Posts Tagged “Thermo King”
Allen 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.
If you are a produce association, produce grower or shipper, or anyone else in the fresh produce industry looking for ways to market and promote your products, there may not be anyone better than this trucker, who has been a professional driver for over a quarter of a century, and hauls nothing but fresh fruits and vegetables.
Meet Lee Weaver, a driver for Alan DoBorde of Fayettville, GA.
Lee has logged over two million accident free miles during his career, and still runs about 100,00o miles a year.
The company driver not only is proud of his profession, but takes pride in the fact he is delivering such healthy, nutritious fresh food.
“I like hauling produce even though it sometimes can be a hassle,” he notes. “But you are picking up fresh fruit and you are delivering fresh fruit. I am being partly responsible for families having fresh produce on their tables at home. I am making a difference.”
Lee drives a beautiful red 2013 Kenworth powered by a 500 hp Cummins. He pulls a 53-foot Utility trailer with a Thermo King SB-210. His sleeper has all the amenities ranging from a refrigerator to microwave oven and flatscreen tv.
A resident of Roanoke, AL, Lee has a regular run originating in Georgia, where he pick ups produce. He’ll then truck to Texas, then over to Louisiana and up to Arkansas, before heading west to Los Angeles. After delivering and picking up in Southern Calfiornia, Lee heads back to either Georgia or Florida.
Lee has never owned his own truck and has no desire to take on the headaches associated with being an owner operator. At the same time he likes being an over-the-road driver, which pretty much allows him to be his own boss.
“You have to be responsible,” he says, “Plus you are not in the same place everyday. You are getting paid to see the world.”
A concern being on the road is the lack of attention to driving by so many motorists. It is a primary reason for accidents. Paying attention while driving is one reason this long haul truck has an impeccable driving record, covering so many miles over such a long period of time.
When you are headquartered on the East Coast near much of your customer base, but about one-half of the nation’s fresh fruits and vegetables are grown and shipped from California, the 3,000-mile hauls can present additional challengeover shorter runs. But when one adds the challenges of dealing with federal and state mounting regulations, it just makes doing business more difficult.
Rob Goldstein is president of Genpro Inc. of Newark, NJ and arranges loads of fruit and vegetables from various shipping points around the country, including California. Because of the ever changing and increasing number of rules and regulations, he maintains more team drivers are needed on the road to help meet delivery schedules.
As an example, Goldstein cites the changes in the hours of service rules last July, which in effect reduces the amount of driving time a trucker can legally perform.
“The bottom line is with the new hours of service, and what the truckers can do, if they can’t make more turns in their line hauls, the rates are going to have to go up. Drivers have to drive less hours under the new rules and this results in fewer turns,” Goldstein says. “Drivers get paid for the amount of miles they travel and they are logging fewer miles with these new hours of service.”
On the state level, Goldstein references the California Resources Board (CARB) rules as a hinderance to trucking.
“The average carrier has six or seven units. So we are asking these carriers to comply with the state of California where about 50 percent of the domestic produce production originates,” he notes. “They (California officials) are asking these guys to make significant investments in their equipment, which isn’t easy to do.”
That is a reference to CARB requiring trucking equipment be retrofitted when it reaches seven years old.
As owner operator Henry Lee of Ellenwood, GA says, it will cost him $10,000 to replace the motor on his Thermo King SB-310 reefer unit, to meet the CARB requirements.
Genpro works with a mixture of owner operators, small fleets and carriers. Goldstein says the average size of fleets they work with is about seven units.
Dale Hunt of Milwaukee, WI has no doubt lived an interesting life – but perhaps the most interesting adventures he has lived will never be known. After all, the former owner operator and now company driver, who used to be a Navy SEAL, will never talk about it.
As he said to me with a slight smile on his face, “If I told you anything I’d have to kill you.” I look at the Navy SEAL ballcap he is wearing and the SEAL sticker on his truck and reply, “let’s move on to another topic.”
Although the roots for Navy SEALS dates back to WWII, the group as it is known today was formed in 1962. The SEALS mission is to conduct counter guerilla warfare and clandestine operations in maritime and riverine environments. In other words, these are “bad” dudes doing brave and good things.
But Dale’s life these days appears more normal as a driver for Maglio & Co. of Milwaukee, a wholesaler and processor primarily for foodservice companies. Dale delivers produce mostly to Maglio customers.
He has been trucking 30 years, including 12 years as a Navy SEAL and five years as an owner operator.
Dale has been driving for his current company for two years and he sees advantages whether being an owner operator or a company driver. Right now he prefers being the latter, considering the weak state of the nation’s economy.
The company delivers freight to eight states stretching from Ohio to North Dakota. Although some of the firm’s drivers have no regular places they deliver, he has a regular route which brings him into North Dakota.
The Wisconsinite may be away from home as much as five days, but normally he is away from home closer to two days at a time.
Dale drives a 2013 Kenworth powered by a 435 h.p. Cummins diesel, and 10-speed Eaton transmission. He pulls a 53-foot Utility trailer with Thermo King SB-230 reefer unit.
He likes trucking because if you are an owner operator, you are your own boss, and even if you are a driver the freedom is still “sort of like being your own boss.”
“There is a demand for good drivers,” Dale says. But it is a demanding job dealing with all the traffic, etc. But it’s a good profession to be in, if you are dedicated. It’s makes it a lot easier if you like what your are doing.”
Dale has dealt with demanding work most of his life, and what could be more demanding than a professional Navy SEAL?
— Bill Martin
He talks about working directly with shippers for starters. For example, the past six years Allen has worked directly with Lipman, a 60-year-old farming and shipping operation that was known as Six Ls until a name change in September 2011. Based in Immokalee, FL, Lipman is North America’s largest field grower of tomatoes with 4,000 workers and 22 locations.
Not only does Allen work directly with shippers, but good ones.
“Six Ls can call me anytime and I’ll be there. I stick with them, but it works both ways. They treat me well and I provide them with great service,” says Allen, who lives in Canton, NC.
Another reason the 64-year–old veteran trucker has always been able to make it as an owner operator is because he has his own operating authority.
“Having your own authority makes a big difference,” Allen says. “You don’t have to pay some else to run under their operating authority.”
How often does he haul produce? Everyday. He pretty much hauls exclusively for Six Ls (Lipman), a company that also has several vegetable items in addition to tomatoes. Most of his hauls are up and down the East Coast, although he occasionally delivers in the Midwest.
On this recent November day, Allen was at on the Atlanta State Farmers Market delivering tomatoes he had picked up in Asheville, NC. He didn’t know where the tomatoes were grown. Once unloaded, he would be deadheading the 200 miles back to Asheville.
“I’ll be paid for the deadhead miles,” Allen says, although he did not want the amount per mile publicized for the record. If I haul something up there then I’ll get full pay.”
Another key to being a successful owner operator is being on time.
“You have got to be dependable and on time. Wal Mart will charge (deduct from your freight) $100 if you are a minute late for arrival. It happened to me one time,” he recalls.
Allen also rarely eats in a restaurant, although he averages well over 100,000 miles a year on the road. He saves by taking and preparing his own meals.
While being on time, having your own authority and working directly with shippers are keys to his success, these are not the most important factors.
“The most important thing,” Allen says, “is you have got to have what it takes inside of you. You have to want to do it. You have to have that internal drive to work.”
Operating as E.A.R. (Edward Allen Robinson), he owns a 2006 Western Star he actually purchased new in 2007. It is powered by a 550 h.p. twin turbo Caterpillar diesel and features an 18-speed transmission. The sleeper is fully equipped with everything from a flat screen tv to a microwave oven. The Star has logged 700,000 miles. It pulls a 53-foot Utility trailer with a Thermo King reefer unit.
Allen is seriously considering retiring in May 2013. However, he admits not being sure whether he is going to keep the Western Star or not.
However, a little later he adds jokingly, “I’m going to leave my truck in the yard for a little while, just in case I wear out my welcome at home.” He has been married 20 years and has six granddaughters and two grandsons.
He’s looking forward to the holidays and taking some time to be off with the family and buying gifts for the grand kids.
“It’s really worth it, just seeing the smiles on their faces,” he concludes.
Troy Pecka has been in the trucking business for nearly a quarter of a century and has pretty much seen it all, or at least come fairly close to it. There is something to be said for someone who started out trucking out as a 19-year-old, and now owns his own small fleet at the “ripe” old age of 43.
The owner of Troy Pecka Trucking Inc. doesn’t have the time to get behind the wheel of a big rig anymore as much as he’d like, in part because he’s dealing with all the rules and regulations to keep the drivers of his 15 trucks and three leased owner operators doing what they do best – truck.
Troy is following in the footsteps of his dad who started trucking at age 18 and didn’t stop until his was 76.
Troy’s small fleet, based in East Grand Forks, MN, specializes in hauling a lot of loads of frozen foods and fresh red potatoes to the Southwestern and Southeastern USA. Return trips lean heavily towards mixed fresh produce going into Edmonton, Alberta.
When asked what rules and regulations in trucking he disliked most, Troy would not commit to any particular ones. “All of these things increase your cost of operation,” he notes.
There could be the refusal of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) to delete inspection reports from a driver’s record, even after that driver is found not guilty by the courts.
Or how about the FMCSA’s flawed enforcement program in CSA’s Safety Management Systems. There have been reports of safe drivers being listed as unsafe in the system.
Another example, could be the Federal highway legislation passed last July. It calls for the FMCSA to require electric on-board recorders (EOBRs) in all heavy duty trucks. Many in trucking are concerned it will lead to driver harrasment by authorities. This could involve electronic recording of a driver’s hours of service, vehicle location (through a GPS), with information available to law enforcement.
It is examples such as these which makes it more difficult to get good qualified drivers. He says the older drivers are leaving the industry and there are not nearly enough young drivers coming on board. After all, long haul trucking certainly is not an 8 to 5 job.
Despite all the government red tape, Troy still enjoys the business. He just doesn’t have the time to truck as much as he used to, although taking command of one of his big rigs to someplace like Fargo isn’t out of the question.
“I just can’t get it (driving) out of my blood,” he states.
One of his favorite trucks (pictured) is a 2007 red conventional Kenworth. It houses a 475 hp Caterpillar diesel, riding on a 260-inch wheelbase with a 13-speed transmission. He also like the 72- sleeper featuring all the amenities. It pulls a 53-foot Utility trailer housing a Thermo King reefer unit.
Vince King has been trucking since 1978 hauling dairy products, frozen chickens and fresh produce. He loves hauling refrigerated freight, but dislikes trucking in California and the attitudes of many drivers.
A resident of Cuba, NY, located near Buffalo, HaulProduce caught up recently with Vince at the Pilot Truck Stop at Warner Robins, GA. “I haul dairy, chickens and produce — it really doesn’t matter to me which one. The only difference is setting the temperature (on the reefer unit) right for the different loads. I’ve grown to love that reefer unit over the years that’s behind my truck,” he relates.
Vince drives a 2009 blue Freightliner housing a 470 h.p. Detroit, equipped with a 13-speed transmission. He pulls a 53-foot Utililty trailer with a Thermo King unit.
“I love this truck. My boss asked me what I wanted and what color. My previous truck was a 2004 black Freight, says, Vince, who drives for Sargent Transportation Lines Inc. of Cuba, a small fleet with 20 over-the-road trucks. “The money is good and they keep me hopping or I wouldn’t still be here.”
Vince, who has been with Sargent 16 years, had just delivered dairy product in Florida the previous day, which had three drops. He was on his way to pick up frozen chicken in Doraville, GA for delivery to U.S. Foodservice near Albany, NY. He also hauls potatoes and onions off of the West Coast.
“I don’t like California. I used to run it every week, but now there is just too much ‘crap’ out there.” Vince cites all of the excessive regulations on truckers in California, adding, “You can’t sneeze there without getting a ticket. I just took my son out there on a trip. I’ve decided I just don’t need the hassles.”
Since becoming a trucker 34 years ago, Vince has considered buying a truck, but has always decided to remain a company driver. “I thought about becoming an owner operator years ago, but right now I wouldn’t even consider it because of the economy. It’s really hard to find a good company where you can make it with a lease. Over the years I’ve seen what these companies can do, especially with these lease-purchase plans.”
One of the best aspects of trucking is simply being out on the road, Vince says. He typically leaves the house on a Saturday evening or Sunday morning to pick up a load. He is usually home by Friday at the latest. If he’s doing an East Coast run, he’s usually gone only a couple of nights.
His least favorite part of trucking, which he dislikes even more than the excessive regulations, are the attitudes of a lot of drivers.
“I don’t even mean just the new breed, but some of the older drivers as well. Sometimes it is just sickening,” he states.
What is his biggest challenge in trucking? “Trying to figure out what the other drivers are going to do before they do it. A majority of this is with the older drivers, the four wheelers and the campers,” he says. “To a certain extent there is a lack of professionalism in trucking. I”m not just talking about the baby boomers, because you have the ‘me’ generation. It’s me, me, me. That is not the way things should be done.”
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.
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 HaulProduce.com 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.