February 2010 Letters

The good old days 
The “Cannonballs and Crackerboxes” article written by Bob Martin (in the November issue of Land Line) was very interesting. Bob is from the “old breed” of truckers.

I was on the road for 35 years and retired in 2004. When I started driving in 1962, it was a different world.

When you broke down on the road, other truckers would stop to help you. Truck stops were for truckers, not the general public.

Back in the old days, people had respect for truckers. There were no cowboys on the road back then. Today we are the most hated on the highway.

I drove for many companies over the years such as Bozzuto’s food services, Matlack Tank Lines, Staples, Ruan Transportation Co., Ryder Logistics, CF and System Freight.

When I drove for Matlack, we were called Circle M drivers. If you drove for Chemical Leaman, you were a Circle C driver. If you were a driver for McLean, you were a Double Diamond driver. If you drove for St. Johnsbury, you were a St. J driver. Driving for Cooper-Jarrett, you were a “route of the relay” driver.

Also, we had slang names for where we were heading: Chicago (Windy Town), Los Angeles (Shaky City), Boston (Bean Town), Buffalo (Nickel City), Akron, OH (Rubber City), New York City (the Big Apple).

Oh, the good old days of Diamond Ts, Brockways, B-Model Macks.

I enjoy your magazine very much. Keep up the good work.

Tom Senuta
Ledyard, CT

Two sides of tow business 
I just read the article on tow truck bills (in the November issue of Land Line). I am glad these guys are here. I hope to never have to meet them, but these guys do hard work without a lot of credit.

Now the big “but.” My wife and I watch the TV reality show “Wrecked” on cable, and we are constantly amazed by the number of trucks they send to simple tasks. Sending two rotating boom trucks to pick up a trailer that has sunk a foot or so into mud is ridiculous. I am sure they can rattle off several reasons why they had to do it that way, but it is hard to watch when you know how much it cost the company involved.

There needs to be something in place to dispute a tow bill if you deem it to be excessive, just as you can dispute a hospital bill. The tow industry needs a certification and review board that has the power to hear grievances.

I understand that the nature of tow business is like firefighters: hours of nothing, paying people to basically stand by and wait for something to happen. But by gouging the poor driver who is not in a good position at the time himself, the tow companies are making the whole business look bad. Truckers know all too well how that feels.

Pete Lassen
Peoria, AZ

Truckloads of wreaths
Recently, I received a phone call from a driver from the Boyle Trucking Co. who stated he had a truckload of wreaths from Wreaths Across America in Maine.

I am the point of contact for the National Cemetery of the Alleghenies in Bridgeville, PA.

I am the state commander of the “Military Order of the Purple Heart,” Department of Pennsylvania. For several years, I have purchased wreaths from the MOPH grant funds and solicited contributions from veteran organizations and the general public.

I want to personally thank all the trucking companies and drivers that deliver these wreaths at no cost. This year approximately 161,000 wreaths were delivered (worldwide). May God bless all of you!

MSgt John Kenes (USMC) retired
veteran of World War II and Vietnam

Know your rates 
I run a small operation (five units), but I have been on every side of this business. I have seen the truck leasing side (Ryder), shipper side (Rhodes Furniture), and my own side as a business owner and for-hire motor carrier.

The biggest thing I see is that guys don’t know what it takes to operate their trucks. They take whatever they can find and then complain it didn’t cover their expenses.

The bigger companies are switching to owner/operator-lease purchase programs to defray their costs. They have economies of scale working in their favor, and they’re pushing every penny they can onto the owner/operator.

Guys, wake up. Every time you haul a load for the big guys, you’re cutting your own throat. They can tell all the shippers they have the equipment (but they don’t care if they lay you over).

I am surviving only because I have direct customers who know that I’m giving them a fair rate.

Raise your rates to accommodate the new regulations. Let the shipper feel it and pass it on to the consumer who will finally understand when a Coke costs $5.

The run-up in fuel prices changed a lot of people’s behaviors. I have noticed owner-operators driving much slower than they used to. If you can add a penny-per-mile profit by slowing down to 65 from 68, you just added $1,000 to your profit margin.

You can compete if you do your homework.

Terry Blackwell
Douglasville, GA