Alvy and Benjamin Ladd, of Mansfield, Mo., were in North Little Rock, Ark., June 10 because they had been in the area the day before to buy a flatbed trailer to go along with the 2003 Freightliner Century ST that Alvy had already purchased.
Al, dad to Ben, got his own authority, known as Alvy Trucking, and they were set to book their first load when The Trucker met them. With truck and trailer ready to go and lacking only a load, the two of them sat down for breakfast and once finished eating began looking over getloaded.com.
As Ben scrolled through the loads Al said: “I noticed Little Rock to Chicago — good money.”
“Awesome,” Ben replied.
Ben, who only had a permit, has been around trucks, some as a mechanic working on reefer trailers for Prime, until the economy slowed things down and he got laid off. But his past heating and air experience and working on trailers at Prime along with his natural handyman skills make him a valuable asset to an owner-operator so that at least some of the things that break can be fixed by him. That came in handy the first day when the truck window was stuck midway down and a big rain storm hit the area where they were. He actually repaired it during the rain.
Ben said he left heating and air to go into trucking because he wants “to make more money even though I’ll have to be away from my family. My wife just got her permit too. Me and my wife have been very close for five years. This is the first time I’ll be away from them. I left California to move to Missouri to try to do better for my family. I did good until I got laid off.”
He’ll be leaving behind, for about a week at a time, his wife and children ages 1, 2 and 4.
“That’s the reason I got my own authority — to give them an opportunity,” Al said. “We see more opportunity in flatbed because not as many truckers are willing to do that dirty job. We will try to do a week and be home every weekend.”
And Al is not going into his own authority without some knowledge of how it will be to get loads.
“I’ve been watching the load board for months planning trips and I think it’s feasible,” he said. “If you can get two people driving and you share the profits, trucking is unbeatable. With two drivers it’s very efficient. There’s no thought of having to cheat on your logbooks. He’s got my grandkids and I want to see him make some serious money.”
Al said he plans on using a factoring company because so far the most difficult thing for him is figuring out how to bill people.
Al’s a member of the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA), where he has already sought help while getting his paperwork completed to drive under his own authority.
“I like being part of OOIDA because when surrounded by huge trucking company trucks I can call them and feel a part of something — I have a voice,” Al said.
Al has been a driver for only three years (for Prime) and he taught his wife to drive.
“She had a wreck,” Al said. “The guy hit her and he died and she just doesn’t have the heart to do it anymore. Prime is a good company as far as taking care of people. They sent us to a therapist because we were upset after the wreck. She told us to take our time getting back in the truck.”
The couple, who have been married 28 years, moved from California to Mansfield, Mo., and Al didn’t drive trucks for two years. They have five grown children and three grandchildren which all belong to Ben and his wife of three years.
Al learned how to drive by going through the system at Prime five years ago where he was in class one week and then drove with an experienced trucker for three months.
“I think it’s better than a school,” Al said. “I went through a school before I went to Prime.”
Before he became a trucker Al drove a forklift where he loaded and unloaded other drivers’ trucks.
Al said it took a couple of months to get his own authority; two days of which he spent on the computer and making phone calls just to find out how to go about it. After talking to state and federal offices and finding out that neither seemed to know what the other was doing, Al finally called getloaded.com.
“They filled out everything and it took a month and a half, he said. “It cost $994 just for them to line up how to do it and for their advice along the way.”
Because Ben only has a permit and is a trainee it will cost $1,000 a month to insure the truck.
“And we have a 500-mile radius from home [in which to drive],” Al explained. “Once he gets his CDL the insurance company says it takes two years to get that reduced.”
As they talked to a reporter they continued to look for loads, getting excited from time to time and checking the mileage from home on Google.com to ensure it wasn’t outside of the 500-mile radius.
The Trucker called Al a few days later to find out about the first load. Al said they took a load of steel from Little Rock to Chicago that paid “great and was easy to do for a first load.”
While in Chicago they picked up a load of rolled roofing to take to Oklahoma City but had stopped by home long enough to go to church and visit with their families, Al said.
“We’re excited about it all, everything’s going great and Ben’s learning to drive the truck.”
Barb Kampbell may be contacted for comment at email@example.com.
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