Some truckers relish the variety of running irregular routes, going wherever the freight — or a dispatcher — takes them. Others, however, prefer life to be more predictable. They like the consistency of running dedicated freight on predictable routes.
“I don’t think I’d want to be out there looking for different delivery places every day, plus finding somewhere to park for sleep,” explained Lori Broderson. She appreciates the familiarity of serving a dedicated account for Quality Carriers.
Oddly enough, an electronic logging device (ELD) is partly responsible for getting her behind the wheel of her 2003 Western Star Lomax. It wasn’t her ELD, though — It was her husband, Mitch’s.
“I was on a run where I’d end up an hour or two from the house,” Mitch explained. Most drivers who were around when paper logs ruled know that drivers in that situation often simply completed the run, making the paper log look right later. Being with one’s own family and sleeping at home instead of taking another rest break in the truck was a strong incentive. A common anecdote was that the driver got home at a certain time, but his logbook “got home” considerably later.
“When they put in the E-logs, I’d have to shut down for my rest break instead of going home,” he continued. “Lori got her CDL so she could go with me and finish the run to the house.”
That’s how the Brodersons began teaming together. Mitch started trucking much earlier than Lori, back when the couple first married.
“I couldn’t find another job when our shop closed down,” he said. “When we got married, I moved furniture for United Van Lines. First I got my Class B chauffeur’s license and then I got my CDL.”
Mitch worked in the food-service business for about a decade, a very physical job that offers daily home time, but often after a long shift. Then he switched to hauling a tanker. Both Lori’s father and grandfather were experienced in pulling tanks.
“Lori’s dad hauled gas for 30 years, and her granddad hauled bread, molasses and was a gas-hauler, too,” he said. “I bought my first truck in 2000, an International. I hauled molasses for years.”
In 2003, Mitch joined Quality Carriers. A few years later, he purchased his first Western Star truck, a 2006 Lomax.
“I think they’re the best-looking trucks out there,” he said. “Almost as soon as it was delivered, I entered it in my first truck show just ‘plain jane.’ It made the cover of the Shell SuperRigs calendar in ’09.”
How did Broderson celebrate?
“I bought more chrome,” he said.
That 2006 Lomax is the truck Lori joined him in once she got a CDL of her own.
“For a while, we made 24-hour turns as a team,” Mitch explained.
Since several loads are shipped every night, the Brodersons decided they would benefit from adding another truck and driving separately.
“We saw this beautiful ’03 Western Star at the truck show in St. Ignace, Michigan. A few weeks later, when we started looking for another truck, there it was, listed in the Truck Paper,” Lori recalled.
“Mine has a Detroit Series 60 engine and hers has a Caterpillar D15,” Mitch said. “Both of them have 13-speed transmissions.”
The couple quickly worked out a system to maximize their time together, running for the same account.
“She loads an hour earlier and starts down the road; then I follow,” Mitch explained. “We meet up for meals and to sleep. It’s a lot of work. We make four runs a week, about 2,900 miles, running mostly nights.”
Lori quickly contributed to more than simply hauling.
“Lori’s truck got in the Rig of the Week first,” Mitch said. “2003 was the first year for the Lomax from Western Star.”
The couple has been entering their Western Stars in various truck shows ever since. They’ve since added a third Western Star to the fleet.
“We bought a 2018 Western Star glider kit and put a driver in it,” Mitch explained. “It’s got a Detroit engine and 13-speed transmission, but we couldn’t do the Lomax model because it was discontinued.”
Lori and Mitch have children who are now grown.
“We’ve got a son in Nashville and a daughter who is studying to become a surgical nurse and just moved to Jacksonville,” Lori bragged.
As for their spare time, Lori said, “We’re really homebodies; (there’s) a lot of working in the yard. We like a nice yard.”
Some time is spent preparing for the next week on the road, too.
“Lori cooks meals and freezes them so we can microwave them later and have home-cooked meals when we’re on the road,” Mitch explained. He takes care of truck maintenance and upkeep.
However, the couple don’t spend all of their free time in the yard.
“I like to antique shop when I get the chance,” said Lori.
Mitch’s tastes are more musical.
“I like concerts,” he said. “I’ve been to see KISS, Bob Seger, Eagles, lots of bands from the ’70s. There’s nothing like the atmosphere you find at a live concert.”
Both have concerns about the industry they work in.
“Drivers are underappreciated,” said Lori. “They don’t get the credit they deserve for the job they do.” Mitch added, “A lot of drivers don’t make what they should.”
Future plans call for more boating and fishing.
“Lori catches all the fish,” Mitch laughed. “I can’t catch a fish for nothing.”
Those plans will become a little easier with another recent purchase by the couple.
“We’re talking from our cabin in (East) Tennessee,” Lori said. “We bought a place by the lake and we’ll be moving here soon.”
There’s no talk of retiring to the cabin yet, though.
“I didn’t go to school to be a doctor, so I guess I’d better keep trucking,” Lori quipped.
Whether it’s running Western Star trucks, tankers, dedicated routes or fishing at the cabin, Lori and Mitch Broderson plan to continue living life their way.
Cliff Abbott is an experienced commercial vehicle driver and owner-operator who still holds a CDL in his home state of Alabama. In nearly 40 years in trucking, he’s been an instructor and trainer and has managed safety and recruiting operations for several carriers. Having never lost his love of the road, Cliff has written a book and hundreds of songs and has been writing for The Trucker for more than a decade.