Posts Tagged “Peterbilt”

Owner Operator Allen Loggins: Old School

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GAtks0314 142Allen Loggins has been an owner operator all but three years since he began trucking in 1996.   Some might consider him old school, whether we’re talking about the 25-year-old Pete he drives, or his refusal to haul cheap freight.  Then there is the matter of him keeping his down time to a minium waiting for loads.

We’ll start with the latter.

A resident of Jackson, GA, Allen says he used to run Florida a lot over a 25-year period.  That has changed.

“There is a lot of sitting and waiting in Florida.  I used to haul a lot of stuff (freight) into Florida ports. But there is simply too much waiting,” he relates.  This also applies to hauling Florida produce, especially during the off season.

Instead, Allen now prefers Texas over Florida.  He hauls mostly fresh produce out of the Lower Rio Grande Valley.  Often his destination is the Atlanta State Farmers Market.  Sometimes he’ll deliver the fruits and vegetables elsewhere in Georiga or the Carolinas.  The return trip to Texas typically involves meat that will be exported to Mexico.  It typically is something like processed chicken or  balonga he picks up in Selma, AL.

“I like hauling produce,” Allen states.  “Some people think you are nuts.  But if you haul out of Florida, you are nuts.  I would sit there all day then they want you in Atlanta in no time.  Florida wears you out hauling produce.  Texas is much easier.

The 51-year-old trucker says there are occasions he’ll be stuck a day or two in McAllen, TX waiting for the product from Mexico to cross the border, but that is rather unusual.

Allen owns and operates Southern States Produce, which consists of his 1989 Peterbilt conventional, housing a 425 hp Model B Cat diesel.  The truck has a 15-speed tranny and 3:90 rears.  He pulls a 53-foot Great Dane trailer cooled by a Thermo King refeer unit.

Allen knows the old Pete well.  He drove the truck for the owner until that person retired.  A few months ago Allen purchased the truck and once again became an owner operartor.

“I don’t like these new trucks.  They have too many electronics and sensors.  They are too expensive to repair,” he states.

When it comes to produce hauling, Allen has a few basic principals to follow.  He makes sure the product is hauled within in the proper temperature range.  He also avoids mixing perishable items that are not compatable.  Finally, he checks his reefer unit every couple of hours or so making sure it is doing its job.

Allen had recently delivered a load of Mexican green house grown roma tomatoes to the Del Monte facility in Altanta that he had picked up in South Texas.  He then loaded meat products in Alabama for delivery back to Texas.  From there he picked up a load of Mexican avocados, again in South Texas, where were delivered to the Atlanta State Farmers Market.

He  just had his rig washed at the nearby Patriot Truck Stop, before taking four days off until hitting the road again.  Allen typically has the truck washed a couple of times a month, citing the need of making a good impression with the shippers and recievers.

“I don’t want to pull up to the dock with a dirty assed truck.  If you don’t have a nice looking truck, they might think you don’t take care about their load,” Allen observes.

Finally, as an owner operator, Allen says he has to gross between $2 and $3 per mile.  This way he makes enough to put some cash away for repairs and maintenance.

It make sound old school, but it seems to work for this owner operator.


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Canadian Driver Dale Gray: US Truck Regulations are Tougher

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Dale GrayIntrusive and excessive government regulations have been reported numerous times in and further proof of probably the greatest threat to the trucking industry, and particularly owner operators, comes from Dale Gray of Trenton, ON.

Dale is a veteran and drove a truck in the military before becoming a driver in civlian life in 1997.  For over two years now he has been driving for Scotlynn Commodities Inc., of Vittoria, ON a Canadian transportation operation that has a sister company with several farms in Ontario and the USA that grows numerous items ranging from sweet corn to pumpkins.

Trucking both in the states and in Canada, Dale says American “rules are not as lienient.”

Although the hours of service regulations in both countries are similar, he prefers those in Canada because it allows him to be more profitable.  For example, he can legally truck 13 hours in his country, compared to only 11 hours in the states.

“I prefer the the 13 hours driving time, because I can drive more hours.  It makes a difference if you are paid by the mile,” Dale says.

He also notes he can split his sleeper berth hours by doing 8 1/2-hour increments during the day.  In the US, the hours must be in 10-hour blocks.

“I can’t sleep for 10 hours,” he states. “Canadian rules are more user friendly.”

Speed limits are another matter, according to the 57-year-old driver.  He notes Canadian speed limits in most of the country are 100 to 110 kilometers (65 – 70 mph).  He prefers the higher American speed limits which range from 55 mph in California to 80 mph in Utah (75 mph in North Dakota where this interview took place).

Dale drives a 2012 maroon 386 model Peterbilt powered by a 485 hp Paacar MX diesel.  The truck has a 60-inch sleeper with a 244-inch wheelbase and 13 speed tranny with overdrive.  He pulls a 53-foot Utility trailer with a 2100 Advance Carrier refrigeration unit.  Dale notes the reefer has a 120-gallon fuel tank that will run for a week. 

“The reefer unit has a larger fuel tank so it can be shipped by rail,” he says.

Dale’s favorite thing about trucking is even though he is a company driver it is similar to being your own boss.  “There is no one looking over your shoulder all of the time.  In part of my military career, I was stuck in an office.  I didn’t like that,” he states.

The worst part of driving is the attitudes of both four wheelers and truckers seems to have worsened over the years.

Dale hauls a lot of fresh produce grown by Scotlynn, plus he delivers a lot of frozen doughnuts and dry freight.  On this particular day he was waiting to pick up a load of macaroni in Grand Forks, ND for delivery in Ontario.




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Owner Operator Avoids California over CARB Rules

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DSCN0588One truck owner Henry Lee has pretty much told the state of California they can take their loads and shove ’em.  Well, not exactly.  But the old Johnny Paycheck country hit (Take This Job and Shove It) seems to apply here.

Henry is a veteran driver who became an owner operator six years ago and has never looked back.  He does what is best for his business, and one of those decisions has been to avoid trucking in California.  It’s just not worth it to him.

The trucker owns a 2001 Peterbilt, pulling a 2006 refrigerated trailer.

“The California (Air Resources Board) rules are not fair.  My reefer unit works fine and I have no problems with it,” he states.  However, California certainly does.  Under the state’s CARB rules his seven-year-old refrigeration unit has to be replaced no matter how well it is working.

“My trailer and the motor on my SB-310 (Thermo King) reefer unit are still in good condition.  This refrigration unit should be good for another three years.  My truck also is in good condition,”  Henry says.  “To replace the motor on my reefer unit would cost $10,000.”

He had recently spent $14,000 for an overhaul on his 500 h.p. Caterpillar C15 diesel.

“I like Cat engines.  They have got power and they are dependable.  I call it American power,” Henry says.

The resident of Ellenwood, GA  has been trucking since 1997, never has pulled a dry van, and he has always hauled refrigerated loads, including plenty of produce.

“I have quit going to California because of the excessive and unfair rules and regulations there.  Now, I am running between the northeast and southeast United States,” he says.

Henry says he never regrets becoming an owner operator.

“If I want to take a couple of days off, I can.  If the load does not pay well, I can decline it.  There is just a lot more freedom as an owner operator,” he states.

Henry is currently leased to a carrier, but is planning to have his own operating authority within the next few weeks.

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Werner Driver Leonard Capps: 1 Million Accident-Free Miles

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DSCN0545Company driver Leonard Capps has driven one million accident-free miles during his 38 years in trucking, and has the seal on the side of the big rig he drives to prove it.

He earned his million-mile award about three years ago, while driving for his current carrier, Werner Enterprises, The Omaha -based  company he’s now been with 11 years.

Leonard is proud of the fact he’s had no accidents, and has never been arrested during his career.  He’s driven for a number of companies over the years and has received safety awards at every stop along the way.

He was an owner operator for about three years after completing his enlistment in the Army.

“My dad suggested when I got out of the service I start driving a truck.  I’ve been doing it ever since,” he says.

Leonard was stationed in Germany during his military stint, then lived in Chicago after he got out of the Army.  He then moved to Mississippi now calls Iuka, Ms home.

At one time during his career the driver hauled a lot of fresh produce out of California to Walmart distribution centers.  These days, most of his driving is in the Southeastern USA, although he’ll get as far north occasionally as Pennsylvania  delivering Sara Lee products.

Leonard drives a 2010 Peterbilt housing a 475 hp Cummins diesel, with an eight speed transmission and 70-inch sleeper.  He was pulling a 53-Utility trailers with a Carrier reefer unit.

While he still enjoys trucking, the excessive rules and regulations make it more difficult.  For example, he was parked in a Georiga truck stop waiting for another driver to take over the load for final delivery.

“I only had 30 minutes left on my 14-hour restart, so I had only driven  a few miles.  After the other driver picks up the trailer, I’m going to deadhead home.”

While he continues to enjoy trucking and seeing different places, Leonard admits it is not as much fun as it used to be.

“Nobody talks to you anymore; not even other company drivers.  There are four or five other Werner drivers parked here; we ought to at least be talking to one another,” he says.

Leonard logs about 60,000 miles a year, unlike the 135,000 annual miles he used to drive.  There also is a 62 mph governor of that Pete.  Still, he’s got those million miles of safe driving under his belt.  That’s something of which to be proud.   



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Owner Operator Mark Baumann: Women, Trucks & Big Fleets

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DSCN1454When it comes to women and trucks, owner operator Mark Baumann has found if you treat your truck right, it will never let you down.  Women are another matter.  He also has a few issues with the large carriers, but one matter at a time.

On this particular day a few weeks in Chicago, it was a  bright sunny day.  Although he’d driven through some rain storms the night before, his 2005 Peterbilt still looked sharp, even though it needed a bath.

I’d love to see this rig at night with its 300 lights shining!

“My mom always said be seen, not heard,” Mark recalls.  “Life has been good to me, but like anything else it has had its ups and downs.  I’ve made a lot of money, but I’ve lost a lot of money.”

Mark hauls cheese under a lease to Wisconsin Refrigerated Express LLC out of  Sheboygan, WI.  Those loads are usually destined to Texas.  On the return haul he’ll pick up fresh produce grown in South Texas or Mexico, which he delivers to the Anthony Marano Co. in Chicago.  The large midwest produce distributor will unload him, and fill his truck with more produce for delivery to Wisconsin supermarkets.

He purchased his 379 Pete new in 2005 for $115,000 and has since logged nearly 1.3 million miles.  It is powered by a C-15 Cat, 18-speed transmission with 3:55 rears.  The rig features a fuel enhancing Pittsburgh box by HBA, allowing him to average 5 mpg, which he says is similar to one produced by Bully Dog.

He also owns a 2004 Great Dane, 48-food trailer with a Thermo King Whisper, a reefer unit known for its quietness and fuel efficency.

Mark loves his Pete and states if someone offered him what he paid for it new, he’d walk away from the offer.

“You can find a good woman anywhere.  Women come and go, but a good truck is hard to come by,” states the 47-year-old trucker from Plymouth, WI.  “That ole girl (Pete) will be with me til the day I die.  She’ll do whatever I want, if I ask her nicely.”

He adds, “I always haul produce and cheese.  Trucking is in my blood.  Once it is there, you can’t get rid of it.”

Mark says he spends $2,800 a week on fuel.  Although “that’s a good chunk of money, I’m making good money.”

However, like most successful owner operators, making money comes with a price.  He is consistently logging about 3,400 miles per week and spends little time at home.

“I’m the guy they call when they say a job can’t be done,” he states.

Mark has been trucking 16 years and says it is the independent truckers that have built this industry; the small fleet owner with four or five trucks.  However, he says it is becoming more difficult to compete with the rate slashing big fleets.

He also is critical of the new drivers hitting the highways for the large carriers, saying many have inadquate training before being put behind the wheel of a big rig.

“A lot of bad things can happen with lack of enough training.  They train them for three weeks, give them a new Kenworth and tell them to the head to California.  You can replace a rig, but you can’t replace a life,” he observes.






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Fernado Jemenez is both a Company Driver, Small Fleet Owner

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DSCN0503While the Peterbilt may be considered the Cadillac of trucks with many drivers, Fernado Jemenez will take a Freightliner anyday.  He’s driven both.

Fernado is both a company driver and a small fleet owner. caught up with the Los Angeles-based trucker a couple of months ago at a Pilot Truck Stop  in Vienna, GA, while he was waiting word from dispatch for his next load.

He is driving for I&F Transportation and operating a 2005 Peterbilt, powered by a 470 h.p. Cat diesel, and pulling a 53-Utility trailer with a Carrier reefer unit.

The 40-year-0ld trucker says, “I’m just not happy with this Pete.  It shakes too much; rides rough, and there just is not enough room in the sleeper.  I want to drive a Classic.  I own two Freightliners, and I like them a lot.”

He says the Peterbilt consumes too much fuel and only averages 4.5 mpg.

As the small fleet owner of FJ Transport, he prefers his Freightliners.  His own company uses a combination of working directly with some shippers on loads, while using brokers on others.

Fernado has been trucking six years and wishes the rates on dry freight would pick up, noting that produce loads are paying a lot more.

He had a load of produce from Californa, requring six pick ups that took three days to get loaded.  It was delivered to Pompano Beach, FL.   He deadheaded to Georgia and had been waiting seven hours at the truck stop for his dispatcher to assign a load.

No one said trucking was easy, but Fernado was trying to show patience, waiting on a load to take him back to the West Coast.

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Truck Show in Dallas Has over 500 Exhibitors

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I spent Thursday at the Great American Truck Show in Dallas visiting with as many drivers and exhibitors as possible.  It was the first show I’d been to in five or six years.   Dates of the show are Thursday, Friday and Saturday, August 23-25.

It appears to be a little larger than when I last attended, and there seemed to be more trucks entered in the Pride & Polish competition.  There are over 500 exhibitors, according the GATS program.  The first few hours of the first day of the show had light traffic, but it picked up significantly the last half of the afternoon.  Traditionally, there will be a lot more attendees today and Saturday.

While there are some of the big name companies  at the show such as Peterbilt and Great Dane, there are obviously a number of the big boys that continue to not exhibit at Dallas.

Still, it is a good show, with the usual workshops and country performers with big names, but past their glory days.

Apparently there is still good demand for drivers as quite a few carriers and logistics companies were exhibiting putting, their best foot forward to sign up owner operators and company drivers.

The show continues to be under air conditioning, which includes the Pride and Polish competition.  Dallas can be brutal in August, although yesterday it was only 95 degrees, with low humidity.

Show hours today and Saturday are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

— Bill Martin

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Orlando Owner Operator has been Trucking 25 Years

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For owner operator Ruben Velez, nothing has been given to him.  He has worked hard all his life.

“I didn’t finish high school because I grew up working to help my mother pay the bills,” Ruben says.

HaulProduce caught up with the resident of Orlando, FL several weeks ago at The Polish Shop, located at exit 2 along I-75 at Lake Park in far southern Georgia.  Ruben has his 2012 386 model Peterbilt polished here about three times a year.  This blue beauty, with only 90,000 miles,  houses a 455 h.p. Paacar diesel, featuring a 13-speed tranny, and a 242-inch wheelbase.  He pulls a 53-foot Utility trailer mounted with a Carrier reefer unit.

Ruben primarily hauls tomatoes out of Southern and Central Florida.  He had recently delivered a load of Florida tomatoes to New Jersey.  He was returning to Florida with a load of dry freight.  It had six drops.  He’d already unloaded some of the freight in Atlanta, with further drops set for Lakeland and Deerfield, FL.  Then he planned to pick up more Florida tomatoes to haul back north.

Ruben, 43, started trucking as a company drive at age 18.  He’s been an owner operator for the past 18 years, owning nothing but Petes.  Although he hauls a lot of tomatoes, his favorite loads are with frozen foods.  He cites no particular reason, except, “I’ve always hauled it.”

Among his concerns as a small business owner, is the high cost of diesel fuel.  “The high price of diesel is hurting me and everyone,” he notes.  As for fuel surcharges, the trucker says he receives them, primarily on dry freight, but it is often too little and lags behind the increasing cost of fuel.

Ruben states trucking is becoming more difficult, not only for new entries into the profession, but the veteran drivers as well.

“This (trucking) industry has ate up a lot of guys,” he says.  “If you’re entering this industry,  go to work for a carrier where you have the benefits.  The fuel, tolls, insurance, etc.; all of these costs are very high.”

Asked about his biggest challenge as a trucker, Ruben cites dealing with the inexperienced drivers on the road, both four wheelers and operators of the big rigs.  “A lot of them are out there  driving while texting, talking on their cell phones; not paying attention.”

His favorite aspect of trucking is a very common answer among long haul drivers — being on the road, enjoying the scenery and just seeing a lot of different things.

As for keys to surviving and making a living in trucking, Ruben cites not only being willing to work hard, but to deal with good, honest shippers, brokers and receivers.  He uses his own operating authority to get most of his dry freight hauls, while using reliable, honest truck brokers to obtain his produce hauls.

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Owner Operator’s Smile, Attitude is Contagious

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For owner operator Larry C. Jones it is like being a kid waking up every morning at Disney World.  No, I’m not saying he’s “Goofy”, or even “Happy” of the seven dwarfs, because he’s not short.  And he’s certainly not “Grumpy.”

The 62-year-old  is simply one of those guys who makes you feel better after having spent some time with him.  Always smiling, optimistic, he loves his career in trucking that started in 1984.    He also worked seven years for “Buster Brown” back in the ’70s.

Not everyone could do what Larry does.   His routes are nearly as predictable as a mail carrier’s.  But this is part of the secret to his success.   Larry works and deals with the same people and companies on a year around basis.

For example, the past 28 years  he has worked with Grist Truck Brokers Inc. of Tifton, GA.  The trucker also loves hauling fresh produce and depending on the time of the year is normally loading out of Florida, Georgia, or Tennessee.  He will deliver fruits and vegetables to Reaves Brokerage Co. in Dallas.  Then he will pick up frozen foods in Big D at Sysco Food Services and deliver it to Sysco San Antonio Inc.  In San Antonio he’ll pick up a load of frozen biscuits at Lone Star Bakery for delivery in Jefferson, GA.  It is pretty much the same routine every week.

The trucker receives a fuel charge on both inbound and outbound loads, whether it is hauling produce or frozen bakery products.  He says the surcharge is adjusted at the beginning of every week.

There is little deadheading, or down time — and how could you sit idling for long when you log 250,000 miles a year!  He’s sees the same waitresses, cashiers, dock men etc. on a regular basis.  Talk about first-name-basis greetings!

“I make good money because I do the same things over and over again.  Grist is good to me.  They are decent, good people to work for,” Larry says.  “The folks I deliver to in Texas, they are my best customers.  I have been delivering to these people a long time.  They trust me and know I deliver on time.”

Larry constantly receives compliments on how great his equipment looks.  He drives a 2001 conventional Peterbuilt he purchased in 2003 that now has over 1.7 million miles on it.  It used to be a plain jane, but thanks to a lot of work by Larry and Mark’s Body Shop it is now one customized beauty.

The red Pete with cherry black fenders houses a 550 h.p. Cat engine, with a 10-speed tranny and 300-inch wheelbase.  The tractor pulls a 51.5-foot Walbash speed axle with a 310 Thermo King reefer unit.   The truck has an outrageous amount of chrome both inside and out, including a pair of hefty eight-inch stacks.  The 63-inch flattop sleeper has amenities ranging from refrigeration to a flatscreen TV.

While Larry has one of the sharper rigs on the road, that’s not good enough.  Every two to three years he does a remake of his pride and joy.  In fact, before long he is planning to take off a couple of weeks, visit his buddy Mike at the Tifton body shop, and give the equipment another make over.  Among the changes, laying a wooden floor in the cab.

Larry has promised to send photos when the job is finished — around July.  Look for our flickr posts.

Meanwhile, Larry plans to keep doing what he loves most.  “I’m relaxed driving down the road.  The people tell me how good my equipment looks, and that is what keeps me going.  I love getting out on the road.  I know everybody, even at all the places I stop.”

It may not be waking up at Disney World every morning, but it has got to be the next best thing — although in Larry’s mind, it’s even better.

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