Posts Tagged “Utility”

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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Allen Roberson: A Successful Owner Operator Since 1972

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Allen Roberson has been trucking for 40 years and he’s got a few reasons why he has been a successful owner operator since 1972.  But it may not be what you think.

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.







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Troy Pecka: Small Fleet Owner Still Loves the Business

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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.




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ThermoKing, Utility Donate to Food Bank Program

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Salinas, CA – The mission to create a connection between the agricultural community and food assistance programs just got a little easier for the local nonprofit Ag Against Hunger. Due to a generous $50,000 grant from Walmart, along with discounts from ThermoKing, Utility Trailer, and Central Coast Sign Factory, Ag Against Hunger was able to purchase a beautiful brand new 53’ refrigerated trailer. The new trailer will replace an older model that will now be used as additional cold storage during the season when their cooler is at capacity. In 2011, the organization distributed 13.9 million lbs. of fresh nutritious produce to food banks in need, feeding over 3 million people. Executive Director Karen DeWitt says that she hopes the new trailer will help increase that amount by an additional 250,000 lbs. equaling 1.25 million servings.

Press release by Ag Against Hunger

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Meet Vince King Who Loves Hauling Reefer Freight

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 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.”



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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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