Profile For Brett Aquila

Brett Aquila's Info

  • Location:
    Keeseville, NY

  • Driving Status:
    Experienced Driver

  • Social Link:
    Brett Aquila On The Web

  • Joined Us:
    17 years, 2 months ago

Brett Aquila's Bio

Hey Everyone! I'm the owner and founder of TruckingTruth and a 15 year trucking veteran.

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Posted:  1 day, 14 hours ago

View Topic:

Some Minor Layoffs In Trucking

Work for me has been steady but not spectacular
All that said, this is my first week back out and I'm not impressed. I thought I could easily rack 12k+ miles per month with this company as I have before. That is no longer the case.

One reason to keep hope alive is that survival in the trucking industry requires efficient operations. If you're not getting solid miles, it won't last. It's can't. Trucking companies must utilize their fleet efficiently enough to pay their bills. They can't afford to let their trucks sit for long.

So, if you're struggling to pay your bills because you're not getting enough miles, your company is also struggling to pay their bills, at least on your truck. If you ask around at your company and find many drivers complaining about it being slow, your company is hurting as well, and they're working on changes.

Many companies are reluctant to reduce their fleet size because ramping things up again is a slow, arduous process. You can quickly eliminate as many trucks and drivers as you like, but acquiring more trucks and drivers can be time-consuming and expensive. You may also miss out on some great opportunities if you're not ready when they present themselves.

We have been sold out to the point where we are well on our way to the 3rd world and its extremely depressing. I hope I'm wrong of course, but I digress.

You're not wrong about us being sold out, and you're not wrong about the direction we're heading. Hopefully, we turn this ship around soon!

In the meantime, and this goes to everyone out there, be proactive about maintaining your mental health. At times, I've allowed myself to get too bogged down in the headlines, which has impacted my happiness and productivity. I've had to step away a bit and spend more time focusing on meditation, positive news, and exercise.

If you've paid attention in recent years, you know that there's been a massive campaign going on to demoralize us. If you weren't aware of that, now you are.

Don't let them draw you in. Understand their tactics and motives and proactively counter them so you remain strong, confident, and in full control of your life. Keep an eye on your family and friends. Check-in with them. Make sure they're ok.

We are living through some of the most trying times of our lives, and It's nowhere near over. Prepare for a long battle and do not lose faith.

Posted:  1 day, 17 hours ago

View Topic:

Jones Act and shipping

I had never heard of the Jones Act:

The Jones Act is a law in the United States that requires Americans to make, own, and operate any ship moving goods between U.S. ports. This law is meant to help the American shipping industry, keep jobs for U.S. sailors, and ensure the U.S. has good ships for defense. But some people think it makes shipping more expensive and limits choices, especially in places like Puerto Rico and Hawaii.

So, the ships must be American-made, American-owned, and captained by an American captain.

The guy in this video is Peter Zeihan, an intellectual. I've listened to this guy quite a few times. Intellectuals are fun because they do nothing but observe the world from the safety and comfort of their classroom and try to determine who is running the world, what their plans are, and where it's all going.

Guys like this are almost always wrong about everything because they've never actually done anything but watch and listen. Most of these types have never run a company, been a major player in an industry, or run a community of any size, let alone a country. In fact, they're not even invited into the conversations taking place between the people who actually run things. They are simply outside observers digging for clues as to what is happening, and why.

In this case, I find his take "interesting," as always. He says:

"We should have thousands of tiny ships carrying a handful of containers here and there throughout the system, making our own multi-modal manufacturing system that is the world's most efficient. Instead, we move half of our cargo by truck (it's actually over 70%)...and then other stuff by rail."

- Peter Zeihan

He left out planes entirely, but they obviously matter a lot and play a huge role in all this.

He goes on to say the waterways around the Midwest and Northeast, including the Great Lakes, should be the busiest in the world, but instead are barely used. He thinks the Jones Act is the "single biggest reason" that American manufacturing has declined and the steel belt has become the rust belt.

This is one of the most naïve takes I've heard on macroeconomics in my life.

First of all, how is it better having thousands of tiny ships carrying small amounts of cargo instead of thousands of tiny trucks carrying small amounts of cargo?

Second, how will all this cargo get from the manufacturing plants to the warehouses and stores without trucks? I guess every manufacturing plant, warehouse, and store would have to be built along the waterways, which means all the people must live along the waterways, as well.

Third, think about capacity. Imagine running the ports along the inland riverways. Look at how congested it is when moving freight into and out of the ports today. You simply don't have enough room to put all the docks needed to handle that volume. If you keep trying to increase the ships' size, you must also deepen and widen the waterways. How do you widen the waterways when you've built all the factories, warehouses, stores, and communities along the shores?

Fourth, what about the efficiencies we've gained through just-in-time freight? You've eliminated vast amounts of unnecessary warehouse capacity and inventory throughout the system by delivering only the parts needed to keep factories moving and only enough final product to keep store shelves full. Can you imagine running a just-in-time operation based mostly on the waterways?

Fifth, what about natural disasters? By focusing on roadways, we can easily reroute freight around weather issues, including massive ones.

Sixth, what about storage? I don't think many people understand how much freight is sitting in truck trailers around the country at any given time. This is often much cheaper than building additional warehouse space, especially when you only need it as 'overflow' during exceptionally busy times. It's not feasible to leave large amounts of freight sitting idly on an expensive ship parked in everyone's way. You can offload the containers, but again, you don't have the space near the docks for storing freight when you're trying to move that much through the limited dock space.

So this guy's take is that American manufacturing is so expensive that we can't afford to have US-built ships carrying cargo along the waterways. Remember, the Jones Act doesn't say you can't transport goods along the waterways. It just says you must do it in American-made ships run by an American captain.

If transporting goods by ship is so much more efficient, wouldn't that makeup for the higher initial cost of building a ship? After all, you only build the ship once and then use it for 30 years. Surely you would recoup the higher cost of building the ship over the course of 30 years, correct?

He's trying to say we don't use ships the way we should because shipbuilding is too expensive in the US, so instead we use trucks, which are far more expensive to operate than using ships? Help that make sense.

He also says that the Jones Act ruined the US steel industry. But the US steel industry would have built all of the US ships being used for transporting goods. Wouldn't it have saved the US steel industry by building all those super-economic ships? Wouldn't the US steel industry have been more than happy to build these ships if that was the most economically viable way to transport goods and the economic demand was there?

Posted:  1 day, 19 hours ago

View Topic:

Some Minor Layoffs In Trucking

I woke up to this article: Over 1,300 Layoffs Hit Logistics Companies Across US.

Turns out it's a nothing burger. A handful of companies laid off some workers due to losing a contract or closing a hub:

  • Universal Logistics - 677 layoffs in Detroit, MI, due to closure of subsidiaries.
  • Swissport Cargo Services - 235 layoffs in Atlanta, GA, due to lost Amazon contract.
  • The Kroger Co. - 230+ layoffs in TX & FL, closing delivery hubs.
  • RXO Logistics - 114 layoffs in Warren, MI, due to lost customer contract.
  • Nosco Inc. - 51 layoffs in Carrollton, TX, relocating operations.
  • Ryder Integrated Logistics - 29 layoffs in Romeoville, IL, due to lost customer.

So the lack of bad news is good news, I'd say. The industry has been slowing down for quite some time, and most companies have adjusted to it already. Clickbait headlines about layoffs are a staple in the economic news industry, so the fact that this one was so lame means the bad news isn't too bad at this stage.

How are you guys hanging in there with mileage these days? Are they keeping you running?

Any word on whether your company is growing or shrinking its fleet?

Posted:  2 days, 18 hours ago

View Topic:

Drug Testing and lobbyists

Retailers and manufacturers hate having to pay for shipping. It's their single largest cost.

Now I see why you think businesses are obsessed with cutting the cost of shipping. You're under the impression it's a far greater cost than it is. Here are some very basic stats:

Retailers typically have the following cost breakdown:

  • Cost of goods sold (COGS): 50-60%
  • Labor: 10-20%
  • Rent and utilities: 5-10%
  • Marketing and advertising: 5-10%
  • Transportation and logistics: 5-10%

For manufacturers, the cost breakdown is generally as follows:

  • Raw materials: 40-50%
  • Labor: 20-30%
  • Overhead (including rent, utilities, and administrative expenses): 10-20%
  • Transportation and logistics: 5-10%

Here are two examples of large retailers and manufacturers and their transportation costs:

Walmart: According to a report, Walmart's transportation costs account for approximately 3% of its total revenue.

Procter & Gamble: P&G spends about 3% of its total revenue on transportation and logistics.

As you can see, the shipping cost is relatively small compared with other retail and manufacturing costs. Walmart invests heavily in its drivers, yet the cost of transporting goods is almost trivial for its business.

If they wanted to drive down the cost of labor in trucking, they would make it easy for immigrants to get a CDL on a work VISA. In my mind, that's the biggest threat to wages in our industry. However, the media would have a field day once accidents started to happen, which is why it's likely not feasible. It could also be considered a threat to national security.

With regard to drug testing, the optics would be horrendous if they said they would stop testing for Cannabis. It would be a media circus.

There is no shortage of drivers, as most of us know, and with our current economy, there will be a strong influx of drivers with limited growth potential for carriers over the next couple of years. I don't expect any legislation to go through anytime soon that would help push more drivers into trucking. The industry simply doesn't need it.

Posted:  5 days, 16 hours ago

View Topic:

Question about the DOT physical

This conversation covers some of those gray areas in trucking I've talked about all these years, and it shows why bold, competitive drivers who are willing to push the envelope will turn the most miles and make the most money.

I loved being paid by the mile. In fact, I want everyone to be paid by the amount of work they accomplish. Not only is that fair, but I know almost no one will accomplish more than I will. I'm bold, I'm ambitious, and I will come up with creative solutions that get the job done when most won't. That's how I've always been, and quite honestly, I can't make sense of being any other way. That's how I was as a driver.

One decision I made when I started this website 17 years ago was to help people thrive in trucking exactly as it is today. I didn't want to be an activist. I didn't want to make changes in trucking. I felt most people focused on what was wrong with the industry. I wanted to teach people they could be incredibly happy and successful in this industry, exactly as it is today. Almost no one else does that, even to this day.

On that note, the reality is no different today than it was 30 years ago - bold, ambitious, competitive drivers will find ways to turn more miles, make more money, and get the best treatment. Those who want to complain, blame, criticize, or refuse to do work based on some perceived slight (real or imagined) will simply make less money and get a lower level of consideration for future work.

Did I do some of my work off-duty? Of course I did! And don't forget, I'm from the paper logbook era, so I was able to get away with way more than you guys can today. I didn't turn more miles overall than the top drivers are today, but I was able to rearrange my logbook so that I had more flexibility.

I also learned a ton of tricks over the years, some legal and ethical, some not. For instance, I learned to make up stories to tell dock workers about how much money I would lose if I couldn't get loaded/unloaded within a reasonable amount of time. I'd tell this big sob story, and the overwhelming majority of the time I got out of there faster than I would have otherwise.

I also learned to call the customer to get appointments moved ahead. I would say, "We have a driver coming in there for a 10:00 appointment, and we desperately need that driver to pick up another load later this morning. Could we get him unloaded at 8:00 instead?"

Now I never mentioned the fact that I was the driver. I just said 'we' have a driver coming in for an appointment. Our company. Well, that was true. But the thing is, the customers are far more likely to accommodate a request from my company's management than little ol' me, the driver. So I just kind of implied that I was a manager at my company, and it worked almost every time.

Davy is right. The system is designed for maximum efficiency. The company and the drivers are paid based on the amount of work they do. The more work they can do at a given cost, the more likely they are to survive in this industry. The companies that survive over the long term are the ones who keep finding ways to make their operations more efficient, so they do everything they can to incentivize their drivers to be as efficient as possible.

I'm not advising anyone to cheat the logbook or do work when you're off-duty. I'm also not telling you not to, unless you're a rookie in your first six months. Rookies should do things by the book. But as your career progresses, you must accept the reality that those who safely and successfully push the limits will make more money and get better treatment than those who won't.

You alone must decide what type of driver you want to be, and I don't fault anyone for their decision. If you feel you shouldn't have to work off duty or break any laws, no one can fault you for that. If you're willing to push into those territories, you're taking a big risk, so you'd better not screw up.

That's trucking.

Posted:  5 days, 17 hours ago

View Topic:

Prime presented me an Excellence Award Tonight!!

That's amazing Kearsey! Congratulations!

Posted:  6 days, 16 hours ago

View Topic:

Beginning The Process Of Becoming A Truck Driver

Hey Michael,

Hang in there! These are much tougher times than they will admit to on television, and that's putting it mildly. I expect things to get worse. So buckle up and get ready for some tough years and take whatever opportunities come your way.

For instance why would it matter if my CDL is in Wyoming if I have no interest in home time and want to work OTR taking time off where ever I land at the time.

Well, they figure everyone has a home somewhere they'll eventually want to return to. For most of my career I lived in the truck. I didn't have a car or a residence. I just used the address of friends or family as my home base.

So if you want to move your CDL to a state with better hiring opportunities, you'll just have to find an address you can use as your home address in that state.

Posted:  1 week ago

View Topic:

Rest Areas / Truck Stops Full - Eclipse!

We saw it perfectly. We had clear skies and 100% coverage.

What surprised me is the difference in daylight between 98% coverage and 100%. When it was about 98% covered it was still quite light out and there were shadows. I said, "It's not all that dark, really." Right as I finished saying that it went to 100% and it was like someone flipped a switch. It instantly went really dark, no shadows. As soon as it went back to 98% you could see shadows and it instantly got much brighter.

If you had clouds or you weren't in the 100% coverage zone, you really missed that part of it.

I have to admit it was more interesting than I had expected. Pretty cool.

Posted:  1 week, 1 day ago

View Topic:

First solo trip

I always remind everyone that there is only one golden rule - don't hit anything. That's it.

Take your time out there. We all tend to rush when we get nervous, and that leads to mistakes.

Most rookie mistakes happen in or around parking lots. That's when things get tight, and drivers get nervous. You don't want to hold someone up or look like you don't know what you're doing, so you either forget to watch certain areas of your truck or you assume you're in the clear instead of getting out to look.

Move at a crawl when you are in tight places, and take all the time necessary to avoid scratching anything.

For finding customers, triple-check the directions. Verify that the directions your company gives you make sense on a map. Call the customer to get directions to make sure they're correct. Examine the location on Google Maps to learn all you can about where the entrance may be, where the docks are, and where you will have room to maneuver.

Getting lost or making a wrong turn can be extremely stressful and often leads to mistakes, so take extra time to ensure your directions are correct and you know the game plan before you head in.

Finally, appreciate the opportunity you have! Yeah, we're all nervous in the beginning - very nervous! But what a blessing and an amazing opportunity it is to drive a big rig! Now you're ready to do it for real, and that's something special. Many of us grew up dreaming of driving trucks, so hopefully you're excited about the opportunity as well and you can enjoy it along the way.

Keep us updated! Let us know how it goes and throw us any questions you may have.

Best of luck out there!

Posted:  1 week, 3 days ago

View Topic:

Anxiety before training even starts

I've changed my diet, quit coffee and alcohol, ate more fish and chicken, swapped soda out for water and no fried food. Not only has it helped with medicals, it's just good for you. I also make a point of walking my dog at least 1.5 -2 miles every day, rain or shine. I'm less irritable, sleep better, no headaches etc etc.

You say the doctor helped you, but it sounds to me like you took control of the problem and helped yourself. Good on you for making those changes in your life! I love to hear it. You deserve the credit for the turnaround.

If people would do the basics like eating right, exercising, and meditating, there would be almost no need for pills ever.

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