February 2nd, 2006


to buy or not to buy

or the past couple of weeks I have been giving serious consideration to purchasing my own truck and working as an owner/operator for my company. I have always said I wasn't interested in doing this because of the added financial risk and headache of basically being in business for yourself. I've always added the caveat, "I might would consider it if I had a partner in the truck to share the financial burden and run as a team." It occurred to me, however, that I actually have that in the form of my trainees, since I can still train for my company as an O/O. In fact, in some respects it's even ideal since I wouldn't have to split the profit, all of the miles driven would be paid to me. This is a potentially lucrative proposition. After some ballpark numbers crunching, we're talking gross pay just over the 6 figure mark after the basic expenses of truck-loan payment, fuel, and general maintenance. The loss of employee benefits would be a small dent in this windfall of income and I would still make-out like a bandit after it's all said and done.

My biggest concern with all of this now is my home time. I've become rather spoiled being home every weekend on this dedicated account. If I become an O/O I won't be able to continue working for this account. I could switch to the Dollar General account based out of Kentucky that could get me home every weekend, but I know from a previous experience with pulling one of those loads, that it is some back-breaking work. Similarily, there is a Sara Lee account I could work for that would get me home roughly every two weeks or so. I could also pull for a regional division and be home weekly as well. The problem with all of these options is that it will greatly limit where I run, keeping me more localized and I have a suspicion that Western PA would not apply in any of these options. I like going a little bit of everywhere, anwyay. Which leaves the general 48-states division, but drivers are typically out 17 days and home 3. This isn't a blanket rule, just an average. If I developed a good relationship with my dispatcher, I might could work myself home to Lexington or Western PA every weekend, but I'm not sure I want to make a sudden change on ifs and mights. Of course, I have a really good relationship with my dispatchers now, and I'm sure if I ever wanted to come back, they'd have me.

My former student, Russell, made me aware of an outfit that he's going to work for that assists drivers with truck purchasing. I could still work for Werner, but I would be leasing the truck through them in a "rent-to-own" fashion. This piqued my interest because, essentially, it lowers the financial exposure for me. If after 6 months or a year, I decided that it wasn't for me, I could return the truck and walk away from it without having to worry about re-selling the truck and paying off a loan. It sounds almost too good to be true and has me thinking even harder about the prospect.

It's been a lot to think about, and while I'll still spend a week or two mulling it over, my mind is nearly made-up. I'll always wonder what it couldn've been like if I don't. Given the opportunity to try it nearly risk-free, I'd be stupid not to at least give it a go and see if I can make it work with my personal needs. If it doesn't, I can always go back to being just another cog in the corporate wheel.