Staying on course

Truck to Success provides knowledge of how to become an owner-operator.

December 2020/January 2021

Land Line Staff

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Straight talk is what the professional truck drivers attending OOIDA’s Truck to Success course in late October needed.

That is exactly what OOIDA staff and other instructors served up.

Truck to Success was a three-day course for professional truck drivers considering making the jump to owning their own truck and being owner-operators. This was the second year OOIDA has offered the course. Last year it was an in-person course with attendees and staff meeting in a hotel conference center. This year, because of the coronavirus restrictions, it took place via Zoom web conferencing.

The course was presented by the OOIDA Foundation, the research and education arm of OOIDA. The Foundation plans to present the course again in 2021. If conditions allow it, the course will return to the in-person format.

OOIDA staff is committed to making sure the Truck to Success course is the most comprehensive training program for becoming an owner-operator available, and it is taught by the most experienced and knowledgeable people in the trucking industry.

Lewie Pugh, executive vice president of OOIDA, said the Association’s goal in this and all of its endeavors is to help professional commercial truck drivers be successful. The stakes are higher when a driver becomes an owner-operator.

“Trucking is a tough thing, as all of you out there that drive now know. It’s even tougher when you own the truck,” Pugh said at the outset of the October course.

OOIDA member Ricky Johnson, whose home base is in Chester, Va., took the course in October and said it was well worth the investment of time and money.

He had wanted to take the course in 2019, but it didn’t work out then.

“This year, I was thrilled when I heard it was being offered virtual,” Johnson said.

Though he is a people person and would have preferred an in-person course, he said the web conferencing format worked well.

Johnson said he thought every session was important. Though he didn’t ask many questions during the course, the ones he did ask were answered thoroughly and thoughtfully, he said.

“I think the most important thing I gathered was the willingness of the people at OOIDA to help you make a tough decision a little bit easier. Even though I have been driving truck for 28 years, there were lots of things I didn’t know,” he said.

Another attendee benefited from the virtual, web conferencing format because, as often happens, work got in the way. He couldn’t sit through all of the presentations during the course but staff provided him with links to the recorded programming to view later.

“What I did observe was very professional and up-to-date,” said OOIDA life member Steven Hobbs, who is based in Sacramento, Calif.

He added that OOIDA staff and instructors being available to answer questions was very valuable and appreciated.

OOIDA’s three-day Truck to Success course covered a lot of territory.

Topics included creating a business plan, determining operational costs, leasing, drug and alcohol testing, getting your own authority, tax consequences, financing, smart equipment purchasing, and load boards.

Andrew King, OOIDA research analyst, said course attendees were helped on getting a handle on what it really takes to be successful. He mentioned the example of a member calling in for advice who had just bought a truck and then wondered what to do next.

That driver had a lot to figure out, including how to manage the accounting, compliance regulations and payment side of the business in addition to the on-the-road part of it. That driver needed a business plan. The best time to create one is before you’ve taken the plunge and have bought a truck, he said.

“You need to have an idea what to do ahead of time,” King said. LL

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