Owner Operator – Round 2?

Over the past couple of months I have contemplated becoming an owner operator again. I talked with Contracting Services at Tranport America and discussed the options they had. She explained a couple of options that just didn’t get me excited, and then she said they had a new program starting May 1st. It was music to my ears.

That program involves $1,000 down on a 2016 Freightliner Cascadia Evolution. I don’t remember all of the specs she rattled off, but the main ones are as follows; It has a DD15 engine mated to a DT12 Automated Manual Transmission (video below). It has the bigger bunk with side windows, built in refrigerator, full aero side kit, and a shit ton more. I’m waiting on an email with all the specs and will post those when I get them for those interested. The main thing about this program is that the trucks are not governed.  The other programs are governed at 68mph. So if the speed limit is 75 and I want to watch dollar signs go out the exhaust, I can.  For me though, I will probably set the cruise at no more than 68. But it allows me the ability to have the extra get-up-and-go to get around people that can’t maintain a speed or are just slow.

So, now i’m excited…. However, there is a major hurdle. I’m on a Dedicated 3M run. I called my Fleet Manager (FM) and asked if I could be an owner operator and stay on 3M. He explained to me that they don’t normally allow owner operators on dedicated runs because they tend to get full of themselves and decide they don’t need to, or want to, take certain loads. He did tell me that he knows I won’t be like that though and would make an awesome owner operator. He went on to tell me that if I was seriously thinking about it, that he would run it up the chain and ask. A couple days later I got a call and was told that they didn’t say no, but that the finance department was looking at the numbers to make sure it made sense and would work for Transport America. I waited a couple of weeks and didn’t hear anything back so I wasn’t holding my breath.

Last week I decided to call Contracting Services again and ask a few more questions and decided to fill out the credit application. That way it would be done in the event Transport America said I could stay on 3M. Staying on 3M was key, because i had run the numbers and knew I could be successful. If I couldn’t stay on 3M, I would have to go back over-the-road and only get home every other week to get the miles needed.

The Friday before Memorial Day I received an email from my FM, with the subject line, “Hey”. I opened it up and it was the news I was looking for. He said that I was approved to stay on 3M as an owner operator. HOT DAMN!!!! That meant I had the whole holiday weekend to stress and worry about the credit application. LOL I continued praying and keeping the faith. If it was meant to be, it would happen.

Tuesday, which was May 26th for those not on the lead lap, my phone rang and Transport America came up. I instantly thought it was my FM calling because in his email he sent letting me know I was approved he said we would talk early in the week about it. Well, it wasn’t my FM. It was Jessica from Contracting Services. She was calling to let me know that she just got word that my credit application was APPROVED!!!!!! YIPPPPEEEEEE!!!!!!!!!!

Now I wait. I wait because they are only getting 2 trucks a month delivered and the 2nd one for May is already taken. She doesn’t know when the ones for June will be delivered yet because they come right off the assembly line. Once she knows though, her and my FM will work out the timeline on getting me up to Egan, MN. I have to attend a business class, which is held every Tuesday from 12-4. Once that’s complete I sign my contracts and move out of this company truck into my truck.

From that point on, all expenses are mine. That’s the scary part in all of this. Fuel, maintenance, taxes, etc., are all mine. Plus, for those that don’t know how it works, I will also have to pay quarterly taxes. I’m in business for myself, but leased to Transport America.

I’ve been running the numbers for a month now and have figured that I can pretty much beak even on fuel cost due to my run and the weight of the loads. That is HUGE when you own your own truck. Worst case scenario is that I would pay $100-$200 a week out-of-pocket for fuel. I also asked the shop what they charge. Good news is the labor is considerably less than going somewhere else, which I can do if I want, and I pay what Transport America pays for parts. I also get their discount on tires.

Bottom line on the numbers: I should be making $500 more a week by doing this. That number is possibly on the low side depending on taxes because I took what is taken out each week now, and doubled it. I don’t know anyone that would turn down a $500 a week pay raise. Yeah, there are some risks with this, but you can’t be successful if you don’t take risks. There is more flexibility with vacation time though. Right now, I have no vacation time since I haven’t been here a year. As an owner operator, I can plan. If I want to take a week off, all I need to do is make sure that my fixed costs (truck payment, insurance, Qualcomm, pre-pass, etc.) are taken care of. That way when I get back, I’m not in-the-hole. It’s going to take a ton of financial discipline and staying on top of things to make sure small mechanical issues are taken care of before they become big ones, but that’s part of the “fun.”

Now to research how to start an LLC in Missouri. I’m thinking Everson Transportation LLC, but not sure yet. Becoming and LLC isn’t required, but recommended. Especially in today’s sue happy society.

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