“When I started trucking 30 years ago, I was making similar wages to what these guys are making today,” states Randy Boushey, who used to truck a lot and still owns three older Freightliners he uses when in a pinch.
Randy still has his CDL, still trucks on occasion, but focuses more on being president of A & L Potato Co., a 71-year-old company that packs and ships potatoes out of East Grand Forks, MN.
He recalls making “big money” by comparison to what drivers are receiving today.
“I wish I’d put some of it away. What’s the farmer’s prayer?” he asks himself. “Please God let me make lots of money this year, and I promise I won’t piss it away this time.”
Randy still has fond memories of the days when he spent more driving a big rig. In fact, he claims he would put another newer models on the road if getting and keeping good, qualified drivers wasn’t such a challenge.
He ships a lot of red potatoes out of the Red River of North Dakota and Minnesota.
Randy has seen scenario from both sides of the fence; as a produce trucker and as a produce shipper. He realizes how important trucking is to the equation.
“Customers don’t want to hear excuses because they didn’t receive their potatoes because you couldn’t get a truck,” Randy says. “Getting trucks to come into the valley has been a challenge early in the potato season, because there hasn’t been a lot of outbound loads here.”
Randy points out a number of changes in transportation are occurring in the Red River Valley. For example, Britton Transport of Grand Forks, ND recently acquired Scott’s Inc., a truck brokerage. Pardee Transportation of Brooks, MN has bought out Prairie Line, a small fleet based in Fargo, ND. Plus, there was another trucking that recently filed bankruptcy.
“It is not going to get any easier. As good as our freight rates are on our commodities leaving here, that is only half of the puzzle. We’ve got to be able to load the trucks back into here. With $4-plus per gallon diesel fuel, it is imperative there is a decent rate for the truck,” Randy concludes.