Posts Tagged “Troy Pecka”
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.
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.