Posts Tagged “Grand Forks”

Patrick Simmons: “Same Whore, Different Dress” with some Carriers

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“They are all basically the same whore, just a different dress,” states veteran long haul driver Patrick Simmons, when describing some of the nation’s largest carriers for whom he has driven over the years.  He’s now driven nearly three years  for Britton Transport Inc. of Grand Forks, ND, and says it is great to be working with a company that treats it drivers right.

Patrick has never owned a truck in his 23 years on the road, but has leased a truck  and does not recommend that route to anyone.

“I have leased a truck and think it is the worst thing you can ever do.  You are pretty much under their control if you have got their truck,” he states.

As for Britton Transport, Patrick says the company, which has 80 to 85 trucks, is easy to work with.  “They will pretty much bend over backwards for somebody.  They treat you right.”

He notes unlike the larger carriers, Britton has a check waiting for him every week, and he has no concerns about being paid.  He also receives full medical benefits.

“I’ve been there, done that (with the huge trucking companies), and it’s something I would not do again,” Patrick states.  “I like Britton because they get me home when I want to get home.”

He drives a conventional Volvo with a D-13 engine and an automatic, 12-speed transmission.  While the auto tranny “takes a lot off you” as far as shifting, etc., he would still prefer to have a 13-speed manual transmission.

“You have more power when climbing hills,” he states.

He also would prefer not to have a governor on the truck limiting the speed to 62 mph, which he feels is too slow for a road truck, noting that a lot of western states have speed limits of 70 and 75 mph, although he notes Oregon and California have stuck with the double nickel.

During his career, Patrick has hauled a little of everything, including fresh produce, which he describes as “whole different ballgame.”  Produce hauling often involves more pick ups and drops than dry freight.

His least favorite aspect of trucking is  it not being conducive to good health.  He admits to not getting enough exercise.  “Other than that you meet  a lot of good people in trucking.  You don’t have to worry about getting laid off, or losing your job.  Plus, I like getting paid!”

The flip side of trucking is Patrick believes there are a lot trucks being driven by individuals with no business being behind the wheel.

“There is no respect out here anymore like there used to be.  It is a different class of drivers now.  Some of them can hardly drive a lawn mower, much less a big rig,” he observes.  “You have got a lot of the younger generation coming into trucking who don’t have any respect for anybody.  That is a downfall as far as the industry goes.”






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Duane Riendeau: Makes a Good Living Hauling Produce

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If you want to make it in trucking, you should take some pointers from a real veteran, Duane Riendeau.  Although he’s now a company driver, for most of his career he was a successful owner operator.

He’s still running over the road, but he takes off a couple of months each year, raised five kids, and still enjoys what he is doing.

The resident of Grand Forks, ND  began trucking at age 26.  Until seven years ago when he became a driver for Troy Pecka Inc. of East Grand Forks, MN, he was an owner operator.  Now 65, Duane doesn’t want to work as hard, pretty much selects his hauls, and still does his share of trucking.  Yet, he usually takes off around January and February each year and relaxes in Arizona.

“I owned a truck for 25 years.  I really enjoyed it.  I paid for every truck I bought and I can’t complain.  I had five boys and one girl and most of them went to college.  I don’t have a lot of money left, but I accomplished that anyway,” he says in a modest, soft spoken voice.

“All my kids are grown and they are doing pretty darned good,” he says.  The only kid involved in trucking is a son with a couple of trucks that run locally for a business his son owns.

So how does a guy raise give kids, vacation two months year and pretty much set his own driving schedule?

Duane says if you are a produce trucker, you have got to be “connected” and “be careful because a lot of people are out there who won’t pay.”  For the young, inexperienced persons entering trucking he suggests relying on the credit and rating services such as the Blue Book and the Red Book.  These will give one a good idea of how reputable a company is and show their pay practices. 

“When it comes to rejected loads or claims, you sometimes learn as you go.  I look my loads over when I’m being loaded.  You can telll when the produce is fresh, or if it is ‘iffy’.”

When it is “iffy” with quality or appearance concerns, Duane stresses the need to tell your customer about its condition.  It is better the load be “kicked” by the buyer at the loading dock than after you have delivered it to the customer.  The shipper may not like what the trucker is telling the customer, but that shipper will also realize the product isn’t what it should be.

Duane says there are a lot of good trucking companies to work for, but that Troy Pecka was an independent trucker himself, plus his father and brother were in trucking.

“Troy understands the whole business.  I go (on hauls) when I want to go with his truck, just like it was my own.  All he expects is that the truck makes money.  There are five or six guys my age that work for him and he wouldn’t have it any other way.  He knows when you leave with a load it is going to get there,” Duane says.

Duane actually leased his own truck to Troy Pecka Trucking for four years, before selling it and becoming a company driver.

He is now driving a 2007 Kenworth T-600 with a C-13 Cat engine with 475 h.p., pulling a Great Dane trailer.

Duane has nothing but praise for the Great Dane, saying “you pay for what you get.”  He cites the Dane’s heavy insallation and sturdy floors, noting some cheaper brands of trailers “are throw aways” because they are not built as well.

“I haul quite a bit of produce,” Duane relates.  “I’ve hauled everything you can possibly imagine.  We do haul some frozen items.  I haul a lot of raw (fresh) potatoes out of the Red River Valley.”  However, he also hauls everything from watermelons to lettuce, cabbage and other vegetables and citrus out of South Texas.

“I’ve always hauled a lot of produce and always made a living at it,” he states. 

That’s pretty obvious, having raised five good children and vacationing in Arizona during part of the winter.




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Britton Transport Acquires Scott’s Express

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Britton Transport Inc., a U.S. subsidiary of Bison Transport Inc., announced today the acquisition of Scott’s Express Inc. and Scott’s Transportation Services Inc. (collectively “Scott’s), located in Grand Forks, North Dakota. Scott’s was established in 1952 and is a nationwide trucking and truck brokerage company, specializing in Agribusiness throughout the United States and parts of Canada.

Brad Seymour

 “The acquisition of Scott’s expands and builds upon Britton’s customer relationships and capabilities as a logistics service provider in the Red River Valley,” said Dave Britton, President of Britton. “Scott’s has a long tradition of service excellence among agricultural shippers within the valley and will continue to service its customers with Britton’s support. We are excited about the opportunity to serve Scott’s long-term customers with Britton’s asset-based capabilities.”

 Brad Seymour, President of Scott’s, will continue with the company in the transition of ownership and servicing of Scott’s customers. He says, “I have known Dave Britton for over 25 years and have a high regard for the way Britton does business. We are very pleased to be joining forces with Britton and I feel it gives our employees and our customers a platform to grow in the years ahead.”

 Founded in 1952, Scott’s was initially operated as a filling station but soon after Archie Scott identified a need for sourcing trucks on behalf of local potato farmers. What started as a sideline became the first truck brokerage in the Red River Valley. Today, Scott’s continues to service the potato and specialty crop sector with superior service and an unmatched reputation.

Financial details concerning this transaction have not been disclosed.

(This story appeared 8/28/12 in Potato Bytes, the online publication of the Northern Plains Potato Growers Association)

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High Diesel Fuel Costs Lead to Other Problems for Truckers

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Much of the USA is sizziling in triple digits and number 2 diesel prices, while not at record levels, are still high enough to make it difficult for a lot of owner operators and small fleet owners to make ends meet.

For example, the Flying J Truck Stop here in Grand Forks, ND has number 2 diesel fuel for $3.83 per gallon.  That is above the national average for diesel this week, which is at $3.79 per gallon.

Duane Riendeau, 65, was an owner operator for 32 years.  Five years ago he became a company driver for Troy Pecka Trucking Co. Inc. of East Grand Forks, MN.   He sold his equipment stating trucking has become “too costly” with all of the government regulations and with the price of diesel fuel pushing $4 per gallon.    He knows several owner operators personally who are just barely making it, because freight rates are not keeping up with costs of operation.

Although Randy Boushey of A&L Potato Co. Inc. in East Grand Forks, MN still has his CDL and continues to own three 18 wheelers, he only uses his trucks for deliveries within a 300-mile radius.  His potato packing and shipping company has customers well beyond the 300-mile radius and he sees more late deliveries due to aging equipment with mechnical problems.  He cites high fuel costs as one of reasons truckers are delaying replacement of  tractors and trailers.

It seems there’s alway excuses for diesel fuel being higher than it should be, despite Americans reducing their fuel consumption.  Whether it is problems with refineries in Illinois and Indiana cutting their out put, or economic woes in Europe, crazies in the Middle East pulling their stupid terrorist stuff, or any number of other factors – the reasons seem very few for prices to drop.

The experts and observors of oil prices are genenerally saying diesel prices will only go up until after Labor Day, before it starts dropping; unless of course some idiot in Syria, Timbuktwo, or someplace else does something which may not even be remotely connected to the price of oil.  But that doesn’t seem to matter.


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