It took some perseverance, but Glen Horack has achieved top honors as Truckload Carriers Association’s (TCA) 2021 Owner-Operator of the Year. The Elkland, Missouri, resident has been a finalist for the award four times.
“It is awesome,” he said of earning the award. “It sets you apart from other people in your industry.”
Horack and his wife, Karla, operate as a team leased to Prime, Inc. He’s been an owner-operator for more than 30 years and said he has been leased to Prime most of that time. He says it was Prime’s lease-purchase option that hooked him on the company.
“I figured I’d try it out, and I’ve been here ever since,” he explained. “(The lease-purchase program is) doing an awesome job.”
The lease-purchase arrangement allows Horack to upgrade equipment by trading it before the lease is up. The practice keeps lease expenses constant while holding maintenance and repair costs to a minimum.
“It’s a three-year lease, but we normally turn it in after two years because of high mileage,” he explained. “The only thing I got to worry about is tires. Everything else is under warranty.”
Like many drivers who started out before the days of stricter regulations, Horack’s start in trucking didn’t follow the safest route.
“I was driving a trash truck, and a buddy of mine got a job managing a terminal at a trucking company,” he related. “He asked me if I needed a job. I made three trips around the parking lot in an old cabover International, and I’ve been on my own ever since.”
After that brief introduction to the ins and outs of handling a big rig, Horack’s first run, from St. Louis to Seattle, provided on-the-job training.
“It sure was an interesting trip,” said Horack. “The brakes got warm a few times.”
Horack was scheduled to pick up his newest truck the day he visited with Truckload Authority. Originally due last October, the 2022 Peterbilt 579 is equipped with a PACCAR MX engine and a 12-speed automated transmission.
“I added some creature comforts to it,” Horack noted, adding that the automated transmission is a big plus, at least in his book.
“My knees don’t hurt no more,” he said. “My elbows don’t hurt no more.”
He also favors the wide-base drive tires that replace dual tire configurations.
“I can usually go about 550,000 to 580,000 miles,” he explained. “They get better fuel mileage and I’ve only had one flat tire since we started running them.”
He and Karla have racked up a record of 100% on-time delivery for Prime, continuing a tradition Horack started while running solo.
When they aren’t running the highways for Prime, the Horacks swap their truck for a different set of wheels — actually, multiple sets of wheels.
“I’ve got an Indian Chieftain Elite and I’ve got a Victory Cross Country Tour motorcycle,” he said. “My wife has a Can-Am. We love to ride. As a matter of fact, we just got back from Bike Week in Daytona Beach before we went to Vegas.”
The Horack team runs refrigerated freight throughout the 48 continental states and, prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, Canada.
For the most part, he runs as dispatched with a minimum amount of home time, but said he makes up for it when it’s time to trade trucks.
“We usually take two months off before we head out in our new truck,” he said.
Safety is a top priority for Horack, who advises other drivers to keep their eyes on the mirrors.
“The biggest thing is to know what’s going on around you,” he explained. “People will let you know when they’re going to do something stupid. You just gotta watch for it.”
Horack received his Owner-Operator of the Year award and a check for $25,000 at the closing banquet of TCA’s 2022 convention held at the Wynn Las Vegas March 19-22. TCA partnered with Overdrive and Truckers News, along with long-time sponsors Cummins Inc. and Love’s Travel Stops.
“My wife has already claimed the check,” Horack said with a laugh. “We’re looking for a house in Florida, so it’s a good start.”
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.