Trucking- Close the Drain

Jeff Clark- North American Trucking Alerts

Jeff’s Truck
Freightliner, Cascadia Evolution

Posted on Team Run Smart  “Close the Drain” by Jeff Clark

If you want to keep water in the sink, close the drain. After you do that turn on the faucet. If you turn on the faucet without closing the drain, all the water will be just go down the drain. It is hard to wash dishes that way. The same goes for finances. You can not spend your way out of debt. Have you seen those commercials-where they “pay me to shop”? Get real.

When I started out as a driver, I was struggling financially. The video business that I had was becoming obsolete with the onset of satellite technology. The building that I owned sold for a nice profit. The business itself was sold at a substantial loss. I needed a job, and I liked to drive. Driving a truck made sense at the time. Starting another business did not.

Prepare yourself to be successful. Becoming an owner operator was a great decision for me. I am a good, hard working driver. The one truck owner operator’s biggest competitive advantage is their driver. I had earned a degree in business. I had learned from owning and operating another business. When the time was right, I bought my first truck. Starting any business is hard. Having personal financial problems can hurt your business. Turn off the drain. Get your personal finances in order. Then buy a truck. Owning a trucking company, even one truck, is a big responsibility. It can be rewarding, if you run it right.

Most businesses do not start out as cash cows. In your first year as an owner operator you may make less money than your last year as a company driver. Don’t wear rose colored glasses when making your business plan. If you start out in the hole, you may just never get out of it. You will always be chasing debt. You will want to build savings as a business owner. Remember that you are in business to stay in business.

The industry as a whole has failed to close the drain when it comes to drivers. We have recruited drivers from every possible source. At the same time we have had little success keeping them in the profession. Most new recruits are out of the industry in less than 18 months. With an improving economy, the supply of new recruits has become more limited. That combination has put drivers in a strong position. Good drivers are hard to come by. If you are a good driver, with your personal finances in order, this may be the right time to become an owner operator.

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Jeff Clark was born in the Chicago suburb of Glen Ellyn, IL. As a kid he delivered the Chicago Tribune, Sun Times and Wall Street Journal in the morning and the Chicago Today in the afternoon. In high school he worked at the local Sears store and at school Jeff ran track and cross country. After High School Mr. Clark went on to get his A.A. in Liberal Arts at the College of Du Page. After graduation, Jeff tried several jobs but ended up in warehousing. He worked as a Teamster Warehouseman and lift truck operator for several years, and after several bouts of layoffs, Jeff started working towards his B.A. Degree in Business Administration with an Accounting Concentration as well as an emphasis on Economics. After graduation, he moved to Wisconsin, and worked as a store manager and eventually bought the video business. He also sidelined working for an Accounting firm, working on tax returns. In 1988 Jeff went to truck driving and began driving truck. In 2001 he bought his first truck and became an owner operator. “I got a job that would pay lumper wages if I unloaded the trailers.” The work required getting in better shape so Jeff joined the local YMCA to strengthen his back and shoulders and eventually he started running. Mr. Clark says that, “Finishing my first marathon gave me the confidence to start writing about the industry.” In the last 10 years Mr. Clark has actively written about the industry while continuing to drive and operate his trucking business. He and others started the “truckin' runners FB group” that has currently over 600 members. Jeff firmly states the following, “I will always be a driver first. I will continue to fight for better working conditions and pay for truckers.”

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