Dear Ray:

I probably receive 5-6 calls or emails per month from Drivers and Owner Operators who want advice on one issue or another. I quite enjoy talking to folks who want to just pick my brain on issues of the day, are looking for direction on things like profitability or are having a conflict with their carrier. I thought I would share the nature of a few of these calls with you. Maybe some of you are having the same issues or are looking for similar direction and can benefit from these conversations. The names will be changed to protect the innocent, the guilty and myself from any unwanted, unscrupulous, time wasting repercussions.

I received an e-mail from Johnny Wannabe (JW) from Alberta. This well-spoken young fella has given it a ton of thought and he is determined to become an Owner Operator. His question is: what do I do first? He wants to do his homework before he goes and buys a truck. I love enthusiasm and this young man is full of it so I sent young JW some of my past articles on the subject. I also sent a link to a set of videos that I did that have received over 100,000 hits on YouTube, plus I suggested that he go online and look up Kevin Rutherford’s web site that I love: Let’s Truck I also have been referring folks to Robert Scheper from Winnipeg to help set up their business and keep the books straight Robert also writes for Over the Road but believe me, it is not for that reason that I recommend his services. This is who I would have doing my stuff if I were still an Owner Operator. I also sent some additional info that was at my disposal. Best of luck JW, I think you’ll be fine.

I received a telephone call from Lost in the Dark (LITD), a fellow from eastern Canada who operates a couple of trucks and doesn’t know if he is as profitable as he should be. This was a great call as this fellow has his stuff together for the most part. After a number of probing questions from me, this experienced driver and small businessman seemed to have it all together. He is operating two trucks with his own authority; has great gross revenue and is paying his second driver a decent salary. He knew his numbers when asked and I was quite impressed. That is until he revealed that he had not filed his 2014 tax return. That opened up a gaping hole in the conversation. How can you seem to have your act together but overlook this little dandy? Paying your taxes has to be done so why not do it on time? I speak from experience here; there is no sense spending money on late payments and interest charges that are not necessary. It is a part of the business that HAS to be taken care of, hate it as we may. LITD informed me that his wife had no interest or skills necessary to perform this function so once more I recommend Robert Scheper LITD will be fine; he just needs a little guidance.

I had a phone call from Ontario from a lady I will call The Victim (TM). I have to say that this call was an exercise in patience for me as it was from an O/O’s girlfriend/co-driver. This couple was in the midst of being worked over by the carrier that the truck and boyfriend were contracted to. As she described it, there had been friction and bad manners displayed from both parties that had been going on for quite a while. Boy does this conversation bring back some nasty flashbacks. So after a barrage of words from her I finally got a chance to ask a couple questions like; so when the very first issue occurred did anyone from your side ask for a sit down to find resolution to whatever caused the problem? Answer – No. So when things went bad the second time, what did you folks do? Well, much the same thing. So I asked, when were things supposed to get better? Before I get any nasty emails from you folks, I’m not saying that the carrier doesn’t share in this O/O couple’s issues because they clearly do. My advice is to be proactive in these situations. Let’s be honest; you have done everything in perfect sequence to put yourself in the situation that you’re in today, good or bad. Step one; take responsibility and ownership. Once you learn that critical lesson and understand it, you have to act when things go wrong. If you don’t it’s just laziness. I won’t go on any longer on this one. I gave TM some advice on how to efficiently cut the cord with their company and hopefully they’ll be alright, but I do have concerns.

I also had a phone call from someone I’ll call The Constructive Critic (TCC), Not sure where he was from as the connection was very poor but I got enough of it to understand the sentiment. TCC was sharing his observation, in a very respectful way I will add, that it appeared to him that I had begun leaning more and more in my writings towards a company bias and against Drivers and O/O’s. I have to admit that this took me aback. So I asked TCC if he had any specific examples that he could share with me of my indiscretions. He didn’t offer any specifics but did share some of his frustrations as a Driver dealing with border crossings, waiting at customers etc. Thanks for the call TCC. Much appreciated. You got my wheels turning man.

Folks, I drove for 10 years and have done over a million miles of safe driving all over North America. I proudly exclaim this wherever possible. In my career I was the President of a small, a medium and a large sized carrier for a couple of decades. Do I have a bias towards companies? You bet I do. Do I also have complete empathy and understanding of what it’s like to live on the road? Ya buddy I do. Bin there, done that, wore out the tee shirt. Hopefully what I write comes across in a balanced way. I hope so anyway.

If something is eatin on ya; if you got a comment or observation you want shared, drop me a line at
Safe trucking!

Ray J. Haight

About Ray J. Haight

Areas of Focus: Operations, Recruiting & Retention, Human Resources With a career spanning four decades, Ray has been involved in all facets of the North American Trucking Industry.