Owner/operators build their own small businesses with the backing of a company that’s with them all the way.
What’s happening: Across U.S. Xpress, about 13% of over-the-road drivers and about 9% of dedicated drivers are owner/operators who drive U.S. Xpress trucks they purchase from the company.
Why it matters: That option creates a broader pool of professional drivers to count on when it comes to moving goods, and access to entrepreneurs who work strategically to build their own businesses and maximize the freight they haul.
The bottom line: Working independently but still having the backing of a company that has a deep customer base and can help identify freight opportunities opens up new potential for professional drivers in building their careers and businesses.
Professional drivers at U.S. Xpress can choose from several different routes to success, and one of them is the road to entrepreneurship as an owner/operator of their own trucks.
“It’s all about knowing what you want and working hard to achieve it,” said Peter Knowles, who has lease-purchased five U.S. Xpress tractors in under three years. “You first need a vision and then create a business plan to achieve your objective.”
It also helps, Knowles added, to hire great people and treat them with respect. The first driver he ever hired was a fellow student from the Georgia Driving Academy in Conyers, Georgia, whom he stayed in touch with after graduation. The second team member he hired was his instructor from that school, a 26-year driver/instructor veteran.
“I felt truly honored to have him join the team,” Knowles said.
Across U.S. Xpress, about 13% of over-the-road drivers and about 9% of dedicated drivers are owner/operators who drive U.S. Xpress trucks they purchase from the company. That structure means they can function as business owners, but still have the backing of a major asset-based carrier.
That flexibility creates a broader pool of drivers to count on when it comes to moving goods, and access to entrepreneurs who work strategically to build their own businesses and maximize the freight they haul.
“I love being an owner/operator,” said Mike Carter, who has three tractors and four drivers on his team. “When we go out on our own we still can run into problems, but you have a company that stands behind you – I know they’re behind me if I need them.”
Working independently but still having the backing of a company that has a deep customer base and can help identify freight opportunities opens up new potential for drivers, Peter said.
“With a lot of hard work and planning, a driver can achieve great things if he chooses to do so, and can go from company driver to fleet owner,” Knowles said. “Because it’s a U.S. Xpress truck, we’re dispatched by U.S. Xpress, and if we have any issues, we know our account supervisors are always ready to assist.”
Owner/operator Bill Ball has been driving for nearly 40 years, and is on his second lease purchase truck from U.S. Xpress. He retired the first one after putting more than 600,000 miles on it, and is settling into his new rig, which he’s had for just a few months. Rather than hiring other professional drivers, Ball takes a solo approach to his owner/operator business.
“I like to run a lot and do everything I can and I’m kind of in control of that,” he said. “I’m my own boss, and I like it that way.”
For Knowles, who is a native of England, a small part of the pleasure of building his trucking business is the chance to personalize his trucks with his Knowles International Transport brand alongside the U.S. Xpress logo.
“I have a half Union Jack and half American flag on each truck as a tag and decals that make us stand out wherever we park,” he said.
In addition, he provides his drivers with collared shirts that show both the U.S. Xpress and Knowles logos.
“I wear one every single day,” Peter said. “It makes me feel like I’m representing something special. We’re representing a company and ourselves.”