Contributing author Joey Slaughter is the owner of Blue Ridge Transport, LLC. A Ringgold, VA based carrier. Joey started his company in 2010 after serving time as an unhappy employee with a local trucking company. The time spent there was not fun but, in hindsight, was a turning point that propelled Joey into the wonderful world of being an entrepreneur. Please visit JoeySlaughter.net for more insightful blogging.
Since my back surgery in June, I’ve been actively avoiding loads that require tarping. As any flatbedder knows, tarping is hard, dirty work that adds quite a bit of time to the load. I also pursue lightweight freight as often as I can. As a more experienced trucker told me recently: “light is right.” All the pictures on this page are of loads I’ve hauled in the last week. The heaviest was the 2 excavators at 36,000# and the lightest was the load of Massey Ferguson tractors at 18,000#.
There are many things to consider when picking your own loads.
- Deadhead miles to pick up load
- Amount of time to get loaded (waiting in lines, load securement, tarping)
- Weight of load – lighter loads get better fuel mileage
- Dimensions of load – low profile loads get better fuel mileage
- Destination – is it where you want to go or a black hole for freight?
When I look at a loadboard with my search criteria, there may be 100 loads listed, but there may be only 10 or less of what I’m looking for.
- Lightweight; less than 40k
- No tarp – I’ll only take a tarp load if there are no other options and it pays well.
- Stay away from high volume shippers; that’s usually heavy, flatbed freight.
- Stay away from over-sized. The extra money for permits and time constraints don’t usually translate to the extra money needed to deal with the headaches.
- If it’s going to a black hole area, I make sure to get enough money to compensate for a deadhead out.
As an independent, I have to stay nimble and able to react quickly to compete on the same playing field as the large carriers. I’m very picky with my loads and may deadhead farther to get what I’m looking for. You have to look at the whole picture when choosing your next load and you need to learn to do this rapidly so you can make good quick decisions and beat out the competition.