Trucker Tips: How I started trucking

When I took a job as a delivery helper for a local distributor back in 2000, I never planned on that turning into a trucking career. But after a couple of months, someone mentioned to me that I could make an additional $10,000 per year if I got a commercial driver’s license and my own route.

As a 21-year-old, that was a lot of money. A few weeks later, I had my learner’s permit. Two months later I went to the local technical college and earned my CDL. I spent 13 years as a company driver, running both local and over-the-road routes.

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Becoming an owner-operator

In 2013, my brother and I bought a truck and leased on with a carrier as team drivers. After a few months, we realized it was hard to make enough money to keep the lights on at home. A year later I bought another truck of my own and became a solo owner-operator, still leased on with the same company.

At the time, I was hauling contracted freight, so my compensation per mile was capped, with a changing fuel surcharge. In order to make more money, I had to spend less. That meant getting more knowledgeable about business and truck maintenance.

With fuel being the biggest expense, I dove into fuel efficiency and cost savings. I learned how to come away with more profit at the end of each trip. After three years with that company, I felt I had mastered it, but there was still a limit to how much money I could make.

Getting my own authority

I went independent in January 2017. When I was leased-on, I was hauling freight for an average of $1.25 per mile, and my operating expenses were roughly 75 cents per mile. I used that same model with my new endeavor.

I started out as a New Entrant carrier with insurance, a new-to-me 2014 Kenworth W900L and a 2013 Great Dane dry van. I studied everything, read everything, listened to everyone and everything I could on being profitable in the freight industry.

Then I discovered the DAT TruckersEdge load board. It seemed appropriate because what I needed was an edge. So I signed up.

RELATED: How I find the best-paying loads

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