Independent agents for Landstar Ranger & Landstar Express America


Date: 4/11/2018 2:34 AM CDT

The great run of 2018 - rates per mile, sky's the limit ? or is it ?

Perspective on the future...
I woke up early this morning and couldn't go back to sleep. This is bugging me. Some of you know me long term and think I type to much, I've heard all the comments over the years, nothing new, others of you know me as one who watches the trends and value the thoughts. I've done it many times. I wish this was one of the more positive outlooks, but alas...

The trucking industry is on a downward spiral as is the economy... But wait! How can that be? Rates are $4/$5/$6 and even $8/mile on some case by case lanes. I can see the rates posted on the board, its never been so good Mr Dan... Trump did what he said he would do in adjusting tax codes that will have yet to be determined positive affects on the economy, he also continues to negotiate better trade deals with the USA in mind every day. China/Russia and others. Heck he even has Kim Jong Un at the table as well as Iran - something most thought would not happen as they were running like wild child's under Obama - deals yet to be made maybe, but with a hard stearn way, here they are - seeking attention and now they have it. Come what may?

Yep, trucking rates are awesome, never before seen rates per mile in some cases on these lanes and who knows with those that hide behind the market demand factor of the supply/demand curve, you may only see the begining of the high rate curve and other that hide behind "well the shippers were all mean to us for so long, now its our turn to be mean to them" - most forget or don't realize the old addage - what goes around, comes around and this will be the downfall of us all in the end. You see great rates now, you see hefty pay checks coming in - you keep pushing rates higher and higher trying to see what you can get in many cases - heck, I'm doing it myself sometimes in given situations, however reluctantly even sometimes. I get afraid I won't be able to cover freight if I don't and w/o covering freight, we don't get any commissions and by all mighty praise and thanks, they have been fruituitous this year and we are up nearly 55% YOY from 2017 on both load counts and gross sales numbers. WHODATHUNKIT ! Dayum !!!

What hides in the dark web of greed though? Do you know? Newton said it best in his laws of physics "For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction" Is it possible ?? A small but growing group of academics believe the latter is true, and they are out to prove it. These thinkers say that the neoclassical mantra of constant economic growth is ignoring the world's diminishing supply of energy at humanity's peril, failing to take account of the principle of net energy return on investment. They hope that a set of theories they call "biophysical economics" will improve upon neoclassical theory, or even replace it altogether. One camp says its models prove the world is headed toward a dramatic economic collapse as energy scarcity takes hold, while another camp believes there is still time to turn the ship around. Still, all biophysical economists see only very bleak prospects for the future of modern civilization, putting a whole new spin on the phrase "the dismal science."

That was part of an article written in 2009 - during the first meltdown - due to greed from 2005 forward by the banks mostly when you look at all things and what did it get us? 8 years of tough times for most. Yet you blame shippers for taking advantage of you and paying low rates, yet it was a sign of the times when S&D is against you, rates will be low, its just how it its against the shippers and you wonder why I write this?

Until you acheive balance, this economic pendulum will swing back and forth and you never quite know where the fulcrum is on the swing either... but where gravity is involved - real or theory, the ball can drop real hard and real fast too! Laws of physics 101...

There is only so much money to go around and only so much can be absorbed on such a swing when that is exhausted (the profit margins) then the price index on the consumer markets start to shift and prices for all things go up, so right when you think your getting ahead, you get a bill in the mail for $500 or $1000 on your electric bill, you see groceries up by 50% or every day items you need to purchase raised by enormous rates as well. This is the forces of the market rebounding and recoiling what is swinging to hard to one side of the fulcrum, so while you may make it in rates per mile, you will spend it costs of buying the things you need. You cry that steer tires now cost $800, how would you like to pay $1200 or $1500 per tire - and that is just one example of thousands possible.

Yes you are in control right now drivers, what you say goes and the last 10 years it was them in control and what they went too. Do you see the pundulum?? When will it shift again, how much time and with what momentum. The more you move your legs as you swing on the swing in the school playground, the higher in the air that swing will go and if you swing hard enough, fast enough and with enough momentum, then you might even go all the way around, or.... god help you, if momentum runs out, you just may come crashing down from the pinnacle vertice and crack your head open too. Each of us will find out when we get there... as we all make our own beds... and must therefore sleep in them...

Quantum process of thought ? or Quanum process of crackpot staying up to late cause he can't sleep? I told you all in 2007 - the crash was coming and I told you all post ELD rates would go through the roof amongst other things... both times few believed me. Its not hard to do if you watch the trends of all things and I'm anything , but an expert at it, if I was I'd be up there advising Trump or Goldman and Sachs company too. I'm just a dumb dispatcher with a few molecules of crazy floating around... GOOD DAY ;)

Posted by Trucker Dan | Post a Comment

Date: 5/18/2017 8:34 AM CDT

Ya know I hear drivers say rates are too low and then I turn around and I hear customers that say rates are to high and you start to realize when was the last time an actual driver and an actual customer actually spoke to each other, probably not in a long time now.   People wonder why rates are not fair on either side, its because this industry has been over run by the 3PL, 4PL and 5PL mindsets.  There is simply to many hands in the pot and when that happens, cookies will get broken.    The more levels involved in shipping products from A to B the higher the rates will be to the customers and the lower they will be the drivers.   End customers will be the ones to feel the heat the most.  

I have seen load arrangements come along and when you go to ask questions of your customer, they have to go ask questions, then they do and they do and they do also to get back to the original person and then couple with how many who work in this industry that this is no more then a $35-$50k a year job, it really makes you wonder.     When a customer lead calls you up and asks for 10 low boy trailers in Houghton, MI, but can't understand why you need to charge a high rate, floats you off, then comes back 3 days later to see if you can still do the job, it really says alot.    When a driver or carrier rep calls you up and quotes you a very high rate, but when you ask them to break it down and they are all thumbs in comments and have no idea or they say things like "Because" or the DH miles are high, but they don't even know where they going next.   You have to wonder on the competence of who your working with.  

Far to many don't know and likely don't care to read into all the many variables that affect this industry and the rating structures that make it up, again it is just a job to them, it pays their monthly rent, tuition, car payment and you ask them a question, half the time they can't answer it, but yet they have a bachelors degree in transportation logistics.  I mean were you sleeping in class that day ?

Other times you have quotes come across and you need information to properly offer a thorough quote and they either don't reply or still don't answer your question, so you end up having to guess and compensate for the what if factor?!   Or you have people that manage lanes for customers but cannot understand the level of customer service between carriers and that some are not worth their nuts n bolts and others are stellar in overall performance and that things with strong performance often cost more, but in the end, you get what you pay for as the old cliche goes.

The minute that load is planned on the truck and off their desk, it is out of sight and out of mind.   I have met drivers that can barely read a map and when they hit a 11' tall bridge underpass, they wonder what the hell just happened, how in the world did they get out of truck driving school?

People wonder why their is a disparity in rates between trucks/carriers and end customers, yet they have no idea what happens in the middle..  

Good Day....

Posted by Trucker Dan | Post a Comment

Date: 5/17/2017 12:35 PM CDT

Well, Well, Well...  I sure have been away a long time.  Dec 2014

So what does everyone think of the new ELD laws ?  Boy is that a hot topic or what?  I've heard quite a few drivers say, if they force me to install one, I'm out.   Yet, many have installed them and there is quite a few that actually like them and say it makes them more efficient.   So there is both sides of a good argument out there.

Barring some major lawsuit intervention and victory...  December 2017 - the world of trucking changes forever and now everyone will operate on a timer.

What many shippers, consignees, riggers do not understand yet is that once that ELD starts, it doesn't stop, it goes 14 hours all day long.  If that truck does a couple of loops around the truck stop and makes it over 2 miles on most units.   His 14 hr rule has started.    So while he had to drive from the truck stop to get to you if you don't have on site parking, his log book started and you keep him unloading for 2-4 hrs as that is standard practice for you.   That was great under the old way, you could get away without paying detention as maybe it wasn't your policy.   Once ELD goes official in December, you will have a much harder time getting trucks to load your freight though.   Guess where that will lead?!   Higher rates per mile !     Don't believe me, wait n see.   The minute you start complaining about not having trucks is the minute rates will start to increase on you.   It is typical Supply n Demand 101 people.

I have already seen trucks be under 5 miles from a destination, a traffic jam held them up as there was an accident on the highway that had the road shut down for 2-3 hours during cleanup.   That truck was forced to pull into a parking lot and stop his truck by the compliance office and told he could not move period !   The jobsite, a power plant, was really hurting for the products too.   Sorry, can't get there !   Some will try to jump on the repower band wagon and while that is a viable option to company fleets it doesn't work as well with Owner Operator fleets and only works in company fleets if they have an available truck in the region and either way it will still be late.

So it will be wise to expected the "EXPECTED" so you cannot say it is unexpected.   Be Ready to unload these trucks when they arrive and get the stuff on the ground.   Have crews in place to empty the truck ASAP and figure out what to do with it after its empty.   If his 14 hr rules expires while he's in your dock, legally he can't move that truck and now you just shut down a viable port for your business to function.  While he may move it to the other side of the parking lot if you ask, legally he is breaking the law and he doesn't have to.   Could you have him towed out, sure... the cost will be on you because DOT says he can't legally move.   Not to mention how many trucks behind them will also be affected as well in various ways.  

So expect rates to go up at the various, but you may want to expect quite a few more headaches too.
At least until people start trying to figure out how to work together and that may be setting firm appointments and if the truck doesn't show up, they wait til next day, but once again, you tie up availability and force rates to go higher.  

Good Luck to all as this economy is growing...
BE Safe
Trucker Dan

Posted by Trucker Dan | Post a Comment

Date: 12/13/2014 12:38 PM CST

The first part of this blog was originally posted on the TRUCK DRIVING JOBS.COM site, but I wanted to share it here also as well as my comments and those of a few others as well.

(From TDJ.COM 12-11-14)
 Congress has been in negotiators this week and looks like at least they’ve agreed to suspend the rules governing when truckers must rest. The issue is part of the $1 trillion that will be funding most of the government until September 2015.

However, democrats such as New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker, the Teamsters Union and various Safety groups are still opposing the suspension and still citing the New Jersey Turnpike crash involving high profile comedian Tracy Morgan as cause.
Republican Maine Sen. Susan Collins has already authored the suspension as part of the transportation spending bill passed earlier this year by the Senate Appropriations Committee. The ATA and the National Fraternal Order of Police have been strong supporters of Collins’ proposal, also citing the Morgan crash as something that occurred under the new HOS rules. Which is a good point.
Congress has proposed legislation that would suspend the restart rules until the federal government studies the impact of regulations that dictate when truckers can take an extended break between their trips.
Joan Claybrook, former head of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and current chairwoman of Citizens for Reliable and Safe Highways opposes Collins’ provision. "Drastically increasing truck driver working hours and reducing rest time are not sensible, serious or desired," she said.
Democrat Sen. Richard Blumenthal was also urging Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to keep the existing rules and not allow the suspension provision into the spending bill. “The suspension of the rules could force tired truckers to stay on the road for longer periods of time, impairing the safety and well-being of the public. This provision should not move forward without further study and debate," the senators stated in a letter. Their position was also supported by Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx, who stated in a letter to House Appropriations Chairman, Hal Rogers: "I am seriously concerned that this suspension will put lives at risk."
But the American Trucking Associations continues to contend the exact opposite saying that under the new rules, all truck drivers can’t get on the road until 5 a.m. rather than earlier, which only puts more vehicles on the road during the morning rush and further compromises safety. "Safety will likely be enhanced by suspending these rules," spokesman Sean McNally said.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration said last year that the 34 hours off can only be taken once a week and must include two 1 a.m. to 5 p.m. periods. In other words, truck drivers can be behind the wheel 11 hours a day, up to a maximum of 60 hours in a seven-day period, but after they take a 34-hour rest period, the seven-day calendar starts all over and the driver can be behind the wheel another 60 hour during the next seven days. The remainder of the rules governing mandatory rest periods for truckers would not be affected.

(End post from

Comments from myself:

  • First off, start making mandatory rate increases for drivers including O/O's.. Drivers will always find a way to driver because they get paid by the mile only, if that truck isn't moving, they aren't making money, that is your CORE problem. You come up with a way to grant them a base actual "take home" salary (and that might be a complex scenario with O/O's w/o calling them employees?) but you are taking their #1 concern off the table, "can they support their families" All this headhaul/backhaul rating stuff is a joke, every other industry or profession out there has minimum salaries (except maybe waiters/waitresses) when the C of L goes up, so do their rates, employees even get a C of L raise annually 3-5% most companies with good performance.   Truck drivers, especially owner operators are constantly at each other throa...ts and undercutting each other to haul the next load and if they don't get a load or don't make enough cause they undercut the last guy that bid, guess what, their gonna try to find a way to run more miles, which means more time and more sleepy drivers. Next, deal with the detention issue.. Make Detention mandatory by shippers, if your not ready for that truck, dont' call him in. He waits for you to load more than 2 hrs, his HOS is burning up, again he's not getting paid to wait, its costing them money. Thus forth they will find a way to run more miles, illegally if needed. Start making detention mandatory and you take the financial concerns off the table. There should also be mandatory minimums on Rates per mile. It all goes back to how much the drivers can take home to the families. That should go both ways too. I see some run so damn cheap just to get a load for today, then I see others submit bid for $7/mile on van loads and if you ask them why they need so much, they cannot give you a strong answer and if you press them and dig deep, you'll find out they are not making enough take home money again, so they trying to make up what they lost on the last 3 runs on this one and hope they the only one bidding some days. Drivers pay system both company and especially O/O's is so broken in this country its pathetic. Price of trucks keeps rising every year, price of fuel goes up every year, maintenance cost goes up every year, insurance often goes up for some reason every year, the one thing that doesn't go up every year is RPM to the truck. Why is the driver always expected to the eat the increases every year for inflation.. Again, back to money they take home. You fix that problem and you won't have worry as much about HOS and who's run legal and illegal.. who's being safe in the process cause you took away the motivation to do so in the first place. (and now you know the rest of the story)

As posted by Jeremiah Miller:  
  • As a truck driver I have come to the conclusion that we are at the bottom of the totem pole and will always be there. But the way I am looking at is like this, at least we are keeping the totem pole up. LOL, I try to see some good of all the BS we have to put up with. I drive west coast and bring back produce and sit around for 12 to 15 hours a week and am not making a dime for my time. It is pathetic to say the least and of course the dispatchers use the "its produce" excuse and the Brokers "I'll see what I can do" and the list goes on. I am in total agreement that a salary or hourly wage be paid. We keep America going in more ways than one, and we also provide by proxy, jobs to those who sit on their fat duffs at the terminals. I always hear people complaining about the truckers that give us good truckers a bad name and it boils my piss to say the least. These liberal dummies need to get their heads out of their butts and start to do justice to us truck drivers. But with all the being said, "Stay safe out their drivers!!"

As posted by Bill Bennigfield: 
  • The 168 hr rule is ridiculous! I was off 4 days over the thanksgiving break and the following week didn't get a restart because the one the week before thanksgiving didn't start until Saturday. Common sense people!! 4 days off is a mini vacation. You are restricting my ability to make a living and accomplishing nothing that furthers safety concerns! ! Get out of my wallet!!
As posted by David Norton: 

  • Increased fines and penalties for pushing their drivers beyond there limits most driver know when they are tired and need to stop .increased drivers pay so drivers don't have to feel like they need to run 5000 miles in aweek to make a good living. Companys need too share the wealth and stop being so greedy.regulate brokers they are a parasite that does more damage than good.
As posted by Michael Henry:  

  • I feel before anyone in the government makes laws for truck drivers they should ride along for a few months to see what we go threw. Also truck driving is a life style isn't made for everyone to do. The government has made it this way and the big companies also. Not everyone can drive a truck and it takes a lot more the. I can't find a job so let me go drive a truck. Also I takes more than 5 weeks to be trained properly and the training should come from someone that has less then 10 yrs driving nation wide experience
As posted by Tom Madden: 

  • This is my idea, First get drop the 14 hour count down rule. Next drop the 1am to 5am twice a week to get the 34hour rule. In it place the driver limits to 12 hours straight, with 2 hour of on duty total of 14 hours max. with 10 hours off. All working labor laws apply, like breaks, lunches etc... Max. weekly hours in my cast 70 hours , but this can be debated but have one set of rule instead of two.Change the 34 hour rule to 48 hours and it can apply as needed to reset. The driver can take as many breaks as he want to, because there is no 14 hour count down rule that make him have to keep running or he looses. this would take care the hard running drivers. Emergency driver can drive hard until he get to a save spot. Example weather. and any other emergency for safe for both him and equipment. This would be flexible enough for most operations and be enforceable.
As posted by Fred Ellis: 

  • They seem to forget about the 30 minute mandatory break between their 1st hour and their 8th hour, so the drivers can legally be behind the wheel for 10.5 hours. I was a long distance trucker old School and new school and I have to tell you that the old school rules were much better. They helped the trucker make and deliver their loads within a specified time frame and the truckers actually made money. The new school hos are only screwing the drivers out of the needed time to make and deliver their loads, but the truckers are not getting paid because the idiots in Washington, D.C. have never been in a truck in their entire lives. This is not the way of real leaders.  
As posted by Teta Mann

  • Everyone seems to forget one HAS to take a 34 hour restart. It's not mandatory. What did you all do before the reset rule? Why does anyone want to sit anywhere (other than home) for a day and a half and then run so hard as to use up 60 or 70 hours in 4.5 or 5.5 days? But I agree the new HOS have cut into my paycheck and I also contend the new HOS makes drivers MORE dangerous. I know if I get tired and need a nap I can't stop anymore because the miles lost while napping can't be driven later and less miles = less $. That time, those miles and that money are GONE that week. So I don't nap anymore. Everyone feel safer now? 11 hours drive time is too much, 10 was fine. Why do people gripe about the 30 minute break? You didn't already stop to get something to eat or use the restroom before the 30 minute break rule? You pull... into a truck stop just for the toilet and there's 20 minutes right there, parking and walking up to the building, walking back to the truck and getting out of the truck stop. You get food to go? 30 minutes. And drivers whose companies use the electronic logs CAN'T "always find a way to drive". They get jerked around at a shpr or rcvr and lose 3, 4 hours on their 14, well...that's gone, they just lost $45, $60 or more. It's not worth being away from home and family anymore, the pay wasn't that great to begin with and now the new HOS cut the pay even more. Lots of experienced drivers leaving the profession because of all this. New drivers getting into it (with visions of lots of money put in their heads by deceitful recruiters) and being trained by other, barely experienced, new drivers. But the highways are much safer now with the new HOS.
As posted by Jeffrey Dionne: 

  • We should be able to have a flat 14 hour day, 11 hours driving per day 7 days a week. Do away with the 60/70 hour week max, do away with the flimsy 30 minute rest break every 8. The problem we have out here is that we need do double the size of existing rest areas and truck stops. Create many more truckstops along the North east & south east coast. ME, NH, MA, CT, NY, VA, MD, NC, SC there should be plenty of parking anytime day or night. Alot of times a we have long 14 hour days and by the time we find a place to leagally park, it is over crowded. Some rest areas are even closed to trucks! Alot of customers are only open to recieve or ship at out rageous hours of the day from 8,9,10,11pm & from12 am,1,2,3,4,5,6, am, then the shipper/reciever will take 4 to 6 hours to load or unload & then have police escort you off the property ...when loading/unloading is complete, they run us out of hours & they do not care! Some only provide porta podies, some provide nothing, no place to wash hands or take a dump! WE Need to be provided with onsite break parking. We need to be allowed more days off, I am away from home 170 hours a week or more & only allowed 34 to 40 hours off. My life is passing me by! We should get paid for every hour that we have to log off duty sleeper or on duty status. We already get paid pennies on the dollar to drive. We sit in long traffic delays MA, CT, IL, VA, NY, NJ, MD etc.. all for free. We should have freight relay points like abs, ups, us mail, fedex have a 14 Hr day max 200 mile radious get home every night. Have shippers preload, drop & hook ALL frieght no more wasting hours of our lives with out pay.   

Posted by Trucker Dan | Post a Comment

Date: 6/6/2014 11:03 AM CDT

I have been hearing alot this year already things like "why are rates getting so high?"  and to somethings in life there is no short quick answers and this could be one of those things if the economy had stayed right the last 6-7 years or so, but it hasn't and to many have gotten used to the "average" lower rate that has been available much of that time, but times are changing, the facts are changing and as a result the truck availability has been changing and will continue to change and it won't be in our favor.    If your not learning and educating your customers and getting them to commit "IN ADVANCE" you could very well find yourself struggling and even missing loads for your customers going forward this year and next.   The trend and paradigm shift ahead isn't the most favorable.

Some could argue it hasn't been the most favorable the last few years and true from the drivers POV it hasn't been, rates have been lower and fuel has been higher with freight options being lower all over on average.   One of the biggest trends shifting in this industry is the age of the american truck driver.   The average age of the owner operator is 58 years old as of last month.    The average age of the company driver is 51 years old as of last month.   Where did all the young drivers go you might ask ?   They got older and the younger generation is not interested in becoming OTR drivers, as a company hack or an owner operator anymore, the fad and the coolness of it are gone.  The American Cowboy on the open roads, the glamour of it, the freedom of it, is gone.  

Look at it like this.  For anything in life, but if you had to show your children for the entire time growing up via your actions and comments around the house how difficult a life you lead in any type of employment, let alone truck driving.   Long hours, lack of respect, can't be around for special events, not paid enough, short paid on things far to often.  deductions made that were never talked about.  Unhealthy lifestyles from sleep to nutrition to stress levels and work environments and I have no doubt I did not touch on everything that could be in that list, but would you want or in any way shape or form, suggest to your children they want to follow in your footsteps or would you have them or try to inspire them to pursue a different career path.   Just from watching the TV show:  Dirty Jobs with Mike Rowe sometimes, you can see the entire blue collar sector is hurting for skilled technicians, but trucking is no different, they are badly hurting as well.  Why because parents and grand parents have in some way, shape or form let their kids know by their actions, their comments and their thoughts and frustrations that trucking is no way to make a life for yourself anymore..  I'm sure there is many more cruel comments than what I would care to put in this article too.    Can you find a few happy truck drivers, I have no doubt you can.   There is retirees out there having a grand ole time, traveling to see the country together, but they are not usually running the way the industry monsters need them to run, they are more on a slower pace and not available to help as often as the industry needs them.  

Yet the industry monsters plans on having that type of driver be the savior for the future of the industry too.  One of the biggest attempts now is to hire from the pools of the retired early in life, both solos and team drivers.  The other big area, which could be a good idea is the service men and women returning from Iraq and Afghanistan.   They need jobs too, many of them use to drive big equipment, why not let them drive a truck.  They have been away from the families and friend and loved ones for 1-10 years now, lets keep them away even longer or we'll be nice, let them be seen 1x a month on average.    Sounds harsh doesn't it... Its true..!   Then they want to market to the retirees, all the wonderful sites they can see in the nation if they become a truck driver, they can go to New Orleans and see bourbon stree (from the insterstate as they pass by maybe)  They can go see the Grand Tetons in Wyoming (as 50 mph from the window of the truck, cause your load is going from California to Calgary by tomorrow morning)  or you can go to Key West (if you can find a safe place in Miami to park, but chances are we won't have a load back out for you or you'll DH 600 miles or more to get one when you return)   And that is barely scraping the surface of what they don't tell you out there.  Trucking is not a lifestyle for the weak minded or lonely in need.  It is not a lifestyle if you need to be around friends and family every few days, its not a lifestyle if you have road rage to any degree, its not a lifestyle if you can't take regular inspections by officers that barely understand your lifestyle choices and the needs of the country and it is certainly not the lifestyle if your looking to make money and keep it.  

If you want to go out there and drive to pay someone else's bills al the time and earn a measely take home minimal salary or put the majority of your money into a rig all of the time as well as the government coffers, then be my guest, learn to drive the truck and become an american truck driver.   Just understand the legend is gone, the Legend of driving a truck and being like "snowman" to some safe and legal degree is gone and will not be coming back.  

Can you have some fun out there, sure you can, you can go do it for a year or so, maybe a couple even if you can stand the lifestyle, but those kinds of people will not solve the trucking industries problem as a whole.   That is another topic though..

Good Day 

Posted by Trucker Dan | Post a Comment

Date: 6/2/2014 10:07 AM CDT

Swamped, but not getting any work done somedays ?  Follow this 1 rule to significantly cut down on follow up responses and mundane question and stop assuming everyone knows what you want done, tell them exactly what you want done.  

Have you ever stopped to consider why so many people are so busy in the trucking industry so often?  The answer is right there in front of most people, but the famous last words, we do rarely see what is right in front of our noses.   Most operations personnel I have worked with both on phone and in email simply do not give out enough information to keep the phone calls to a limited amount, keep extra emails from coming in and as a result they get very busy with menial type of work that could be avoided.    Can the workload be done like this?   It could, but it can be alot more efficient, making you more productive and thus less stressed out if you follow one simple rule.  

Give out all the information in the first place !!!!     I have had some even say to me, but our contacts already know what we want, so they don't have to do that, yet they always send things out to a blast email list of 20, 30, 50, 100 or more people.   There will always be someone new on that list, always.   If you give out all the info the first time, and you cut back on 2, 3 or more communicants (phone calls or emails) you will gain minutes to do other things in instead of stopping what you were about to do and have to go reply to something that often times did not need a reply had you sent out the right info to begin with.   Trucking is not like driving a car, like so many really don't understand in so many ways...

Some will say, but I don't know all the info to put or I'm not a truck driver, they know what they need.   It really is a little bit of common sense if you put the shoe on the other foot.   What would you even think you need to know, start training yourself like that and you will amaze yourself at the question you come up with if you were driving the truck.  

People in operations often miss things like:   How much does it weigh?  What is the commodity?  what are the dimensions, does it need to be tarped (if open deck trailer) what are the shipping and receiving hours, is it a truck load or an LTL (less than truck load)?  What type of trailer do you need?   (if you say one type like SD, but the carrier determines it will fit on FB, will customer adjust why or why not..?   at least educate customer and have that answer avail if you can't put in the original email, truck avail is tight this year and you can lose options really fast)         These are some of the core questions that all carriers need to know to give you a fair quote on a load, if you don't provide this, you are simply going to make yourself that much more busy, and possibly set yourselves up for failure and a problem further down the road because people will start to assume if they don't contact you back to ask these questions and we all know what "ASSUMPTION" is !!!   The mother of all problems.  

You put these answers in the original email you send out to 1 or 100 carriers, especially withe latter and you will cut down on your work load, all the stop and go, back and forth and actually have a less stressful day and now you have alot more qualified leads calling you to move your freight.    Will you still get the questions sometimes, of course, this is trucking, but if your call volume was 200 calls per day and now your down to 150 calls per day, but your still moving the same volume or more, are you not more productive then !!!!

INFORMATION IS KEY TO SUCCESS, YOU HAVE IT YOU MOVE, YOU DON'T YOU GET TRIPPED UP.    To paint a better picture, if there was a way I could "hobble" your feet every 4th or 5th step, so you either almost fell or did fall, would you have a really nice day?   Why do that to yourself and your carrier calls?   Avoid the problem to begin with, provide the necessary information..

Enjoy and have a productive day..


Posted by Trucker Dan | Post a Comment

Date: 5/27/2014 1:25 PM CDT

Trends and pricing in the industry for 2014 (some thoughts)

I was sitting in on a seminar last Tuesday and listening to Jack Ampuja, a long time notable speaker on transportation topics of interest talk about trends in the industry.   I think what shocked me the most was so much of what I've said the last 5 years or more is actually coming true.   Not that I have any expertise beyond Jack's at all, but if your really passionate about this industry and you read enough on it, speak to enough on it, you can put two and two together w/o to much difficult and for many that is or seems to be very hard to do.  

You see for most, they work their 7-4 or 8-5 operations job and they go home.  They get paid hourly or on salary and they do their work and that is it, days over.   You go home to your families, your kids, your private life and take over where you left off the last time you were there.   That is in and of itself the main difference between truckers and operations and it is a very stubborn disconnection too.   There are so many that like to, for starters, set rates on loads, but when you really talk to them for 10-20 mins, you can see, they really don't know what's up.   They have heard from other sources, that it should take this or that much to run a truck, but they don't realize there is at least 100 different business models out there and what works for one, will not work for the other.   They seem to think you put 1 rate out there and it should work for every single truck that is on the highway.   Lovely how blissful ignorance can be huh !  

If you want the lowest rates like so many cry about these days, you need to find the trucks that are domiciled and trying to specifically get back to that area to pull your freight and even then, they won't usually run for back haul pricing and if they do, they either have tremendous head haul opportunities, or they may not be be one to trust with your business?

If you want good, fair average rates, you'll have to have your business volume out there with time to play with, at least 3-4 days to be safe.

If your the type that does not have regular lanes a given carrier can use to help their business model, then you need to hope for someone to come along that can make your lanes work for them at your price range, but often times you will get stuck working with who's available at the time you want to move it and if your on a schedule, be prepared to pay higher rates

When the economy is stronger like it is getting in 2014 with the transportation margin index already at 57% and expected to hit 60%, which it has not been that strong since June of 2004, there is many other shippers out there that will pay the prices that carriers want to move their freight, it is called Supply and Demand economomics 101.   Either you pay or someone else will.  Question then only becomes, how quickly you need to move your stuff.

If your a large shipper like GE or Du Pont or the like, you can waggle with carriers on sheer volume, you keep them going time and time, even if not from and to the same spot, you keep them going and that can get you better rates, but when your just going at the 1-2 type lanes, be prepared to pay higher rates, carriers will follow those that can keep them busy for longer periods of time, but even the big one pay higher rates sometimes to, they can't have the freight ready when the carrier is available, so they can't get that carriers rate they prefer.  

Where does a rate come from?   That is a timeless question and your likely to get as many different answers to this as their are trucks on the road, or at least carrier names anyway.   The rate in general comes from the cost to operate the truck though, no different then you driving your car to work each day, you have to put gas in it, pay for insurance, the car washes, the maintenance, the tires, the oil changes and more.  A truck is no different except in the cost of what each of those items runs respectively.  It is significantly more expensive to run a truck then it is a car.   Average decent car alone is $25-$30k for buy it.    Average truck can run well over $100k to buy it, then you customize how you like it pushing the price up further and don't knock drivers for doing that, if you had to spend 100 hrs a week or more in that truck, you would want it comfortable too.    Then they have to buy the trailer, and pending what type of trailer, just the basic ones average $40,000 and up.  Conestoga's are more like $70k and up and specialized trailers can be alot more than that.   Then you have multiple kinds of insurance, maintenance, oil changes, permits (the regular necessary ones, not OD or OW yet) taxes to run the hwy's, fuel (and that is a huge one these days, currently about .80/mile on average).   Then you have drivers pay, they need to get paid also.    Most are probably in the .40/mile range, though owner operators can be higher as they run usually on a percentage of the load.  

After all is said and done though and this is not set in stone by any means.  A typical 53' van trailer should be in the 2.00/mile range, A FB probably 2.20/mile range and SD probably $2.30/mile range, Double or RGN can be $3.00/mile range.      Now mind you this is only to meet the specific needs of the truck, pay the truck expenses and pay the driver for his work.    On top of this you have the carrier they drive for and they have a margin they adhere to to meet all their needs based on their individual business models.   Most are somewhere from 20-30% range, so you take  $2.20/mile and add 20% to that and your up around $2.85/mile all of a sudden for a FB trailer.    Now add in there DH miles to run and pick up your load, toll charges on some highways, in the USA and in the major cities like NYC or Chicago, then even the, and this is a big one, what the "PERCEPTION" the driver or carrier will have on getting out of the place you want to send them too.   It is a place they can readily get freight from, if yet, you are likely to get a good rate, if it isn't you won't get such a good rate, but then can come down to how badly you need the truck as well.   Most US carriers even if they have Canadian authority, would prefer not to run there unless the loads pay well as most return loads don't pay very well and in some cases, not even enough to take the hassle on to do it, it is cheaper to just bounce back tot he USA empty, but of course, guess who pays for that, the customer that sent the load up there in the first place in a higher rate.  

There are so many other factors that can affect rates that you will pay too, loyalty can be a big one, how often you use that carrier, economic factors, is the industry strong or weak currently, availability the day you are ready to move your load.   Could be on a Monday there is more trucks then on a Thursday and that will affect pricing.   Time you offer to get your load picked up, Destination, route planning, are you using a highly experienced carrier or a fly by night (and yes they do exist and using them can get you into alot of trouble).   These are just to name a few....  The MO for many carriers is like a maze and sorting through it can be tiresome.  

Suggestions, find a good sized carrier you like and feel you can trust and have proven they can be trusted and stick with them, they will try and find you the best rates if you are loyal to them, but if your going to jump all over the map every time you need something, don't expect them to be loyal to you either.   It is a give and take industry is some ways.  

Also make sure you time efficiency is effective too, DO NOT call for the truck unless your sure you have the freight ready, under the new HOS (hours of service) by DOT, once a driver starts his clock in a given day, it does not stop for the whole 14 hrs anymore and post the rule change on July 2013, they already estimate, even though the same #'s of trucks are out there, the effective #s of hours a driver can do can been decreased and that has taken about 15% of the drivers off the road and less availability will drive prices up.   Carriers have even realized that "NOT" buying new equipment every time the economy gets strong will hold higher pricing up there longer too.  Then you have the average age of drivers with Owner Operators at 58 years old and company drivers at 51 years, the newer/younger generation has for the last 20-30 years been told by their parents and grandparents, if you go and drive a truck you will get taken advantage of out there, find something else, trucking isn't what it used to be anymore.   The lack of respect, the lack of education on brokers/customers, carriers unable to fulfill drivers needs, the lack of loyalty, the rate wars, just ask yourself, would you want to be away from your family and loved ones just to get taken advantage of day in and day out...  then you have your answer as to why the lack of availability problems exist too.  

Always be safe out there..  and help your carriers to be safe as well by promoting safety as your #1 goal, in the end, it will help keep your carriers costs down.  

Posted by Trucker Dan | Post a Comment

Date: 2/25/2014 11:50 AM CST

CONESTOGA TRAILERS:  You know what's really cool about Conestoga Trailers?   They don't need tarps and the tarps don't touch the freight.

The seemingly elusive Conestoga trailer, they come in 48, 50, 51, 52 and 53' length sizes, both FB and SD and the inside heights depending on how the owner customizes it will range from on the Flatbed types 92-100" tall and on the SD trailer up from up to 115" - 122" tall     The higher ones on the SD are far and few between too.  They just cost more to build them.    

On average a Conestoga Trailer can run upwards of $70,000 - $80,000 dollars or more.    There is even such a thing, though very rare as a Double Drop Conestoga and he can get up to approx 136" height inside in the well of around 29-6"   Now that is a fancy trailer.   

This type of trailer is nice because it keeps the tarps off the freight.  They are very easy to open and close, the system sits on a roller bearings and just closes and opens like an old accordion does.   More and more customers are seeking this kind of trailer.   They like the fact that the tarps do not have to touch the freight and for some that is a god send, like on high tech or specialty sensitive diagnostic equipment (like medical MRI's )    Specialty automotive manufacturer's have been looking more and more to the SD conestoga trailer as it will perfectly protect their high end vehicles from the rough ride down there road without having to plastic wrap them.   

Rates for this type of trailer will tend to be on the higher side as compared to a regular SD and FB trailer, it is not uncommon to see $4/mile on the FB/SD and as much as $5/mile on the Double drop style, and that should not come as any shock to anyone, a regular trailer costs in the vicinity of $40-45k for a new unit, but these specialized conestogas can cost upwards of $70k or more because there is alot more that goes into building them.  It is a very intricate sliding tarp system that is being added on and it costs the drivers a very pretty penny to invest in them.  The Double Drops can be over $100k to build.  They should be compensated for such an investment.   When you need a doctor for heart surgery, do don't go to see a general family doctor do you, no !   You find a specialized cardiovascular surgeon.  That is what it is like to put your very high end freight on a Conestoga trailer.   Your freight is something very high end and cost 10's of $1000's or even 100s of 1000's of dollars and in some cases even a million or more.   Do you want to risk that to just some tarp system that is draped over the top.  Not me !  

Feel free to take a look at one of our professional drivers as he uses the FB Conestoga system in action.   The SD is just the same in how it works:   This one is made by Eagle, but there is others as well.   

Customers that we go into see this and see how it works and they want to see the drivers again and again to haul their freight.  The Conestoga (or otherwise known as retractable) trailer is a fast, safe, easy and efficient way for customers to haul their freight.   

Give us a call for more information on how you can get one of these trailers for you loads.   

Dan Mitchell
CR Danstar Transporatation, LLC
Agent for Landstar Ranger 

Posted by Trucker Dan | 2 Comments

Date: 9/27/2013 1:08 PM CDT

Might seem like a silly question, but why do companies that need freight hauled, always wait til the last minute and then cry when their freight can't be moved?  

I get so many requests to move Conestoga and Lift Gate type loads, but they come in a 11am on the day in question for example.   You mean to tell me, you didn't know your customer bought this 1-2 weeks ago, most likely paid for it and you let it sit on your dock!   Naaah, I'm not buying it.   Someone dropped the ball somewhere.  

Conestoga both FB and SD, but more especially the SD and Lift Gate van trailers are some of the most specialized equipment we have here at Landstar and we don't have alot of them, but then again, neither does more of our competition either.  I know this because we are set up with over 32,000 carriers and I can randomly search for the equipment I need and those 2 types always come up the least.  You try to search for Conestoga on Google and more often you get "Conestoga Building" Conestoga Inc.  or some other business name that has nothing to do with trucking.

The demand for these specialized trailers is getting higher and higher every month, customers like the fact that the freight does not get touched by the tarps, especially the more fragile stuff, with various light duty extrusions from the top or glass or electronics or even exotic cars or top secret stuff, they make a great trailer for those needs and more.  

Lift gates help on places with no docks and at shows and trade events.   Typically the specialized trailer can also not handle as much weight as a straight up van trailer or flatbed trailer.   Connies (is one nickname) can get up to 42,000 lbs and a Lift Gate maybe up to 43,000 lbs because the extra equipment is heavier and addition to the tear weight of the vehicle.   So you lose gross hauling capacity.   Then of course if the driver has a specialized rig with longer wheel base for his/her personal comfort, they could be heavier yet.   So don't plan on loading them to your perceived maximums.   It won't happen.  

Also, when you call for this type of equipment expect it to cost more, a Conestoga trailer either size, FB or SD costs approx $25,000 more than a standard open deck trailer and they are simply not going to run for the standard van and open deck rates.   You should expect a minimum of $3/mile on those trailer types and then factor in the supply and demand on any given day and you'll understand why they cost more.  

Please when you call for them, try to have your shipments planned out at least a week in advance and have your facts in a row as well, make sure your ready to ship, the order is paid for, customer signed his contract with you, whatever.   Cancelling these types of trucks will cost more in TONU charges as more often, they have to DH alot further to get to your loads, so you can expect charges of at least $500 and if they came along way out, it can be alot higher than that, so don't order the truck until you are very sure you need it, you will save everyone alot of headache and save your own purse alot of lost cash !     These trucks can get pulled off other committments at times to come and handle your shipment as time permits, so be sure !

Posted by Trucker Dan | Post a Comment

Date: 6/18/2013 10:35 PM CDT

June 18th, 2013

Good Day,

Times have been tough lately, has anyone else noticed that or is it just me?  I already know the answer to that question and many have told me on the broker side of the equation yes they are struggling too.  Sometimes with rates, sometimes with availability, sometimes even with both at the same time.   Yes, there is still a good handful that are doing just fine as well.   Keep in mind, I can personally only sample a small percentage of the big picture herein, so of course, what I say only represents that small basis just the same.

About 2 months ago, maybe 3, I was hearing from drivers and a few agents / brokers as well, things are slow.  I was a bit slow, but keeping with my typical flow in the 1st quarter, so in reality, although things were off some YOY, I didn't notice it to bad.  Then one day I get a call from a regional manager.   Initially they called as they noticed my address has changed, but the conversation progressed if I was still a company agent and I thought that weird to ask, I move 10 miles away, and you think I fell off the face of the earth, hmmmm !   Anyway, not in so many words, but I could sense a desire for information on how and why my quarterly stats were what they were, again not great, but not bad (in my opinion).   They asked questions like, what can we do to help drum up business, do you see any cross selling opp's and push the limit as you talk to customers, go for broke, you want all their business.   Then I started hearing from a local source that has been around a long time, revenue was down at the corporate level and they were noticing and it started to make a little sense, with a twist.   Why all of a sudden the interest in trying to help me grow, they never showed like they cared in the past and w/o a ton of details, they even in years past made decisions that made it very difficult for me to stay in business, almost like they were trying to get rid of me, but not really.  I manage to keep bouncing back.  Kinda like one of those cockroaches you can't step on no matter how hard to try !

Anyway, what I wanted to put on the table herein.  This trucking industry is not the same as it was even five years ago.  Is that just an opinion, sure it is, but it one shared by most I talk to on a more outgoing note at least to some extent or fashion.   You can see it in things like, average age of drivers today and last I checked, the owner operator was hitting 56 years old and the company driver was hitting 48 years old and those #'s are going up almost every year, which tells me one solid fact.   The younger generation more and more is not replacing the older generation.  Sons and daughters are not following in Mommy and Daddy's footsteps like they did in the past.  Sure some do, but not enough to hold down the average age of the drivers overall, that # has gone up the last several years.    Why is this?      Again, this is just the opinion of the writer, but since when have the professional drivers of this country truly and actually gotten a fair break ? They haven't in a very long time.   Customers crack down on them always looking for the cheapest rates, not all, but many.   Brokers crack down on always looking for a bigger piece of the pie cut, companies that employ them or lease them on do so in multiple ways.  Everything from not getting them home when they need to be, to pay per mile, to miles per week and more.  DOT cracks down on them by harrassing many of them.   Sure some deserve it as they are lazy and can't keep up with the demand and rules set forth.  Truckstops crack down on them by serving less than adequate food in terms of nutritional value.  Its hard enough being on the road 2-6 weeks or more in a row away from family and friends, but to eat as many of them do is bordering on criminal to me.   Sure some places offer salad meals and a few dishes that have nutritional value and true maybe some drivers choose to be that in what they choose to eat.   The legislation, and in this group I will include lobby groups like MATT (mother's against tired truckers and many others) but even the congressmen/women that pass the laws, do so only because their is money involved to them and maybe their regions.   I have read many reports by these groups and the studies that follow them and I really get a distinct impression, they don't really, truly know what they are talking about and if once in a while they get close, they still don't know what it is like out there.    So they are still way off base.   I'm not saying by any means that truckers are perfect, but they are a broken group overall.   They have no voice that really and totally benefits them.  Sure OOIDA claims to and the TVC and others, but at what price?   What does MATT and all their lobby efforts rule supreme and all these laws get passed that to some degree or other hurt truck drivers, why are truck drivers, at the point they take home, still one of the lowest paid professions out there and I don't mean on gross salary as it costs a ton of money to run a big truck.   Why has OOIDA not supported (at least not in anything I have ever read) a total revamping of rates per mile to move freight.   Why are customers and brokers allowed to dictate to the drivers how much they will pay?   I mean does anyone here tell a lawyer to represent them and they will pay $100 per hour?   NO !   How about the electrician or the plumber or the auto mechanic, you pay their price or you go someplace else and often times that someplace else is your own personal resources, if you think you can of course.    Its a total joke !    I see people offer rates to move loads, still today that are so far beneath what is necessary to even break even and I can only shake my head.  People are still glued like krazy glue to this concept of head haul and back haul and the concept is more than 30 years outdated !  

Drivers are waking up, but not entirely in a way I would like to see.   They are leaving the road, some due to retirement, some to frustration, some are forced out of business, but however you strike it, this industry is hemorrhaging drivers.   We had over 8 million in 2008, then by 2010 we had just over 5 million and I have not seen any current status on this, but I'm sure its overall less.   Those who remain are the ones that are (how to say this w/o sounding condescending) pretty smart, they know how to work the system and some of those methods are not always entirely w/in the letter of the law, they are grossly minor infractions, some may even call them loop holes, but drivers find them and work them for all they are worth.    Some get hired for exclusive use and w/o the customer ever finding out, manage to put other freight on their trucks.   Why does this happen, because as simple as it is, the rates on many lanes are to low and the truck cannot survive on the rate per mile given.   If they don't pick up some other LTL, the original load that was hired for exclusive use cannot possibly make to the destination either and most drivers are not about holding loads for ransom so to speak either, could they do that, of course they could and most would pay, but it creates alot of bad vibes too all around and that radiate deeper then just sitrep on hand.

Laws are changing again though and as the powers that be figure out the loops, they try to close them one by one and still today the drivers do little to nothing about it.    I recall there was 3-4 trucks that all parked out on I-10 in california blocking the interstate in protest years back.   Like, HELLO BOYS !   they will have you and your equipment cleared out of there w/in the hour.   What did you think would happen, you would bring the industry screeching to its knees ??!!!   Now if you had 100,000 trucks do that on I-10 you might actually get some attention, but trying to get you all to organize that beside being illegal and insiteful just won't work cause to many of you can't even agree what time of day it is.    They tried a 5000 truck march on Washington DC a few years ago, I don't recall how many actually showed up, but it was a far cry from what was needed.   The new laws coming out are aimed to be tougher on drivers yet again.   They are removing the loop hole for the extra 3 hour rule, they are changing the 34 hr restart to include 2 1am to 5am breaks, effectively making it 3 days off, and one that will really hurt many of them; the weight to height ratio, they want obese, high risk drivers off the road if they can't maintain their weight properly.   More laws will follow too.

Gosh I could go on and on and on.    It is sad what is happening to the american trucker out there, they truly are the backbone of the USA and w/o them (which is never likely to happen) this country would cease to exist.  Stores would have bare shelves in 2-3 days tops, so hopefully you all start thinking about that as you move about your days, as you buy what you need to buy in the stores.   Who brought it to the stores ?  Every single thing in your and around your home at some point in its life, was on the back of 1 or more trucks.   Now think what if it all stopped one day, then what would you do ?     Kind of a scary thought isn't it..

Good Day !

Posted by Trucker Dan | Post a Comment

CR DANSTAR TRANSPORTATION, LLC Indpendent Agents for Landstar Ranger & Landstar Express America

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