Over-the-road drivers Lisa and Lee Schmitt answered a few questions about his career on the road in a recent interview with The Trucker.
Q: What do you like most about being on the road?
A: Lisa: We have the freedom to do what we want when we want. We have the ability to turn down a load and go where we want, take off when we want, go home when we want.
Q: What do you typically haul and where?
A: Lisa: We like to stay in the Midwest, but we’ll go anywhere. Right now, we’re pulling a Conestoga, which is like an open-deck freight, but we have done RTN and lots of oversized freight in the past.
Q: What is the most interesting thing you’ve ever hauled?
A: Lee: I would say modules for NASA. The NASA (load) went to Anaheim, California. Lisa: I’m going to have to say the train that we picked up from the state of Washington and hauled to a museum in South Dakota. They were going to redo it.
Q: What can you tell us about owning your own truck but leasing to another company?
A: Lisa: They help us find loads, but we’re also able to find our own loads. We use their authority and we run under their insurance. Even though we pay the insurance, it’s under their company — we use their DOT and their authority. They bill the shippers and wait for 30 days to get their money, and we get paid every week.
Q: What did you look for in a company to lease to?
A: Lisa: Their rate pay is enough, they have consistent freight, and they don’t complain when we want to go home. Lee: You ought to be able to talk to the owner at any given time. A lot of guys will lease to companies, and they’ll hear all the BS but never get to talk to the owner of that company or the president. If you can’t do that, there’s a problem.
Q: How long do you spend on the road at a time?
A: Lee: Three weeks to five weeks; it depends on how good things are running. But then we’ll go home for a week to three weeks, depending on what we feel like and what’s going on at home. I own the truck, and I’m going to go home as long as I want to go home. I don’t think it’s right that people are leased to companies and then the companies say, ‘Well, if you stay out a week, you can go home for 34 hours.’ Excuse me, I own a truck and I’m paying for everything; I’ll go home as long as I want.
Q: What would be your advice to anyone looking to lease their truck with a company?
A: Lee: For starters, if any driver gets into a lease with a company, make sure they can walk away with no strings attached. If drivers are going to lease to a company like we did, make sure they have the freedom to go where they want with no forced dispatch, and make sure they see everything on the up-and-up, and it’s not hidden stuff, in nickel and diming. Lisa: Try to see the rate confirmation so you know what the load is paying. That’s one of our rules up-front. We won’t haul a load unless we see the actual document that shows what the load is paying.
Hannah Butler is a lover of interesting people, places, photos and the written word. Butler is a former community newspaper reporter and editor for Arkansas Tech University’s student newspaper. Butler is currently finishing up her undergraduate print journalism degree and hopes to pursue higher education. Her work has been featured in at least nine different publications.