Owner-operators are freedom-loving entrepreneurs. They own their trucks and want to earn a good living, while remaining independent. Some may choose to hunt profitable freight on load boards, while others align with carriers to provide dedicated capacity.
In recent months, Kane Freight Lines has had an increasing number of inquiries from drivers seeking owner-operator trucking jobs. That’s because currently, in the spot market, load-to-truck ratios are down and rates are down. The owner operators who rely on load boards are working hard to find profitable driving opportunities. Two-way freight would help, but that’s nearly impossible to find in the spot market. And, if you get it, the rates will need to be dirt cheap.
Against this backdrop, more drivers are looking to move away from the spot market in favor of regional carriers who can offer good pay, steady freight and support they would not get as a pure independent. These disenchanted drivers want more predictability -- in income and in the lanes they run.
One owner-operator who has made a home at KANE is Andy Agler. We caught up with Andy one morning before he headed out on his first delivery.
How did you land an owner operator trucking job at KANE?
Actually, this is my second go-around with KANE. I worked here for 20 years as a mechanic before I purchased a truck and went out on my own. Currently, I own three trucks and two of them are dedicated to KANE. Dispatchers schedule these two trucks as if they were KANE’s assets. All the trailers I pull are KANE trailers.
What is the advantage of driving for a regional carrier like KANE versus hunting freight on load boards?
If you’re working the spot market, you do all the legwork yourself -- finding and booking the loads, collecting the money, managing your own insurance coverage. With KANE, the focus is on safe, on-time driving. That’s it.
How does the work differ with KANE?
First, there is steady freight, so you don’t have to worry about finding loads. Because of the volume of freight KANE handles in the Northeast, they can try to set drivers up with lanes that work best with their lifestyles. With me, I have two kids, so I want day trips that allow me to get home, spend time with the family and sleep in my own bed.
What runs are you handling right now?
I am doing retail deliveries in the Northeast. It’s relatively easy freight because it’s drop and hook. The furthest I will run from Scranton, PA is down into Maryland – about 200 miles – so I’m still home at a reasonable hour.
Other than running lanes that work with your lifestyle, what other advantages are there to your relationship with KANE?
KANE covers my insurance, which is a big plus. I also take advantage of some pretty nice KANE discounts on fuel, tires and other truck parts. In some cases, an EZ-pass is provided for tolls. And in a pinch, if I run into mechanical or maintenance issues, the expert mechanics in the shop will help out. Even though I’m an independent, I feel like part of the KANE family with the degree of support that I get. It’s really the best of both worlds.
Would you recommend to other drivers that they seek owner operator trucking jobs with regional carriers like KANE?
Definitely. One of the biggest advantages is the flexibility. Drivers decide how hard they want to work, when they want to work and the lanes and schedules that work best. The right carrier will be able to match those desires with available freight in their network. The predictability is a big plus. With the spot market, you really need to hustle to find work and make a solid profit. And even then, there’s no guarantee of success.
With KANE specifically, drivers that come here tend to stay. There is a high level of driver churn in the industry, but KANE has a high driver retention rate. That’s what happens when you pay drivers well, maintain a positive culture, and provide a high degree of support.