Trucking experience will show you what freedom and independence is. Many people, man, and women start this job for these two reasons, but also because of the great payment they will receiver.
This job has a lot of benefits, lots of good sides. On the other hand, there are some bad sides as well. On-Time delivery is one of the most stressful moments in this career.
Today, with the new technology and the mobile applications, trucking experience has become much more fun. In fact, it is much safer than before. Truckers are always in contact with the dispatch nowadays, as well as with their family.
Surely, this makes things easier and at the same time truck drivers can deal with loneliness way better than before. Otherwise, if there would not be tablets or cellphones, truckers would have a lot of time on their hands to think.
And, this is not particularly good, because mind drifting can mean you are less focused on the road and delivering of the goods. Of course, less focused on the road means bigger chances of accidents.
Working in this industry can be very exciting. But, as any other job, it does have some bad sides. Anyways, being able to get this trucking experience can be life changing. Of course, life changing in a positive way.
What is Owner – Operator
You must wonder what does owner – operator means? Do you work for a specific company or not? Do you need to make sure you do the contacts with the companies where you need to deliver? Let’s answer it all!
When you decide you want to start with your trucking experience, you have two options. Firstly, you can work for a company, as an employee of a certain company, or you can work as owner – operator.
Surely, most truckers start their career by working for a company. But, there is the option of working as owner – operator; a lot of truckers shift to later on when they get more experience.
Owner – Operators are those truckers who own as well as operate their own trucking business. Sometimes they lease on to a carrier. But, if they want they can operate under their own authority.
If they decide they want to operate under their own authority they will have to be registered as a carrier. So, what they will need to do is to get an identification number from the Department of Transportation (DOT) and Motor Carrier (MC).
Usually, after a long trucking experience, truckers want something more from their job. So, it is then when they decide to become owner – operator. There are few things that are crucial for you to do or take into consideration before starting this:
- Any owner-operator is free to haul freelance (which means with no permanent contract, to deliver goods to companies)
- Any owner – operator is free to enter into a lease agreement with a company so they can dedicate their equipment to one customer or product.
- Make sure you are aware that an owner-operator usually has to pay higher rates on trucking insurance. This is due to the fact that, they are smaller size than most larger companies, meaning they have to charge more to balance the cost
- Another crucial thing to consider before becoming an owner-operator is the business set up, accounting, type of vehicle and truck drivers licences needed
Nowadays, there are roughly 350,000 owner-operators registered in the United States. However, most of them do lease on to larger carriers. And, they operate under that DOT number.
Down below there are some facts about working as owner – operator which you might find useful. Especially if you are considering to start working as owner -operator.
- Owner – operators are more often Truck load carriers (TL);
- Their trucking experience is usually over 25 years;
- The average age for becoming an owner – operator is 37 years old;
- Most owner – operators have finished high school – 86%;
- However, around 45% are attending college;
- 95% of owner – operators run solo;
- Their income is roughly $50,000+ per year;
- In average they drive over 101,000 miles a year;
- 69% of them do own a desktop computer, a laptop computer, or even both;
- Usually, they own 1.2 trucks and 1.2 trailers;
- The most common trailers for owner – operators are Dry Van trailers and Flatbed;
- Their biggest problems with the truck were tire and engine issues;
- They spend in average $14,000 per year for maintenance of the truck;
- A high percentage of 36% of them have served in the military at some point;
Owner – Operator Explains First Hand
There are several truckers that became famous by giving interviews regarding their job and duties. We have selected one person in particular.
His name is Peter Pekala. He explains realistically how owner operator job looks on a daily basis.
His motto is ‘have a good attitude’. According to him this is what it takes to be a good owner – operator.
For Peter, managing the costs is crucial for managing the business. Which means fuel management. So, what he does it to use a company fuel card. And this way he gets the volume discount. Also, he takes advantage of company’s program for his insurance and the workmen’s compensation.
His attitude is to find business partners that work good and treat you good and you do the same towards them.
Peter Pekala immigrated to the United States as a very young man. He did not know anybody and did not have any occupation at the time. But, today he owns his small rewarding business.
Pekala left his home in Poland back in 1983. He was 22 year old medical student. Even back then he loved cars and motorcycles.
Things were really bad in Poland at that time, so he had the choice to move to Canada, South Africa, Australia or the United States. He left and migrated to the United States, where he decided to stay forever. Therefore, in 1985, he immigrated with his wife to Massachusetts, with the help of a Polish church.
He did not have any trucking experience back then. So, it did not even occurred to him to drive a truck. Therefore, he tried several different jobs in order to make a living. At the time, his wife went to school, whereas he was switching jobs, until one day he heard that driving was very well paid.
During the week he was working on construction sites and during the weekends he would go to the driver training school. In 1986, a year after he came in the United States, he got his commercial license. Firstly, he started with hauling gasoline for a small operator in Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Connecticut.
It was a good job, so he spent 11 years in the company. The company he worked for grew slowly. Thus, he obtained a Green Card and applied for U.S. citizenship.
However he said to himself, why not try something else? Something more challenging, when he does have the possibility to do so.
So, he decided to do it and start as owner – operator. He bought his first truck in 1997, a 1995 Peterbilt. Later on, he signed as a contractor for a small chemical hauler. That same hauler a several years later was bought by Dana Companies. Nowadays, they are providing different tanker services throughout the eastern half of the country.
Later on, he replaced his 1995 Peterbilt tractor with a newer model. It was a 2006 Peterbilt 379 with a 63-inch sleeper.
These days, Pekala’s routes take him through New England and occasionally up to Canada. He is covering roughly 2,500 miles a week and gets home every two or three days a week.
Today, he hauls “whatever is liquid”. Thus, including hazardous materials, oils and resins in the company’s tanks.
He always says, managing his business begins with managing his costs. Using a company fuel card to get the volume discount is a good way to get fuel while owner – operating.
He says: “They’re a big company and are getting a much better deal than I can do myself.”
Furthermore, his tolls are reimbursed. So, whatever fuel surcharge happen, it gets passed through to him.
His way to control fuel consumption is to keep the speed to 60 or 62 mph – that is as he says his sweet spot. Also, he is using a Webasto heater on cold days. Which means he won’t have to idle the engine. Moreover, New England summer nights are cool, so he does not run the air conditioner. These are all tricks of a long trucking experience.
In general, he is covering roughly about 100,000 miles a year. His tractor is still new so he does not have big maintenance problems. In case there is a problem with the truck, his years of trucking experience gave him the benefit of several ties to many local repair shops.
In case he has a scheduled maintenance, he usually drops the tractor off overnight. In general he goes to a 24-hour dealership in Shrewsbury. And that is just a couple of miles away from home. Then he picks it up in the morning, and he’s off and running.
Whenever he needs oil change, he does it at truck stops. Usually, he uses TA and Speedco, because of the good service and prices.
The way he gets paid is by the load. So, the loads come to him from the company dispatcher. Generally, he calls in twice a day to report the hours-of-duty status.Thus, the dispatcher shows him the next trip he needs to do.
The way he works is to take the loads as they come. He says “I’ve been a long time with this company and they help me, I help them. If they have a load to where I don’t want to go, they also have a load from there that will take me home.”
However, his biggest worry is the increasing cost of running the business, which happens all the time.
He says “In trucking, everything is related to the price of oil. When oil goes up, basically everything goes up – tires, parts and labor because repair shops have to heat.”
Also, regarding the fuel, he says “Not long ago, my fuel bill was $2,000 to $3,000 a month. Now it’s $7,000 to $8,000.”
Today, Pekala is 51 year old, with huge trucking experience. But, he is now starting to think about what he can do next. He says “I’ll tell you honestly, I don’t know how much longer I’m going to drive a truck – to the end of this truck, at least.”
You got the chance to read the true, realistic story of one owner – operator. A trucker with a wide trucking experience. You could read all about his struggles to get to where he is today. Additionally, he told us about all the good and the bad sides of it.
If you are considering to start with trucking, meaning you are new at it, everyone would advise you to start working for a company. So, later on as you get bigger trucking experience you can go to the next journey. Which is the owner – operator’s journey. It is a hard one but it is worth it at the end.
The benefits are endless, however there are some tricks you need to learn about it. It all comes with time, so no need to rush. Every owner operator have struggled and went through a lot before they become what they are today.
Full of trucking experience, with a lot of contacts and working on their own pace.
Can it get better than that? Not to mention the well known, that owner operators are well paid. Thus, this goes for the ones that work for a company as well.
There are many other owner – operator’s stories you can find. Make sure you fully research the benefits, duties and problems you can encounter if you want to start this.
Also, be aware of the income you will get and how much of it will go to oil, repairing and maintenance of the truck etc. And of course, how much actually you will benefit off of it.
In addition, it will be good to talk in person with someone that has trucking experience. That way, you can get some tips and advices from the trucker.
As for any other business, make sure you are doing the right decision at the right time.
We wish you luck in becoming a successful owner – operator!