From Wheels to Wellness: Kevin Rutherford’s Take on the Trucking Industry
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What if you could understand the intricacies of the trucking industry from its challenges to its future prospects? Fasten your seatbelts as we take a ride through Kevin Rutherford’s journey from being an owner-operator to becoming the CEO of Let’s Truck. Through his personal saga, we explore the importance of cost control, the genesis of his software company, to hosting a radio show, and eventually launching Let’s Truck.

We shift gears to discuss a critical yet often overlooked aspect of trucking – the health and nutritional challenges that truckers face. Rutherford, a nutritional therapy practitioner, shares his innovative approach towards aiding truck drivers to lead healthier lives.

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Show Transcript

See full episode transcriptTranscript is autogenerated by AI

Kevin Rutherford: 0:00

LinkedIn presents.

Blythe Brumleve: 0:10

Welcome into another episode of Everything is Logistics, a podcast for the thinkers in freight. We are proudly presented by SPI Logistics and I am your host, blythe Brumleve. I'm happy to welcome in Kevin Rutherford. He is the CEO of Let's Truck, helping drivers to live a happier, healthier and better life. I'm really excited for this conversation. So, kevin, welcome to the show.

Kevin Rutherford: 0:32

Great to be here. Thanks for having me.

Blythe Brumleve: 0:35

Now for you. I was doing some research, going through your websites and watched a few of your videos. What's I think is super interesting about the freight industry in general is that they either get their tentacles in you from an early age and you never leave, or it's a family affair that gets their tentacles in you and they keep you there. I think you're kind of a blend of the two. Is that correct? Tell us how you got started in trucking.

Kevin Rutherford: 1:03

Yeah, so I'm third generation in trucking. My grandfather was an owner-operator for one of the big van lines out of Ohio and Michigan when the seat in the truck was a wooden bench and a trip to the west coast was measured in weeks, not days or hours. There were no interstates, there were no truck stops. It was just a crazy time. I don't know a whole lot about my grandfather's operation. He died when I was still pretty young. My father actually started driving a milk truck when he was 14, obviously with no license, and that's all he did. His whole life he drove truck, and he retired and died driving a truck. You know what? I think a lot of what drives. What I do today, though, is I watched my dad's struggle, really his whole life. He wanted to own trucks because he loved working on trucks, but he had a ninth grade education and no business experience, and I just watched the pattern where he would go take a driving job that he usually hated, with a union and but it paid well, so he'd make enough money and he'd save up and he'd buy a truck and he'd work on it, and then he'd run it until he just ran out of money and he'd go back and get another union job again, and I just I just watched that and thought there's got to be a better way and decided that I wasn't going to get into trucking. I thought I wanted to fly helicopters, so I went to the army and decided I really didn't want to spend 10 years in the army either. So I got out and thought, while I'm trying to figure out what to do with my life, why don't I buy a truck? Because everybody around me has trucks. At one point, my father, four brothers, two brother-in-laws, an uncle all own trucks. Yeah. So it just seemed like why not do this? So I bought a truck. I've done a lot of things in the trucking industry. That would have been 1986. I bought my first truck so I was 22. The only thing or not the only thing, one of the things I haven't done I've never been a company driver. I started as an owner operator. I just bought a truck and went to work and at one point I had 11 trucks. That took me about three years and it was way too fast. I made every mistake you could possibly make and at the end I was about 60 or $70,000 in debt with taxes and maintenance bills. I had several attorneys say this is what bankruptcy is for and I said I made the mess. I should probably try to clean it up. So I sold nine of the 11 trucks, took the two that were most profitable and really started to learn how to run a truck profitably, really started to get into the accounting side of things and tracking things by numbers and watching fuel mileage. At the time fuel was probably 80 cents a gallon and nobody cared about fuel economy, but it just seemed to me like if there was a way to save, I should probably learn it and got really involved in that side of things and ultimately that's what led me to where I am today.

Blythe Brumleve: 4:24

Now you mentioned, two of your 11 trucks were only profitable. What made the two profitable when the rest?

Kevin Rutherford: 4:31

weren't Well at the time. It was my lack of experience in the market. So the two that were profitable were actually leased to. It was RPS at the time, which is FedEx Ground today, so they were dedicated. It was easy to control the expenses. I didn't have driver turnover, I was able to control my costs better and the other trucks I had gotten my own authority and a broker's license and it just didn't understand the freight markets and it's one of the reasons why I try to help people understand the markets today. If you're going to be out there running with your own authority, it's critical to understand those things, and I just didn't. And it seemed like just add another truck, keep driving more miles. This has got to work and it didn't. I was losing more money all the time and I realized that the first step in being successful in business is you've got to control your cost.

Blythe Brumleve: 5:31

That's such a good, insightful story. Do you still have those trucks to this day or did you eventually sell them off to start let's Truck, which we'll get into in a second, I had those trucks all that time, did several different things, ultimately ended up sticking with the contract at FedEx and adding some trucks there.

Kevin Rutherford: 5:49

And then in 2007, when I got a chance to do my own radio show on would have been XM. At the time I thought I can do a radio show and run the trucks and that'll be fine. Then I started a software company and we started creating software for owner operators and by about 2012 I was traveling all over the country. I really wasn't taking care of the trucks and you know what. They kind of took care of itself, but I just didn't feel like that was a good way to run a business. So one of the other contractors at FedEx made me an offer for the whole contract trucks and everything and it was pretty darn good offer.

Blythe Brumleve: 6:34

And so that evolved. How did you go from you know run in some FedEx trucks to getting offered a radio hosting job, especially with a company that big?

Kevin Rutherford: 6:44

So we go all the way back to about 1990. One of the first years I had my tax return done and in my head I thought I should have owed about four or five thousand, but I didn't understand taxes. So when the bill came in at fourteen thousand and I didn't have that money, I ended up on a payment plan like a lot of owner operators do, and I started looking at it thinking I'm just going to get behind every year. I've got to get a handle on this. So I actually started learning taxes. I kind of self taught and figured out that my bill shouldn't have been fourteen thousand, it was more like five or six and filed amended returns and started telling my friends and they said, well, we look at my tax return. And I did. And the next day I knew I had an accounting company. So at one point I was doing about four thousand owner operators for accounting and taxes. So I wrote accounting software which we actually sell today for owner operators. So now that I had this other business I needed to figure out how I was going to get customers. You know I had friends, but if you're going to run it as a business then you got to grow it. So I didn't have any money. So I started writing articles about taxes and just faxing them out to all of the trucking magazines. And one of them picked it up and said we can't pay you, but if you write a column we'll give you a full page at every month. So I started writing the column and actually my first time on the radio was midnight trucking. I got to go on at like three thirty in the morning for ten minutes. That was fun. And then Dave Nemo actually called me one day and said I read your column and I'd loved you to come on the air and talk about it. And that turned into a weekly thing and at one point I was doing three guest spots. Every week. I was doing a guest spot on midnight trucking, on Dave Nemo and on Mark Willis, and finally I went to XM and I said look, I might be doing more hours than some of your hosts. Maybe you should just give me a show. And they did.

Blythe Brumleve: 8:58

Oh wow, you shot, your shot and you won, yeah.

Kevin Rutherford: 9:00

I asked and they said okay.

Blythe Brumleve: 9:04

That's awesome. So okay, so you had the couple trucks, you sold those off. You get into radio broadcasting. You're also doing software development. Now are you coding this yourself or do you have a team?

Kevin Rutherford: 9:15

You know, I didn't do any of the real coding in the beginning, but I found a database program where you could kind of build some things and I built the software and I was actually selling it. I mean, I had some customers out there and I thought and this would have been mid 90s, probably late 90s, and I really started looking at the internet and thinking software is going to all run on the internet someday. And I have no idea what I'm doing. And again, I still didn't have a whole lot of money. So I went out and found a young coder who was broke and needed a job and I offered him part of the business and we made him a partner and he's still one of our partners today.

Blythe Brumleve: 10:01

Oh, what a great story.

Kevin Rutherford: 10:03

I did kind of the design and layout of a lot of the software, and I don't even do any of that anymore. He's so much better at it than I am. So we have a team now that does all that.

Blythe Brumleve: 10:13

And so you develop. Is that where let's Truck comes in? Is that the app business, the accounting business, or does let's Truck come in after?

Kevin Rutherford: 10:23

that. So we formed let's Truck then. So right around 2007, when we started doing the radio show, started to really develop the software. That's when we formed let's Truck, brought our partner in and we've just kind of grown from there. You know, I guess our mission statement is helping drivers and owner operators live their best life.

Blythe Brumleve: 10:46

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Kevin Rutherford: 12:36

We've been given away fuel gauges for over a decade so that one is to track fuel mileage, so they can track every tank. It will show them a 30-day average, a 60-day, a 90, a lifetime. It'll show them cost per mile on fuel A lot of statistics, and we now have over a hundred thousand trucks using that app and we're coming up on six million fuel tickets in the system.

Blythe Brumleve: 13:04

Wow, that's great, that's great, that's awesome, that's so, that's so. I'm like blown away right now because you've done all these amazing things and we just started talking about less truck.

Kevin Rutherford: 13:15

Then the crazy transformation really happened around 2014. We had always been business, accounting, fuel, mileage, taxes, consulting and some of our drivers started saying, look, we really trust you, you've helped us with our money and our business and we need help with health. You know, drivers are really sick and there doesn't seem to be a lot of good advice. And I said, but I don't do health. And they said but you know, and I had always talked about my history and my past on the radio show, my first business was a gym when I was 19,. I opened a gym. I coached wrestling, high school wrestling and club wrestling for a lot of years. So they said, well, you're kind of into fitness and you understand that anything would help. And I said, well, I really don't want to try to give advice on something that I just don't think I'm, you know, capable of giving. So one of our employees said you know, why don't I get it started? She started a podcast and you know, let's just see what happens. So I said, all right, I'll get involved after I read 100 of the top new health books that are out right now and I'll give myself a year and then we'll see. So I finished the hundred books in about eight months and went back to school and became a nutritional therapy practitioner and we started down the health path and now it's about 80% of our business.

Blythe Brumleve: 14:46

It really just took over everything and so that I mean, you're, you're, you're obviously providing you know and financial advice on one side of things, but now, on the flip side, it's really that your community coming to you and saying we need this and you made it happen, and now it's, it's, it's grown to where it is today. What was, I guess, how? I guess my first question is you know, when drivers decide that they want to start being healthy, what does that process look like for them? Because I imagine it's so challenging on the ground.

Kevin Rutherford: 15:18

You know it was in the beginning. We've actually made it really easy now in the beginning, so we teach them about nutrition. The interesting thing is, most of these guys have been told forever that you're going to have to be hungry all the time and you're going to have to work out and that's the only way to lose weight. And we found out that just wasn't true. We actually tell people right now I can get you to your natural body weight with zero activity. It's not required at all. Now we encourage people to be active because it's healthy, but exercise is not good for weight loss. It just isn't and turns most people off. And think about the industry we're in. Some of these guys are 350, 400 pounds. We've worked with people that are bigger than that. The last thing that guy wants to do is work out. He's not capable of it. So we just took a really, really different approach. We work with a lot of the newer science, like carnivore and keto, and we've actually made it fairly simple on the road. But imagine this imagine a conversation with truck drivers where you're teaching them how to ferment vegetables and make yogurt and can their own meals at home.

Blythe Brumleve: 16:38

Oh, so they're doing that at home in preps for their road trip. So it's not about you know. I've heard you know some other folks in health. They'll say you know, these are the healthiest things to eat at a gas station.

Kevin Rutherford: 16:48

There are no healthy things to eat at a gas station. Let's just start there, not even a hot dog. You know the hot dog may be the healthiest thing there, but we want to go a little. You know we actually teach them how to find local farms that are doing really regenerative grass fed pastured meats and chicken and pork. And you know we work with some of the top regenerative farms in the country Joel Salatons like a regular guest on our show so and we actually teach them how to get the best quality meat they can and pressure candidate at home. They can take it with them in a minute. Doesn't need refrigeration.

Blythe Brumleve: 17:30

Wow, and so that was going to be. My next question is what? What does I guess the truck outfit kind of look like to keep you know that that food ready readily, that's their biggest challenge that you know they can't do a lot of shopping on the road.

Kevin Rutherford: 17:43

They're just not practical with their schedule and the size of the vehicle. So they really need to do as much prep at home as possible. And we've shown guys where one weekend you could can and ferment enough food for an entire month and that's all shelf stable now, fermented or canned. It doesn't need refrigeration. So you know they can just take that food with them on the truck and they can take, you know, a couple of weeks worth at a time.

Blythe Brumleve: 18:09

And I imagine to I follow a lot of like. One of my favorite shows is do prepers, so I imagine that a lot of those same philosophies matter.

Kevin Rutherford: 18:17

I've been called a prepper and because I do that kind of stuff. But it just it's so practical. You know I love to cook. I we almost never eat out. I just I don't like the quality of eating out, so I do a lot of canning at home just for convenience.

Blythe Brumleve: 18:35

Oh, that's super interesting. Okay, what are your? Your favorite prepper tips?

Kevin Rutherford: 18:39

Pressure can your meat and your meals. Number one, you think about it. What's the biggest problem? We're going to be hungry, right, and there's survival going on and the world's going to change and I imagine just being able to open up your jar of your favorite meal, already cooked.

Blythe Brumleve: 18:58

And then how do you get more of it? Hunt?

Kevin Rutherford: 18:59

fish. You got a hunt in fish, seriously, with a reasonable amount of space at home, though it doesn't take a lot. I've shown people how over time, you could. You could key in enough food to last you a year, and that's usually my goal. Try to get a year's worth.

Blythe Brumleve: 19:18

And so that's where you got to. You got to think about next time. I'm all, I'm all thinking about. You know all the different different shows I've seen, I was like well, you got to have a way to protect it.

Kevin Rutherford: 19:26

You got to have your fuel supply. I know there's a lot to it. We actually we have episodes on my show where we talk about that stuff.

Blythe Brumleve: 19:33

Oh my gosh, okay, okay, I got to dive deeper. Think about it for a second.

Kevin Rutherford: 19:37

So you know a good water filter like a life straw, the emergency clothes, you know thermal blankets, all of that stuff that you would kind of prep at home with. We tell people you better have that in your truck, why wouldn't you? And and cash you know, it got so easy to drive around with no cash because everybody accepts credit cards. But what about when the banking system goes down? It's already happened. And if you have no access to cash and you're 1000 miles away from home, what are you going to do? So we do kind of that prepping in the truck.

Blythe Brumleve: 20:18

And so are they able to, to prep at all in the truck, or you're mostly just prepping at home and taking it with you along with, you know, miscellaneous supplies.

Kevin Rutherford: 20:26

It's like in a mostly at home and then kind of stocking the truck with all that stuff like a get home bag or a bug out bag. Or we do have a couple husband and wife teams that spend so much time on the road that they've just started to prep on the road. Yeah, they've just kind of you know, supplied themselves with the stuff in the truck and they'll, they'll stop and maybe get a hotel for the weekend or an Airbnb and do their prep.

Blythe Brumleve: 20:50

And so when you're canning, is it, you know, are you using like an Instapod or you know, I guess, like a pressurized, another type of pressurized, yeah so it's called an all American.

Kevin Rutherford: 21:01

Actually it's a pressure canner, so there are pressure cookers and then there are pressure key inners and a pressure canner can pressure cook, but a pressure cooker can't pressure, can't. Okay, okay.

Blythe Brumleve: 21:14

I'm just going to start writing down all of these things, so if you see my hand moving off to the side that's what I'm writing down, because I everybody laughed at me when I had a. I was obsessed with the Doomsday Prepper show. I started. I got a bug out bag, I started. I have a life straw that I've knives, fuel like all that water, shoes, I even. I went to a trade show one time. They had those little capsules that you, that'll sustain you for about 12 hours, so I have some of those too. They thought I was crazy, and then COVID happened. I said no, not so crazy.

Kevin Rutherford: 21:45

Well, you know, it's surprising how acceptable it became after COVID, when we saw lockdowns and we saw no access to services and we started to hear about food shortages and I think a lot of people you know kind of woke up and said, look, it could happen here. And then, and you have also the couple that with the show the last of us which just further cemented all of my prep, I was like well, see, this is this is what happened, but didn't it feel good when you did prep a little? Doesn't it just feel good? It?

Blythe Brumleve: 22:21

I and you know, as, as you're talking like, I have a a post-it note all of my desk right now of things I need to add to my bug out bag.

Kevin Rutherford: 22:30

You go, drop me an email if you ever have any questions. Oh, I will be, and you're probably going to regret that.

Blythe Brumleve: 22:37

All right, let's. Let's get back to the, the let's Truck website too, because I did notice on there you have a full e-commerce store as well, with a lot of these, these healthier style goods and shakes and things like that. Talk to us a little bit about that, that and it.

Kevin Rutherford: 22:50

So, you know, I really started to realize that each product was unique, and I'm just a big believer in finding the best solution for anything. If there's a problem and we need a solution, well why not find the best solution? And that's kind of what I do. I'm known for research and testing, and there was one day I went on the air actually I did a webinar, so I was on camera like this and I had on five wearables I had. I had two watches no, I had six. I had two watches on each arm, wearables like the health wearables. I had an aura ring and I had a headband kind of wearable. That's what I do I test, I really try to find the best solutions for things. And then it was getting really confusing for me to come on the air and say, oh, you know, I did all this test and I found out this is the absolute best sauna blanket on the market. And then people would go end up at the wrong website because two products kind of look similar, and they'd call me back and say wait a minute, you said it was going to do this, and so we finally decided when we find a product or we find a solution, we're just going to put it in our store, and then there won't be any mistake. If you buy it from our store, you're getting exactly what I've tested and talked about.

Blythe Brumleve: 24:15

And so do you ship these products yourself Like oh, wow, so you're a whole like e-commerce operation.

Kevin Rutherford: 24:20

Yeah, our warehouse is about 200 yards down the hill from the house here.

Blythe Brumleve: 24:25

Wow, so you have a whole system. Do you have like robotics or anything like that? No, robotics.

Kevin Rutherford: 24:30

We do have several dogs at the warehouse, though.

Blythe Brumleve: 24:33

That counts. Those help with morale much more than robotics.

Kevin Rutherford: 24:36

I think the robotics are just kind of creepy to me.

Blythe Brumleve: 24:41

It's a I think it's a challenge, Cause I actually just got done with a robotics interview and they were talking about cause. One of the, mike Lombard, who you know, both of us are familiar with, you know, twitter fame has his own show as well. He's been a guest on this show previously. He had mentioned that the drivers just they spend so much time waiting at a warehouse and they spend all of their hours there and that's how a lot of their hours get eaten up. And it was interesting to hear from that particular robotics company, nimble, which they were, they're trying to alleviate some of that process Now. They're trying to alleviate it with opera, you know, streamlining the operations inside the warehouse, but it's still. It's still, I think, a touchy subject for a lot of drivers and for, you know, especially a lot of warehouse blue collar workers, where there is that psychological component of is this robot going to take my job or is it going to help me do my job? So it's, it's it's kind of a. It's still hotly debated.

Kevin Rutherford: 25:42

Yeah, you know. And then, before we could even get our heads around, that AI showed up. And now the white color workers have the same fear.

Blythe Brumleve: 25:50

Yes, they do. I would argue that they probably shouldn't Cause.

Kevin Rutherford: 25:55

It helps me, you know it does me too, and I've talked a lot about it already and some of my listeners are tired of it already, but I just think it's such an important topic Like how could you not be paying attention to this? And the one of the first quotes I saw that really made a click with me. It said you're not going to be replaced by AI. You're going to be replaced by a person using AI better than you do. And think about you know, you probably do a lot of the same kind of work I do every day writing and kind of organizing data and text and writing copy and AI is so powerful I mean it does more work than three full-time assistants if I had them. So you know, I think that it is. It's not that AI is going to be doing all the work, but there's going to be a handful of people who are going to be really good at AI and they're going to replace a lot of people.

Blythe Brumleve: 26:54

And that's where I struggle with it, because I know that for my own, I used to, you know, listen to videos and pause. Type it out pause type out the transcript pause type, like it took hours to do and some of the tools now that they can help me speed up that podcast process, like that where the transcripts are done and the show notes are done and I have five different podcast titles to choose from.

Kevin Rutherford: 27:20

Most of them stink. I know that's funny, Isn't it? You can ask for 50 titles and you still can't find one you like in there.

Blythe Brumleve: 27:28

But I will say that I think it helps me come up with my own much faster.

Kevin Rutherford: 27:33

So I see those and I'm like that sucks, I'm going to write my own.

Blythe Brumleve: 27:38

So it's not all the way there yet, but I do. I mean especially from, like, data analysts, you know, analytics, things like that, like some of these tools are going to really help out the you know, some of the smaller teams like me like you and I do worry about the output that it will, that the I guess the ripple effects that it will have Cause I. There's a freelance team that I would work with sparingly over the last few years and I asked them to to quote me on some new social media clips, videos, and they quoted me at $3,000 and I almost fell out of my chair. I am not. That is a lot of money that I'm going to be paying every single month. But then there's an AI tool that does it for free in 15 minutes.

Kevin Rutherford: 28:22

It's insane. The transcription accuracy is just. I've been trying to use transcription for about 20 years and it's just awful. You know I go but way back to when you had to spend hours training the program for your voice and then it still wasn't very accurate and if you tried to use it on a podcast or an interview the other person it would never even come close. Now I can't believe how accurate transcription is now.

Blythe Brumleve: 28:54

It's even to the point where one of my I use otterai and they will recognize my. So in other transcription tools that I've used you upload the file and it transcribes it and you got to go in and you got to clean it up. But with Otter they recognize my voice.

Kevin Rutherford: 29:10

now they recognize repeat guests, so they automatically smart label them and I, you know I don't really have to lift a finger. I know we're geeking out a little bit on a lot of this AI stuff we geeked out on the.

Blythe Brumleve: 29:23

Tuesday preppers on AI. What about the other aspect, the healthy tribe aspect of the company? How did that sort of spin off from let's Trucker? Was that ever an aspect of let's Trucker? Were they always?

Kevin Rutherford: 29:36

independent, it's integrated, it's a part of everything we do. The reason we ended up with our own sites you know, the last couple of years there's been the talk of censorship on social media. That's been going on for a lot longer than people know, and the most censored group for a long time was anybody that talked about alternative health. So when I would talk about keto diets or carnivore diets, we were getting deleted and censored like 10 years ago. Yeah, this has been going on a long, long time. We fought YouTube over this, we fought Facebook over it and finally I just got tired of it and I said, look, I'm tired of putting all this work into a post and then it gets deleted and censored. I said we're just gonna go create our own sites, and we did so. That was the point of originally we had healthy tribe and trucking tribe separate, and now we're in the process of merging those.

Blythe Brumleve: 30:35

And so what does a healthy tribe is an app that someone can download and it's like a community.

Kevin Rutherford: 30:41

Yeah, so it's a community. We have courses in there, We've got chat rooms, you know. We've got different topics people can post. So it's really our own social network where we can say and do whatever we want without being canceled and deleted.

Blythe Brumleve: 31:00

And do you ever worry about maybe like the hosting provider, because that's something that I worry about like AWS, like I would never host any of my shows or my sites with them because of that factor you could just say the wrong thing and get your entire platform.

Kevin Rutherford: 31:15

We do think about it. And so on the social sites, we went with a company called Mighty Networks. I was with oh, I can't remember the name of them Now think of it in a second. We started our first social site back in 07, right when we started the radio show and we were on a platform back then. I can't think of the name of it now they're still around. In fact, Mighty Networks the CEO of Mighty Network, came from the other platform company I just can't think of the name right now. So we ran that for years and then Facebook just became so popular that we just we were really losing a lot of traction on our site and we thought let's just go to Facebook. That's where everybody is. And we grew a health group on Facebook to about 30,000. And then they just started censoring it heavily. So that was when we moved off, and so we worry a little bit about it. I know the background of the company really well. I know the background of the CEO. They've never, ever tried to control anybody's content, not that it couldn't change. So when we got canceled on Sirius, I took one day off. We went back to podcasting a day later and we decided then that we were only going to use platforms until we could build our own, and we are very, very close. Now. We won't use anybody's phone lines. We won't use anybody's platform. When we're done with our broadcast app, we have our own listener app. When we're done with our broadcast app, you would have to shut down the internet to cancel me. Yeah, that's awesome.

Blythe Brumleve: 33:07

I love that approach because I host websites for my clients in the trucking industry, so I'm always trying to think about how can I best protect them. Just in case something happens, I want them to be completely shut off from their digital home.

Kevin Rutherford: 33:23

Yeah, Well, that was kind of like Facebook we had this group of 30,000 people and we couldn't communicate directly with them. What a horrible system. Why was it that?

Blythe Brumleve: 33:32

they shut you down.

Kevin Rutherford: 33:33

They would just claim medical misinformation constantly. It really got bad. We had already left before COVID hit, but we were still running the group on Facebook. But we had started ours to get it going and when COVID hit, anything I tried to post about the vaccine got censored and deleted.

Blythe Brumleve: 33:56

And that's where I think a platform like Mighty Networks, which I've looked at before and did a little test run, I've used it. Somebody else had a Mighty Network and it's a really intuitive system. Much better than a lot of the course platforms that exist right now that I think a lot of our trucking companies are utilizing, but Mighty Networks is one.

Kevin Rutherford: 34:17

That was really impressive, very flexible and now, like everybody else, they've integrated AI into the platform and it's changing it a lot, a lot more. It's hard to describe even a lot more engagement. There's AI that helps everybody kind of get their thoughts together when they're making a post, so I think people feel a little more confident posting. There's some pretty cool tools that are coming that I think. So we're kind of wedded to Mighty Networks right now, but when we finish our broadcast app, we may look at writing our own platform for this, even.

Blythe Brumleve: 35:04

Yeah, I mean, it really is probably the only way to really just guarantee that all of your platforms stay up. And then even then you're kind of dependent on the platforms that you host with, because now those companies are making those decisions as well. Luckily, there's other companies that will protect you Well, and that's what we've done.

Kevin Rutherford: 35:24

We've got multiple redundant servers around the world. I mean it's the only way to protect your data and your business anymore.

Blythe Brumleve: 35:34

And then you're also protecting the data and the business for a lot of folks out there who are trying to use your platform to run their business and communicate and live a healthier life. All right, kevin, what about your overall, I guess sort of digital strategy? You mentioned the podcast. You mentioned the Mighty Networks app. Are you still are you utilizing I've seen you host Twitter Spaces, things like that. Where are you kind of focusing your efforts? Where is the, I think, the biggest opportunity for you and your network to go?

Kevin Rutherford: 36:04

So we just want to grow our own app. We're actually looking at this broadcast platform. When we're done with it, that may become another business model for us to really what we're building doesn't exist right now. There's tons of podcast platforms. You're probably familiar with all of them, but the majority of podcasts are interview style, usually recorded, usually a couple hours a week, and then it's edited and posted. Well, ours we do 15 to 20 hours a week, so editing is just out of the question. I mean, it's just way too much. We're live, you can listen to our show while we're doing it, and then everything's recorded and available on the app. And we have live callers. So it's really kind of a hybrid live radio show podcast. And there I was shocked. There's no software out there to do this. There's not one platform where you can do everything we're trying to do with the live callers and the live streaming. So we had to hack together a lot of pieces and now the programmers are just busy recreating each one of those pieces into our own and then we may market it as a platform.

Blythe Brumleve: 37:27

And then that could be your own sort of I guess, mighty.

Kevin Rutherford: 37:30

Network 2.0. Right.

Blythe Brumleve: 37:33

Or the I guess the Kevin Networks yeah.

Kevin Rutherford: 37:35

So Twitter Spaces is really interesting for me because it's a different format. My show has been call me, ask me a question. I'll answer your question, I'll move on to the next caller, and it's hard to get listeners out of that mindset where, on Spaces, what I'm really trying to do is just have more open conversation, like it's don't just come and ask me questions. We do that all day now. Let's have discussions, let's talk about things as a group. It works. That's a better format for that, and we've even been able to hack it so that our Twitter Spaces is actually broadcast live on our show app.

Blythe Brumleve: 38:16

Yeah, Smart, that's what I was going to ask. Is there some kind of, I guess, repurposing almost repurposing is probably a bad word for it, but I guess dual cast is maybe a better place.

Kevin Rutherford: 38:26

Yeah, and that's really what we were able to do. So if you want to be part of the space, obviously you need to be on Twitter and doing that, but all of our listeners that have our app can listen to those Spaces live or go back and listen to the recording from the app. They don't even have to have a Twitter account.

Blythe Brumleve: 38:44

And so as you're, I imagine, with you know how often you're having these conversations, how often you're talking to drivers. What are some of the big issues that they're facing today that you're hearing?

Kevin Rutherford: 38:58

You know, the big issues haven't changed at all. Some of the issues we talk about all the time are not the issues that really matter to an owner operator, and let me say this most of my focus. Still, if it's not health, then it's going to be business and it's going to be an owner operator I'm dealing with. Other than health. I really don't have anything to offer a company driver. A lot of them come to us for health, but when it's business and that's our focus the things that put owner operators out of business have not changed in 30 years and we never talk about them. It's not ELDs, it's not hours of service, it's not the rates, it's not the brokers, it's not broker transparency All of those things exist, but what puts people out of business as an owner operator? Same thing that puts every small business out lack of capital and planning. I mean, it all comes down to the numbers and understanding how to run a business like a business, and most small businesses in our country are usually people with a skill that they're good at and then they turn it into a business, but then they forget you have to be good at business, because that's what this is now, so you can be the best truck driver in the world and you're going to fail as an owner operator, it's very likely. I tell people all the time, as much as I hate this, I can take somebody outside of the industry with zero experience and I have far better luck making them successful as an owner operator than a guy who's been driving for 20 years.

Blythe Brumleve: 40:31

Why is that? Why is that?

Kevin Rutherford: 40:34

They listen, they don't have the preconceived notions that the mindset in this industry is you get paid by the mile, you better drive really fast. It's a horrible mindset. It doesn't work when you're the one buying the fuel and the tires and the repairs and the insurance and all of those things have a cost and we need to set up a business that keeps those costs as low as possible. You know, almost every practice of the owner operators is working against them. We talk about how they use the load boards and I've done courses on this. We actually have a couple of phrases, the two things they do on the load boards that work against them. We call it chasing the rate and one and done. And here's what they do. They log on to a load board, they're in Portland and they want to get home to Dallas, so they do a search Portland to Dallas. I work with both of the largest load boards companies. I know what the next click is. Over 90% of the time the next click is sort that by rate, if there are rates there and they start calling or reaching out to the person with the highest rate and that's what we call chasing the rate. So if they do that today in Portland and they get home to Dallas and then in a couple days they want to leave Dallas and go somewhere. What are the odds, when they do that search and then sort by rate, that that same broker is coming up to the top Almost zero. So now they're working with another broker on the next load, and the next load, and the next load, and the next load. And this became apparent to me when I was doing taxes and I would have a guy with one truck and he would have over a hundred 1099s for the year. So, it tells me, worked with over a hundred brokers. Well, the first thing we try to teach them you're sorting by rate but the best rates never even make it to that board. The best rates get moved with their carriers that they have a relationship with. The stuff that goes to the board is the stuff that doesn't pay all that well and they have trouble moving. That's why they put it on a board. So if all you're doing is logging into the load board every day and chasing the rate, you're not getting the best rates and you're never building relationships and it's just a horrible way to run a business. And then we turn around as an industry and we try to blame it on the brokers and say it's their fault that the rates aren't good and there's no transparency and we don't need transparency. We're negotiating a rate for today. I either like this rate or I don't. I either accept it or I don't, and if I accept it then I shouldn't complain that it was too low. But we just don't talk about the things that really matter the numbers, the cost, control, the relationships. We seem to spend all the time blaming our problems as owner operators on everybody else in the industry.

Blythe Brumleve: 43:32

And it almost sounds like it's. You know there's a lot to be said about. You know sort of the CDL mills and their. You know the training schools, driver training schools and things like that. But how much training happens after the driver gets their?

Kevin Rutherford: 43:48

CDL Formal training Zero. Formal training, any kind of training. Zero, it's pathetic, it really is there's.

Blythe Brumleve: 43:56

And so none of these big companies are helping with the business side of things or helping them like you are, or is it really like it? Companies like yours that are the ones leading the charge, and I don't know of many like mine.

Kevin Rutherford: 44:06

In fact, I really don't know of any others. There are a couple out there, but not much. The training that I have looked at from these big carriers, especially with lease purchase programs. The training is awful. They'd be better off not training. Here's what they do, honestly. Here's one issue I came across this training video and it was training owner operators on this one concept and I almost lost my mind. I thought what the hell are they thinking? The concept was only buy enough fuel to finish the load you're on and then wait until you have another load to buy fuel again and don't leave fuel in your truck over the weekend. And I thought to myself why in the world would anybody ever train this? That makes no sense. It takes up more time. It costs more. I teach a whole course on how to buy fuel at the lowest price and you'll never get the lowest price by this strategy. You'll get the opposite and you're spending a lot of time and I thought why would they teach this? And then it dawned on me. You know what one of the biggest complaints are in these lease purchase programs. The driver works all week and he doesn't even get a check, or it's very, very small and it's because these things don't pay very well. But these carriers started teaching these guys not to buy too much fuel because that's when they weren't getting their check, because they had advanced it all on fuel. But that only saves you for one week, because next week I still have to buy the fuel, but now I'm buying it in a way that's costing me more. So I started figuring out the little bit of training that they were doing is probably making things worse for these guys.

Blythe Brumleve: 45:53

And so what is the? I guess what is the solution for a lot of these guys Is it? Obviously you know your program helps, but I would imagine that that's how a lot of them are starting, and then getting out of the industry very quickly, only never to return.

Kevin Rutherford: 46:06

Yeah, it's why we have as much turnover as we do, not in just drivers, but we turn over tons of owner operators, these lease purchase programs. They might as well put a revolving door on that truck. They'll probably lease that thing to five or six people over time, because very few people ever succeed at these.

Blythe Brumleve: 46:25

So if you were interested in becoming a driver, what would you suggest is, like, the best route to take to make sure that you're a profitable company, but you're also maybe working for a company that values you or, you know, going to the right CDL school. It feels like a lot of things to navigate very quickly, you know it does.

Kevin Rutherford: 46:43

I'm not sure that most of that is all that important. You're going to go to a CDL school because you have to just about just pick one. All we need to do is get through the training and get our license. Now I would love to see better training, but we're not going to see it. The schools that are out there are all about the same. So just pick one and get through it. One of the things we've tried to do because I originally tried working with carriers to create better training programs and again I'm only talking owner operators. I really don't do a lot with drivers, unless it was a health thing. So the carriers, just they were just really difficult to work with. What we've done over the years is we've created small owner operator companies that we can refer people out to. If you want to become an owner operator, go drive for these guys. You're going to get to know the owner. They're going to show you how to own a truck and how to do it profitably, and at some point they may even help you get into a truck, and that's really other than that. It's just trying to reach more and more people and educate them is what we try to do.

Blythe Brumleve: 47:50

No, I love that referral line of business because, I mean, there are people who are making it, but I would imagine that a lot of them are so focused on making the business work versus spreading that message, which is where a company like yours comes in.

Kevin Rutherford: 48:07

Let me give you the two extremes of what we're dealing with here. I had a guy call me on the air one day and he said I hear you talk about these lease purchase programs. He said I got into one. He said I'm struggling, I can't figure out what's wrong. And I said well, do you have any accounting? And he said no, he didn't even know what we were talking about really. And I said look, here's what I'm going to do. I want you to send me all of your settlements and all of your receipts from this year. We were like seven months into the year and I said I'm going to put it into our accounting system and then we're going to get you back on the air next week and we're going to go through the numbers and figure out what we should do. That's what I do and that's the process. We have to look at the numbers first. I was shocked when I got done with the numbers. This guy was making 13 cents a mile net. That was it. And I, when we got him on the air, I said I don't even know how you're eating, much less surviving like this. And he said well, I'm okay, I guess. And I said well, congratulations, because you must be managing your personal money really well. And I said so here's the thing you are surviving on 13 cents a mile. I said we could get you driving jobs all day long at 60 cents a mile. I said that's what we're going to do You're going to go get a driving job and you're going to keep living on 13 cents a mile and we're going to take the other 47 cents a mile and we're going to start saving it to buy you a truck. We're going to buy the right truck and we're going to spec it right and we're going to send you to the right carrier. And we did all that and this process happened about over about a three year period. And then the guy started calling me back. He now has his own authority, his own trailers, his own customers. He is doing fantastic. Love that and that. That's the potential that's out there.

Blythe Brumleve: 50:01

That's such a great service that you're providing for this making me a little emotional just thinking about it because you gave this pathway to this person who wouldn't have succeeded probably without your help. He probably would have left the industry.

Kevin Rutherford: 50:12

He was so frustrated he figured if I'm working this hard and I own the truck and I'm taking all this risk or he's leasing the truck I should be making more. And I said you're right. And I said in this program there's no way. I said I've looked over the numbers. At best we might get you to 40 or 50 cents a mile and that's just pathetic for all the risk you're taking and all the money you've put up. I said we want to get you to the point where you're making a dollar plus a mile Take home. And he is now.

Blythe Brumleve: 50:43

That's wonderful. That is such a great story. Thank you for sharing that. Now, as we kind of like round out the interview, I do have it feels weird to kind of like segue to this next topic, because it's more like rapid fire questions, things like that. So I guess there's no real I guess way to do this. Well, wait, one question I would have to ask is if I could give you a magic wand to fix trucking, what would you fix and why?

Kevin Rutherford: 51:12

Wow. You know I am a pretty died in the wolf remarket capitalist. I don't like a lot of rules, I don't like a lot of regulations. I like a lot of competition. Honestly, I know a lot of people think the system is really, really broken. I don't think it is. I think if we could. The one thing that really worries me right now is the AB five type laws, the fight against independent contractors. If I can see a problem in the industry, that's the only one. I'm really worried about All the other stuff we can deal with. You know, speed limiters that wouldn't be wild about them. Elds I wasn't wild about that. I'm not even worried about hours of service at all. It seems to me like every time somebody wants to talk about how to improve trucking, the government has to be involved somehow. They always want some sort of new regulation or some new rule. I'm the opposite. Let's get rid of a whole bunch of them and let's figure out how we educate people better as an industry and we'll all get better that way. The other big project we're working on and I've been working on this for a couple years on and off, and we do a show called Broker Connect. I think one of the best ways we could fix our transportation industry is much better partnership and cooperation between small brokers and small carriers. Those are the two groups that move the vast majority of the freight in this country and they're kind of a mess.

Blythe Brumleve: 52:49

Well said, and they're constantly fighting with each other.

Kevin Rutherford: 52:51

Here's what I don't get. I do a whole piece on. I didn't make this up, but I can't remember where I heard this. But I've repeated this about a million times the secret to success in business Are you ready? Any business, any business here's what it is. You, as a business owner, you figure out how to provide more value to your customer than anybody else can. That's it. That is the secret to every business on the planet. Now, it's not easy, but that's what you should be focused on all day long. How do I provide more value to my customer? The next time you do an interview and you have an owner operator on, ask him who his customer is. You'll get the deer in the headlight. Look, they don't even think about customers. Think about the discussions you've had with small carriers and owner operators. How many times does the word customer even come up? Almost never.

Blythe Brumleve: 53:51

It's always about the drivers.

Kevin Rutherford: 53:53

And then I tell people if that's the way you succeed by providing more value to your customer than anybody else can, we now need to identify your customer. And they will still look at me like they're not sure and I'll say here's a clue who's check did you deposit? So, in the model of a broker in the mix, who's check are they depositing? It's the brokers, so that's their customer. And then I look at them and say why would you walk around talking about your customer like this? They're scumbags. They're controlling the rate. They could care less about me. They're just taking everything they can get. No, that's your customer. You need to stop talking about them like that and try figuring out how you provide value to them.

Blythe Brumleve: 54:40

And then develop those deeper relationships, so you're not chasing the freight on the load boards. Yeah, that all makes a ton of sense. Now I know we got a few minutes left here, so I just wanted to ask you just a couple of little rapid fire questions. But what is your favorite supply chain? Factoid Can be about trucking anything.

Kevin Rutherford: 55:02

Supply chain factoid that the average truck on the road gets 6.6 miles to the gallon and we now have trucks breaking 11. And that's just change. Wow that it's such a small group that are achieving those kind of numbers. But we've proven it's possible.

Blythe Brumleve: 55:28

And how is it possible?

Kevin Rutherford: 55:29

Modifying the trucks, different gearing, different transmission setups, different tires. I've identified over 80 things that affect fuel economy. Now, we can't change all of them, but a lot of them we can. Some of them are out of wind temperature, but but we knowing those things is how we get to those 10, 11, 12 miles to the gallon trucks that we're now creating.

Blythe Brumleve: 55:58

Wow, that's a great fact. And right off the top of your head. Like I don't send these out, you know these questions out ahead of time people, so he's coming up with that right off the top, which is great, all right. And last question what's your your favorite SAS product? That's not your own.

Kevin Rutherford: 56:16

A site called mintcom.

Blythe Brumleve: 56:20

Oh, the manager mint Love that one. That's a good one free, it's been free forever too, and that's. I didn't even think that they were around. I remember using them back in the day but I started using rocket money recently, and so that's who I think is they're. They're fairly seven.

Kevin Rutherford: 56:38

I think they're both owned by Intuit, same company.

Blythe Brumleve: 56:41

I believe so, and that's.

Kevin Rutherford: 56:42

TurboTax Quickin QuickBooks Mint Rocket Mortgage.

Blythe Brumleve: 56:50

So that's my next step as a business owner. My next step is to plug Rocket Money into all the Well, you know what's happening now.

Kevin Rutherford: 56:59

I'm actually working with a new platform, exactly like Mint, except they're brand new and it's all run by AI, but I also imagine that that. Mint will have AI all over their site pretty soon too.

Blythe Brumleve: 57:17

And it just makes things so much simpler to be able to see, like all of the little you know, the Apple transactions that aren't labeled, but they show up on your bill and you have no idea what they go to. So you have to physically go into the Apple app to find out what they're charging you for.

Kevin Rutherford: 57:31

So you know what I you know what I thought was the single best feature. Some of these money apps put in the ability to cancel your subscriptions with one click. Isn't that an awesome feature.

Blythe Brumleve: 57:44

It is. It's very handy, or the the negotiate will negotiate this bill for you, which is great.

Kevin Rutherford: 57:50

Yeah, I am so bad at signing up for every subscription on the internet and I when I Every time I sign up on them, I'm gonna I'll cancel it before the end of the day. I just want to see how it works. And then it charges you and you don't know, and then it goes on for months and months and then somebody from accounting will send me something Are you using this? And I'll go. I don't know what that is, and they'll be like well, you signed up for it, right. Then you have to do your own due diligence and digging.

Blythe Brumleve: 58:20

All right, kevin. Where can folks you know we've had a great conversation. I want to make sure that you know anybody who's listening can be able to check out more of all the awesome work you're doing. Where can they check out? Let's Truck Healthy Tribe. You know all that good stuff.

Kevin Rutherford: 58:32

The easiest place letstruckcom. Click on everything. You'll find our app in there. You'll find software, fuel gauges, profit gauges. You'll find our listener app. We are live on the air Monday through Friday, 8 am Pacific time. Every day we usually go two to three hours. I have a hard start time. I just quit when I feel like quitting, if I run out of questions or get tired. The other day, I think I ended up doing like three hours live on the air and then three and a half on a space back to back. Yeah, and I don't do commercials or breaks on my show either. Wow, Insane.

Blythe Brumleve: 59:08

That is a that is marathon level broadcasting right there. Well, Kevin, I appreciate all of your insight. We covered a lot of ground in this episode. I had a lot of fun talking to you.

Kevin Rutherford: 59:18

We'll have to do it again soon.

Blythe Brumleve: 59:19

Sounds great Anytime, thanks, I hope you enjoyed this episode of Everything Is Logistics, a podcast for the thinkers in freight, telling the stories behind how your favorite stuff and people get from point A to B. Subscribe to the show, sign up for our newsletter and follow our socials over at everythingislogisticscom. And in addition to the podcast, I also wanted to let y'all know about another company I operate, and that's Digital Dispatch, where we help you build a better website. Now, a lot of the times, we hand this task of building a new website or refreshing a current one off to a co-worker's child, a neighbor down the street or a stranger around the world, where you probably spend more time explaining the freight industry than it takes to actually build the dang website. Well, that doesn't happen at Digital Dispatch. We've been building online since 2009, but we're also early adopters of AI, automation and other website tactics that help your company to be a central place to pull in all of your social media posts, recruit new employees and give potential customers a glimpse into how you operate your business. Our new website builds start as low as $1,500, along with ongoing website management, maintenance and updates starting at $90 a month, plus some bonus, freight marketing and sales content similar to what you hear on the podcast. You can watch a quick explainer video over on DigitalDispatchio. Just check out the pricing page once you arrive and you can see how we can build your digital ecosystem on a strong foundation. Until then, I hope you enjoyed this episode. I'll see you all real soon in Go Jags.

About the Author

Blythe Brumleve
Blythe Brumleve
Creative entrepreneur in freight. Founder of Digital Dispatch and host of Everything is Logistics. Co-Founder at Jax Podcasters Unite. Board member of Transportation Marketing and Sales Association. Freightwaves on-air personality. Annoying Jaguars fan. test

To read more about Blythe, check out her full bio here.