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.
I spent the first 18 years of my career as a company driver and toward the end of that time, I became a disgruntled company driver. You probably didn’t think they existed. Anyway, I’m a very cautious person by nature and in hindsight, too cautious at times. I knew I wanted to start my own business. I had to think of a different way…
I started Blue Ridge Transport with a Dodge 3500 1 ton dually, a 3-car wedge auto trailer and my own authority. I was able to stay under 26,001 pounds and therefore didn’t need a costly apportioned plate and didn’t need to file fuel taxes every quarter with IFTA. This allowed me to to start my business less expensivly and a little slower, therefore allowing me time to adjust to the regulations governing motor carriers. I averaged $1.35 for all miles driven for that hot shot operation. That was pretty good considering the lesser expenses involved.
After I got the hang of finding loads, dispatching myself and staying profitable, I decided to move up with a full size class 8 tractor and a 9 car trailer. This was quite a jump up for me, but I was able to handle it because I first developed my business model in a less riskier hot shot operation. There weren’t many differences between my operation as a hot shot and now with a full size truck. In both instances, I had to have a log book, drug testing program, driver file, maintenance program, cargo and liability insurance, operating and liability insurance, operating authority, CDL with a medical certificate, etc.. Having all these responsibilities without those of IFTA and apportioned plate coupled with less expensive equipment was the right combination for me to learn at my slow pace. I was able to grow my business steadily. Remember, slow is smooth and smooth is fast.
My pathway to becoming an owner-operator is probably different than most, but one that allowed me concentrate more on the business side of trucking. This process gave me the confidence to move up to a full size operation with my own authority. I guess you could say this is “a way” but not “the way.”