Way back when I first started trucking there was a brand new truck for sale right outside the training school I went to. There were actually several, but just one in particular that I wanted – and it was a Freightliner.
Every morning and every evening and at lunch, I would look at it and wanted to own it even then.
But the time was not right and I was not ready – not yet.
There would be many years from that day between then and now, and I have enjoyed them all. During all my years in trucking, I have made it an intentional mission of mine to study and learn as much as I could about all aspects of trucking as a business, as a career, and as a lifestyle – and I have gathered a massive amount of training, experience and information over all those years.
As of April of this year – 2021 – I have finally achieved that original dream of owning my own truck and trailer as an Independent Owner Operator.
It has not been a disappointment either – it is in fact the most joy I have ever had in any work of any kind I have ever done – though training people as an instructor and publishing my own work as an author comes very close. Luckily I get to keep doing those things too!
My wife and I have operated Transport Resource Solutions LLC as a recruiting, training, and publishing company since 2008 – and it has grown and evolved from a part-time business to a profitable training, publishing, and coaching business with multiple courses published online and thousands of students who have taken our courses – and now it evolves again as we begin operations as a motor carrier.
We will continue providing online courses, training manuals, books, and other publications as we also build our trucking business as a motor carrier. For now, we are a one truck and one trailer operation – however, we will begin adding other drivers within a year and building TRS into a fleet. That’s the plan anyway – and we will see how it goes over the coming months.
It is my intention to first grow the company by adding owner operators – and paying them well while treating them great and providing them with opportunities not available anywhere else. Eventually, we will also be hiring some company drivers – but they will all be instructors, road trainers, and rolling recruiters – and they will be the best of the best on the road.
But that will all have to wait a little longer… right now we have freight to move.
We found and purchased a 2014 Freightliner Cascadia with a DD15 and a 13-speed transmission.
Initially, we found a listing online that led us to a truck dealer in Richmond VA – and the truck we wanted was a bit pricer than we wanted to spend in our budget so we made an offer significantly less than the asking price. That particular truck was selected because of the specs and overall condition and it had just two drawbacks.
The first was the price – it was about ten grand more than we wanted to pay for it. The second was the color – it was an awful cross between gold and copper that was butt ugly! But we were not interested in it because of its beauty (or lack thereof) but rather because we thought it was a solid truck that we could hopefully get a couple of hundred thousand miles out of it before needing a major engine overhaul.
The dealer said he couldn’t do the deal on that truck – and someone else was already looking at it for full price. However he mentioned he had another unit coming in the following week with near-identical specs from the same company except it had more miles on it – and he agreed to sell it to us for our asking price if we wanted it. So we made the deal after a few pictures were sent – contingent upon a personal inspection.
When I saw the truck in person I could not believe it – in my opinion, it was worth MORE than the first one we had wanted – and it was a hell of a lot better looking too! So we bought it.
It took a while to finalize everything and to get all of the details taken care of, including IRP/IFTA so we could finally run – but eventually, we got it all done and started hauling loads. I love that truck – and it has already generated a substantial portion of its purchase price in revenue.
I am still getting used to that 13 speed though – and now shifting pretty good. Over the course of my career I have driven almost every type of transmission out there – including a short ride or two in trucks with 13 speeds – but never hauled a load with one. Most of my time hauling freight was with 10 speeds, super 10’s (my favorite), and the last couple of years or so in an automatic. The first week or so with the 13 – if you saw me on the road, you would probably think that I had just gotten out of truck driving school as far as my shifting was going! I was able to make her go down the road but it was NOT pretty.
Since then I have gotten a lot more seat time and a lot better at shifting – though still not quite dialed in yet.
The trailer we selected was one we found at an auction and bought sight unseen – other than just pictures. It was in PA and we were still working on preparations to get operational so we bought it and paid another carrier to bring it to us and drop it off at a local shop. We already knew it needed work – beginning with replacing the doors which were both shot from years of abuse.
The trailer was old – but I knew it had plenty of life left in it even though it was a 2000 – and this is 2021 – so you do the math on how old it is. We bought it at a bargain-basement price – but knowing full well we would have to put quite a bit of money into it to make it rock solid and road-ready.
Buying an older trailer like this is a bigger risk – and could easily wind up costing more than simply buying a brand new trailer – or at least a newer trailer that is just a few years old. On the flip side – IF it works out it is possible to own a fully paid for trailer capable of doing the job for less than half what a newer trailer would cost up front – and some of the repairs and improvements can be done over time as revenue is generated.
To start with we had the doors replaced and two rear airbags replaced, the tandem slide reaired and lights fixed. Next, we ran a few light loads on the old tires – which were all legal but old as dirt. As soon as she earned enough to pay the bill we replaced all of the trailer tires at a cost of a little more than three grand. I did keep one of the old tires as a spare and replaced a missing aluminum rim with a used one and kept the steel wheel and a tire for the spare rack under the trailer.
Then we ran more loads.
We did great too. Our goal was to target $1000 minimum revenue to the truck per day five days per week on average and we did that and better for the most part.
Then the lights went out on the trailer – so back to the shop she went. They replaced a fuse on the tractor and the entire box on the trailer for a couple of hundred bucks. All was good for another couple of weeks and we ran load after load with no problems.
Then the lights went out again!
So I took it to another shop to have the brakes checked and adjusted as I thought two were getting close on pads and if they were near minimums I wanted to go ahead and replace them to avoid any DOT issues and any other trouble on the road. The good news was that all the brakes and drums were fine except the right rear axle which had plenty of pad but was coming apart for some reason (maybe sitting for so long before we bought it?) so the shop replaced the pads and adjusted all the brakes and did a full inspection of everything else on it for us.
I told the shop I have two main objectives. First to prevent any breakdowns on the road and any related issues – and secondly to avoid any issues with DOT/Scales and any other regulatory problems. If there are any issues find them and fix them. According to the shop, the only issues were the one set of brake pads and the issues they found during their inspection with the ABS sensor/and system – and the marker lights we already knew about.
They fixed the lights within a matter of minutes – seems something in that new electrical box was miswired and overloading the circuit causing the fuse to blow – so they fixed that by rewiring it and replacing the blown fuse. The ABS system was still not working properly and needed a sensor and a wiring harness.
The sensor came in the next day – but the wiring harness is still on the way… so here we sit four days later going into the weekend (and our shop is closed on the weekend) so I will be waiting until at least Monday or Tuesday to get our trailer back. No biggie… gives me time to write blog posts and catch up on other work!
The L.D. Sewell YouTube Channel
If you would like to come along for the ride and follow along with some of my adventures in trucking as we work to build the company from where we are now into the fleet that I envision – then check out my YouTube channel.
From now on and for the foreseeable future I will be posting at least one video there per day at least five days per week – so long as the technology demons cooperate and allow me to get the video off my phone and on to YouTube.
You can find my channel here; L.D. Sewell YouTube Channel