A Pair Of Noobs Looking To Get In To The Industry

Topic 20830 | Page 1

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Grumsy R.'s Comment
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My wife and I are looking to start our trucking careers in 2018. She got her CDL early this year and was poised to start, but a health issue caused us to put everything on hold for a while. However, she is almost healed as chomping at the bit to get out there working. She and I have a few advantages in transitioning to this career path, but I wanted to post here to make sure I am not missing anything.

Advantages: We do not have any kids nor do we want any We have paid off all debt but one student loan I still have We will have no need for a "home base" Been happily married 17 years We have worked other jobs together in close proximity and enjoyed it We have always lived well below our means My best friend is a semi mechanic and he loves doing side work for me

The Goal: We love to adventure, we love to travel and above all we love meeting new people. We would love to find a career that would allow us to travel, see the world around us and keep us together during these experiences. Our romanticized goal would be to work about 9 months out of the year so that we could take the time to hike the various parks around the country. Basically we are looking for a career that will fuel our adventures and allow us the freedom to satisfy our wanderlust to roam.

The plan: I am currently working in IT running an IT department for a factory. I have a great job, but working a normal 9 to 5 is boring to me. IT has been good to me, however I am getting bored with it and would like a change. Eventually, she and I would like to own our own truck(s) and run a business. It would not be the first time we have been self employed; the times before have all ended well and have been good experiences.

She has a friend that she met during class that has offered to take my wife on the road and show her the ropes. I think they would eventually run as a team until we are ready for me to leave work and take my CDL classes. Her friend is also her own authority and books her own traffic. So the chance to learn the business is there for her...and it seems like too good of an opportunity to pass up. She really wants to help my wife and I succeed.

So our plan is to have my wife run with her friend to learn from her while we save the money to buy a truck. We have started saving towards this goal already...but once she starts working the bulk of her pay would go towards this goal. She and I both dislike credit and would rather suck it up for a while to pay cash for something. And then of course, once she owns her truck we can save some cash to cover me leaving my job to go to training.

Questions: Buy new or used? The reason I would consider used is the fact that I have a pocket mechanic that would happily make sure I am getting a good deal. He is also excited about getting paid to keep my truck running lol. On buying a used truck, we could almost pay cash for one now. The main thing we would need to save for is a decent chunk of cash to cover anything that happens to the truck/us. Operating capitol...

Work for a company or try to do our own thing? I have no issues with working for a company to keep us on the road, however would they be OK with us taking 3 weeks off to go for a long thru hike. I understand that we would not be getting paid of course. Are trucking companies accommodating about this? The entire point of this endeavor is to have the freedom to explore this park or that park.

Is there better money trucking in less populated/remote areas? We love being in rural areas. Mountains, deserts, etc... We have even talked about doing jobs in other countries if there is a reasonable expectation of safety (no truck driving in active war zones...damn it).

Last question Are there jobs out there that pay more than normal trucking. Like for instance; logging, running oil, agriculture or whatever.

Thanks for reading this far and any insight you may provide. I looked through the forums some and found several threads about husband wife teams. However, my wife and I seem to have a fairly unique situation set up. We have worked really hard for a few years to get to this point so we can make big changes to our lives; mainly just by crushing our debts. I'm feeling pretty good about our plan, I was just making sure there was not something major I have missed being an uninitiated noob =)

CDL:

Commercial Driver's License (CDL)

A CDL is required to drive any of the following vehicles:

  • Any combination of vehicles with a gross combined weight rating (GCWR) of 26,001 or more pounds, providing the gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of the vehicle being towed is in excess of 10,000 pounds.
  • Any single vehicle with a GVWR of 26,001 or more pounds, or any such vehicle towing another not in excess of 10,000 pounds.
  • Any vehicle, regardless of size, designed to transport 16 or more persons, including the driver.
  • Any vehicle required by federal regulations to be placarded while transporting hazardous materials.
G-Town's Comment
member avatar

Welcome to the forum "Grumsy". There is a lot going on in your post, all of which we can address. Your plans, are rather lofty. For starters I think your best bet is to read the contents of these two links:

Truck Driver's Career Guide

Becoming A Truck Driver: The Raw Truth About Truck Driving

I believe you should also have your wife read the links. Establish a factual base of knowledge, level the playing field so to speak and apply it to your questions. Many of them might be answered and your eyes will be wide open.

The only comment I have on your ownership question is research the reality of that prospect thoroughly and understand two very basic aspects of it:

- You are not only a truck driver but will be running a trucking business with limited practical experience. Trucking is a commodity, asset based, highly competitive where success is based entirely on safe/efficient performance. You will be competing with huge companies that have been doing this for decades. We emphatically recommend a newbie gain experience as a company driver first, at least one year before attempting O/O or L/O. There are plenty of companies that will welcome a husband and wife team but please realize teams get loads that are many times expedited, high-value or priority. 3000 miles in no more than 2.5 days is not only normal, but expected. Team trucks typically run 20+ hours in a 24 hour period, always on the move. You'll drive while your wife sleeps.

- You cannot expect to turn a profit as an O/O if you plan on taking a high percentage of time-off. You'll lose your a**. A good running, used truck will cost you well over 100k, plus insurance. The truck must run in order to make money. No getting around it. Search separately on Pat and Dragon...both highly experienced, smart, very capable O/O's and mechanically inclined.

Trucking is a life style for exceptional individuals. Until you're actually "in-it" for a while, one never knows if they can handle it. You run where the freight goes and that could be anywhere in the US and Canada. Unless you have a regional or dedicated type of job, the driving environment is literally all over the map with limited flexibility. My overall suggestion is learn to walk first and then evolve into some of your more ambitious plans. The first year is all about learning the job, the industry and your truck. A daunting challenge that most cannot conquer. One step at a time is my advice, not allowing the emotions to get too far ahead.

I'm sure others will chime in...good luck.

Regional:

Regional Route

Usually refers to a driver hauling freight within one particular region of the country. You might be in the "Southeast Regional Division" or "Midwest Regional". Regional route drivers often get home on the weekends which is one of the main appeals for this type of route.

OWI:

Operating While Intoxicated

Grumsy R.'s Comment
member avatar

Awesome, thanks for the advice! I will take a look at the links you gave me.

I'm well aware that most of these plans I have will not happen right off. That being said, I try to look forward several years as I make plans. Most of the jobs I have ever had taught me to do this. I don't think I will be able to start out kicking ass, but I like to plan for success and to mitigate failure =)

Your point about being an O/O is a very good one and I will have to consider that for sure. We've never had a job in trucking, but we have on a few occasions embraced a nomadic lifestyle and we enjoyed it...alot.

Brett Aquila's Comment
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Without a doubt you guys are considering two opposite paths - one where you work 75% of the time, and another where you'll work every second of your life as business owners. One of the sharks on Shark Tank likes to say, "Entrepreneurs are people who give up the right to work 40 hours a week for the privilege of working 80" - so the idea that you'll have any time to yourself as a business owner is a pipe dream. I've been a business owner for many years in several different businesses and you can be sure your top competitors eat, breathe, and sleep that business. There's no chance you can compete and stay in the game taking a bunch of time off, at least not the first 10 years or so.

There's no need to plan ahead right now with trucking. If you can survive that first year on the road as company drivers you'll be ahead of the overwhelming majority of people who take a shot at this career. The failure rate is astronomical.

You're also going to get a slightly skewed and not necessarily helpful view of the industry from an owner operator with their own authority. As new drivers I don't know how helpful that is going to be. You're going to be overwhelmed with information you can't use for quite some time, for starters. But my bigger concern is that owner operators famously exaggerate their financial success. And when I say exaggerate, I really mean they'll lie to your face.

For almost 11 years I've been running this website and I've regularly challenged statements made by owner operators and lease drivers about the money they're making. I've asked all of them to show me the bottom line on their tax statements - their net earnings after all deductions that they report to the government.

Never once has anyone showed me that number. Instead they all throw insults at me, question my integrity, and march out of here furious with me never to return. To this day I've never seen that number from one single owner operator or lease driver. Not once.

And who knows what other opinions and heresies you'll be fed regarding this industry. For example, if you were to ask 100,000 truckers what the most hated companies are in the industry, the top 10 most successful companies would all be at the top of that list as "terrible companies to work for", and yet most of us here at TruckingTruth work for these companies making some of the best wages in the industry and being treated wonderfully.

So to sum it all up, the reason we named this site TruckingTruth is because this industry is rife with BS. Big, fresh smelly piles of it.

If it were up to me I would recommend reading our career guide and my book, ask a lot of questions here in the forum, keep an open mind, and go out there and learn this industry for yourselves. And forget about owning a trucking company. That's years and years down the line, and hopefully long before then you'll do the homework and realize this is the last industry on Earth you'd want to be an owner in. I've been a business owner for 12+ years and managed other businesses before that. I would never, ever, ever consider owning a truck or trying to build a trucking company. The economics of this industry are abysmal.

So just focus on being company drivers, get through that first year, and do your homework. You're wasting your precious energy thinking beyond that right now. You have a whole lot to learn and it's going to take quite a long time. Take it slow.

Owner Operator:

An owner-operator is a driver who either owns or leases the truck they are driving. A self-employed driver.

Grumsy R.'s Comment
member avatar

Well, this is why I'm here. Most of what I have learned has been from a small sample set and honestly it seemed like some BS. I'm glad I've asked these questions of you guys =)

I have been skeptical of some of the claims I have heard from the folks my wife and I have chatted with. I do understand business and how to make one grow and be profitable. That said, the more digging I do the more I see that the margins in this industry suck and all of the good gravy is soaked up by established trucking companies (and for good reason).

The cool thing about all of this is even if I do not stop what I am doing to go to driving school, my wife will be able to turn this opportunity into a good career. She will start driving soon (likely around January or February) once she is completely healed up. All of this is of course predicated on her enjoying the lifestyle. I won't leave my job unless this is for sure a good path for us. I've even planned to spend vacation riding with her to make sure all of this is a good idea for us.

I am reading through "Becoming a Truck Driver" and so far it is very interesting. We have been lucky in finding a veteran driver (one of my wife's instructors) that has given it to us pretty straight. As for her friend...you bring up an interesting point about people exaggerating their success. For years I worked in the casinos as a dealer, and it is like that; the gambler will tell you about all of the money they win...but never the losses lol. I still think her friend wants us to succeed, but I'm skeptical (especially after your responses and other things I have read today) about the profitability of it all.

Lots to think about...back to researching.

Also, I can't stop planning lol. But I plan that all of my plans will change =)

Brett Aquila's Comment
member avatar

Grumsy, you certainly sound plenty wise enough to figure this all out the easy way instead of the hard way. That's good to see. It really breaks my heart to watch people fall for the marketing hype and the exaggerations they're told and dive into leasing or owning a truck. I can say with complete confidence that any business you want to go into is going to be incredibly challenging, but none more so than trucking. Like I said, the economics of this industry are horrendous!

For years I worked in the casinos as a dealer, and it is like that; the gambler will tell you about all of the money they win...but never the losses lol.

That is actually an excellent comparison to what you'll get from most lease drivers and owner operators. Hey, we're all human. None of us want to look bad and we all want to believe we're making smart decisions and we're successful. Unfortunately that eternal hope and fragile ego which clouds the judgment and exaggerates the claims of gamblers does the same to most business owners in trucking. They can't stand to tell themselves or anyone else that they're doing a ton of work and taking all kinds of risk but have little or nothing to show for it in the end.

I won't leave my job unless this is for sure a good path for us. I've even planned to spend vacation riding with her to make sure all of this is a good idea for us.

I love that plan. I really do. There's only one way to find out if trucking is really for you and that's to go out there and do it. By keeping your job and letting her get out there and get started you'll both learn the reality of life on the road while minimizing your financial risk at the same time. Great plan.

Owner Operator:

An owner-operator is a driver who either owns or leases the truck they are driving. A self-employed driver.

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