The overtime did me no good. It only made me jump through more hoops to earn the same money I could have at the first firm I was working for. Fortunately now I don't earn wages. I wake revenue. I make three to four times what I did as an employee, and soon as I build my business and hire people, I'll get the honor of being the 1% and can then have my hard-earned money confiscated by the government to please people that are too stupid and clueless to think for themselves.

I do not, nor have I ever belonged to a union. Nor will I. I can represent myself in the marketplace. I don't need a proxy that will place its interest in front of mine.

Brandon: Ok since I have a min. Ill take it. Lets get a little personal for a sec. Zik her is an example for you. Lets say lord forbid that tomorrow you turn your truck over and you dont make it. Like I said I pray this never happens! But if it did brittany would have to go to work. She has no skill set or trade skills. So she would more then likely have to work for one of these companys. And provide for your family on this minimum wage. Which would be imposible today without goverment help or working 2 to 3 jobs. Then whose gonna be take care of and teaching the kids. It wont be her cause shes all ways at work. That is why the wage has to be raised. She would deserve a 40hr week that paid for their house and food at least! Not to mention ins. for them to. The problem is these companys wont do it even though they have more then enough money. And they wont more! Greedy! Did you know that we pay over 1.2 billion dollars a year for gov. programs just for wal-mart and M. D.'s employees. Just because they dont wont to pay for it. So they say let the gov. Do it we can keep the money in our pockets and give or ceo's multi-million dollar bonus each year. As for polk ill get to you later. Out of time for now.

Ezekiel: U bring to light some interesting points Brandon...there is definitely too much dependence on government programs in this is a strain on the working class when millions cannot/will not pull their weight...who then, is responsible?? Who,s job is it to feed and clothe the single person...whos responsibility is feeding, clothing, educating, my wife and children?? You and I both agree that its NOT the governments responsibility...I do not believe that it is Corporate America's job is MY responsibility...incidentally it is also my responsibility to provide for my family when I DIE...either by life insurance (which I have) or by leaving them with enough assets to sustain them.

Ezekiel: I see no religious teaching or moral code which dictates that a BUSINESS pay a certain wage...when good deeds or charity are taught, it is directed MOSTLY to individuals and also to the church...God teaches is as INDIVIDUALS to care for widows, fatherless, sick, poor etc.

Chris Polk: And you still leave out personal responsibility. My wife doesn't work outside the home. That's why we have life insurance. She is the beneficiary of a policy that is more than enough to provide for her and the kids' needs if I were to die. It costs me $54.82 per month. I will be teaching my kids to NEVER work for minimum wage. They can use their talents, skills, education, and experience in the marketplace to provide for themselves. Fast food is a job for teenagers not adults. No one kidnaps people and forces them to work at mcdonalds or Walmart. If you're working minimum wage it's because you chose to.

Ezekiel: Now if I may get REALLY Biblical... in Mattew chapter 20 verses 1-16 Jesus himself speaks of the first 12 verses it appears that the owner of the field is being unfair. ..Jesus however puts us all in our place...I love verse 15 "Is it not lawful for me to do what I will with mine own?" KJV

Ezekiel: Please don't get me wrong...I know there are places out there that SHOULD pay more...but govt. FORCING a certain wage is not the answer. ..the company that tries to "cheap-out" weather its the quality of its product or like in our discussion paying for "cheap labor" they run tje risk of failing in the long run

Brandon: interesting you brought up Matthew 20. yes I know it and that chapter is speaking about filling the contract that you agree to. and the contract that was spoken about in that chapter was for one days wages. however if they will all showed up the next day they would have all gotten paid for a full days work at the same wage. also if you look in chapter 19 he speaking about how you would be accepted into his kingdom no one greater than another. and now on the other hand I'm happy that you have life insurance you and your friend polk. but there are many out there that do not. and what if your insurance company find a loophole to keep from paying it. what will your wives do then? nothings wrong the 1% makeing money. actually that's a good thing. what's wrong is there making is at the expense of the taxpayer because they don't want to pay a living wage. and once the government to make up for their lack of interest in the People. the fact is they only worry about themselves no one else. and when they do give to charity is because it helps them on their taxes. if you can name me one that gave to charity and did not claim it on their taxes then I will personally write them a letter thanking them for their contribution even though I'm not associated to their charity. and as far as owning a business congratulations polk I hope you succeed in your goal. I have the same goal however we probably differ on where we are going to go with it. me I plan on providing my employees with a livable wage, insurance, and a good pension. I personally don't care if I ever become one of the 1%. my goal is it to just make money but help those in my community. I am NOT obsessed with bettering myself. I want to better everyone I come in contact with. I want their families to live a good life not just mine. and if that means I have to sacrifice then so be it. but like I said good luck on your quest I just hope you don't succeed off of someone else's back.

Ezekiel: Ya that would be one interesting conversation in the marketplace the NEXT day lol i bet most of them try and barter for 2 pennies

Ezekiel: Verse 3 notice also...these laborers were IDLE...weren't make ANYTHING untill the vineyard owner hired them

Chris Polk: Brandon I think you need to turn off the propaganda machine a read a book or two. Start with The Millionaire Next Door by Dr Thomas J. Stanley. It has useful things like facts about people who are wealthy, not BS media propaganda created to drive wedges between people. I would be fine with a complete abolition of government and it's cronyism, cartels, and monopolies.

Dan: All posts... well stated Chris Polk.

Dan: Hey... the following was a comment after the story of the McDonalds bag full of cash... it is great and fits here:

McDonald's is for high school or college students who are still on their parent's insurance plans. If you work at McDonald's and you are
older than 26, you probably aren't smart enough to even know what benefits are. Leave these minimum wage jobs to teenagers and go get a real education and real job 40 year old McDonald workers and quit complaining about your wages and benefits! You aren't even worth the wage you are getting!

James: Ok, so a couple thoughts here. First of all the "Free Market System has worked great without it" comment way back is a little confusing to me. If by "it" you mean minimum wage you are incorrect. We have had minimum wage for decades and what happened before we had minimum wage was exactly what I described. Firms got together and kept bidding down the pay of labor until full time workers were in complete poverty so minimum wage does work better than no minimum wage any way you slice it. So, the issue here is really what rate should minimum wage be at. Certainly the free market system makes a lot of sense and as a business owner myself who has taken the risk and worked the hours to be in a position to hire many people, I love the free market and I believe in capitalism 100%! That being said I believe what we need is a re-allocation or government resources to help businesses compete and to provide an incentive to work. Currently there is a 100% disincentive for those on welfare to work. In other words, if I am on welfare benefits and get $300 per week and I get a job, for every $1.00 I earn, I lose $1.00 in welfare benefits. This is insane, absolutely nuts! Rather than doing this we should instead have very strict guidelines for who can receive welfare with no work and instead raise minimum wage but stager it. For a teenager, unmarried, single, childless worker $7.00 makes sense. For a primary bread winner it might need to be $12.00 but the government would pay the extra $5.00 per hour to the employer or directly to the employee. By doing this, the government would be paying this individual maybe $150 or $200 per week instead of $300 or $400 and they would be getting this person to work and generate productivity for our economy. That is my thought...

Chris Polk: I heard it once stated that the best way to keep government actions in perspective is to add "with a gun" to the end of the sentence. In order for government to get any amount of money to "pay the extra $5 per hour," it has to take it from another citizen...with a gun. That's not freedom.

Dan: Chris Polk.... similar to what I was getting ready to post. I was going to ask James... "Where does Government get that money to pay those workers?" And.... I can see the other workers who are not compensated by Government to increase their wage... maybe because a spouse works.... getting jealous and upset!!
Government must steal every dollar it "gives" to anyone.

No... the free market is not perfect.... but it is 1000 times better than Socialism!!

Dan: Raising the minimum wage.... simply causes inflation.

Brandon: Polk the government is not the problem. is the people running it Republican and Democrat. even better yet it's our problem because we keep voting these idiots in. if you want to do something about the government run yourself. or even better yet just get involved! if you think you can do any better then it's your responsibility to do so. if it wasn't for government this country would be a worse shambles then it already is. once again the problem is is the man and women that are in our government that can easily be bought off. neither party actually stands for the people anymore they stand for themselves. it comes back to money! how much can you put in my pocket. selfishness is all of this. which is the same case with most of the 1%. notice I said most of. our government and all of us living in this country need to stop worrying about our selfs and start worrying about everyone else. and as far as reading you might want to do that about your history. and find out the facts about what unions have done for you. you seem to be very confused about the hourly wage. and why you have to be paid overtime to work over 40 hours. you see the point was for you to be able to live off of 40 hours a week. you didn't have to work 70 hours a week just to be able to pay your bills. and by only working the 40 hours you had more time to spend with your family and enjoy the things in life that really matter. here's a hint its not money! but if you want to get rid of government fine I can live that way. I'll live off the land I'll grow my own food I'll hunt my own game I have no problem with that. however 90 percent of society would not be able to survive. that life has been lost. and don't tell me you don't think the wealthy had nothing to do with that. this all started by the wealthy man not willing to do the work himself. like slavery! the wealthy men of the past didn't want to do the work so they bought slaves. similar to today the wealthy man wants to get the cheapest deals to keep the most money in his pocket. like paying people low wages to where they have to survive off of the government subsidies to make it. its modern day slavery! and you believe in it.

Brandon: No dan the only reason minimum wage causes inflation is because the multi millionaires and multi billionaires won't make the sacrifice. they are greedy and they are selfish. they think they earn their money and they do it alone! but the fact is without the worker they would have nothing!

Here is where I decided to take a different approach.

Chris Polk: Brandon I wanted to have better response than typing it out.


Dan: Excellent... I listened to the whole thing. here is a man who has read... studied... and lives the principles he is speaking about. The trucking illustration is a great example of the free market system. (Those 249 other drivers in the truck stop)

Dan: The pensions he speaks of.... what a great lesson.... hope you got it Brandon McGuire. It is one of the things that broke the back of General Motors.

Dan: After a while.... you are paying past employees as much as you are paying present employees. And Chris is right.... if you rely on the ability of your employer to take care of you after you retire.... you may find yourself out on the street! How much better it is... for the employee to invest for his future.... and what a blessing that some companies match funds with you.

Here comes his personal attack on me.

Brandon: Polk that is one of the best lines of bs I have ever heard! Lmbo! you are hilarious! I love how you miss combobulated my sentences to make it sound better for yourself. but without realizing it you just made my point. your industry is apparently getting screwed and not making enough money. or maybe a better way to say this is your free market is destroying your industry. sure there's always someone is willing to do it cheaper. but can they do it as good or better. if you're half as good as you claim that you are I'm sure the answer is No. therefore your product which in your case is trucking should speak for itself and get paid what it's worth. I'm sorry if you don't think that you're worth more. or that you're future employees aren't either. but you chose to work in the industry that you did! which explains a lot. it is a hard industry to survive in. so is construction. however in construction is a whole lot easier to see the bad quality work. however back to business. if you cannot afford to provide your employees with what they need to survive and have a future. you have no right to own a business. and it already sounds like you don't have much confidence in it. you haven't even started it yet and you're already talking about it failing. oh yeah I was going to comment on the dollar speech but to be honest I completely forgot the BS you were but hear is something for you. just like you said about the Walmart in McDonalds employees if you don't like your job or the conditions that you're in quit! find something better, get a better education, find another skill that you have. sounds to me that you're worried about the man undercutting you so you undersale yourself. you sound like a smart man. just not one that makes smart decisions.

Followed by a personal attack on Dan.

Brandon: Ok dan ive been trying not to exploit you because you're Ziks father and I have much respect for Zik. but you keep on making nonsense comments. by the way what year was it you worked your last real job? better yet did you ever have a real job? not trying to insult I'm just asking a legitimate question. that being said it's time for me to go to bed. we will have to continue this conversation later. and zik do me a favor call me and let me know what's going on with your car if I would have known I woulda came over and looked at it yesterday. still love you man no matter what side you're on. Lol

Dan: Depends what your definition of a "Real job" is.
Don't have a clue what this personal attack is all about....

Chris Polk: And ladies and gentlemen, this is America in 2013. I've forgotten more about running a business than Brandon will likely ever know, especially with his nasty and hateful attitude. America used to be filled with bright and energetic entrepreneurs. Now it is filled with lazy, entitled, elitist snobs. It matters not what someone's actual experience is. If their experience doesn't match what the news media or their preferred political party told them, they're wrong.

I'm actually sad for you Brandon. You have some very difficult lessons left to learn. I've learned many of them myself. I could've skipped some of them had I not been so arrogant myself. But life will teach you all you need to know. Getting your teeth knocked out (figuratively) by life is one of God's best teachers. I've been there and it sucks, but it will only add to my success later.

This is the generation we have raised. They are taught that if they are losing the argument, attack! Notice the government school system no longer has economics classes or debate clubs. Based on the ramblings on Facebook, it also no longer teaches about grammar and punctuation.

Brandon, I'll never get in your way to stop you from success or failure. That is what a true free market is. However, when you start voting for your preferred party of thugs in Washington to interfere with my affairs on your behalf, you're going to get a door slammed in your face. I nearly lost everything I had this year because of the EPA and I'm done pretending there's an alternative to government. I will ignore it. I will ignore you. Good luck. You're going to need it.

I followed up this morning with another video response to Brandon's attack.



Posted on December 6, 2013 and filed under Trucking, business.

Time to clean house.

You pull into the truck stop. You're tired and hungry. You throw together a quick dinner, watch a little TV, and crash. The next morning you spend time working on the computer and eating breakfast. Now, you look around at the disaster that surrounds you. 

The morning after. TA Montgomery, AL

This is life in a truck. It's pretty much the same as life in a house, just on a much smaller scale. it's time to do dishes, take a shower, and start all over again. 

Posted on November 30, 2013 and filed under Trucking.

Monkey Freight


You may have seen one of these signs on the back of a truck sometime while you were driving down the road. I've seen them plenty of times, and I used to agree with them. "Used" to. I don't anymore. I don't call it cheap freight anymore. I call it "Monkey Freight" or "C&H" (Cheap and Heavy, also a play on the CH in CH Robinson).

I don't haul cheap freight...much. I know what my bottom line is - the lowest amount of money I can accept to cover my expenses and the amount of profit I want. I can tell you nearly to the penny how low is too low. To cover the average 100,000 miles I will drive in a given year, I will need about $107,000 just to cover my truck payment, insurance, fuel, maintenance, FEDHUT (Federal Heavy Use Tax), and basic insurance. I need to make at least $60,000 as the driver, and another $20,000 or so to cover taxes, healthcare, and any other ancillary costs. Now we are at $187,000 to be "even." So, given that 100,000 mile example, I need at the very minimum $1.87 per mile or I go broke.

Last week, I took a load from Mississippi to Arizona that paid $2.01 per mile. Great, right? Yes, and no. I had to deadhead 292 miles to get it. Now we are down to $1.69 per mile. The load paid me $3,100 dollars and took me three days to complete. After fuel and insurance, I cleared $2,000. Not bad for three days work, right? No. It isn't. I delivered that load on a Monday which left me 4 more days in the week to earn. We are still good. Based on that load and four more days in the week, I should make another $2,000. Nope. I forgot about an event at home, so I had to spend $700 on airfare to get home and then back to my truck. I was off for 6 days. Even with the airfare, I still cleared $1,300 for the week. Surely I can live on that.

When I got off the airplane the following Sunday night, I rushed back to my truck so I would be ready for a load on Monday. None came. There was talk of an offer, but the brokers in the area were paying $0.85 per mile gross (I get 67% of that) plus fuel (right now around $0.45 per mile). That means a load from Phoenix, AZ to Berea, KY would have paid $1.764.00 for 1800 miles. I would have spent nearly $1,000 in fuel and it would've taken at least 4 days to complete. Week = gone. Now, If you take out the unintended break and figure that I delivered a $3,100 load on Monday and picked up a $1,764.00 load on Tuesday going back into my freight lane, I would have grossed over $4,800.00 for the week, clearing about $2,600. That is how you make a living in trucking. You tie a turd to a good load and split the difference. I ended up getting a load that paid $1.29 per mile for 1,000 miles. It isn't great, but it gets me out of the dead area. So what about monkey freight?

The reason I call it "Monkey Freight" is because a monkey could haul it. It is usually nothing more than palletized freight. You back in the dock, they load it, then you drive it to a place where you back it in the dock again and they unload it. It is the most simplistic freight in the market. You don't have to touch or care for it. Just don't crash it. That's it. So easy that a monkey could do it.

There are companies that specialize in hiring monkeys. They have lots of trucks and lots of monkeys. Now before you get riled up, I was once a monkey myself. We all start out as monkeys. Those of us that choose to learn more and find a niche in the business are able to shed our monkey skin and haul things that need to be cared for - Flatbed/Specialized, Automobiles, Oversize, HAZMAT, tankers, Household Goods, and Blanket Wrap (this is my specialty.)

Blanket Wrap is much like Household Goods. These are products like furniture and fixtures that have to be wrapped in blankets to protect them from damage. Once it is wrapped, it has to then be unwrapped. I have to assist with many of the unloads. I sometimes have as many as 200 blankets to be folded and put away neatly for the next load. We also call these "Customer Loads." These are loads that we broker ourselves as a carrier. We don't generally farm them out to other carriers unless they are also doing Blanket Wrap. Sometimes you just have to do it because you don't have one of your own trucks available and the customer's freight has to be moved. Monkeys cannot haul this freight even though we end up with monkeys that slip through the recruiting process and then we have to deal with them.

We NEED monkeys.

Probably 90% of the freight moving up and down the highway is monkey freight by nature. It goes to retail where you, the buying public, go to get your goods. It comes out of a factory or into a port and then heads into the massive American distribution network to be sent to your local merchant. Hauling your toilet paper and Coca-cola is not rocket science. Don't lose it, don't damage it, and don't crash it. You, the American consumer, like to buy things at the cheapest possible price. You will clip coupons and work sales papers to get the very best deal. In order to please you, and to compete in the marketplace. the shippers cannot afford to spend all their money on shipping. They need it hauled, and they need it hauled as cheaply as humanly possible.

Fortunately, there are a number of very large companies that have monkey trucks with monkey drivers to carry monkey freight. Some of them have more than 10,000 trucks. TEN. THOUSAND. If you own 10,000 trucks and 40,000 trailers you can afford to haul freight much cheaper than someone with a single truck. You can get contracts with Kimberly Clark and General Mills. They can keep you supplied with freight and you can keep them supplied with trucks to move their massive inventories. You can get a lot of toilet paper in a 53 foot by 102" wide trailer.

I'm not angry with the monkey carriers. Someone needs to haul that freight. I can't. I simply don't have the capacity to service the needs of a multi-billion dollar corporation moving millions of tons of freight every year. As a consumer, I want to be able to go to Walmart or Target and get my 10 pack of toilet paper at a reasonable cost. If those companies paid me enough to cover my expenses, the cost of the toilet paper would double or even triple. That's a load of crap. (Haha, see what I did there? Toilet paper? Crap?) Let's move on.

There are loud and angry (and clueless) voices in the trucking industry that think the government should come in and regulate these large carriers and companies to raise their rates. "They should pay enough!" The only problem with that statement is how much is "enough?" If they pay enough to cover the expenses of the carrier that signed the contract, then they are paying 'enough." It isn't enough for me, so I don't do it. Problem solved.


Imagine if your a paper manufacturer. You bring in wood and you ship out paper. Your paper needs a way to get to your customers around the World. The first option is a truck. So you buy some trucks and trailers to haul your product to the market. Now you need drivers. With drivers comes taxes, insurance, and wages. Trucks and trailers have to be maintained and they eat tires and diesel fuel. Now you have all you need to get your product to the market. You load up a truck and it goes 1,000 miles to a distribution point. Now it has to come 1,000 miles home. You can find products you need in your plant and use your trucks to bring them back. This is called a "backhaul." Sometimes there is no backhaul, so your truck comes back to the plant for free. You just burned 1,000 miles worth of fuel for nothing. Enter the carrier.

The carrier also has trucks and drivers, and has all the same expenses you do. The difference with the carrier is that it is not exclusive to you and your product. It can come and get your paper, take it to a distribution point, and then move on to something or someone else. Your product has been hauled and you've already got another truck that looks just like that one that just left backed into your dock loading up another load and heading out to a different distribution point. You haven't paid for fuel, or maintenance, or payroll taxes, or health insurance. You paid them to come in at a fraction of the cost and now they bear those expenses. Your costs are now lower and you can lower your prices to better compete in the marketplace.

The "job" of driver still exists, but it's not your responsibility any longer. The exact same principle applies for the carrier when it leases on an owner/operator with their own truck. They don't pay for his fuel or his maintenance. There are no payroll taxes. There is no expense for benefits. You pay him and he pays himself.

I am an owner/operator. I own this truck and all of its expenses are on me. I pay the fuel and the maintenance, and I pay the taxes. I'm still able to make at least double what I did as a company driver. I'm able to do that because I went and found a niche to get into that pays well above what the monkey freight does. I have more responsibility than does a company driver, but I also have the freedom to go when and where I choose.

I'm not upset with the monkey carriers or the monkey drivers. Our market has a demand for them, but I can't make a living on what they're hauling and I see it foolish to try. I'm making a wonderful living, better than I've ever made in my life. You can have it to, you just have to work for it. Crying to the government or OOIDA isn't going to help you. Get out there and find your niche and make your way. Freedom and liberty isn't easy, but it's worth every ounce of effort you put into it.