The Most Important Trucking Stories in 2023
Episode Transcript
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It’s that time of the year when the days between Thanksgiving and the New Year feel like one giant blur. But it’s also a time to think about the things you want to get done in 2024. So what better way to get a handle on what to be thinking about than a mega episode of this year’s best shows?

In this episode, we’re covering the trucking segment with heavy hitters who don’t shy away from opinions on topics like health, driver recruiting, technology, and what carriers can learn from Yellow’s bankruptcy.

These episodes will play in order of how I think they will be the most valuable to you, the listener, but if you want to jump to a specific part, I’ve got each episode time-stamped as well as the link back to the original episode — which has some handy show links and ways to get in touch with the guest or topic from that episode.

Lastly thank you so much for the support you’ve given this show during our first year of going fully independent. While these “best of” episodes are airing, I’ll be finalizing the first part of 2024’s content plan with tons of new content on the way.

Until then, enjoy and I hope you find this episode helpful….




Are you experienced in freight sales or already an independent freight agent? Listen to our Freight Agent Trenches interview series powered by SPI Logistics to hear directly from the company’s agents on how they took the leap and found a home with SPI freight agent program.

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Show Transcript

See full episode transcriptTranscript is autogenerated by AI

Blythe Brumleve: 0:05

It's that time of the year when the days between Thanksgiving and the New Year feels like one giant blur, but it's also time to think about the things you want to get done in 2024, so what better way to get a handle on what to be thinking about than a mega episode of this year's best shows. In this episode, we're covering the trucking segment with heavy hitters who don't shy away from opinions on topics like health, driver recruiting, technology and what carriers can learn from the yellow bankruptcy. These episodes are going to play in order of how I think they will be the most valuable to you, the listener, but if you want to jump to a specific part, I've got each episode time stamped as well as the link back to the original episode, which has some further show links and ways to get in touch with the guests or topic from that particular episode. Lastly, thank you so much for their support you've given this show during our first year of going fully independent. While these best of compilations are airing, I'll be finalizing the first part of 2024's content plan for the podcast, with tons of new content on the way, not only on the podcast, but over on our YouTube channel as well. Until then, enjoy, and I hope you find this episode helpful. Before we get into the yellow situation, give folks a little bit of an understanding of your career background.

Adam Wingfield: 1:24

So I started off as a driver. I started off as a company driver as soon as I was old enough to get my CDL. I went to Schneider and I went to a training school and I got my CDL license to drive a tractor trailer. I was always intrigued by it. I always loved it. It was like one of those things that was my long-going passion was to always be in the industry. A couple of years later I purchased my first truck, became an owner operator and then I really that's when the light bulb came on and the eyes opened up a lot wider that the industry has a lot of components in it and a young kid behind the wheel of a truck and just getting out there and understanding that I didn't realize how much business was involved to it at that time. So that really fueled my fire to make sure that I get out there and help folks to understand it and help folks navigate through it. So that was just the foundational start and principle behind it that as years go by and my fleet grew and I start learning more and more about the business and I start seeing other people's fail. It really was a pain point for me, because of my passion is to make sure that people are successful, especially in trucking, because I love it so much, and what I wanted to do is put a compelling program together, put a compelling team together. I was just really focused on helping folks navigate the right way through it, with all of the stuff that's going on and all of the directions that are out there. So that kind of gives a little background of me and just a really really small nutshell.

Blythe Brumleve: 2:48

And what was the? I guess the moment that you decided that you were going to, because you're not a driver anymore correct, absolutely. You're just a business owner and educating others within the industry right.

Adam Wingfield: 2:59

Yeah, I retired. I retired from behind the wheel a long time ago, but I did put a million miles on the highway. So that was a lot of experience, a lot of blue collar experience, and I always told myself I wanted to learn from the inside out. I wanted to start a trucking company from the inside out. I didn't want to get into it without knowing the intricacies and I didn't want to get into it without navigating through the adaptions that needed to happen. But when I came outside of the truck and I really started seeing it more of an executive level and supporting executive level companies, I saw how much opportunity that I left out on a table, even within my own fleet, and I'm able to take those things now and install them into companies as well.

Blythe Brumleve: 3:37

And what were some of those things that you noticed, that you didn't realize as a driver?

Adam Wingfield: 3:41

And just the power of networking and relationships. That was just so impactful because, even as a driver, I kind of like make it as a parallel to a corn maze. If you've ever done Halloween, you get into a corn maze where you got an advocate through and get to the end of it. But as a driver, you're in that corn maze, you're just trying to figure it out, you're going by the ebbs and the flows of the road and when you do have that much time to really think, you really don't see it from a big picture. However, if I'm in a deer stand and I'm trying to help you navigate through a corn maze, I can say, hey, blythe, no, don't turn left here, turn right Now, keep going straight, take two more steps, go right. And that's where I started seeing things more of an enterprise level and seeing it as an enterprise level. I'm wanting to help people see things at a higher level too. I want to see people help think, people see through from a scalability perspective. So, just looking at it from a big picture establishing better relationships, going out to different events even though it might not be truck and related events, those business networking events I started to notice how that was a big connector for me, because you may be introducing yourself to someone who, for instance, I met a local city councilman one time and we were just out in a networking event and he was just talking about this huge billion dollar project that they were working on in the city and they needed logistic support and they were looking for a consultancy or services or logistics companies that can help support that. Well, I wouldn't have known that if I was just sitting in a truck stop and just kind of chatting back and forth about this broker doing this or this person doing that. So it opened up my eyes, most importantly, in the power of people, the power of networking with people. That was the number one thing that I identified. And obviously the whole tech side really getting involved with tech on that side and showing how important that is to separate yourself from other carriers, because it's such a competitive landscape and when you're able to identify those niches that you can specialize in and the differentiators that you can provide, it makes you a step ahead of the rest. And I didn't see that I'm just going to be honest I didn't see that until I really stepped out and looked at it from a higher lens and then there was no one that was talking about it at that time, there was no direction. Then I mean, to be honest with you, we didn't have GPSs, we had Randy McNally Atlases, so we didn't have. I mean, you got to think about that time. But now that we are in the area of technology and technology is becoming so much of a part of what we do, using the power of that technology and leveraging it in our own businesses is something that I'm really, really, really really held in on that right now.

Blythe Brumleve: 6:14

What about the drivers, I guess, that say that it's too much technology? You're taking away the skill set of the driver when they have to pay attention to all of these different tools that some drivers are very good, that they don't necessarily, they feel like they don't necessarily need those tools. What is sort of the balance, I guess, between using the tools and ultimately just always relying on them?

Adam Wingfield: 6:35

There's always over leverage, you know, and there's over leverage in everything, you know. There's over leverage of technology, there's over leverage in financing and, just like you said, there's something that you know that can get out there and it can manage and adapt. But when you have, for instance, when you have, insurance companies and I've seen several insurance companies that require technology in the cab, they require in facing cabs, they require safety monitoring, so they were requiring on those things to help lower their risk you know it's all about really kind of communicating the why and really, when it comes down to technology and the speed of technology, the most important thing that we're doing is we're really trying to just help people understand the speed that it's coming and explaining the why behind it and really trying to get them to get that buy-ins. But we run into it all the time. You know you got. You know there was a making carry that made an announcement last week that they were installing dash cams as a primary focus in their fleet and they were moving. 30, 40, 50 percent of their fleet is going to be all in-face and dash cams by the end of the year. So it's moving very quickly and they're doing that because of the risks that are associated and involved with it, and they're trying to just get this thing more in line with being a really true federally mandated industry, and safety is really, really important.

Blythe Brumleve: 7:49

Yeah, it's almost like one of those things where I think for a lot of folks they're fearing the anxiety of like tech and robots and AI like all taking over. I think it all plays into like that sort of larger fear set. When you break it down a little bit more, it's like well you know, especially when it comes to like marketing and sales and like you know chat. GBT, things like that. I definitely want to ask you about that later on. But it's one of those things where it's like you can either use the tools and use them to your advantage or you know the cat is out of the bag, like it's not. You can't put the toothpaste bag in the tube. It's one of those things where you have to adapt to these certain situations and these certain requirements and these, I guess, evolutions of technology and where innovation is headed. And I think you know, with that being said, it's, you know, going into one of the bigger companies, the largest trucking company that has, you know, ever gone bankrupt. That was yellow. They officially filed for bankruptcy this week. It's kind of been in the works for, you know, a few weeks now, maybe months. For folks who may not be aware of the entire yellow situation, how did we get here?

Adam Wingfield: 8:58

You know, I think that really kind of boils back, it starts over. You want to go back to deregulation in the 80s and you know yellow was around for a very, very long time. I think they were about to hit 100 years this year 99 years. So when you go back to deregulation, that caused a lot of increased competition that yellow may not have seen before and you know, as they kind of adapted to that, they adapted to their overall competition, that became a major part of it. And then when you dropped in COVID, and you dropped in the relief that they received from COVID, that $700 million relief that they received from COVID, and the inability to really kind of go back, and number one, when you have the government saying, hey, oops, you know, we weren't supposed to give you guys that money which could tell you that they may not were necessarily qualified for a variety of reasons. And now you become over leveraged in financial ability, now you over leverage your available capital, and that was one. And then you also got to look at it too Labor issues are always going to be a major component of the industry. You know whether any blue collar industry is going to have labor issues. But when you have a company that is managing their labor through a union, it becomes much more complex and in some cases it becomes much more convoluted. So now you've got a third party that's saying, hey, listen, you know we want this now. And instead of having those independent relationships, that internal human resource process, that kind of leaves it into a third party's hand. And I'm not, you know, I'm not going to say I'm for or against unions, but you have to understand what happens when you bring a workers union into an organization. You got to look at the pros and the cons and things that can happen out of it. So you add that onto that and then you look at their overall debt load, right? So you got to think about all of the acquisitions that they took over the last several years. They acquired a lot of companies and they acquired some big companies over the, you know, over that period, and when you acquire companies and you're not leveraging that, you're not able to do that. I think all of that kind of came down into a I hate to say a perfect storm. But man, we were some, some some North of 30,000 people that were affected, and we're talking about 14,000 tractors and 40,000 trailers and 22,000 drivers, and these are just, you know, obviously these are not not official numbers but from what I've, what I've seen, it's impacted a lot of people and I think that when you had all of these things working and then, on top of the lower demand that we're seeing and you know, and now you've got customers that when I talked about the competition for a part, when you hear customers saying something about bankruptcy, you know, now you got customers say, hey, I might want to move my freight somewhere else. And you know, even though they were given a 30 day extension on on on a default, when you have that, you have your customers running. You know. From that perspective, I think that that's usually a weapon for people. There's no way to come back from that and I think that that's how he got to that point.

Blythe Brumleve: 11:52

Was it? Was it really just the customers? That was the final, like nail in the coffin for them leaving.

Adam Wingfield: 11:57

I mean, if you look at it from that perspective, they lost an incredible amount of freight. You know when they, when they made the announcement. So when the you know when the teamsters said, hey, this is what's going to happen if we don't tighten up. And now your customer is like Whoa. You know when that happened, um, party yellow. One of yellow's statements that they released to the public was a catastrophic loss in customers. And when you think about that word catastrophic, you know, when you think about demand and volume's, especially in this particular, the angst. In order for me to pay back alone, I have to have receivables to do so. And if my customers are leaving and I, you know I'm talking about catastrophic. And you use the word catastrophic, um, to describe any type of circumstance, we're talking about a major, major dominating effect. And when you don't have those customers in place to be able to go back and make a, you know, make a repayment on something like that, you can see what that would cause that to you, to, to, to almost be a paid place of no return. So at that point the executive team made the decision and say you know what, there's no way we're going to be able to come back from this. You know, here's the best thing that we can do at this point, and I think that that's what we got to.

Blythe Brumleve: 13:05

Why do you think that they played this? I mean, I guess it just felt like such a public battle. It was like almost looking at like your parents getting divorced and you have like a front row seat of every personal detail. That's why did it play out so publicly.

Adam Wingfield: 13:20

Man, I, you know, I tell you Blight and I'll be honest with you, social media is a gift and a curse and you know, some people over leveraged their power on social media At the the back and forth. When you look at some of the posts and some of the rhetoric that was taking place, it was some really, really aggressive rhetoric and I understand that part of it was perhaps for them to be able to go in and get a little bit more leverage. But it was, it was it was it was quite a battle and it was quite a very, very public situation and I hate that sometimes social media provides a platform in that, in that realm, to where it's kind of like gloves off and people forget about handling things like that amicably behind closed doors and it just got messy. It really did.

Blythe Brumleve: 14:14

And that's so. I I worked at an asset base um 3PL, you know, about 12 years ago and it went out of business after five years and very similar, you know, not very similar, but a lot of the the situations that happened publicly. It very much reminded me of what was going on back then, where you executives were having a lot of closed door meetings. You know, an entire intermodal department got laid off. We had outside financing that came in to try to save the company. There were a lot of moments that it felt like a disaster, but there were also like moments of hope, moments of okay, this company can actually be saved, my, you know, I don't have to switch jobs, I don't have to worry about finding a new job, and it felt like it was a lot of that was happening here with the yellow situation, where the final couple of weeks, you know, I've I've seen a couple posts from you know a few executives that are, you know, essentially trying to hire. You know some of the top talent that worked at yellow and they said, you know, basically, the last couple of weeks it was a lot of confusion and a lot of hope and it felt very similar to to to my situation, except for social media, was very much in its infancy. This was, like you know, very, very early on, so we didn't have a lot of that playing out in public and I wonder if yellow maybe could have been saved if it wasn't for social media and a lot of you know, a lot of people acting as sources, a lot of people acting as reporters. Do you get a sense of that feeling or do you think that this was just eventually going to happen?

Adam Wingfield: 15:43

So it just kind of reminds me of being on an airplane. You know a pilot is going to go through, you know through the worst turbulence, and he knows it's going to happen, but he's not going to say all right, everybody, it's time for you to get scared. All right, everybody, it's going to be a terrible ride. You know you might feel a few bumps here and there. You know it's going to be a little choppy. So they try to do what they do is they try to lower that angst. And you know, to be honest with you, I don't think that social media was necessary to kind of like the, you know, kind of like the nail in a coffin. But I do feel like the rhetoric and I do feel like, like you said, you got so many people reporting and you got so many people put pressure on you. You got so many people posting, drivers upset, and then it does. It does weigh in. It does weigh in because of the reach that social media has put out there. I think the demise of yellow, whether public or private, was inevitable just because of some of the decisions that were made at the executive level, and the executive level decisions that were made they're people too, you know, at the end of the day, and I know that and I feel, you know, I feel, I feel I feel very, very, you know, sorry that they had to make those decisions because now you're talking about, you know, affecting in so many people and it was so many hardworking people that got affected. We talked about pensions that were lost. You know, I looked at the severance package and I was like, wow, you know, you're working in 27 years and you only get a two week paid a severance package. It was just, it was just a nightmare for folks. But at the end of the day, I don't feel like social media was the nail in the coffin, but it certainly wasn't. It certainly wasn't helpful.

Blythe Brumleve: 17:17

Yeah, I like that you brought that up because that was exactly what happened and in my situation, where we but it wasn't social media related it was one person from another company telling me hey, I, you know, we're, we're hearing that you're running out of runway and you need to start looking for another job. And I told my brother, who also worked at the company. And then you know, of course, like that starts going around to to everyone and it creates a form of panic and fear. My boss had to pull me aside and tell me you can't tell people stuff like this because it's going to incite fear among the employees. And you know, eventually it was the nail in the coffin for that situation where the executives, the executive leadership team, choosing to leave and to go somewhere else. And that was that. That was sort of the end of the line for us and it just felt so very similar. And I could not imagine being one of those employees and seeing the different social media messages, seeing my job, my career, my livelihood being turned into memes which you know, that's another social media aspect of it too where it's like, oh God, that would just kill me if I was in their position and I would see people making I mean, it is the internet, so you know, to each their own. But that was one thing that I was very consciously like. I'm not going to make fun of this situation because the people who mostly affected are the ones that have nothing to do with the decisions that were being made Absolutely, absolutely. And so I saw a tweet that you you said recently and it said to this day the most disturbing thing that I come across in the industry is the amount of company owners, large and small, that don't have an idea on the cost of operating a truck. The single truck owners concern me the most because everything is on the line with one truck. Now, because of that, that statement, what? And because of yellow, what can other, you know sort of smaller carriers, even owner operators, what can they learn from the situation?

Adam Wingfield: 19:07

You know, I think that the yellow freight situation opened a lot of people's eyes up to the, you know, to the overall hey, you know what. Nobody is exempt from the cause and effect of poor, just oversight within the market, and particularly with your own company. And I you know that that tweet is really it's alive and well and conversations that have been taking place with, with, with clients and other folks for for decades now, and one of the things that that that disturbed me the most. And I even had a conversation with a recent, a recent person who was saying you know, I was just making sure that every load that I got was paying at least 202 a mile, but then we go into the breakeven analysis and take a look at exactly what it costs to operate all the equipment and then breakeven analysis had them come in at 227. So if you're running in that 227 in order for your truck to make money and in your mind you're thinking that you're doing well at two bucks, then that's a huge problem and what's going to eventually happen is you're going to do those things Right I talked about earlier. You're going to over leverage capital right, overage available capital, because you're trying to have that capital, continue to fund your business with the hope that rates turn around and not really understanding, hey, you know what? This whole time I was running my trucking company at this operational point, when it actually cost me to operate this company, my whole strategy was wrong, my whole focus and approach was wrong, and those are the decisions that can ultimately put you out of business very, very quickly. So I think that for me, why it's so important to education and it's so important that our narrative is just really teaching people how to run a business and I say that with the utmost respect to anyone but just because I can cook a cheeseburger or I can make a pizza doesn't mean that I can start up a successful franchise or for a successful restaurant. The business components have to be the overarching theme and then everything else is just kind of the layer on the cake and what we have to do is we have to get into the economical side from that perspective, we've got to look at the professional side and we've got to get better at business acumen. And that tweet was really focused on really just opening up the awareness that the overarching acumen for business, as from that perspective, and the financial acumen that's required to run a trucking company is oversight to so many people Because, again, like you said, what they do a lot of education is. I'm going to get on Facebook and I'm going to join a Facebook group and I'm going to say, hey, what do you guys think about this load here, and then you're going to have 100 people comment on it and say, hey, no, don't take that. You need to take it for $7 a mile or sit the truck down and shut it down. You got people getting information from so many different directions that they really don't know where to go and unfortunately, I see that all the time in my team. We see those things happen. I'm talking about 100s of times a day where people are misguided. And you got to look at the statistics. At the end of the day, 80% of trucking companies that start within two years fail 80% eight out of 10,. We have 51,000 trucking companies go out of business this year, right? So you're talking about that. These folks are not just going out of business because of you know, this is the market. The market is part of it, right, their overall spot market is part of it, but people are going out of business because they didn't know what to expect coming in. They weren't prepared for the ups and downs, the ebbs and flows. So that tweet was really, really, really guided and directed to get people to wake up and start focusing on their business, because without the business, none of this other stuff would take place.

Blythe Brumleve: 22:53

Are you in freight sales with a book of business looking for a new home, or perhaps you're a freight agent in need of a better partnership? These are the kinds of conversations we're exploring in our podcast interview series called the freight agent trenches, sponsored by SPI logistics. Now I can tell you all day that SPI is one of the most successful logistics firms in North America, who helps their agents with back office operations, such as admin, finance, it and sales. But I would much rather you hear it directly from SPI's freight agents themselves, and what better way to do that than by listening to the experienced freight agents tell their stories behind the how and the why they joined SPI? Hit the freight agent link in our show notes to listen to these conversations or, if you're ready to make the jump, visit SPI3PLcom. And I'm glad that you brought that up, because during COVID and during sort of the 2020, 2021, we saw so much freight hitting the market, but we also saw a lot of sort of fly by night trucking experts selling courses and creating informational products in order to sell people to get into the game, and I'm almost like a pyramid scheme for a lot of these folks. What were the lessons that, or what are the lessons that you teach to sort of counteract that quick, easy money? What are some of those line items, those break even points that most people are missing from their business, that they're not calculating for?

Adam Wingfield: 24:21

So one of the things as a strategy, one of the things that we teach on any break even, is that every mile matters. Every mile matters. So when I say every mile matters, every mile that that truck rotates, every time that that tire makes one complete turn, it has to pay everything from an amortization standpoint. What I mean by that is that everything that you have, every expense that's associated with that truck, regardless of what that load pays, regardless of you moving in deadhead every time the tire rotates, your costs are being paid for. So when I say that, I'm saying over that 12 months, you have everything from your fixed expenses, which is your truck payment, your trailer payment, insurance. Those are your fixed. But then it's also paying for all your variable expenses. It's paying for things that people don't consider, like your factor and fees. Typically, on a year on one truck, your factor and fees on average is about $7,000. But yet when an owner operator goes in and he's looking at that P&L and looking at that cost assessment, when you're looking at a load in this overall totality, usually what an owner operating a small fleet on it considers is fuel, driver pay and maybe a couple of the other exosutorials and that's it and they say okay, here's the net. And I'm going to tell you, one of the things that aggravated me the most is when I saw these fly by night course creators and gurus on the internet and on social media during the pandemic. You would see them posting rate cons and they would post a rate con from a CH, Robinson or TQL and the rate con would be like $2,600 and they would put $2,600 minus fuel, minus driver pay, total profit. And that is absolutely the wrong answer. There's so much more that is associated with an income item, because with every income item you have to associate the expense items with it as well. Net profit is net profit. It's at the bottom of the barrel, it's the last thing. You as a business owner, you as an owner operator, you get paid last, after everything is considered. So when we talk about a break-even analysis and we talk about the importance of understanding what that looks like, everything has to be in consideration prior to you saying, okay, you know what, here's my profit. So our message has always been you know, the tire turns. The tire turns is what causes the business to turn. And the thing that we really really saw during the pandemic is we saw people take advantage of the market from that perspective. We saw people getting into the business brand new, fresh. We saw people that were experts, that just got in a truck in after a year. Right, and one season doesn't make you an expert. One good season doesn't make you a good expert, and then one bad season doesn't make you a failure. And what we're wanting to make people understand is that you have to see the full scope. You've got to have some experience into it and there's a difference when you speak from experience versus speaking from opinion.

Blythe Brumleve: 27:13

Facts. Yeah, very well said, and I'm sure for a lot of these folks, you know, for a lot of these business owners, they're trying to find where those opportunities are to not only break even but make a little bit extra during these hard times. So there are any sort of, you know, low hanging fruit opportunities that they could be looking for in their own financial statements. Or is it just as simple and as hard as just figuring out that break even point?

Adam Wingfield: 27:39

I think one of the things is and I don't and when we talk about the break even point, we're not we're not wanting to get that misconstrued with telling people they need to operate at the break even point. What we're doing is we're telling people to understand exactly what that is. And then you focus on the next item that we preach, which is your operational run rate. That operational run rate is like, say, if I say, hey, blithe, you know, just from a forecasting, or just from a longterm perspective, what are your goals? Well, you know what? My profit goals are 20%, right. So if your profit goals are 20% and your break even point is $2, then you know that your operational run rate would have to be 20% of $2. So that would be 240. So now, blithe knows that, at the end of the day, every opportunity I have to secure freight at 240 above will keep me on track with my goals and my visions for my company, for my independent you know, my independent company for my fleet, whatever that may look like. So we want to really teach the importance of the break even. The break even is your base, it's your floor, it's your foundation. You know your break even is how you build your house. Your operational run rate is your fixtures, your you know your dishes, your you know all of the other great stuff that you put on the top of it. I want people to understand and respect both. I want people to understand the importance of understanding why the break even point matters. But also from a business owner, and your business owner as well, you understand like, hey, we can't plan for tomorrow or Friday, we're planning for, okay, all right, now we're in Q1 or 2024. What are our goals for Q1 or 2024? What are our goals for Q2? What are we looking at? What customer relationships are we setting ourselves up for? And I want small carriers to have a big carrier mindset when they're doing these things, when they're going out and they're building these relationships and they're focusing on that financial literacy and acumen within their business. So that's the reason why we're so so strong on the break even point, because it's getting them to see where their foundation is. It's getting them to understand that their foundation's changed. But, most importantly, it's giving them that floor that they can build their goals off of and it's giving them that floor that they can establish their projection. Now, if I know where my break even point is. Now I know I can say, okay, cool, all right, you know what? I want to make a 15% profit in Q1. This is how we're going to do it. Okay, 15% profit in Q1. Now I've got a book at 230 a mile. I got to make sure that at the end of every week I'm going to win some, I'm going to lose some, but at the average I need to be at 230. And if I'm not at 230, then next week that means I've got to book more. I got to book a higher rate so I can help bring myself up to that average. So it's all about teaching them that part, and I think that that's the most important thing is teaching them the business side of it. And then also, you know, to be quite frank, it's teaching them to get off of spot market reliance and starting to focus on building their own direct, their own customers, their own freight example, so where they don't have to focus so much on the ebb and the flows of the spot market.

Blythe Brumleve: 30:40

And so what I guess is maybe some of the lessons learned not just from yellow, but from everything that you just mentioned. The market is what it is. You know there's predictions that it's going to be better in the Q4, that it's going to be better especially in 2024. So our business is going to be able to survive this you know sort of, I guess, economic turmoil until those things pick up. Or is it still very, very plausible that you can survive as a small carrier if you're doing everything that you said? You know you have your operational costs and then you have your profit margins that you want to go after. Are those things realistic in a market like this?

Adam Wingfield: 31:21

They're realistic, they're not easy. They're realistic but they're not easy because you know we're at the mercy in a spot condition. You're at the mercy of whatever happens. So when yellow went out, right, so what that is going to do, obviously it's going to increase demand on the LTL side, which is going to increase demand on truckload side. Just be, obviously it's a cause and effect and that was something that nobody predicted. So the spot market is so unpredictable. And when I think about that and I think about, you know, the small carrier and the plausibility of being able to survive these marketplaces, you can, as long as you know where your floor is, as long as you know how to be able to control your variable costs, because the only thing that you can control are your variable expenses. Somewhat you're fixed. You can control that somewhat, but once you purchase that truck, your truck payment is what it is, your trailer payment is what it is, your insurance is already is what it is, but being able to know how to lower your variable expense footprint because that's what you can control. I can't control the spot market. You know I can control it. There's nobody that has a crystal ball. I can say okay, guys, january 17th, it's on it's carrier go season. Nobody's going to be able to tell you that, because nobody knows when a yellow freight is going to file for bankruptcy, when a sell-a-don is going to file for bankruptcy, when COVID becomes a pandemic. Nobody knows that stuff. So you got to focus on the preparation and you got to focus on making sure that you demand control over your own business and become I tell you, and I say this all the time, if you're going to be the CEO of your company, you need to act like it, and you need to act like it with integrity and you need to act like it with an intention, because there's things that you're going to be able to control within anything, but those things that you can't control. You got to be able to focus your attention on the things that you can, and I think that plausibility is yes, it's absolutely there. We still have small carriers out there that's fighting and scrapping and still staying in the game. How long they're going to be able to do that, it all depends. We don't know what's happening out in Ukraine and what that's going to do with fuel prices. We don't know if we're going to see a spike like we saw in November and December last year when diesel prices went through the roof. We don't know that. So the small carriers that are really trying to stay into it we got to make sure that we stay in tune with every single line item every single day. Every mile per hour, every mile per gallon matters, and we've got to teach these small carriers out here to focus on that, versus on oh my God, the brokers out here to screw us or oh my God, the government's out here to take us all out of business. Listen, we can say that all day long, we can get back and forth with the opinions on that all day long, but the fact of the matter is you need to know your business and you need to run it like you're the CEO of the company.

Blythe Brumleve: 34:04

And you had mentioned just now about these carriers getting off of the load boards, getting off of the spot market. Where are you seeing some, I guess, moments of success for businesses who are doing that? How do you reach out to a customer? How do you develop a relationship with a broker rep? What do those steps look like?

Adam Wingfield: 34:25

Yeah, I love it because here's first of all, you got to remember your brokers are your customers At the end of the day. That's one of the things that I see. A lot of small carriers don't approach the conversation like that. If Blythe's the broker and Blythe's providing me freight and I'm moving freight for her, blythe is my customer. I have to nurture that relationship, whether or not, and regardless of all the noise out here, it's oh yeah, blythe's the broker, the broker's out here to screw the small carriers. Well, in this instance, blythe is my customer and I've got to provide Blythe with exceptional customer service. I got to make sure I pick up on time, I got to make sure I deliver on time, I got to make sure I over communicate and I got to make sure to ask for feedback, right. So I got to ask her how did I do? What can I do to get better? What can I do to make sure that I'm positioning and I'm at the top of your mind to be the one that, if you came across a really, really good lane, I would be the first person that you call? Because I'm going to tell you this Spot market freight is a broker's last option period. That's the last option. That's the bottom of the barrel. It's the dirtiest of apples. It's just putting it on a low board and hoping a carrier with integrity takes it off the low board and gets it from point A to point B. That's the fact of it. And here's the thing. A broker is a third party. In the media area, shippers rather work with brokers, especially because they have the fingertips on all the capacity. That's the way it is. So, instead of getting caught up in the whole whether it's propaganda or whatever you want to think about it not just nurture a relationship. Blythe's a broker, but guess what? Blythe is still a person and she's a cool person. I like talking to Blythe. Those are the things that we have to get through to folks' head. That's number one. Number two is and from a success standpoint I did an Instagram live about a month ago and I got on a live and I was just talking about things like making sure that you're treating your brokers like customers, getting on there and focus on digital freight matching services, like your Emerge Technologies, getting out there and making sure that you're doing things such as going to networking events that might not be trucking related. I'm not talking about going out to these conferences. I'm talking about the networking events that in your area, in your cities, in your towns, where you can go out and if anybody is in this zip code, they know exactly what Adam does. What you see and you realize a lot of times I talked about this on stage about a year ago is that you see folks that run trucking companies in these towns, in these cities, but have no idea who the shippers and manufacturers and distributors. They have no idea, no clue who these people are. You think about that. How can, if you come to Charlotte, you can't come to Charlotte and people don't know what I do? Because I'm getting out there. I'm going to networking events and even when I started really getting on the educational side of trucking, I was at every single networking event and I was the only person in trucking at these networking events. It was small business networking events and I'm talking to people, letting them know exactly what I'm doing. So just two things I'm doing I'm bringing about awareness, so they're like well, I didn't realize that that's an option. And number two, I'm making connections, because now these folks, when they have these conversations, these large scale environments, they're like wait a minute, I'll talk to this guy the other day. I have his card and that's exactly what he does. Let me connect you with this person. So really focusing on connections. But you know, one of the things that I see people struggle with is they struggle with basic communication. I hate to say that. It reminds me of my children. I love them to death, but when these cell phones and tablets and all these things became part of our norm, the new norm is not. You know, hey, hey, blife, how you doing. Let's meet for coffee and let's have a conversation. The norm now is just being on Twitter and seeing what everybody else is saying, or being on threads or whatever you call it, or being on Facebook and really not being able to go out and communicate. So I see a lot of people who feel entitled. Because I've got a truck in a trailer with 53 feet of space, I'm entitled and you should give me your dedicated free. Well, I'm sorry, buddy, that's not how it works. You and a million other trucks out there. I have the option. You tell me why I need to choose you versus anybody else. The way that happens is I first. I've got a nurture relationship. It would be like if I would send you mentioned email marketing and how chat GBT has helped email marketing. Could you imagine if I just just, in one email, just say, hey, buy this for me. You know you need to buy it right now. That's not how it works. Sometimes it's a four. You're in sales, sometimes four, sometimes five points at, sometimes six, sometimes seven different contact points that you're making and nurture that relationship and I'll never forget. You know, this is a. This is a story that I will never forget. I was, I was coaching a customer and she had nine trucks and she was in the Dallas area and she was you know, and she was on the spot market and we were trying to get her off the spot market. And one day I was just watching her, I was just talking on the zoom and she was in her kitchen and in the back of the kitchen she had to. I was just like hold on for a second, I've got to pull this out of the oven. And so she goes to the oven and she pulls some cookies out of them and I'm joking. I was like man, I can smell those cookies all the way over here. I was like you should leverage that. So you know what she did. She went to the Pepsi place and it was like a Pepsi shipper that was in her area and she started connecting and networking with the folks over at the Pepsi facility. Well, fast forward to story. So one Friday she baked cookies and sent them over to the office. Guess what? That Monday she was meeting and she crewed her dedicated lane through Pepsi, because she just became a human for a second. You're a human at first. Right, act like it. You know what I'm saying. Act like this is not new to you. To be able to communicate, and you know. The crazy thing is that at the end of the day, it's not about what you know, it's about who you know. Right, but how do you get to who you know? How do I know? How did I know? Well, I got to open my mouth and talk hey, how are you doing? What do you do? Hey, this is what I do. That element is missing. It's missing because I feel that the internet has put a lot of pressure on people and I also feel that people just forgot there. You know, it's almost like that whole social distancing that we've experienced over that year. Covid became an ideology that we're now social distancing ourselves from each other, and it's really getting in between us. It's getting in between our ability to be able to work together. That's kind of how I feel about that situation.

Blythe Brumleve: 40:44

I noticed, when you were listing off the things that you know these carriers should be doing, that you didn't really mention email marketing. You didn't really mention social media. You mentioned going out and networking, baking cookies, doing something nice and sending that over to a company. Those are the things that are going to make you stand out, because everybody is can email, market, email, email and social media Anybody can do that. But those little things that you're talking about they take a time investment, but they also take, you know, I guess a personality investment is maybe the phrase I'm looking to use, because you're right, when you go to some of these networking events and you're not a social person, it can feel a little awkward. But the only way you're going to get better at it is if you keep going and you keep practicing and you keep polishing up those social media skills, and not in a digital sense, but in the personal, in-person sense.

Adam Wingfield: 41:37

You know you mentioned something about polishing and one of the other things that people are not doing these days. They're not developing themselves Right. So a lot of times what they want to do is they'll buy a truck, buy a trailer and they're focusing on okay, hey, you know how do I go? Get on this low board, I'm going to do whatever. But they don't start developing those things within themselves that they're not good at, right. If you're not good at networking or you're not like CEOs have to talk. You have to talk regardless of your CEO, or one truck and one driver, or a CEO of 30,000. You have to have that leadership development. You have to constantly develop yourself as a person and you know that doesn't necessarily mean that all I'm going to do is look at YouTube videos of motivational speeches. That means sometimes I might have to do things such as I might have to buy a book, or I might have to enroll in a college course on communication, or I might need to do, you know, join a local thing that will help me speak like toastmasters or whatever that may be. You have to continuously develop yourself and, as a small carrier, I don't care if you're the CEO of one truck or the CEO of 50,000. I'm going to come at you with the same exact message, and that message is that without that self development and without professional development and progression, there's going to always be a byproduct of regression and that regression could eventually cause the demise of your company. And that demise of your company can be the demise of your vision and I don't want that to happen. But we have got to take the entitlement glasses off. We've got to take the entitlement feeling that, hey, just because I have this and just because everybody is saying that, like, I'm different and you have to operate with that level of intention, integrity and just focus.

Blythe Brumleve: 43:20

Yeah, because no one else is going to come do it for you.

Adam Wingfield: 43:22

Nobody's going to save you.

Blythe Brumleve: 43:23

Exactly, and if you haven't learned that lesson over the last few years, you know you better learn it quick. So if you were to get your CDL today, what would you do differently, if anything, versus when you first got it?

Adam Wingfield: 43:39

If I was going to get my CDL today. What I doubt is, man, that's a great question. Well, I think for me. I think that for me, knowing what I know now, the only thing differently that I would possibly have done that I didn't do the first time is that I was going to get my CDL today. The first time is really, really just appreciate those moments that I was out there and appreciate them for the lessons that I learned. You know it is a lot of. I had a lot of mistakes, you know, a lot of heartaches and some things that you try to put on the back mirror, but you got to understand it's not perfect. I think that I still owe my CDL to this day is probably, you know, one of my most prized possessions, because you know I look at that license every single day and I look at, you know, the things that I got as a result of it. You know and I don't directly attribute my success solely to my CDL, but my CDL opened up a door for me and once I got into that door, I was able to grow and expand and a lot of different thoughts. I just wanted a narrative that you see now also on social media is like, hey, everybody, go get your CDL and make a lot of money. Well, I'm just going to tell you that just not how it works. You know it's hard work, it's sacrifice. You know it takes a mental toll on you, but once you open the door there's a lot of other rooms that you can go in once you get in the front door and you don't have to just stand in the foyer like everybody else. I'm the one that didn't stand in the foyer. I was like, hey, but then I went to the other room and I'm like you know what? I like this room better and that would really, you know, that's really kind of accelerating me. But you know that, go back on the question. I just felt like you know, my decision when I got my CDL was was was partially, obviously, because I always had the desire and commitment to want to be involved in the industry. It was also a moment for me because I lost both my parents and I was struggling with depression. And it was also a moment for me to help focus on my mental health and I tell people, you know, all the time, you know, have my CDL, save my life, you know, especially when you think about the, you know, just the thoughts that I had and the dark thoughts that I had and things like that. It really, really saved my life. It really allowed me to see the world for what I, what I saw. It allowed me to really grow up, you know. It helped me grow up, become a man, become a decision maker. It helped me make believe in myself, you know, and believe in the ability to accomplish things, and I, just to this day, man, I think that for me personally, it was having my CDL change my life, you know, allowed me to, you know, live the life that I'm going to be able to live, and I just, I just I couldn't, you know, I couldn't imagine my life without it. I just couldn't imagine my life without a CDL.

Blythe Brumleve: 46:13

And it's led to some incredible opportunities, as you kind of hinted to or towards. And you have a couple of things. So you have the trucking meets. Train your train. You will course which train. Am I saying that right? Train you.

Adam Wingfield: 46:25

Yeah, yeah, yeah, but you have a new course, with them.

Blythe Brumleve: 46:30

You also have a partnership with the Carolina Panthers. How did these partnerships come about and what do you hope to gain from them?

Adam Wingfield: 46:37

So I think that for me you know, I built my business on and on just just mutual partnerships. Really, hey life, what are you doing? Okay, well, I do this. So we should compliment each other, and every, every approach that I have is very strategic. I'm always consistently looking to improve the value that we provide for our clients to strategic partnerships, because you know what, you may be great at this, but you may not be great at that. Let's find somebody that's great at that. With the end goal is to make sure that the customer, to make sure that the client, gets the best experience possible. I am so passionate about our clients and I want every client that touches innovative logistics to get the experience that they will get nowhere else. And the experience that I'm looking for is success. Right, I want my clients to come to us, regardless of where they're, at what stage they're at, and get success. And so you know when we got. You know when the Panthers reached out to us and the other partners reached out to us, you know the alignment and the vision was just to help small businesses become successful. My heart is always small business focused, you know I. You know when I go out to these little small business. You know they might have like small business Saturdays. I'm that guy that walks the entire room and buys something from every single table. I don't care if they're selling this, I don't care if they're selling that, I'm buying it because I love small business. And you know, when you support small business, you support somebody that's trying to take care of their kids college. If you're supporting somebody who's just trying to believe in themselves and trying to put you know something out there that they had a deep passion and desire to do so. When I reached out and I focused and look at these partnerships, I appreciate partnerships that have small business at the top of mind. I appreciate partnerships that are focusing on taking care of a small guy. This industry is dominated by small carriers. You know if, if Schneider, jb Hunt, swift and all those larger entities decided today, you know we're not going to move any more freight today we're taking the day off. You know who's going to come up and who's going to step up to the plate ABC trucking with two trucks down there in Ellary, south Carolina. Those are the companies that's going to stand up and those are the companies that move our country forward and I am so passionate about that when, I never forget, I was in a truck stop and, you know, early on in my career and I just remember just seeing the faces of folks and just seeing just the they're on their back. Then we didn't have, you know, the low boards on the half, we didn't have D18 truck stop and all that good stuff. We didn't have that. They're standing on there at the Washington dryer and they're looking at the screen to you know a television screen with a load and a broken number on there, and just seeing them just get on there and they're rushing to the telephone and trying to get through the first and then just looking at their face. You know, hey, I was just trying to get home this spend the weekend with my son because he's got his final baseball game and and just seeing their faces, you know disappointment, discouragement, man, it just, it just. I just love people and I love to see people successful. And the things that come out of my mouth when I'm talking about this business. I'm not going to tell you everything that you want to hear. You're going to hear some things come out of my mouth that you're not going to agree with, but one of the things that I'm always tell you is. I'm always going to tell you the blunt, honest truth, and the thing is is that I want people to be successful, but in order to do that, I can't want it more than the next person. So our partnerships were were very, very strategic for us to be able to provide the level of service and provide the expertise and guidance and the technology that's necessary to help our small carriers operate like large carriers, and that's where that's where that came in.

Blythe Brumleve: 50:16

And so it's a course with training, all that covers a lot of those things, and then I would imagine that it's kind of the same partnership with the Carolina Panthers.

Adam Wingfield: 50:25

So with the training we have so many different courses. We have a profitability expert course is for coaches, like dispatchers or you know, you got brokers that are looking to be able to add a different level of service to their clients. We have a startup course which tells people from A to Z how to start a trucking company, all the way from branding, all the way from, you know, low going, the whole nine again covers this like 77 modules in that particular course and it's not even and I like calling the course because everybody is coursed out they're freaking out about courses because people are just trying to get rich off courses, and I get it, but it's a hybrid educational experience and when I think about it, of course is you know, we tab our. Our experience is innovative university and it's like a college course. You have to submit assignments, you have to participate in discussion threads, you have to watch videos, you have to do research, right, so it's real courses. It's not a get rich course, it's not one of those. You know, hey, I'm just going to. You know, put six modules in a course so you get started and everybody else still has questions afterwards. So we have a very, very, very, very broad range of different courses that we offer in it and with the and with the Pantsys partnership is really just that small business partner, providing us with that platform to really partner. With that, we'll be able to have visibility and people to see hey, you know what this is, this is the trucking industry. But since the trucking industry is mainly, primarily small folks, these are the guys that you need to go see. These are, these are our guys right here. These are who we're going to put our say hey, you know what you guys are our guys, and I think that that's what we're looking for from that partnership.

Blythe Brumleve: 51:59

Very well said, and it's amazing to see you know your approach, going from a worker who's in the trenches to educating those who are also in the trenches as well. So it really gives you that firsthand insight that you know for a lot of the course gurus that popped up and you know, on TikTok in 2020, you know a lot of them are probably I mean, I don't want to guesstimate you know what they're going through right now, but this is that your education is an example of. You know we're going to take care, we're going to actually show you from experience years of experience of what to do and, most importantly, what not to do, in order to avoid these, a lot of these catastrophic mistakes. So, okay, we've talked about the yellow situation, we talked about the new opportunities that you guys are developing that are already here, but what about some other, I guess, big industry issues? Is there anything else that you want to shine a light on?

Adam Wingfield: 52:51

I think that compliance is another big industry issue. We're seeing a lot of folks, you know, really just try to fall under the radar when it comes down to that. It's never been a small issue, but I think it's. You see it more and more now and you know, when you think about fraud and freight fraud and combating freight fraud, you see a lot of brokers that are very, very gun shy when it comes to dealing with small carriers. And on the other side, on the flip side, we see small carriers not doing the foundational things that you should do as a business owner to ensure you establish your presence as a small business and you give them that comfort that, hey, you know what, I'm a new business owner, but you can trust me to give me a shot. I'm not going to double broker your freight. So I think that one of the biggest things that we've seen is a lot of small carriers are getting told no. You know more than ever you know they're getting told no because, hey, you don't have enough experience, you don't have enough inspections, yeah, I don't trust you, and we're seeing that, you know that quite frequently now. So the whole narrative and the whole mindset was, you know, got to make sure that we avoid the way stations and scale, scale how it's closed. But when you're avoiding that, you're avoiding your opportunity to be out and be able to showcase that you're all legitimate and I think that that has become a more and more an issue, especially for the small guys that focus so much on the spot market and you see a lot of folks getting stuck in places. You see a lot of folks that are not being able to work with. I remember I was listening to my team explain to me with a new client who was just so frustrated he was like six months in the business and he now he's just got his hands in the air. We were providing services for him on trying to help get them moving along. But you know, for every 10 calls that he's making the brokers on freight, you know he's getting told eight out of 10 times just because of not having enough inspections. So it's an issue. It's an issue because we're finding that a lot of three PLs are limited in terms of their, their their outreach for mining their data correctly and they're just given, you know, the first right or refusal in their opinion is no and it's not given the small carriers the opportunity, which I can understand. They're trying to protect themselves and trying to protect their freight, protect the customer's freight. But I think that we need to come to a meeting table and we need to be able to sit down with these folks and say, ok, well, if this is not it, then what could we do? What could we? What message can we get out to the small carriers that we can say, hey, do this, do this, do this, and then we can work together? But I feel like there's a wedge being driven and my messaging this year is really to start to hey, you know what? I'm getting ready to pull this wedge out and we're going to have to get to the bargaining table and sit down and really kind of talk about solutions instead of continuously focusing on a problem.

Blythe Brumleve: 55:25

What do you think is some of those solutions are?

Adam Wingfield: 55:27

I think that just looking at tech went in 2023. Why are we sitting there saying hey? Why are we saying hey? A inspection from a third party CVSA officer on a random Tuesday is going to say, aha, that's not a double broker. We have to use technology right. We are in the era of chat, gpt, bar, things like artificial intelligence and like real artificial intelligence. But again, this industry, as antiquated it may be, we just started using ELDs over the last 10 years, so we are so far behind the tech that it is just insane. We have got to get ahead of things. We've got to, we've got to be next step up. We're so reliant and I mean like we're still signing BOLs with hand, with your hand Like what are we doing? I can super Rolex through through the, you know, through the mail, and I have to you know, have to sign for it. But these are the things that I'm struggling with us understanding. We've got the smartest and brightest people that we ever had in trucking Right. We've never had the brilliance in this area that we have because of the, the, the ability to use the tools that we have, to, the access to information. We have the most brilliant people in technology ever, but we operating just like we operated 20 years ago. We might as well just shut the load boys now and put them over the washing machine and stop. We were struggling with adapting technology and we're throwing things at the wall hoping it sticks, and I'm tired of seeing that. Let's sit down together and hear both sides. And when I was at the mats I remember there was a listening session and in a listening session if you can hear the passion that was in the voices of those on our operators out there. But you know what was not present there. The FMCSA was there, but brokers weren't there. I would love to be able to take that same approach and go to a broker conference and bring 50, 100 on our operators and let's sit in one room and let's talk about it then. And I challenge folks to make it happen.

Blythe Brumleve: 57:30

What about on the broker side of things? If they want to find those reliable carriers that they also won't get, I guess, fall victim to fraud or double brokering, what are some ways that they can find those really good carriers that just want a shot? Is there any hope for them right now, or is it more like upper management that's bringing the rules?

Adam Wingfield: 57:51

It's more upper management. You got a lot of brokers that just, hey, this is what our compliance team says, we're not going to deal with this. Just give you an example here in Kansas City I've got a couple of clients with large fleets and one of them has a significant size fleet and I met with him yesterday when I landed and the nicest him and his team, the nicest group of people you ever come across Face to face met with them. They're hungry, they want to make things happen. But then when you look on from a broker perspective and how they view that carrier, it's just I'm not going to disclose on the sources that they're rated upon, but you can see that the wedge is there, that personality that they're saying, hey, you know what? There's an exception to the rule. Hey, let me escalate you to someone else on the team and let's give you another part of the vetting process. You know, it's almost like they don't have the opportunity. Carriers don't have the opportunity to prove themselves like they did before. How to heck am I, as a carrier, going to prove myself to you as a broker when you just use a system? Okay, well, the system says that I'm this. Okay, well, let me prove to you why you should be able to work with me. Let me give you what do you need, what do I need to do? And a lot of times they don't have answers, they can't tell you. They're like, well, just get some inspections. Well, that's not. Let me tell you something Get an inspection. Number one that's not part of the FMCSA requirements. You know when I'm talking about the CVSA inspection, right? But number two, it is 100% randomized. So you may, you may not. If I'm running a lane and I remember for a long time between South Carolina and Georgia, there was tons of construction and the two ways, you know, there were several way stations that were along that construction line that were temporary closed just as a part of it. So if I'm running that for a couple of years and I got two years of experience in it in that particular lane, and I reach out to Blythe and Blythe's like, yeah, I can't use you, you don't have enough inspections. You got to prove to me that you're worthy. Well, blythe, I've been running a dedicated lane between here and Georgia and the scale house has been closed, how am I supposed to get a CVSA inspection? Well, I don't know, just tough, deal with it. That's exactly the message that's out there right now. That is the message We've got to get better at it, we've got to figure out a better solution, and that solution is we've got to provide them a platform to prove themselves. Give me a proven platform, show me a proven platform. And then I'll say you know what, I'll take that to the small carriers and we're going to make sure that, hey, you know what? We're going to get the business form the right way Now. We're going to make the proven platform done the right way Now. Okay, now let's sit down and let's talk about it.

Blythe Brumleve: 1:00:30

It almost feels like there, with all the data that is in this industry. I don't know why that's not able to be verified, that you know a certain MC number has run this lane for this many years. Is that just not available or the broker's just not looking for it?

Adam Wingfield: 1:00:46

There's technology for that. If you plug into an ELD API now from a carrier and that carries running this, you know motive ELDs for the last two years. You know exactly what that truck has been going over the last two years. Pull a log history, pull it. If the data, you can get all that information. But it's used not to. Either they choose not to or they just don't have someone in their ear saying hey, look, you say he's not valid here. Let me show you the if the data. Let me see you give you his last four quarter if the bills will show you how hard he's been running over the last four quarters. Now, now tell me that we don't. You know that's. That's where I say that there's more conversation that needs to be had.

Blythe Brumleve: 1:01:21

Is there almost maybe like a digital resume for some of these carriers, kind of, you know, take ownership of this issue and almost make like an online resume? Maybe, you know, using their website or something like that, where they can list all of their you know partnerships or accomplishments? Or you know, here is literally like my ELD data. You can download it right here. Is there anything that they can do to take sort of ownership in their own hands?

Adam Wingfield: 1:01:45

Right now, the only thing you really can do like you said, you spoke about creating that brand appearance right, getting that website up, making sure you don't have a Gmail address, make sure you have your own private domain. You spend money on a website, you spend money in your presence, you got social media information showing that you're legitimate, you know, and then getting getting that part out the way. But as far as digital tools, there's no digital tools that are carrier friendly. That's going to say, hey, you know what if they come with this digital tool here? Guys, they're not. They're not a double broker. They have legitimate trucks, they are actually running trucks. And so I just see so many. I see technology not carrier friendly. I see a lot of and I don't want to say broker friendly, because that's not fair to the brokers either but I just don't see a lot of carrier facing data that says, hey, you know what if Adam's trucking? Because you know the crazy thing about the Check this Out Blife, if I started a trucking company, if I chose to say I'm going to start Blythe's Trucking today, me, adam, 23 years of experience in this industry, driven more miles in reverse than some people that pull forward, have seen success at every level. If I started a trucking company today called Blythe's Trucking and I go out and get my MC number and I started MC, you know I'm going to get told no, that I need to get more experience. That's how the software and that's how their technology today is pointed. It is not. It is not mined to where it provides exceptions and there is no Prove it platform that's out there.

Blythe Brumleve: 1:03:13

It just feels like the deck is stacked against carriers and what can you do except for just take ownership of your own financials, take ownership of your own brand, especially in a digital atmosphere, and it kind of sounds like you know, get out once you do those things, get out there and start networking and making those connections yourself and just hope that they don't have you know sort of a compliance department that's going to, you know, bring the hammer down on carriers that don't meet the necessary you know sort of book requirements, for is that a safe assumption?

Adam Wingfield: 1:03:42

That's a safe, absolutely absolutely.

Blythe Brumleve: 1:03:46

Alright, switching gears a little bit to the final part of the show because I have a few rapid-fire questions for you. You kind of hinted at it earlier. You know Twitter and threads. Do you have a favorite social media platform that you like to use to get your message out?

Adam Wingfield: 1:04:00

You know I like Twitter. I do. I like Twitter. Or X, yeah, x. I like it because you know I like that platform. That's not where my primary following is at. You know. My primary following obviously is on Instagram and I've got a pretty significant following on LinkedIn. I love X because I'm able to connect with people from just so many different industries on a more relaxed level, versus like I'm on LinkedIn and I'm like this and I'm sitting like this and I'm using proper words and I'm making sure I'm doing spell check and all that stuff, but on Twitter I can just let it fly and there's no judgment zone. So I like Twitter X, whatever you call it, but I like that platform a lot. You know it provides me the opportunity to do those things and really get a really true like full scope of my day. Like you know, I might comment on, you know, a catch that you know that was thrown from Bryce Young, or I might be able to. You know, look at who the hornets just signed and make a comment on the mellow and then at the same time, I'm talking free. So I can, I can talk, I can be free on that platform.

Blythe Brumleve: 1:05:06

Yeah, for sure. I definitely think. When threads launched, I was like I don't know if the Instagram community is ready for the kind of Twitter energy that's about to be brought here. Yeah, I don't think they were ready for it.

Adam Wingfield: 1:05:17

It's just such a you know kind of like, you know, squirrel type energy that you know that you get on Twitter. Twitter is absolutely, it's a squirrel environment 100% All right.

Blythe Brumleve: 1:05:27

What platforms or digital media strategies should more freight companies be taking advantage of?

Adam Wingfield: 1:05:32

LinkedIn, 100%, 100% LinkedIn, you'll find the most decision makers, the highest of the highs, the biggest voice of the biggest LinkedIn period. Like, if you really want to be heard, like I said, you got to sit up, you got to button your shirt, you know, you got to make sure you come correct you. But but you know, 100%, I don't see enough owner operators on LinkedIn. I don't see enough. I tell you there's one that I follow, dan. You know. I know you probably follow him as well, but like he got it, he's got it right. You know him and Ingrid, I love following their content on LinkedIn because they're so, so, just, charismatic, they're so unique, they're so intentional and they just and they do such a good job of getting out there. And you got so many people. You know whether it be 3PLs, whether it be, you know, I saw one time, I think, one of them it was a broker that was, like you know, made a comment on like Dan's post and he was like, oh, I'm sorry, I can't do it because I've already got my dedicated customers and you know, it's just, it's crazy that so many others don't do the same thing.

Blythe Brumleve: 1:06:37

I know it with Dan in particular. I think he he's not a podcast listener. We've tried to get him to become a podcast listener but he's not going to do it, so maybe we can convince him with this conversation. All right, one of the next to the last question Favorite software tool you use every day that you can't live without.

Adam Wingfield: 1:06:56

Slack, slack. Well, I sort of got to, can't live without Slack, man, you know, shout out to Slack, Shout out to Slack.

Blythe Brumleve: 1:07:05

What do you love about Slack?

Adam Wingfield: 1:07:06

Everything. The fact that, like, I can communicate with my team, I can communicate with clients, I can do video shots, I can I can integrate everything with it my emails you're dependent on the title of the email. It just makes everything one alert and one notification and it allows me to make things so much easier for myself. But let's start like from a communication tool. It allows me to communicate better. It allows me to communicate and touch my clients. It allows me to communicate, touch with my team, be able to provide direction and things like that man, but like like 100%, couldn't live without Slack.

Blythe Brumleve: 1:07:37

All right. And then, finally, I can't let you go without talking a little bit of AI. How are you using? You know you mentioned chat. You be tea earlier, I think. I you know I've seen a couple of tweets about you using Claude, which I really love. How are you using different AI tools?

Adam Wingfield: 1:07:52

So we're using it, just you know, just really now we're in a testing phase of being able to use it to make the client experience better. We use it to help the efficiency and in operations and we're using it in bots, so we're allowing bots to do certain work for us that really kind of streamlines workflows, make things more efficient, let the decision makers focus on making decisions. That are focusing on tasks. So there are a couple of things. You know I'm here at the recruiting conference and I'm not going to tell them, but I've got a presentation tomorrow that I'm a surprise and wonder how to really put chat, gft and the old recruiting experience and be able to write better driver ads, being able to communicate better with with, with potential driver recruits, being able to actually recruit drivers because it's like email marketing right, you got to, you got to nurture them, you got to recruit them and and I'm going to show them on how to use automations and things like that, on how to do so.

Blythe Brumleve: 1:08:42

That's awesome. Is there going to be anywhere where we can catch that presentation, maybe after the fact?

Adam Wingfield: 1:08:46

So I'm going to have myself on in a tripod, post it up in the back of that room and I'm going to definitely make sure I'm going to live stream it or either either either that I'm going to throw it on YouTube once I get done.

Blythe Brumleve: 1:08:57

Heck yeah, we'll be sure to link to it in the comments and in the show notes, just to make sure that that people are aware that they can watch that kind of content. So I guess last question, anything that you feel was important to cover that we haven't talked about in this conversation.

Adam Wingfield: 1:09:14

You know when. I think you know and I said this, you know in my network before I think that you do such a great job of organic conversations and I don't know how you do it, being able to right, ask the right questions through the entire time. You're in an amazing interview and I'm not just saying that, I just want the public to really, really, really, really see that. You know, we can sit here and talk all day right.

Blythe Brumleve: 1:09:32

We can talk about. You know we can talk all day and you know when I'm, you know they say that you know when you love what you do, you know it's not work.

Adam Wingfield: 1:09:38

Or you know when you have a job, you know you can talk all day. You know when you love what you do, you know it's not work. Or you know when you're having fun. Time flies and it's like that in this conversation. I really want people to go back and listen to, versus me saying what did we miss Once. You go back and hit rewind on this. Go back and listen to some of those points, especially my own operators and small carriers are looking to get off the low board and really secure and dedicated freight. Don't skip over that part. Go back, listen to that. Go back and listen to my brokers. Go back and listen to the part where we talked about let's get down to the table, let's do a better job of vet and carriers. Let's come up with more strategies. Let's let's let's let's take the gloves off for a second. Let's sit down and let's have conversations, open our eyes, open our ears and look at it from a different lens and perspective. I want you to go back and listen to the fact that I've got 23 years of experience in this industry. If I got 23 years experience in this industry and I started trucking company. Tomorrow you're going to tell me no, I can't haul your freight, there's a problem, and you need to come up with a solution so that way we can do a better job together at it.

Blythe Brumleve: 1:10:35

And so when you have the unique perspective of seeing transportation and shipping on on both sides, so you kind of have that that real world experience of being, of knowing where the gaps are with the way that drivers are being treated in this country and at shippers and warehouses all over the country. What, I guess, lessons did you take from those days of working on the on the receiving end of things, into your, your role today?

Mike Lombard: 1:11:03

Well, it's funny because when I, when I talked to those guys, I asked them how their jobs were, because I would speak to local drivers and guys who came from over the road and I would always ask them about how it is. And it's funny, even back then they would bring up issues such as parking around the area and I, I never, would never think about it, especially for the guys who drive the day cabs, because they wouldn't talk about it as much. But guys who came in who did have sleepers and stuff, they would always mention about how, oh, coming up here is really tough and so like that, and I'd be like, oh really, you know, and I wouldn't know much about it. And it's funny, I never even thought about these things until you know I, you know, I'm asked to remember when I, when I worked at these places, talking, talking with these guys, but mainly like what people loved about the going to the warehouse that I was at was they were in and out, like whenever they came to a warehouse like ours, which is like more of a smaller one it wasn't like a big shipping and receiving places, is like a plumbing and heating wholesaler, like if drivers had to come there. They know that they're just bumping the dock, a couple of things going in or a couple of things coming out, because we would be replenished by these day cabs regional drivers too out of a distribution center in New Hampshire that would come down to Connecticut. And this guy I mean he loved his job because he would. Just, he came and saw us twice a week but every like when he like his type of job was, he was when he showed up to work he was already loaded, he would leave, drive down to Nehaven, unload, and he'd be unloaded in 30 minutes and then he's gone and then he'd get back home and he's home early and that that was his shift. So, like I got to see actually how you know a good distribution center would run their trucks from that company. So, especially on the local side of things, when it comes to scheduling time off, you know his availability to find parking, what he was making money, wise, upward mobility. So, and I got to see that from the receiving end before I even got in the truck myself- and so what?

Blythe Brumleve: 1:13:01

what was, I guess the. So you moved to Texas and you decide to, you know, become a trucker. What was that process look and look like for you? Did you go to CDL school, did you? What does that process look like?

Mike Lombard: 1:13:13

Yeah, so to get my CDL, well, I had to, you know, go through all the you know, rudimentary processes of like changing my license over to the state of Texas and stuff. But what I did was I looked for, I looked at companies who I would obviously like pay for your CDL, because I didn't know, I had no idea about getting a CDL. In hindsight, if I had, if I had, if I did know, and if I can go back, I probably would have maybe taken out a student loan myself and picked a CDL school to go to, knowing full well that, depending on whatever jobs you get into, a lot of companies will offer tuition reimbursement, which is actually just probably still taxpayer dollars. But what I did was I, you know, had looked online for companies and I had found I actually had to find a, and I don't I don't mind saying this because I'm open and honest I was looking for companies that specifically didn't hair test, because I probably still had some remnants of marijuana in my hair from the time of when I wanted to get my CDL. I had, you know, marijuana could stay in your hair for, I don't know, up to three months and I had stopped. You know, I had stopped smoking weed for a couple months and I was like, well, I didn't want to risk it. So I found companies that didn't hair test and and I know this is just got to be on the podcast people need to know, because this is important, like the fact that there are hair tests for these companies. I mean, to test for lifestyle is just something I don't agree with. You're not testing habit like hair tester, testing lifestyle, and it's just. I think it's a huge invasion of privacy, especially as states of legalized things. Medically, you know more than half the country, but that's a different conversation. So I found Pam transport. They pay for your CDL school and so I went through them, went through their application process, which was, you know, done online. I, you know, I qualified for them. I didn't have any like tickets or DUIs and they paid for me to go to ATDS, which was in Colleen, texas, so it was about 45 minutes away from where I was living and I went to that school and there was a couple other people who are there, who are also going to work for Pam that I was there with, but there was also people at that school there's three people I was in CDL school with who were sent there by Texas workforce unemployment. So these people were essentially told that if they didn't go to CDL school they would have, they would lose their, that they would lose their benefits. So it's almost like the state of Texas, the state, the government, forced them to become truck drivers and I kind of found that a little weird, you know, and and it's interesting. And it's crazy the road we've gone to. You know so much of the learned sense since meeting guys like Gordon having conversations on. You know some of my show about, like you know, hiring practice and stuff. But yeah, so this guy sent their unemployment. But you know, I got my CDL didn't get an automatic restriction, by the way, I can drive a 10 speed manual for the drivers listening, I'm not a phony and I started working with Pam and it was you know. This is the CDL milling industrial complex. This is a company where you're 100% a number. They don't. You know I would talk to my driver manager on the phone and then I would have a question and I would call back in five minutes and they wouldn't know who I was. They would need my driver number. They get me and I'll never forget that. There's nothing. There's probably nothing more that'll make you feel more like alone, like when you're like in the middle of nowhere, when you know, when you're in Montebello, california, and you have a question about a certain trailer number or say you do have an issue with the trailer because whenever you come to trailers, like if you're dropping hooks they could be damaged, and you talk to them on the phone, get off the phone and they'd be like, ah yeah, I forgot I had this question. And then you call them back and you're like, hey, so, and so it's me, mike Lombard again. And they'd be like what's your driver number? And it's like we, and it's just not five minutes have passed before we spoke, and it's like you don't know my name. And that's what it was always like and they would always shuffle you around, like I would switch driver managers like I don't almost like quote kind of regularly. Like at one point in time when I was at Pam, they put me on this dedicated run that went from. That was somewhere in Ohio and one between two cities Huber Heights and I forget the other city and it was like this run for I was moving like Coca Cola and I was doing it, and I was told by my driver manager hey, you're going to help on this lane for a couple days, and I was like, okay, and I did it for probably a week and a half. And at one point I was like, hey, you know what's the deal here, when am I going to be taken off this? And like I was actually assigned a new driver manager, wasn't even told that I was and they were like oh, you're just on this lane now. I was like, well, this lane would be great if I lived in Ohio. I was like, but I'm out here, like what are you guys trying to do? Like I want to be, I'm making less money because that was restricted on the miles. So, like my miles got cut because they put me on this lane that needed more trucks to run. And it's like Well, my mileage was reduced because it was a dedicated lane. I was like, why didn't nobody even have the conversation with me? They weren't like hey, we've got this lane opening up. You'll get X amount of miles per day, per week. Like I wasn't just, I wasn't told that at all. They just threw me on that lane and we're like hey, you're gonna like that was it? It wasn't, until I was like hey, why am I still here? You know that I, that I'm on this and it's just like that. So that's seeing like these, the how these mega carriers work as a whole. I eventually got myself on this Walmart dedicated run, which was which wasn't bad, and the reason why it wasn't bad is because I was, in theory, working for Walmart at that point. I was just on their rules. Like I didn't talk to my driver manager at all, I just dealt with Walmart. Like when I showed up to work, it was the closest thing you can get to being a driver for Walmart. I would just show up to the DC check in. They'd be like hey, you're going to grab trailer 1234 over here, it's going to go down to this store in over in comfort Texas and then you're going to grab an empty and you're going to go to New Danny and then then you'll get your next trip from there. And it was awesome because I was working, because at that point I was on Walmart how Walmart runs their supply chain and not how Pam and the mega carriers do. But from there I ended up meeting a kid who worked for a small carrier out of Northwest Arkansas, r&r solutions phenomenal company. They're actually not just a trucking company. They have their own warehousing. They have their own warehousing. They do a lot of it stuff. They almost have trucking almost as like a just another part of their business to serve customers in a way, because they'll do it in a IT disposition. So they had like 25 trucks, 25, 30 trucks small, you know, small carrier they. This is when I saw the good side of how a company can treat somebody. For a company driver they would. They got me home whenever I wanted. I went to multiple weddings back in the northeast. I would go visit friends in Phoenix, like things would come up. It was like it was very great. Laid back, they, you know they. They never bothered you. Essentially, you know you can run the miles you wanted as long as it worked. If you lived in Florida or something like that, it would be harder for them. But me, living in Texas, it definitely matters when you live definitely has a factor of you know what company you work for. But they were great. And then can't you know? It kind of came to the decision you know where I was. I kind of I wanted to get at this point. I felt confident that I think I can get into business and I have a business partner good friend of mine is my accountant and we you know, at the beginning of 2022, made the decision hey, let's do this. And so we started looking at buying a truck and it got really hectic but we got the truck. But what was awesome about getting the truck is, you know, I did a lot of research get my own authority versus leasing on. And I did a lot but I kind of saw. I saw what the lower risk was at that point and the company I was working for as a company driver. When I told them I was buying a truck, this is how great they were they were like, hey, we used to hire owner operators, we'd love to help you get started. And so I leased on with them at first and I used a book. You know I was on every load board. They let me use every load board for free. And you know they let me use a 53 foot drive in for tree. We had a good contract set up 80 20 minimal expenses, and that's where I kind of learned the game. And then, towards the end of 2022, saw the writing on the wall with the spot market. Spot market was really teetering Like there. There wasn't really a holiday peak, especially for drive and stuff, and so I kind of need to make changes, like I definitely can't stay doing van. I had a guy over at Warren Transport, a friend of mine. I talked with them about wanting to run flatbed and they had. You know I lobbied my case for it. You know I had unloaded and loaded pipe trucks at a previous job I said, hey, I can do this. You know, give me the secure training they brought me on. And that's what I've been doing since. I've been with Warren for the past six months moving agriculture like John Deere, tractors, oversize loads, combines, conveyor belts, like all sorts of stuff. So that's kind of been the the trucking journey, you know, in a whole. Sorry if that was a little little winded, but that's, that's where that's what's got me to know.

Blythe Brumleve: 1:21:48

No, you hit on a bunch of things that I'd like to kind of expand on a little more. So, first of all, the driver manager. For folks who may not be familiar, your driver manager is what you're essentially the. From what I understand, it's the first person that you're almost assigned to as soon as you complete CDL school. They're they're the ones responsible for you know, making sure you're taking care of and you have everything that you need, and they're really like your point of contact. Your, your closest, I guess, maybe like a work friend in the office is your driver manager. Is that accurate?

Mike Lombard: 1:22:20

Oh, yeah, like with Pamela, you're not going to talk to anybody else. You, they do have. There's this one guy who I think is their boss, who will call you like monthly and I think that's like probably part of their, it's probably part of their employee retention. I had imagined they do, because he would call like once a month and just be like hey, are you happy, like stuff like that, and they, like they'll do check. You know, I remember they would do checkups. But yeah, like any questions you have when you send a Qualcomm message or when you send an e-log, yeah, they're who you talk to.

Blythe Brumleve: 1:22:47

And so for switching up a manager, on you not telling you, is that a case of that driver manager probably just you know moved on to another job, or they were just assigned to somebody else and you had no idea.

Mike Lombard: 1:22:58

Oh, they just the personnel staff would change so much. At least that I saw, because I remember towards the end of my time at Pram Transport my original driver manager ended up, yeah, getting a promotion, and she worked, I think, on the maintenance side of things. Now, so if you had a breakdown because I remember I had something, I had a DPF sensor go on me and I remember like having like calling a breakdown or somebody, and it was her who picked up the phone and I recognized her. She didn't recognize me and it's like so they'll have personnel that it will move all the time, and then all of a sudden you'll get a call and be like hey, so-and-so is you know over here now I'm your driver manager and it just hits you because you know you'll have home time coming up or you'll be doing XYZ, and it's just so hard to you know, it's hard to coordinate. It's like I said you can the vibe I got and the vibe you get is oh, I'm a number here Like they look at I imagine they're looking at a board of you know and they have trucks you know truck numbers and they just kind of move them around to different columns, Like here's Joe, christina, so it's whatever. You know, they'll have a list of names of DMs and they just like move the trucks over to name after name, based on the demand of where they need trucks to go, and that, you know. I just it's like as if they don't realize, like oh, there's a human operator in that truck, that's like the vibe, like I immediately got, and there's a lot of people, there's drivers who will probably share that sentiment, because, especially at these bigger companies you know, the, the Warners, the Schneiders like it's just, these companies are just, you know, these companies that run in the thousands of units. That's just how they, it's how they operate.

Blythe Brumleve: 1:24:26

Have they always been like that, with the way that you know, treating drivers as a number per se? Have they always been like that? Or is this just the nature of you know? Maybe the industry growing really fast and they can't keep up? What are your theories behind why they treat drivers as a number?

Mike Lombard: 1:24:42

What's crazy is is I don't know, you know, basically you know just off my experience, I don't know if that's the way it's always has been, because you know you'll talk to older guys who say it used to be different. But in reality what's crazy is is pre pre-ELD mandate and some, and even pre like cell phones, so to speak. So even if we go back early 2000s, 1990s, who like maybe they were less treat you like a number because you didn't talk to them as much, now there's all this surveillance technology on top of you where you feel is where they, where they have all this access to all of your data, your location, where you are, your hours, where you're going, they have all this access to your data. Yet they still there's still this disconnect of treating you like a number, or back in the day they barely would contact you and guys, you know the turnover was still lower and it was. You know it was probably people describe it as a little bit better. So it's like I'm curious too if it was always like that. But I think the data is in the turnover rates at some of these, at some of these companies. You know we're looking at these major companies with turnover into the, you know, into the triple digits at some point. So was it always. Was it like that 10, 15, 20 years ago? I'm not sure.

Blythe Brumleve: 1:25:56

And that kind of leads me into my next question. Because the upper echelon of driving jobs from what you know anecdotally, from what I see on TikTok and you know other social media platforms, that Walmart is really the upper echelon as far as like everything that you could want out of a truck driving job and that is the ultimate goal is to drive for Walmart. Is that a safe assumption?

Mike Lombard: 1:26:19

I'd say it's definitely one of the safer assumptions. Now, even on Twitter, I mean, we've been engaging in conversation with more Walmart drivers the Walmart drivers and a lot of this information has gotten out there and, like how you said, walmart being this upper echelon of what a company should be, it's all over. Tiktok has become the place for drivers and Walmart drivers have been coming on there and telling people hey, this is what we're getting, walmart's getting PTO, this is our schedule, how it is? It's regional. You know, it's crazy to think that of all companies, it's Walmart, because Walmart's technically not a trucking company. When you think, about it. Walmart is in the retail business and they're the ones who are out there treating the drivers with the most respect and respecting their home time, giving them PTO the benefits the better pay, all that sort of stuff I'd say personally, like if it comes to unless you love flatbed, unless you love a different type of niche freight, like if you're just into trucking because you like to truck, walmart's definitely become the job to be. They become the model of how a carrier should be. I said it on a previous show that essentially they became exactly what should have happened to carriers post deregulation, but instead it has become this spiraling race to the bottom that it turned into this just race to the bottom as opposed to okay, let's maintain the standard of what the job was pre deregulation and Walmart's always had.

Blythe Brumleve: 1:27:59

Walmart always had, I guess, the best perception or the best reputation when it comes to treating drivers. Or is this something that they've grown into or evolved into?

Mike Lombard: 1:28:10

I think they definitely evolved into it because pre Walmart shining, it was the union outfits that were the better jobs because they came with. They came with regular pay raises, they came with seniority, they came with better scheduling the pay, the benefits like the health insurance. It was before Walmart. It was the unions who were really the better employers to work for, especially back in the 60s and 70s.

Blythe Brumleve: 1:28:39

And I'm not sure if they answered to this or not, but I would be curious to know how long Walmart has had company drivers or if they've used through PLs in the past, like some major other retailers. So I would be curious to know how long that they've had company drivers versus just using like a through PL.

Mike Lombard: 1:28:55

I wanna say it's been like I said I can't speak on this exactly because I think Sam Walton himself was a driver. Oh wow, like he was in a truck and like I think that that's where the respect for drivers comes from, cause I remember when I was pulling Walmart's out of Seymour, indiana, they had a big picture on a wall of Sam Walton outside one of their trucks, like, and it was like this kind of like a motivating picture on the wall they had about basically how crucial the job of being a trucker was. Like you know, it was like a motivational picture of like how awesome you are to drive for Walmart and like it had a picture of Sam Walton and had it like some quote he said about how the business doesn't run without the trucks and about how they're the most integral part. So it's like I think they've had company drivers essentially since the get go.

Blythe Brumleve: 1:29:47

Yeah, I just did a quick Google search and this is you know about his pickup truck, but it definitely has the impression that he has always cared about that. You know Walmart founder Sam Walton has always cared about you know the drivers and said he continued to drive an old, beat up. You know F-150, despite being able to afford any vehicle he wanted, quoting. Or he was quoted as saying what am I supposed to haul my dogs around in a Rolls Royce when it comes to his vintage truck? And then there's other you know memorabilia about. You know his leadership and you know the Walmart museum, with drivers being a central focus. So that's really cool to hear the ins and outs, because I would have assumed that a big company like Walmart would have succumbed to the other things that you know. Other big carriers, some of the mega carriers, as you said you know have affected them, that Walmart would be affected by that as well, but it seems like they found a really nice niche for themselves and just treating drivers with respect. Who would have thought in that regard? So I guess my next question is because we kind of talked about a little bit about, you know, recruiting, because recruiting and retention seemed to be the hot button issues and maybe well, maybe not hot button issues, but recruiting drivers in particular. You know the infamous we have a driver shortage that has never, ever really existed. That's promoted by associations like the ATA. But really it should be more of a stronger focus on retention, because it sounds like the company that you worked for for a while. If they would have treated you as a person instead of just a number, then you would have stayed with them, thus making their CDL investment and hiring investment in you worthwhile. Would you say that retention is something that more companies should be focused on?

Mike Lombard: 1:31:41

Like. Undoubtedly it's a retention issue. Yeah, and I'm glad you mentioned the ATA and their false narrative and their agenda of pushing this driver shortage narrative something they've done for over a decade and it's so funny and the data proves time and time again that it's false. Yet you know there's all this stuff on the. You know there's so much fact checking and you know independent fact checkers out there who love to call out misinformation and I'm curious why it's not on every tweet of every news article that continues to. You know be able to get away with posting about this 80,000. So you know, I'd love to know where the fact checkers are on that, because it's been proven time and time again that it's just not true. This is all related to retention, but you know the fact checking stuff. That's a whole other argument. I'll have to take it up with Elon on Twitter, but it is retention and you could see this in the rest of the working world. You could see this in. You know the tech industry is really big on their recruiting and retention and what they offer for employee benefits, what they offer on the job. You know the things they offer. You know you see this at even the company I worked at the wholesale I worked at. They offer things like profit sharing that you get, and that you know, vested in things into your retirement fund. There's so many. You know other industries everywhere. You know whether it's working in. Like you know the tech industry is big on it because they're all about recruiting top talent. Like if you want top talent, you need to be offering something at your business, at your company, or else why aren't they gonna go work for the next guy? And we're seeing this happen now in the industry. Except what's really happening is what these companies are offering drivers is so bad that a lot of them quit the industry altogether and there's your shortage. Your shortage comes from people just quitting the industry altogether because it's not worth it, because the hours worked and what they're putting in isn't worth not being home. The pay you know the disrespect, being treated like a number I mean even down to you know and like even sometimes it's not so much the pay but the benefits, like being away from home. We're at this point now. We're being away for long periods of time. Look for some people. I get it. Some people want that life and to choose it. That's great. This isn't for them. We're talking about the standard, we have to look at things on a macro scale. Like, I know drivers who live on the road. There's married couples who do that, where they'll just, you know, kind of do the RV life, where they'll buy a truck, husband and wife run as a team. You know they live, they live on the road. There's people who do that, but that's not what's sustaining our economy, that's not the you know, that's not how freight is moving at all times. Like, yes, there's a small 10% of people who will live on the road, but for the most part as a career, these people are out for three weeks at a time. You know, when it comes to retention, like I said, most major carriers they don't offer PTO until after you've worked there for a year. Mind you, working there requires you to be out two to four weeks at a time. So you're not home on weekends, you're not like you have. You know there's so many qualities of life you don't get. You know you have to live on the road. Essentially, their home time is one week out for one day home. So it's like so if you want four days at home, you essentially stay out for four weeks and then so for doing that for staying out, possibly four to. You know most people like when I was with PAM I would stay out four to six weeks at a clip. So you do that. You don't even get any PTO until after a year and then the PTO you do get is one week and it's not a week worth of what you'd get and drive it, because you can hammer 3000 miles in a week even in a government truck. At PAM transport I've gotten 3000 mile weeks before. You know if you run out your clock every day and do a reset, so they're not paying you what you can do for a week. They adjusted off this 40 hour scale, paid at like $15 an hour or something or $18 an hour. So they pay you only for 40 hours. So they're not even paying you for actually a full week worked and this is the standard across so many of these companies. And you know they just you know, and during this whole time you're working where you're at. You know you're at these shippers and receivers, or sometimes two to six hours. You're not paid for that you know. So that cuts into your miles. You're be ridden to the electronic log. You're be ridden to the surveillance technology like new driver facing cameras. You have all this stuff that's put on the driver and you know they wonder. You know how come nobody's staying and they want you know why are they leaving? Well, you know I could tell you for what you know companies like. If you want top talent, you need to offer, you know, top benefits and pay. And that and what's happening is, since the top talent or you're not retaining talent at trucking companies, that's gonna. That all has a cost that rolls out to your safety. So you're gonna have less safe drivers on the road because they're all gonna be newer, and this is just a cost that rolls onto the consumer, because that level of turnover eventually makes its way to the grocery store shelf, whether people like to admit it or not.

Blythe Brumleve: 1:36:31

And so when we talk about you know all of the I guess you know the mass surveillance that's going on with drivers in particular. Is there any kind of data and reporting for, like you know, warehouse, like unloading time, loading time or is there any kind of, I guess, come to Jesus moment for those kind of employees that because I would imagine that if they increased their efficiency of loading and unloading trucks, that they would get more product in, they would become more efficient, the store would become more efficient Like why aren't those same I guess, surveillance technologies being placed on those workers as well? And I'm not advocating for any kind of surveillance technology, but if they're gonna use data in one way, I'm just curious if you have any insight as to why they're not using that data and surveillance and other ways where it could be more impactful.

Mike Lombard: 1:37:20

Well, it has to do with the stakeholders in that transaction. So the carriers already been paid for the job done and the shippers and receivers have all been paid. The person in the middle, the driver, is the only one who suffers, so that one driver who had to wait for six hours and the macro scale. To these people it doesn't really matter, because the goods are being sold and the services are being transported one way or another and that transaction's already been made. So there's no incentive in place anywhere to incentivize the shippers and receivers to either load or unload faster, because it doesn't matter either way. And so, when it comes to so do I think that implementing some sort of timers or ELD on shippers and receivers is the answer? But we're at no, I don't think so. I mean, if companies do I'm sure there are companies that probably. I mean I know when I worked for that wholesaler, that distribution center in New Hampshire, the VP of operations up at the DC, if trucks were at doors for like longer than 45 minutes, he would absolutely blow his head off. He'd be like, why is this door still? Why is this truck still at a door? Like he would hate it. I'm sure that there are warehouses that do probably have timers on that stuff and they time like how long trucks are at docks, and they probably have that data. What they do with it, I don't know. It's definitely not in the norm, but we're coming to the point now where, hey, the government may need to actually step in, and I know people balk at that and the libertarians of the world you know oh, why do that Keep the government out of it? Well, the government's got into it. The government's in it either way. They're already here and what it's doing is it's causing mass turnover, it's causing safety issues. It's completely unfair to the largest stakeholder in the industry, the driver. And so if you do something like pass legislation that's currently floating around the house, the guaranteeing overtime for truckers act, if you have to pay these drivers for their hours worked and hours sitting at these receivers, that's the incentive for shippers and receivers to then go okay, we can't have these trucks sitting, or else they're gonna wanna renegotiate rates, cause the carriers then gonna go, hey, you guys are gonna need to pay us more money so we can pay these drivers more, and then that's gonna get. The shippers and receivers are gonna be like, okay, hey, what if we actually no matter what. If they're not out of here in an hour, then we'll figure it out. That's the incentive they need. They need something. It's gotten to the point to where they need an actual kick in the butt from the government to do it, and all it really involves is just paying people for their time worked, which happens in every other industry. If you went to any other people, consider trucking blue collar. If you try to tell a pipe fitter, a welder, a plumber or somebody that they're gonna have to be at a house or they're gonna be there at a certain time and they're not gonna get paid for it but they have to be there, they'll absolutely throw. They'll be ripping mad about that, but for drivers-.

Blythe Brumleve: 1:40:19

You're gonna get charged for that somehow.

Mike Lombard: 1:40:20

Yeah, they're gonna charge it for you. They're 100% gonna charge it for you If you need a road call, if you have a truck breakdown and I had to get a road call once because I had a coolant hose go on me, that road call. You start paying for that road call for that mechanic to come to you. The second from when that truck leaves this house, like that's when the timer starts, so that's for a road call mechanic. How come that doesn't happen If I'm at a ship or a receiver, I'm not saying the second, I bump the talk like, oh, you have to pay me from that starting minute. That's just unrealistic. But if, once we're getting at the 90 minute mark and things aren't happening, if you're at a place, like I said, I've been at grocery DCs Elizabeth, new Jersey. I was there for six hours. And I was there for six hours because they unloaded me in 45 minutes. But then they needed to count all the stuff. That transaction is between the shipper and the receiver. You loaded that material, they sealed it themselves. They didn't want me to seal it so that I carried the freight. The driver carries it. There's no. If there's a discrepancy in the quantity has nothing to do with the motor carrier, that's between the shipper and receiver. You don't just get to freely keep a driver there and waste my time and I can't build that back. Even as a known operator, I can't build that back. Yeah, you could shake the broker down for detention if he's gonna give it to you, but that's a losing battle. Like I've tried to shake brokers down for detention time and time again, they don't give a crap. I had this happen with a guy with Null and Transport Group. This guy I blew his phone up for two weeks in this guy and then he had the nerve once when I asked him for another load to, I threw out a rate and he dropped it down $500 cheaper. I said, hey, man, don't you think you owe me for the six hours I had to spend at this HEB DC? And he was like, oh, that's my bet on that. Sorry, man can't go above this. And it's like what are we doing here? You know it's, you know that's from the owner operator side and I know I'm kind of going off. But you know, back to the original point circling the back. The incentive now is at this point of yeah, we probably need to do something that's going to help drivers out and I think you'll incentivize shippers and receivers to speed things up, because it would force. It's the rising tide that lives all boats.

Blythe Brumleve: 1:42:29

I was going to say why are they taking you know so long six, eight, you know sometimes 10 hours to get you unloaded? Is it just you know the inefficiencies within their operation, or they're trying to just you know? Is it just taking them that long to count merchandise, or are there other reasons that factor in too?

Mike Lombard: 1:42:46

Sometimes it's certainly the counting of merchandise, because that's not every single load, but I don't know what takes so long. Because, even like, because when you go to these places, especially since COVID, you know you're not allowed in, the check-in process is very, very separated. Like you know, I encourage anybody like, just go on TikTok and search, like truck driver waiting, and you'll find guys who will be like and they'll it'll just be like a clip of videos like one hour, two hour, three hour, and they won't even know. And you know, some of these DCs are ones like like Walmart and Amazon. You have to drop the trailer at a door, unhooked from it, go to a staged parking area and then they'll call you the Walmart DC in Bentonville, arkansas, the headquarters, the belly of the beast. I went to deliver there once and this wasn't when I was pulling Walmart's. Like I said, being a Walmart driver, good, delivering to a Walmart DC. You know, not so much. There's a sign right on the door and big caps or not, on the door, on the glass window, it says we have four hours from when you give us your paperwork to unload. You Do not come back. You know, within that time, like just off the rip set like that's the standard, set in a tone. Yeah, they set the tone with a piece of paper, prints it out with black, bold letters. We have four hours from when you give us your paperwork. So it's like, what power do I have at that point? Like, how do you negotiate that? What can I do to get out of there quicker At this point, like there's nothing anybody can do to reduce that time. It's one of those times where nope, maybe the government needs to intervene. Be like hey, you wanna keep these people waiting? Well, it's affecting the turnover in the industry and you know it's a cost on the consumers. So you're actually gonna have to start paying drivers for their waiting time. And if you don't, then you know we'll either stop pulling out of this DC or something. I think it brings people to the negotiating table at least, cause the conversation's not happening. The conversation's happening on the Lombard Trucking Show in the Everything in Logistics podcast. The conversation needs to start happening between these shippers, receivers, the carriers and the government, or else, like I said, eventually the turnover becomes unsustainable.

Blythe Brumleve: 1:44:54

And that I would think that there would be, you know, the, the ATA, as we mentioned earlier, some of these other associations. I would think that that would be front and center for them to be prioritizing, because it affects everyone. It affects everyone throughout the entire supply chain. So why let these inefficiencies, you know, which sound almost like power trips, more than you know, just try? Maybe just overworked individuals? Because at first, you know, I hear about these, these stories, and I thought they were, like you said, more COVID related. You know, a lot of people are wearing a ton of hats, like trying to get their job done. You know, maybe it's not all their fault, but when you set the tone as your time doesn't matter and my time does I think that there's a larger issue at play and I would think that some of these associations would be prioritizing that and I'm curious is there any theories as to, you know, why they're not going after? You know, some serious issues that affect everyone versus you know, some of these other issues that are just non-existent. Like you said, you know, the made up driver shortage has been perpetuated for the last decade.

Mike Lombard: 1:45:58

Well, yeah, so for the, for the ATA, they don't care about this at all because this is how they maintain control of, maintain the majority control of the industry, if they can keep the turnover high and they can keep the drivers, and they can keep the drivers essentially non-unified. The more you know, the more they can keep them divided, the more they can keep them arguing, the more they can keep them just in this meat grinder. That it's way easier for them to control, because the ATA doesn't speak on behalf of drivers. If they did, then you know we wouldn't have issues like parking, we wouldn't have these retention. Ata has been around for 90 years. What do they do? What do they actually do for drivers If they, as an organization, you know, and they're the ones with the, they have the largest amount of lobbying dollars to government they've been around for 90 years. Why do we have all these problems If they've been around for essentially the history of the entire trucking in this country? Why do they have these problems? They all they care about is control, because the ATA is just an arm of these large companies and all these companies are, you know, publicly traded mega-corps that also, you know, have other. They have shareholders who happen to work in our government. And so it's just this vicious circle of between, you know, the government, the ATA and these large companies. They need to make sure that they can do what they can to make things you know the most ruthlessly profitable for them, at the cost of actual people's jobs.

Blythe Brumleve: 1:47:27

And it almost sounds like you're more incentivized to keep the problem going instead of to actually fix it.

Mike Lombard: 1:47:32

Oh yeah, that's exactly, that's exactly and they plan on doing that. And you know, some people may disagree with me, but there's an organization out there called America Without Drivers and they're doing this and they keep the problem going and they do not wanna fix these problems like parking pay retention. They don't wanna fix these because there's so much money invested in the tech to remove the drivers out of the vehicle. So that's the overall end goal is that there's so much money involved in technology billions of dollars to get drivers out of the truck, because at that point in time, when they're able to remove the driver from the vehicle you've removed, they're able to seize control of the operation. So the people who can afford that technology, who can drive trucks without drivers, will only be seven to 12 major companies your Night Swift, warner, schneider so only the large companies, all the medium size carriers and down even the guys who own 50, 100 trucks. They'll never be able to afford it because the technology is so expensive and it's basically the holy grail of what they need that all the big companies will seize control of the industry and essentially what would happen is trucking would go the way of the railroads, where it's only owned by very few companies and then we're at a point to where the federal government has ownership of the supply chain. People think it sounds tinfoil-hattie, people think it's conspiracy. But when you look at the, when you look at where some of these people work you, when you look at Elaine Chow, who's Mitch McConnell's wife being involved but too simple when you look at these people who are on all the, you know the board of directors for these mega carriers and the people who, where the ATA people all came from and who they're all invested with, it's all very much connected into this one wheel and that's what they're doing. They need the problem to keep going. So that way they're. They're continually incentivized to get the drivers out of the trucks sooner, because that's what'll happen If we don't get ahead of these issues, if we don't get ahead of the tech and if we don't get ahead of just making this a better career for people for generations to come. That's the biggest thing. You're talking about a job here. That is the number one job for high school educated males in all 50 states in the country. And you know, when you talk about eliminating that, the societal backlash, and I think the, the, the knockdown, what it will do to the, to the overall economy would be would be detrimental. But it allows the ATA you know, that's just the casualties of war to these people, you know, and it's all just for them to maintain control.

Blythe Brumleve: 1:49:57

And so for I guess you kind of hinted to it with the tech side of things. So autonomous vehicles have been touted for years and years. I mean, admittedly, I've been to conferences and and events where you see these big autonomous vehicles. The LiDAR cameras that are on the side of them are, admitted, I I an archeological fan, so I LiDAR technology is truly fascinating to me, and to see some of this technology up close in person is is very impressive. But I still don't see a world where that truck is driven without a driver inside. Is that, is that what you? You feel like is is is happening with the driver position? Is that the? You know these, a lot of these big companies would rather just have no drivers and they foresee a future where it's just all autonomous vehicles all the time.

Mike Lombard: 1:50:46

They, they definitely see it that way. And now the, the ones who are trying, you know, there's a lot of gaslighters out there who are trying to say, oh, I don't never have a truck. And they're doing that with photographers now too, when it comes to AI, because the people who are really on the firing line first now accountants, photographers, graphic designers and they're trying to say, oh, we'll always need them, we'll always need them, we're going to need a human to check them. That's, you know, that's all you know smoke and mirrors and they're doing the same thing with trucking. Oh, it's still going to need a human operator. We can't get people to stay in the seat to drive the truck, and they're going to expect to now probably drive down the wages. And you're going to have a human be in the truck and do nothing and then be and be away from home, and they're not even going to drive it at all and have no autonomy. They've released all autonomy from the truck. The operator is just going to sit there in the sleeper and literally do nothing, you know. Or, if anything, they're going to stay in the driver's seat with their hands off the wheel and just be able to snap too for an emergency, like all of a sudden after you know the truck's been moving for 14 or 15 hours or something like that. Even the thought of that is unreasonable. The definite main goal is to remove the driver from the vehicle. Look at it as a driver's salary to these companies is pitched as a part of their budget sheet. It's an operational cost, they think the salary, they just call the salaries back to that number thing. Mega carries look at drivers as just a number. They see their salaries as an operational cost, when really that operational cost is a salary that goes to a human being who buys homes, has kids, buys food and is a participant in this economy and in this market. And eventually, when you do this with this technology, eventually you're going to run out of people's money to start take Like cause. You're going to want them to keep consuming. Well, when you've taken the jobs away of photographers, journalists, graphic designers, truckers like I said, number one job of high school educated males in all 50 States of America, when you eliminate that job, where do they spend their money? Where are they supposed to go? How do you repurpose them? You know you can't, just you know. And what are you going to do? You're going to tell them to learn to code Eventually. Eventually, the coders are going to be out of a job. Eventually, the coders are going to be taken over by the AI. So you know I hate to sound very slippery, slopey and doom and gloom, but this is just why I'm so passionate on solving these issues and how you know if the American people knew about these issues and realized how just unsafe and unsatisfactory they were, because in other industries and other jobs, if they couldn't do things like, if you couldn't go to the bathroom at your job, you know, if you weren't allowed to use the bathroom, oh sorry, you can't use the bathroom. We're actually not letting the accounting team use the bathroom anymore because a couple of the accountants were really dirty. This is something drivers, this is something women drivers deal with on a daily basis. Oh, we don't let drivers use the bathroom because a couple made them dirty. Oh, you can't park here because they make it dirty, you know. So, just to the point where going to work and coming home from work as a truck driver, so starting, you know starting and stopping your day and doing regular things throughout your life is become a roadblock. If this is in any other industry streets would be. You know people would be revolting, people would be riding, but, like I said, they've driven the floor down to this race to bottom with bringing in truck drivers. We're at the point now where state governments are forcing people to go to truck driving school. And when you could do that, when you can keep the talent turning over, when you can keep the talent pool low, you're not gonna have any pushback and you're not gonna have people who are gonna stand up for the job because they don't really care.

Blythe Brumleve: 1:54:07

What do you mean by the state forcing people to become drivers? Is it more like a work release program, or how does that work?

Mike Lombard: 1:54:15

Oh, like I said, like I mentioned that earlier about how, when I went to CDL school, three people were there sent by the unemployment office. They said you know, we're gonna cut off your unemployment if you don't go to CDL school, because the CDL school itself is taxpayer subsidized and so they just send you know, they just send these guys there for free, but that's how they threaten them to get them off unemployment, so they're, in a sense, being forced to become a truck driver. They're not being forced to go to school for anything else, but they're being forced to go to school being a truck driver. That's what I mean by, like, the state forcing people to do it.

Blythe Brumleve: 1:54:49

Yeah that's. I've never heard that before. I would assume that maybe you would have an option to choose from a variety of different trades, to pick which one you would like the most. But if you're being forced into one and only, that definitely sounds like some lobbying efforts that are going on there.

Mike Lombard: 1:55:05

The ATA and their agenda and its consequences.

Blythe Brumleve: 1:55:09

Are there any companies besides Walmart that are doing a good job of treating their drivers with respect and to make it to an attractive career that allows for that retention of the driver for 30 years, like you said before?

Mike Lombard: 1:55:26

Yeah, the company I used to work for, r&r Solutions. They're great. Like most of the drivers there have stayed for five plus years. The only reason they left is they wanted to get their own truck and move freight for some friends. They made connections to do it that way, which is good. Any employer encourages that. Like I said, r&r was so nice when they found out that I bought a truck they wanted to help. That's a sign of a good company, of when you're gonna quit, they wanna help you get to the next level. They loved that, and so them, as is how they operated, what their pay scale was, what their PTO was, what their bonuses were their mileage or safety bonuses. Just how they treated you with the utmost respect when I was there for orientation, gave me a company car to drive around, paid for the hotel for me to stay at, like when they were still waiting on some paperwork. They wanted me to get paid. So they let me drive one of their daycaps and do local routes, and so they'll keep you rolling, get you moving. But another company I really wanna give a huge shout out to is a company called Central Oregon Truck Lines. They're a flatbed company and they have employees not paid by the company, who post on TikTok quite often about what their paychecks are and they go into detail about what they're paid, what their pay per mile, how they get raises, their Tark pay. They are a flatbed company. They give you the option of wanting to drive a 10 speed manual, so they're not forcing you into trucks. Maybe you don't wanna be in, so they want guys to be in trucks. They want they like to. They give them like the most autonomy they can, which is the biggest thing, like giving the driver the autonomy, but then, on the same way, they're what they have for benefits on PTO and however close if you live in a certain area, you could probably get home every week. There's a. I'm in a Facebook group where somebody was talking about how they had a load get canceled. I was supposed to take them home and Central Oregon paid for their flight home To be home for Memorial Day weekend. Think like getting a rental, like paying for their rental cars if they had a breakdown. Like insane stuff. The company essentially bends itself over backwards for their drivers and this is coming from their drivers and I had one of their drivers on my show who went into detail about how that's why he's there, like he wanted to buy his own truck too and kind of do his own thing. And he just came to the decision of why would I Like when he went to, when he put his paycheck versus what he'd get as owning his own truck, and then the benefits of how often he can go home, the you know, everything like that. When he weighed the options, he's like I'm better off, like my quality of life is better here at this specific company. So Central Oregon Truck Lines I have to give them a shout out and I'm sure there's many others and I know that there's others. I always like talking to people on my show who have good companies to talk about, because it's you know that information is hard to find when it comes to finding a good company to work for. It's either you know it's, either through word of mouth or meeting people, and you know you're not going to find them online, because if you search best trucking jobs, the ones that come up are the ones that just pay the most amount of money and SEO ads.

Blythe Brumleve: 1:58:39

Yeah, they've hacked the SEO system in order to make that happen and make for their I guess they're listening to appear higher. I know all too well about those different tactics, but separately I will say that another trucking company based in Dallas, texas or yeah, it is Dallas Texas BCB Transport full disclosure, they're a client of mine, but they are very rare in that they have a five star review on Google and they create a ton of great content for their drivers. They're always preaching a culture of safety. So there are some out there, but I've always just wondered you know why their what kind of benefits are being structured at some of the smaller carriers versus the larger carriers, and how did those compete? But it sounds like the larger carriers are kind of or the smaller carriers are almost, with their benefits and the things that they actually care about. You know there's a lot of lessons that could be learned there.

Mike Lombard: 1:59:33

you know, by from the bigger companies or on behalf of and it gets really tough because with finding that good, respectable carrier, because then we get into the argument of 1099 versus W2. And some people think that you can possibly pay less in taxes off of 1099, but there are a lot of small carriers out there who are kind of, you know, fly by night, they have older, you know, older modeled equipment and they, you know, they just kind of need guys in trucks and yeah, they'll treat them right and run them whenever they want, but there's still no benefits there. There's no retirement, there's no 401K, there's no. You know there's no pension or that. That you know there's no. You know there's no PTO, really you know. So they'll pay these guys because I see it all the time, especially it's popular in Texas. You know there'll be guys who have you know eight trucks. They're pulling containers out of Galveston or what have you, and they'll pay you a 70 something cents per mile or something. But you know there's no PTO, there's no. You know, like there's still no incentives to it. It's, I wouldn't have a reason to go do that so that a lot of people will sell, a lot of people will maliciously recruit of the same. We'll pay percentage or we'll pay you 10.99 at X amount of cents per mile and it's like but you're still running yourself into. It's not sustainable as a career Like it's not. That's not where you want to be career wise, because most people eventually have families, most people want houses and when you're a 10.99 guy it's really hard to get a house. So it's like that. The way the structure is set up for where guys, where people can go work or how they work, is really tough.

Blythe Brumleve: 2:01:05

And so with all of I guess that we've covered a lot of topics. You know, really you know hitting into a lot of the bigger problems that exist and permeate throughout the trucking industry, and you hinted to it earlier. But you talk about a lot of these issues on your show, the Lumbar Trucking Show, and so give us a sense of you know. You're obviously very educated and passionate on these topics. Is that primarily the reason why you wanted to start up your own show?

Mike Lombard: 2:01:35

Yeah, I'd say it's definitely a part of it. That's where it eventually led itself to, because the reason why I wanted to start making content was to tell my story, because I was learning about trucking from other people's stories. At first. When I started driving, I was like I don't want to put myself out there. You know, I don't want to embarrass myself. You know how, you know, the internet can be ruthless. I didn't want to fall victim of any. You know, I didn't want to a hundred people calling me a dumbass or I did it wrong or you're stupid. But then eventually I was like, well, you know what, if I could share my corner of things, that could help, because that's the thing. I saw other problems people were having. I was like, well, let me put my story out there and start just telling about, you know, talking about what my day to day is. And then, as that, you know, as I kept talking about it, I kept learning. And then I kept seeing the issues and I was like, well, hope, now wait a minute. I feel as though I kind of felt obligated, like, hey, we need to talk about this stuff, because I don't think this is right and I don't think we're in a, you know, in a sustainable. I don't think we're in something that's sustainable. And then I got my own truck and learned even more just about things going on in the market. Like you just, it just absolutely exploded, like you know, burst, bust the doors wide open. I'm learning so much and I just met so many more people that that's where it is now. It's like, hey, I want to start having these conversations with as many people as I can and get you know, get this content out there and along the way, I can rebuild my brand alongside of it, because I come from the. I come from a good place of trying to to unify rather than try to diversify and split the issues. And there's there's things I think people can come together out in this industry is hey, we could probably fix parking, truckers probably deserve a little bit of a raise and hey, also, they're doing a job that can kill you Like. So we're at this point to where, you know, the job itself isn't the healthiest job. It requires living on the road, it requires you having to do things like you know, maintain, you know, maintain your healthy eating. You're sitting for long periods of time, which isn't good for you. All of that are factors into this recruiting and retention. Because when you are, you know, when you are unhealthy, when you are not taking care of yourself, you are not as coherent and not as likely to self-advocate for all the issues around you and for all you know. For, by any sense of this, when you are in a position to where you are, you know, unhealthy, weak and docile, you're not going to think you do deserve these things. So you just have passive, aggressive, you know, or projections outward so they don't care, they think is, oh, I'm going to wait at the ship or a sear of a while. I guess that's life, I guess I deserve this and that's where it goes. And so that's another part of reason why I twisted content is because I've been going through a health, a health journey and a health and fitness journey and be trying to become the best possible version of myself. In that, during that pathway, I've just learned that personally, I know my worth. And so in being over the road and staying physically fit, doing things like training to run full marathons, in that, in During this journey, I've realized that I'm worth more. You know, I've realized that I deserve more. I'm not just a truck driver, I'm lumbar, you know. Like that, that's who I am and what, what I bring to the table. Like when I'm out here delivering your freight, like I'm the face of you know, I'm the face for for war and transport when I'm delivering certain the freight, but I'm also the face for myself in my own brand, and that applies to every single driver. Like they need to realize that, hey, fit, fit right now or not. Hey, you are actually worth more. You're worth a hundred percent more. So when it comes to Truck parking, when it comes to you getting more pay, yes, these drivers deserve it. So I come at this from the foundation of hey, if we start taking control of our health, personal excellence this is for drivers and this is really for anybody. Your personal excellence as a person is the number one rebellion. And all this because if everybody could start to come together On their health and fitness, taking care of themselves, becoming elite versions of themselves, because when they do that, they're gonna want to know more, as I, like it happens in this health journey. Because as your physical health improves, so does your mental health. And all I want to do, you know. Besides, you know be healthy and work out is I just want to keep learning, learning about what brokers to do, learning about what the customer service department does it more. Learning about what every role does. So I become better. So that way, when push comes to shove, oh no, I know what you guys are talking about. I know what you do. I'm worth more. I'm not just a truck driver. And when I and so and that's why I'm making the content I do from the position, I do because I want other drivers to know dude, you're, you're worth, you're worth it, you guys are worth it. You're better than how the government's treating you. You're better than how the ship isn't received or treating you. You're better than how these mega-carriers are treating with you. You know, you know, you know a lot of guys. You go on tic-tac. They'll say I'm the lifeblood of this country, I'm a driver, I do this hard job, this, okay, do the hard things as well to keep yourself, you know, elite and mentally and physically fit. And then see, you know how they, how they treat you. Then see, like you, when you become a force to be reckoned with, they're not gonna keep. You know, they're not gonna push you over. Like I said, they like it and this is a societal thing. They want you weak, they want you tired, they want you sick, they want you dependent. They're doing that with the labor industry of the trucking market. They're keeping them weak because they're at the point They'll just quit. You know they think they're just quitting and the more they keep quitting, keeping it going, the better. So the number one way to start improving today, you know some of these things, start doing the hard things. Get fit and take care of yourself. And that's kind of where I aim, my, you know I stand on the platform of that with my content and then with that voicing and talking about the issues at hand, like Parking, like pay, you know, like these big carriers and the ATA's agenda, and it's just, it gives me a solid grounding to. You know, really, speak on this stuff from.

Blythe Brumleve: 2:07:23

And I love that you brought up the fitness aspect of it because I remember very early on, you know, during COVID, when you know I had heard from this epidemiologist that was on, you know, joe Rogan program and I was taking notes because he was talking about how you know, had how COVID had impacted China and how it impacted smokers more than anything, and that you know with the US, and he was specifically asked Well, do you think that that COVID is going to impact you know, the US in the same way? And he said it's going to hit us worse because of the obesity epidemic that that's gone on in this country. That's almost not almost. It's definitely celebrated now and he was giving so much. You know his advice was to make sure you get enough sun and and to work out and stay fit and hopefully you will be okay. And I remembered listening to that podcast, like in March of 2020, right when everything was, you know, the shit was hitting the fan and I told me I was already pretty fit, but it was a much more of a conscious effort to try to control what I can control and those. Since then, it's just been Sort of, you know, industry after I guess, institution after institution is just so. The trust level is so low nowadays that I am so thankful and I was able to listen to different opinions early on during that crisis because I Felt like it really saved my mental health. It saved our family's mental health and and just the concept of ownership of your own health and journey and how that can lead to a more positive outlook on on life. Because there's so much unhappiness Now that is just permeates throughout the entire country on social media and I wonder, if I do wonder if that has a strong, I guess, effect. The lack of working out, the lack of going outside, the lack of taking care of yourself if that is by design, you know, by the institutions at large. You know not to put on a tinfoil hat theory, but I do firmly believe that you know that what you just described of what's happening to truck drivers is also happening to at a large scale, that the population of the US, where you are just put into this bucket of they want you to be dependent on the state instead of being that self-reliance sort of. You know the, the concept of what, yeah, I guess sort of makes you know an American. An American is kind of, I guess where I'm trying to go is you need some self-ownership, you need to be able to take accountability, and taking care of your health first and foremost Sets you up with that strong foundation to take care of every other stressor in life that is going to be eventually thrown at you.

Mike Lombard: 2:10:06

Yeah, I couldn't agree more, and it's funny you say that about whoever that epidemiologist Was, because I'm sure him saying that in an interview probably garnered negative attention from mainstream narratives.

Blythe Brumleve: 2:10:18

I was taken down from YouTube the whole nine and I thought this was such a nuanced Conversation. Why would you you know, bad mouth that it was clearly by design?

Mike Lombard: 2:10:28

Yeah and it's yeah. It says a lot about you know how people view that. That's why. That's why, like and I I take that phrase from Andy forsella, who has said personal excellence is the number one rebellion, because being fit at this point is now a stance of Rebellion against that, because there's a narrative being pushed that you don't have to be one.

Blythe Brumleve: 2:10:46

Really that's untrue and it trickles right, celebrated to it, celebrated being being obese and that's I'm like you're gonna die 20 years earlier Because of this. Why are you listening to this?

Mike Lombard: 2:10:57

Yeah, I'm not saying go out there and berate people for be, you know, being obese like I said I was. You know, I was 275 pounds at one point and yeah, I wouldn't like it, if you know I wouldn't. I don't want to be absolutely bully, but there's also like, I also don't want to be Lied to, like if a doctor ever told me that, hey, you're, you're on the right path, you're good to go, you could sustain this, you know, for the next hundred years. If you want to live for another hundred, you're like, no, at that point it's not. But that's where it's where it's headed. And in regards to the truck thing, if, if, health and fitness and this is how you know, the mega carriers don't care about health and fitness. Because if they did care, they would create an environment, the employee Environment for drivers would be encompassed around it, like they would be In current. Like all they'll say and and and. They do this all the time because CSA scores talk about driver fitness is something on CSA scores, and so they give the rhetoric of oh, you should exercise for 30 minutes a day, it's in sleep eight hours a night and it's like, and they tell you what you should do, but it's not about yet. It's like I well, I could tell you what to do too. I, I could tell you to do things and this is how you stay healthy. But you need to. You know you need to create the environment where that's the norm. So these companies, they do nothing in regards to health and fitness. You know that, like went, just went just down to the, to the parking level, like the fact that this, this job, requires you to sometimes park in strange parts of town or Walmart parking lots or something like that, the environment for the truck driver Doesn't even encourage. You know, this sort of this. You know this sort of healthy lifestyle. The amenities that are around for truckers Never so doesn't support this lifestyle. The food that's at the truck stops, so at the, so at the largest scale, so at the largest scale, from the, these top retail truck stops on down, they sell you unhealthy food. The trucking companies don't care. They don't, you know. They don't encourage you to grocery shop. They don't pay for you to have an air fryer in your truck. They're not trying to tell you hey, this is what a diet is. You know they don't have nutritionists working for their companies. They don't invest in any of this. So if they so, if they did care about the health and wellness of their drivers, they would do something about it. We have companies that I have a. I was just talking to a girl the other day. She said that the health insurance from her company pays for a year's subscription of Peloton. Find me a trucking company that that does that, you know. Find me a trucking company that has, you know, it gives you HSA or discounts to go to chiropractors or for, yeah, free yoga Streaming or something like that. It's not. That's the thing it needs to be Taking care of yourself and in the health of fitness. It needs to be the crux of any Employer because, let's face it, we're, you're at your employer more than you're with your own family, and so your employer needs to have it Some. Your employer is an influence on your life. Now it's not like you just clock in, clock out. Maybe it used to be that way in the 80s, but guess what work comes home with everybody. People are Very into their careers, their career driven at this point. So and these, these companies know that a healthier and more fit employee, a well taken care of and healthy employees Going to be more productive, more alert, better at what they do, more passionate, perform better. And the same thing applies to truckers. If you want to keep them, you know, eventually it becomes unsustainable for the driver. They fail a DOT physical. You know whatever pathway to go. These drivers alone, even if they make it their whole career, they probably won't make it to retirement. They could like average. You know, the average age of retirement in the US is 64. The average life expectancy of a truck driver is 61. So even if you, no matter what, whether you quit the trucking industry or you stay in or whatever the odds are, you're not gonna, you're not even gonna make it. So you worked all your life. You know, for these people who kind of took advantage of you and you know, and you know we're just supposed to thumbs up that it's okay. And as people are just, you know, casualties of it, like I and I hate to sound doom and gloom I trucking as a whole, as a career, has repurposed me in so many ways. In fact, you know, if you talk to me over three years ago, I wouldn't have this level of Passion, I wouldn't be this fired up because I, you know, I wouldn't care that much. I would just can't be caring about, you know, getting off work. I work twice as much as I've ever worked like in my life, some weeks and I'm doing more, producing content, training for marathons, helping other drivers with their fitness, on the first format I'm doing so much more with with less amount of time. Trucking has done that for me. It's, you know, it's such a career that's motivated me in a certain way. But I know that there's problems we just need to fix. Because I want to. I'm trying to leave the world a better place. Then you know when I got it, that's what I'm trying to do, like I came into something I want the next generation of truckers to succeed Thrive and do well, and there's things along the way that we need to fix, or or else they're not going to be able to have it.

Blythe Brumleve: 2:15:43

So with you creating content. Yeah, I think you just celebrated your 69th episode obligatory, nice comment in there, and so you have the. You have the privilege of being able to talk to several different people within the industry. You know leaders, truckers, you know. When I say leaders, I mean leaders that you know within the organization, inside the company, and also drivers as well. Other folks from you know that surround the industry. So if you were to give advice to other carriers out there who want to recruit better drivers, who want to retain them once they actually get them through the door, what kind of things have you seen from other companies, or maybe even some of these mega carriers, that that should be implemented? Is it, is it a fitness program? Is it a full benefits from the day that you start? Is it? You know? I guess I don't know what they could do about truck parking, because that's such a, you know, a unique situation for every city and state and location. But what are some of those things that that some of these smaller carriers could maybe take advantage of and start offering their drivers? And maybe some of the the mega carriers are like, what would be that, that pathway to to writing some of these wrongs?

Mike Lombard: 2:16:56

Yeah, I think it might have to change. They may have to change how they how they route their trucks. They may have to change some operational things, some scheduling things. I think create emphasizing work-life balance is huge. So look and I know that there's tough truckers out there Look, I've stayed out for seven, eight weeks at a clip before and, hey, I love being over the road and when I and I just am trying to correct myself and save myself from the critics who are like, well, if you don't like it, get a local job or something, but implement a work-life balance for these over-the-road guys. Create a schedule Schedule that is healthy and sustainable for guys who are going over the road. But even for the local jobs, create a system. You're the carrier. The carrier does have the power to tell their customers, to Actually make a claim, stand up for their drivers and say, hey, this is how we're gonna route our trucks, these are gonna be the hours. So create a schedule that offers a work-life balance, similar to how a lot of Bel cases are going work from home and how a lot of places are doing hybrids and a lot of places emphasize or they're doing four-day work week type stuff. There's other industries who are evolving to the work-life balance of the talent market out there. Trucking companies can do the same. They don't need to be stuck in this Stuck in the past of trying of doing that. Me like what we can't change. It's how it's always been. Come up with a schedule of how you're gonna route your trucks that would provide a driver, you know, based off of I guess that extrapolated of how often drivers want to go home and for how long and during which days, because obviously drivers want to be home around weekends because that's when all their family and friends Probably aren't working. So it's like, figure out a schedule at that macro level of hey, this is how we're gonna run, offer the option for guys who want to live on the road, sure, but figure that out, you know. So figure out a scheduling. You know we have all this that access to unlimited.

Blythe Brumleve: 2:18:45

I was gonna say that's where maybe AI can come in and maybe help extrapolate some of that data and help these companies, you know, make it. It feels like it just needs to to be a larger priority. If you're going like you said, if you're going to place these large company-wide discussions, industry-wide discussions, around. You know, work from home, four-day work weeks, you know what? What does the modern work schedule look like? They shouldn't be happening in in silos, where the Drivers are in one silo and everywhere on everyone else is in a completely different silo that those same parks, those same benefits should be offered. You know to all of your employees and it's, it's really baffling as to why that wouldn't already be the case. I would, I, I would think that you know, from even like an HR or just a management standpoint, it would just make so much more sense to just have one pay benefits package and be able to offer that to all of your employees, whether that, whether or not they're a driver or not.

Mike Lombard: 2:19:41

Yeah, no, absolutely Couldn't. Couldn't be more spot-on. And then next, from there, I mean, offer a competitive living wage to these people, like make. Like you want these people to work there for X, like the turnover has a cost, no matter how we want to view it. And I've learned from speaking with Gord McGill on this that the turnover for some of these mega-carriers has been ingrained in their Into their budget sheets. Like they count on the turnover. They've adjusted their entire business model to include the turnover, like that's how much. They don't care about it. They just they know it's a thing. So they've adjusted their whole business model and how they price all things to include the turnover. Imagine if they didn't imagine if they just actually paid a living competitive wage. You know, to two people with things like PTO, you know with you know with you know bonus incentives and not you know, and not referral bonus incentives, because you know some of these bonuses. This is crazy. You know some of these, even the local carriers. They were offering 10, 15, $20,000 bonuses, but these bonuses were paid out over two years and they like, so they did like they're predatory. You know these bonuses were almost predatory to get people to sign on, because I can't name any job that you can start at when you get a $20,000 bonus. But then again it's like you know, some people get promotions where they get a bonus, like that. But you know, just be upfront with it with the pay. So, on top of just making, you know, a better work, you know work life balance, it's just and it has to do with going in, looking at the data, figuring out Okay, this is how we should schedule our OTR guys, this is how we schedule the regional guys, etc. And then from there is when you move to pay, like start paying a livable wage, look we. But pre deregulation and and I'm not here to have the union argument or not, because I don't think we can go backwards, you know, and I come from a pro-union sentiment I don't really want to get down that road. But the thing is, before deregulation, drivers for the most part were paid a salary equivalent six figures in. You know, six 1960s and 70s term, like Based on inflation, like what drivers were making in the 60s and 70s was equivalent to six figures today. That was the standard. So raised the standard of that pay. So if they were able to forward it in the 70s, I could tell you right now that Warner Schneider, these mega Goliath corporations, they can afford it now, like the large companies. If they can afford it, then they can afford it now. And because, ever, because, ever, since deregulation, I don't know things aren't becoming cheaper with the advancement of technology. And you know, driving down as the wages gone, the wages have gone down in the past. You know, several years in trucking anything been getting cheaper this past year? No, I don't think so. I think everything's gone up for everybody. So you know, the pay is definitely a good one. And then, when you adjust their scheduling, yeah, I think implementing a culture of health and wellness and I this might piss off you know some of my progressive friends but get rid of your VP of diversity and inclusion and make a VP of health and wellness, because that's what matters more. You know, your VP of diversity inclusion, yeah, that's all fun and dandy, but that's gonna, you're gonna get the diversity inclusion by hiring good people. So that's a different argument. Replace that position with the VP of health and wellness and you know I'm not saying I'm not saying go down and send somebody. You know, have somebody bang on their truck and be like, hey, did you do your push-ups today. But, hey, come up with workout programs for people, let them know. Hey, like I'm, truckers need to hear the hard truth. Hey, this job is killing you. Sitting is the new smoking and you know that. That needs to be very, very emphasized. You know a part at CDL school on training? Hey, this job is actually killing you. It's bad for your blood. You know, you hear the stats. They don't go over these stats enough, and so I think implement it. Make you like the culture of the business needs to be surrounded by it. Like you want real people to get real results on their health and fitness. You've got to. You got to tell them the truth.

Blythe Brumleve: 2:23:34

Well, speaking of health and fitness, that that's part of your career journey as well as part of your, your personal journey. What are some ways that that drivers can't like you and and others can stay fit while out on the road?

Mike Lombard: 2:23:47

Like it's. You know, yeah, I do work as an advisor on on the first format, and I didn't wear this t-shirt intentionally, I just put it on because I found it. But I, yeah, I work as an advisor to help guys on a health and fitness app which tracks their macros your macros being your calories, protein, carbs and fats and that varies based on activity level, height, weight. So I can't calculate macros for people, but the app does use technology and I help coach people on that app, which also has access to workouts, live streams, tracks your steps and stuff like that. So I encourage anybody who wants, like, a help or, like you know, any sort of coaching that you know, definitely feel free to come find me. I'd love to help you out. But all drivers really need to do what they need to do to counteract what they're doing is, yes, so they definitely need to watch what they're eating. You shouldn't be. You know, at least monitor your calories. But you definitely need to be getting the right amount of protein one gram of protein per pound of gold body weight, and that starts by eating whole meals. So you got to start cooking your own food. I use an air fryer and microwave, but the number one thing people can start doing now is stop drinking full sugar Sodas and going for at least one to two 45 minute walks per day and drinking a gallon of water. Anybody who is facing you know, who is very obese, anybody who's having a hard time, maybe pre diabetic if they start incorporating one to two 45 minute walks and just going to diet soda, their entire life will start changing. From there it's guy ruckets. People don't need to do anything crazy. That it. But the thing is, once guys start going for those walks and they start seeing their results, they're gonna want more and they're gonna want better for themselves. They're gonna want to go, they're gonna want to start running, they're gonna want to start bringing out the bow, flex weights at the truck stop. They're gonna, like it burgoins into a whole bigger thing. Like, once you start making that progress, you want to do more. You want, you want more for yourself because you deserve it. You start feeling like you're worth it again. But that's what they do. You didn't need to start, just need to start. You know, instead of scrolling, you know you could scroll while you walk.

Blythe Brumleve: 2:25:39

So there we've talked about, you know, all the issues that are going on within the industry. We talked about a couple of the good movements that are happening, including the, you know the, the fitness sort of revolution. I think that's going on with a lot of different drivers. Mark Manera, another, you know, friend of the show and friend of yours as well, he he's he owns supply chain fitness, which is trying to, you know, combat a lot of those preconceived notions as well as to, you know, the importance of your health and how that impacts the rest of your life. And you know, your family, friends, work, all that, all that stuff. But are there any issues in trucking that you know are kind of, you know, below the surface right now that you think will become a bigger issue in the years to come?

Mike Lombard: 2:26:22

I Think I briefly kind of I've alluded to it Along the lines, but definitely parking is, I think the Gonna become the the biggest one, especially as certain major metropolitan areas start to grow Like what once were medium-sized metropolitan areas, austin, texas being one. You know I live in central Texas and this is where I'm seeing it. I actually just spoke with a local news, kxan, about a truck parking going on because Austin starting to see it as an issue. Even other places you know growing metros like you know, raleigh, north Carolina, charlotte, toledo, ohio, I mean set Florida's, I think, got it some of the worst. I did a truck parking story with Fox 35 a couple months ago and Fox 35, you know, spoke to you know Florida DOT about issues going on in central Florida as well as down in South Florida and the. You know the amount of parking that they're going to need, just based off the growth of the Orlando area and you know the amount of people moving to Florida yeah. Yeah, when people move there, your consumption is gonna go up. You're gonna need, you know, the trucks come with it. And I really think truck parking is such an issue that People aren't ready for. And I know that there's some legislation floating around you know Congress about allocating money for Money to States from the DOT for truck parking and I know that the sec current secretary of transportation has Definitely echoed the concern for it. So maybe it's not like it's so much under the radar. But the thing is it's, it's, it's an issue that's. They knew this was going to be an issue in the 90s. You know office studies done in 1994 or 1996. They've known this is gonna be an issue for a long period of time. It's coming to roost now because what we're seeing is now the fatalities are happening, cars are hitting trucks on on off-ramps that are parked there, the truck parking adds to the, to the turnover and a lot of this could be alleviated. Actually, a lot of the truck parking issues Can be alleviated if the ELD mandate was repealed, because the the yield, the implementation of the ELD. Now All science and research shows that when you add stress to the workplace it affects workplace safety, no matter what, when, when something has been added. You know like, you know, added stress to your job. It doesn't make things more safe, you know. So adding the ELD you know mandate to it and requiring ELDs for people is an added stress level which has created more tired drivers, more aggravated drivers and drivers making riskier decisions. The FMC SA Personally and intentionally added stress to the industry, making the industry less safe, and the fact that that narrative isn't seen by people is frightening. Like our own government implemented something which data now says has made the industry less safe and more people have died because of it, and we're just gonna keep letting it fly. And so you know, I'd say you know, truck parking is an issue. Is that underlying issue I'm talking about? But it can be solved in more ways than one by not you know.

Blythe Brumleve: 2:29:30

So it's not just more spaces, it's, it's more. Just what is it? Once?

Mike Lombard: 2:29:35

again change the workplace environment and the scheduling for these drivers and how they can drive. If they weren't be ridden to this electronic log and they were running a certain schedule to where, finding parking Wasn't that much of an issue, depending on how they were routed, as in hey, they can sleep at shippers and receivers, or they can sleep it or they're being routed towards their terminals more like so. It's just not a matter of spaces. Hey, let's remove some of the you know Surveillance technology like the ELD mandate, so that way when they have a half an hour left on their clock and they find themselves In having to go through Austin, they don't have to worry. You know, don't have to worry about that 30 minutes running out, having to have a DOT violation. So I mean, there's a lot of different ways you can attack the parking issue, but at the you know it's, it's the one issue that not only is adding to the turnover, it's also, once again, the consumer. The other highway users out there are at risk because of, you know, the lack of truck parking. But other other underlying issues you know, I'm sure there are. I can't, I can't rail off at the top of my head because pay and park, because that's the thing. It's a spider web. You know they're parking or like the two, you know Two nucleuses or whatever, and then there's other stuff that goes out from there. I think I know that there's a lot of fraud going on right now and I, like I said, you know we can get into the Eastern European Mafias who operate. You know there's Chicago operations. There's a lot going on with the. You know I recently spoke with the president of real women in trucking, which you have spoken to as well as a very would as very would. Yeah, and she helps with an organization that has helped drivers who've been abandoned because of these ghost log Problems. And there are a lot of these Eastern European outfits who run motor carriers with their own ELD technology that they're able to Kind of hack into and they're able to falsify logs to keep these trucks running. And and I get you know, there's probably Some libertarians in the crowd who cheer, cheer for that and yeah, and even the, even though obviously nobody would ever know. You know, people don't want to drive 20 hours a day, that's not, that's not the point. But you know they falsify these logs and what's happened is they've sent drivers out. When these drivers are sleeping or staying in hotels, somebody comes and steals the truck or what have you, and takes it from under them and they and they don't pay them. So I mean, there there is a lot of other underlying issues, like some of these Eastern European syndicates who are running, very, you know, running these motor carriers that are operating, you know, outside of the rules and regulations. Brokering to and the fraud of double brokering that's going on in all these different countries like Ukraine, and so it's that that's definitely even that's not a macro point. You know I'm speaking for driver issues for the most part, but industry-wide I mean the fraud and crime between. What's going on with double brokering is just another cost being rolled onto consumers. We're like the fact that it's not the fact. That is like we're talking in the news about target, bud Light and you know Rainbow t-shirts and not the fact the American people are getting ripped off by Eastern European crime syndicates Taking control of our own supply chain. Like, what do you think is more important target selling a rainbow t-shirt or in Bud Light or the fact that our supply chain is being compromised by Chinese technology companies in Eastern European crime syndicates? What's the better headline for?

Blythe Brumleve: 2:33:01

Well, those, those topics are too complex for I think the idea, or it's perceived as too Complex. They would rather just keep us and when I say they, I mean like the, you know, intelligence agencies, big corporations, the government, things like that they would rather keep us in fighting with each other rather than trying to tackle a big problem that they are Not incentivized to solve, which kind of feels like a big theme of this show is that there there are many problems that exist in this industry and Very few incentives to actually solve them, unless you're actually running a good moral compass of a company that wants to treat people with respect and wants to. You know, stick around for a while. That, to me, is, you know, the latter is, is is the more of the American dream versus the former.

Mike Lombard: 2:33:46

Yeah, now it is. It is pretty wild and I do like how you refer to them as they, because I mean, that's, that's the truth. They want and they're doing. It's these. Everything going on in the trucking industry is mirrored to what's going on and you know, with our politics, that the ATA and the mega carriers want to keep drivers Divided. They don't want them agree because drivers can't even agree. When it comes to this overtime for truckers act, drivers are like well, well, I'm not paid by the hour, I'm not paid by. Like they don't see the bigger picture, like they've gotten truckers so divided. Drivers can't even agree to give themselves a pay raise. Like that's, that's where they're at. And our media and Our politics is doing the same thing. They want to keep us. They know that the American people, you know We've sold all our manufacturing overseas, we've sold our purpose. We're now this information and service, this information and service economy, to where they're able to control us via the culture wars. So, people on their own lives, they kind of they're not building things for themselves, they're not building things for their communities anymore. So they have to lay a stake in identity politics because this is how they know. Well, if I support this ideology that I'm actually helping the world, I'm actually helping my community. If I stand up for this, then I'm defending, you know, I'm defending these, these people, all the while they're staying divided. Well, the people at the very top Maintain control of anything and in the meantime also, what's going on is, yeah, our supply chain is in the midst of, you know, being compromised, because even in that, when we go even further into the AI step of things you know we just had a pipeline get hacked recently Like, are we gonna keep the public blind to the fact that eventually, when you take the drivers out, we're gonna think that China or Russia isn't gonna figure out the means to send it, send it? You know the next 9-11 isn't gonna you won't need pilots, you know. You, when you've got autonomous, you know trucks and doing whatever, you know you're not gonna, you're not gonna need it. And when you can control the, the supply chain, you know where are we running ourselves at that risk? But, yeah, no, the meat, you, they. There's definitely a, you know a syndicate in this country that wants peaked to keep people divided. They're doing it in the truck industry. That's why I feel like, if you can, if I can, if we can fight for these issues and we keep talking to them in this, in the trucking industry, like it's just, it's one crack in the seams. It's it's, you know, because the transportation industry is a micro version of everything we're talking about with the media, and if we could solve the problems here, maybe, you know, maybe that positivity and Stuff can spread to all the other stuff we're talking about society and the media.

Blythe Brumleve: 2:36:09

Now for you. I was doing some research, going through your websites and watched a few of your videos, and what's I think is super interesting about you know just 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, and I think you're kind of a blend of the two. Is that correct? Tell us how you got started in trucking.

Kevin Rutherford: 2:36:37

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. 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 watched that and thought there's got to be a better way. Then 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 you know, everybody around me has trucks. At one point my father, four brothers, two brother-in-laws, an uncle all own trucks.

Blythe Brumleve: 2:38:26

Oh, wow.

Kevin Rutherford: 2:38:27

Yeah and 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. And you know I had several attorneys say this is what bankruptcy is for. And I said you know 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. You know, really started to get into the accounting side of things and tracking things by numbers and watching fuel mileage. And you know, 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: 2:39:58

Now you mentioned, you know, two of your 11 trucks were only profitable. What made the two profitable when the rest weren't?

Kevin Rutherford: 2:40:06

Really at the time it was my lack of experience in the market. So the two that were profitable were actually least 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 you know it seemed like just add another truck, keep driving more miles. This has got to work and it didn't. I was just. 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: 2:41:05

That's such a good, insightful story, and so 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 just a second?

Kevin Rutherford: 2:41:14

Yeah. So when I had those trucks all that time did several different things, I ultimately ended up sticking with the contract at FedEx and adding some trucks there. 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. And 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. So I sold in 2012.

Blythe Brumleve: 2:42:08

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

Kevin Rutherford: 2:42:19

So we'd 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 5,000, but I didn't understand taxes. So when the bill came in at 14,000 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 14,000. It was more like five or six and filed amended returns and started telling my friends and they said well, will you 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 4,000 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. 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 3.30 in the morning for 10 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: 2:44:32

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

Kevin Rutherford: 2:44:35

Yeah, I asked and they said okay.

Blythe Brumleve: 2:44:38

That's awesome, so okay, so you had the couple of 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?

Kevin Rutherford: 2:44:50

a team no. I didn't do any of the real coding in the beginning. But I, you know, I found a database program where you could kind of build some things with it 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: 2:45:35

What a great story.

Kevin Rutherford: 2:45:37

Yeah, I did kind of the design and layout of a lot of the software and ultimately 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: 2:45:48

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 that?

Kevin Rutherford: 2:45:58

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: 2:46:20

And I think that that's where I was looking at your site. And so there's fuel gauges, there's profit gauges, and so all of it kind of fits into. Is it all one app, or are they different functions? For you know, I guess, different motives.

Kevin Rutherford: 2:46:36

Yeah, so fuel gauges is its own app and that one's free. We've been giving 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 100,000 trucks using that app and we're coming up on 6 million fuel tickets in the system.

Blythe Brumleve: 2:47:07

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

Kevin Rutherford: 2:47:19

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. 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. 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 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, I'll give myself a year and then we'll see. So I finished 100 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. Wow, it really just took over everything.

Blythe Brumleve: 2:48:53

And so that I mean, you're obviously providing, you know, financial advice on one side of things, but now, on the flip side, it's really that your community coming to you and saying you need this and you made it happen, and now 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 road.

Kevin Rutherford: 2:49:21

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. It 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: 2:50:40

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

Kevin Rutherford: 2:50:52

There are no healthy things to eat at a gas station. Let's just start there.

Blythe Brumleve: 2:50:57

Not even the hot dog.

Kevin Rutherford: 2:50:59

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 and it doesn't need refrigeration.

Blythe Brumleve: 2:51:33

Wow, and so that was going to be my next question is what does, I guess, the truck outfit kind of look like to keep you know that food ready, readily available?

Kevin Rutherford: 2:51:43

That's their biggest challenge. You know they can't do a lot of shopping on the road. 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.

Adam Wingfield: 2:52:00

Oh, wow.

Kevin Rutherford: 2:52:01

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: 2:52:12

And I imagine to I follow a lot of like. One of my favorite shows is Doomsday Preppers. Oh yeah, so I imagine that a lot of those same philosophies matter.

Kevin Rutherford: 2:52:20

It's. 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: 2:52:38

Oh, that's super interesting. Okay, so what are your favorite?

Kevin Rutherford: 2:52:43

prepper tips, pressure key, and 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: 2:53:00

And then, how do you get more of it?

Kevin Rutherford: 2:53:04

You, you got to hunt and fish and 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. Wow, and that's usually my goal. Try to get a year's worth.

Blythe Brumleve: 2:53:20

And so that's where you got to. You got to think about next I'm all, I'm all thinking about. You know all the different doomsday prepper shows.

Mike Lombard: 2:53:26

I've seen.

Blythe Brumleve: 2:53:27

I was like well, you got to have a way to protect it.

Kevin Rutherford: 2:53:29

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

Blythe Brumleve: 2:53:36

Oh my gosh, I'm going to say, okay, I got to dive deeper now into this show.

Kevin Rutherford: 2:53:39

Think about it for a second. 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?

Blythe Brumleve: 2:53:57

That's a good point.

Kevin Rutherford: 2:53:58

And cash. You know, it got so easy to drive around with no cash because everybody accepts credit cards. And what about when the banking system goes down? It's already happened.

Blythe Brumleve: 2:54:09

That's very true.

Kevin Rutherford: 2:54:10

And if you have no access to cash and you're a thousand miles away from home, what are you going to do? So we do kind of that prepping in the truck.

Blythe Brumleve: 2:54:20

And so are they able 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. It's like in a bug out bag.

Kevin Rutherford: 2:54:30

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 of husband and wife teams that spend so much time on the road that they've just started to prep on the road.

Blythe Brumleve: 2:54:43

Oh, wow.

Kevin Rutherford: 2:54:44

Yeah, they've just kind of, you know, supplied themselves with the stuff in the truck and they'll stop and maybe get a hotel for the weekend or an Airbnb and do their prep.

Blythe Brumleve: 2:54:53

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 cooker?

Kevin Rutherford: 2:55:02

Yeah, so it's called an all American. 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. Oh, okay.

Blythe Brumleve: 2:55:20

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 Preppers show. I started. I got a bug out bag. I started. I have a life straw in it. I've knives, fuel like all that water shoes, I even. I went to a trade show one time. They have those little capsules that you that'll sustain you for about 12 hours.

Kevin Rutherford: 2:55:42

Oh, yeah, yeah.

Blythe Brumleve: 2:55:45

They thought I was crazy, and then COVID happened. I said no, I'm not so crazy anymore, am I?

Kevin Rutherford: 2:55:49

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.

Blythe Brumleve: 2:56:07

And then and you have also the couple of 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 happens.

Kevin Rutherford: 2:56:19

But didn't it feel good when you did prep a little?

Blythe Brumleve: 2:56:21

It did.

Kevin Rutherford: 2:56:22

Doesn't it? It just feel good.

Blythe Brumleve: 2:56:24

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

Kevin Rutherford: 2:56:33

There you go. Drop me an email if you ever have any questions.

Blythe Brumleve: 2:56:36

Oh, I will be. You're probably going to regret that. All right, Let 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 initiative.

Kevin Rutherford: 2:56:54

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: 2:58:18

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

Kevin Rutherford: 2:58:23

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

Blythe Brumleve: 2:58:27

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

Kevin Rutherford: 2:58:33

No robotics. We do have several dogs at the warehouse.

Blythe Brumleve: 2:58:37

Those help with morale much more than robotics, I think.

Kevin Rutherford: 2:58:39

That's right. So robotics are just kind of creepy to me.

Blythe Brumleve: 2:58:44

I think it's a challenge because I actually just got done with a robotics interview and they were talking about, because one of the, Mike Lombard, who both of us are familiar with Twitter fame, has his own show as well. He's been a guest on this show previously. He had mentioned that the drivers 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 operating, you know, streamlining the operations inside the warehouse. But 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 kind of still hotly debated, I think.

Kevin Rutherford: 2:59:46

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

Blythe Brumleve: 2:59:53

Yes, they do. I would argue that they probably shouldn't. Because it's helped me a ton.

Kevin Rutherford: 2:59:58

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, how could you not be paying attention to this? And one of the first quotes I saw that really made it 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: 3:00:56

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.

Adam Wingfield: 3:01:07

type it Like it was took hours to do.

Blythe Brumleve: 3:01:12

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 Most of them stink.

Kevin Rutherford: 3:01:24

But I know that's funny, Is it? You can ask for 50 titles and you still can't find one you like in there.

Blythe Brumleve: 3:01:31

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

Adam Wingfield: 3:01:35

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

Blythe Brumleve: 3:01:40

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, the some of the smaller team like me, like you, oh, yeah. And I do worry about the output that it will 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 said, oh, 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 and 15 minutes.

Kevin Rutherford: 3:02:26

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 the 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: 3:02:56

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.

Kevin Rutherford: 3:03:09

But with.

Blythe Brumleve: 3:03:10

Otter, they recognize my voice. Now they recognize repeat guests, so they automatically smart label them.

Kevin Rutherford: 3:03:17

and I, you know, I don't really have to look at the finger. I know we're geeking out a little bit on a lot of this AI stuff.

Blythe Brumleve: 3:03:25

We geeked out on the Doomsday 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 independent?

Kevin Rutherford: 3:03:40

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. Oh, wow, 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 going to go create our own sites, and we did so. That was the point of originally we had a healthy tribe and trucking tribe separate, and now we're in the process of merging those.

Blythe Brumleve: 3:04:38

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

Kevin Rutherford: 3:04:44

It's a community. Yeah, so it's a community. We have courses in there, we've got chat rooms, 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: 3:05:02

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 removed.

Kevin Rutherford: 3:05:18

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.

Blythe Brumleve: 3:05:42

You know I might, I want to, it's still around.

Kevin Rutherford: 3:05:45

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 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, 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.

Blythe Brumleve: 3:07:09

That's awesome. I love that approach because I'm I host websites for, you know, 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 you know, their their digital home, yeah.

Kevin Rutherford: 3:07:27

Yeah, well, you know, that was kind of like Facebook. We had this group of 30,000 people. We couldn't communicate directly with them.

Blythe Brumleve: 3:07:34

Why was it that they shut?

Kevin Rutherford: 3:07:34

you down. They would just claim medical misinformation constantly. It really got bad. I mean, 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: 3:07:59

And that's where I think you know a platform like Mighty Networks, which I've looked at before and did a little test run. I've used it. You know, somebody else had a Mighty Network and it's a really intuitive system.

Adam Wingfield: 3:08:10

Yes, it is.

Blythe Brumleve: 3:08:10

Much better than a lot of like the the course, I guess platforms. You know that that exist. Right now that I think a lot of trucking companies are utilizing Mighty Networks is one that was really impressive.

Kevin Rutherford: 3:08:21

It's very flexible. You can, and now, like everybody else, they've integrated AI into the platform and it's changing it a lot.

Blythe Brumleve: 3:08:31

How so.

Kevin Rutherford: 3:08:35

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 we're kind of you know 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: 3:09:07

Yeah, I mean it's really. Is the 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, you know, 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, but Well, and that's what we've done.

Kevin Rutherford: 3:09:28

We've got multiple redundant servers around the world.

Adam Wingfield: 3:09:31

Oh, wow.

Kevin Rutherford: 3:09:32

I mean, it's the only way to protect your data and your business anymore.

Blythe Brumleve: 3:09:36

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.

Kevin Rutherford: 3:09:47


Blythe Brumleve: 3:09:48

All right, kevin, what about your overall, I guess, sort of digital strategy? You know you mentioned the podcast, you mentioned the Mighty Networks app. Are you still, you know, are you utilizing I've seen you host, you know Twitter Spaces, things like that? Where are you kind of focusing your efforts? Where is that, I think, the biggest opportunity for you and your network to grow?

Kevin Rutherford: 3:10:08

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, but 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: 3:11:30

And then that could be your own sort of I guess mighty networks 2.0.

Kevin Rutherford: 3:11:34


Blythe Brumleve: 3:11:35

Or the.

Kevin Rutherford: 3:11:35

I guess, the Kevin networks, yeah, 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, 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: 3:12:19

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 the rule cast is maybe a better phrase.

Kevin Rutherford: 3:12:29

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: 3:12:47

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: 3:13:02

You know, the big issues haven't changed at all. Most 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: 3:14:35

Why is that?

Kevin Rutherford: 3:14:36

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 110.99 for the year. So, it tells me, worked with over 100 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. 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. Where is it? Oh, go ahead. 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: 3:17:35

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 CDL?

Kevin Rutherford: 3:17:52

Formal training. Formal training inside of training. Zero, zero.

Blythe Brumleve: 3:17:56

It's pathetic, it really is 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 companies like yours that are the ones leading the charge?

Kevin Rutherford: 3:18:08

And I don't know of many like mine. 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.

Kary Jablonski: 3:19:17

What is it?

Kevin Rutherford: 3:19:18

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: 3:19:55

And so what is the I guess what is the solution for a lot of these guys, because obviously 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: 3:20:09

Yeah, 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: 3:20:28

So if you were interested in becoming a driver, what would you suggest is 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 going to the right CDL school? It feels like a lot of things to navigate very quickly.

Kevin Rutherford: 3:20:46

You know it does. 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: 3:21:53

Now, 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 into play.

Kevin Rutherford: 3:22:10

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, I you know. 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.

Blythe Brumleve: 3:23:15


Kevin Rutherford: 3:23:16

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 and 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, yeah, and that that's the potential that's out there.

Blythe Brumleve: 3:24:03

That's such a great service that 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 insight and without your help.

Kevin Rutherford: 3:24:14

He probably would have left the industry. 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: 3:24:46

That's wonderful. That is such a great story. Thank you for sharing that. Now, you know, as we kind of like round out the interview, I do have, it feels weird to kind of like segue into this next topic, because it's more like rapid fire questions, things like that. So I guess there's no real, I guess graceful way to do this. That's okay, but 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: 3:25:16

Wow. You know I am a pretty dyed 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 that wasn't wild about that. I'm not even worried about wild 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. And 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: 3:26:51

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

Kevin Rutherford: 3:26:55

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's 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?

Blythe Brumleve: 3:27:51


Kevin Rutherford: 3:27:52


Blythe Brumleve: 3:27:54

It's always about the drivers.

Kevin Rutherford: 3:27:55

It is. 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? They will still look at me like they're not sure. I'll say here's a clue. Who's check did you deposit In the model of a broker in the mix? Who's check are they depositing? It's the brokers. That's their customer. 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: 3:28:42

Then develop those deeper relationships so you're not chasing the freight on the load boards, exactly.

Kevin Rutherford: 3:28:48


Blythe Brumleve: 3:28:49

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 little rapid fire questions. What is your favorite supply chain factoid? It can be about trucking, anything.

Kevin Rutherford: 3:29:06

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

Blythe Brumleve: 3:29:30

How is it possible?

Kevin Rutherford: 3:29:33

Modifying the trucks, different gearing, different transmission setups, different tires I've identified over 80 things that affect fuel economy. Wow, now, we can't change all of them, but a lot of them we can. Some of them are out of wind temperature, 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: 3:30:00

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

Kevin Rutherford: 3:30:20

Site called Mintcom.

Blythe Brumleve: 3:30:23

Oh, the money manager Mint.

Kevin Rutherford: 3:30:24


Blythe Brumleve: 3:30:26

Love that one.

Kevin Rutherford: 3:30:27

Love that one.

Blythe Brumleve: 3:30:28


Kevin Rutherford: 3:30:28

It's been free forever too.

Blythe Brumleve: 3:30:30

And I didn't even think that they were still around. I remember using them back in the day, but I started using RocketMoney recently, and that's who. I think they're fairly similar.

Kevin Rutherford: 3:30:41

I think they're both owned by Intuit, some companies, I believe so, and that's TurboTax, Quicken QuickBooks, Mint RocketMortgage.

Blythe Brumleve: 3:30:53

So that's my next step as a business owner. My next step is to plug RocketMoney into all the accounting apps, which means Well, you know what's happening now.

Kevin Rutherford: 3:31:03

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 Mint will have AI all over their site pretty soon too.

Blythe Brumleve: 3:31:20

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: 3:31:33

So it's a it makes things a lot easier. 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. Yes, isn't that an awesome feature?

Blythe Brumleve: 3:31:47

It is, it's very handy, or the the negotiate.

Kevin Rutherford: 3:31:50

We'll negotiate this bill for you which is great, right, right, yeah, I am so bad at signing up for every subscription on the internet and 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, oh I 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 I'll be like what are you signed up for Right?

Blythe Brumleve: 3:32:18

Then you have to do your own due diligence.

Kevin Rutherford: 3:32:21

I know Right.

Blythe Brumleve: 3:32:23

She is the CEO of Trucker Tools and we're going to be talking about a different kind of CRM today, a Carrier Relationship Management Platform. So, Carrey, welcome into the show.

Kary Jablonski: 3:32:34

Thank you so much, Blayth. I, of course, was eager to get a message from you, so very honored to be here.

Blythe Brumleve: 3:32:41

Absolutely Now. We first met at the Freight Waves F3 event last year and we were sitting across the table from the Freight Vana guys of Dawn and Lars and we were talking a lot about like chess and traveling, yes, and both you and Lars convinced me because I had a New York trip coming up soon. You both of you convinced me do not stay in Times Square, and that was such great advice because we did. Another day we stayed in another part of New York, so we stayed in Koreatown, which ended up being really wonderful and like great food and just a great vibe environment, but I'm so glad we took your advice and stayed in another part of town. That's great.

Kary Jablonski: 3:33:21

Did you go to Times Square at all?

Blythe Brumleve: 3:33:22

while you were there, a little yeah or less, like you know, passing through. I think you kind of have to see it. You know, on the first or second night that you're there, but everywhere else was, you know, the museums and the sightseeing we didn't do a lot of touristy stuff, which I was thankful for. We did a lot of like smaller shops and exploring and things like that, great, great. So now with you and your story, because you come from, you know, a big city in Boston. I believe you said that you grew up in the Midwest area or you're currently there in the Midwest area, based in Chicago. But I'm curious as to how. What first got you into freight? What got you interested in the industry?

Kary Jablonski: 3:34:02

Yeah. So honestly, I think it goes. My interest in transportation goes way back growing up. So I am from Boston and my mom was really involved in local government when I was growing up and she just always talked to us about planning infrastructure, how things work, how things move, which kind of got me just fascinated with the concept of place and how do you develop cities, how do you develop connectivity? I love maps Got one behind me right here. So I think from a young age I've always been interested in that. And fast forward several years following college, I spent a couple of years as a consultant, which was great, but knew pretty quickly I wanted to be in a business, driving impact, making decisions with some real skin in the game. And around that time Uber was really blowing up and I thought what cooler experience than being part of scaling a business? That is probably the most transformative Certainly technology, I think, in how cities operate, move, connect, how people move and connect at least in my lifetime. So had the good fortune to join the Uber team back in 2016. And I spent a couple of years there. I was never on the freight side myself. I worked on the ride sharing and Uber Eats parts of the business ride sharing in Washington DC, which was one of the US kind of hubs. And then I spent some time abroad, primarily in Mexico City, working on Uber Eats for Latin America, and I left right after we went public and a lot of my colleagues friends had either gone to work for Uber freight in that time period. They were either in the mysterious, interesting, exciting business or we're leaving Uber to start their own companies and a ton of people saw a lot of opportunity in the freight space for reasons we could talk about all day long that are definitely still opportunities and it got me thinking what a cool, interesting space to be in. What more important than supporting how everything is moved. So was interested in freight and following Uber, I got my MBA and that's where I met the convergence of freight and some other things happened to bring me to Trucker Tools. I met the current owners of Trucker Tools, alpine investors, while I was doing my MBA. They have a really interesting operating model where they hire operators right out of school to come in and work with founders to transition management as they're looking for a full exit and that's how I joined the business. They just acquired Trucker Tools. Given my background, my interest in logistics transportation, my experiences before Trucker Tools. It was just perfect match, perfect convergence. So that's how I got here.

Blythe Brumleve: 3:36:41

I love that part that you mentioned about Uber Eats, because I was listening to your interview on Truck and Hustle. You were talking about how, living in, you moved abroad to, like, I think, indonesia and then also Mexico City, I think, for a while. What was different about, I guess, the markets abroad versus, like, the Uber Eats market in the US?

Kary Jablonski: 3:37:01

Great question. So abroad, uber Eats is, I think, a more efficient business. It's been a while since I've worked in the business and Uber Eats really took off at the beginning of COVID and I think it's now 50-50 of Uber's revenue with Fried Sherry, which is amazing, Wow. But the thing about Uber Eats in Mexico or Indonesia, which are the two international markets I worked in, is you're able to be really efficient with deliveries, because so much of what they call supply driver supply, carrier supply is on two wheels, whether it's a bicycle or primarily, motorbike, which commands different unit economics when it comes to compensating drivers and you're just able to be a lot more nimble. Those cities are massively congested in ways that if you've only ever spent time in the US, I don't think you can even comprehend like it puts Chicago traffic, la traffic, to shame. Also, having more nimble delivery folks combined with that horrible congestion, that actually makes delivery a much more appealing option, sometimes depending on where you live. Interesting, I think, make the markets really appealing, and those emerging markets were definitely pioneers ahead of the US in everything delivery. So not just food delivery, but there are plenty of competitors in Latin America and in Asian Asia that have pioneered the super app model where it's not just food delivery. You can get cash delivered, you can get books delivered, you can get groceries delivered, you can get someone to come lock your dog, give you a man of care, give you a massage. So just a lot more appetite for that on demand economy than I think what we've seen so far at least. Again, this is all pre-pandemic in the US.

Blythe Brumleve: 3:38:44

That's super interesting because I noticed when I was in New York all of the different modes of transportation that they deal with the congestion. Somebody that was delivering something was on one of those electric bikes like the e-bikes. There were bigger trucks that had to offload into the smaller almost like the UPS, like Amazon freight-style trucks and they would unload those even more into a smaller cargo bike type of truck. So it's amazing that some of that maybe is moving over to the states where it makes a ton of sense Now as you transitioned into the role with Alpine. What drew Alpine to the transition? To notice trucker tools as a good option for them to buy out.

Kary Jablonski: 3:39:27

Yeah. So two things. One, the freight space. It is a I don't need to tell you how massive this market is, so they wanted in. They saw a ton of potential there. They saw that hasn't fully digitized yet so they're buying vertical SaaS businesses massive opportunity. And then, specifically to trucker tools. We have a really interesting model that I don't think is replicated by anyone in this space and that we've got this virtuous cycle of starting as a mobile app for carriers. We've really amassed a really large part of the carrier market, especially small fleets owner operators the hardest folks to track down on our mobile app because it's been in the market since 2010. Our founders were totally visionary when it came to realizing that drivers would be moving to kind of this mobile lifestyle, build a mobile app for life on the road From there, able to start tracking loads with brokerages, and created this virtuous cycle where the more drivers you get on the app, the easier it's going to be to track their loads. The more brokers you have tracking loads, the more drivers are going to get on the app and then add it in our digital freight matching platform as well to take advantage of all that data and information in that mobile first experience. So we've got a pretty unique business model that not many folks in the industry can replicate, and I think our number one asset is that massive carrier network that's highly engaged on our mobile platform. So that's what Alpine was really excited about.

Blythe Brumleve: 3:40:51

And it was super interesting about the Trucker Tools origin stories that it was started like 2009, around the same time as the app store was launched. Social media platforms are launching. Why, I guess, during? I'm still struggling to get folks to realize the value of having a website, but, like 10, 20 years ago, you guys are already on the app store. Why do you think the app store was so important? Is it because of the mobile driver lifestyle?

Kary Jablonski: 3:41:20

Yeah, definitely mobile driver lifestyle, If you think. I think one of the first features in Trucker Tools that was that took off and continue to grow carrier interest, which was really just kind of a word of mouth play, was truck stop reviews. So aggregating reviews on what is available at different truck stops, what do different truck stops offer which they not offer. And, if you think about it, the only way to kind of capture that information is basically to crowdsource it among the very, very fragmented carrier base. So I think our founders, prasad Marali, saw data like that. There needs to be some sort of crowdsource effort to aggregate it. Combined with the mobile first lifestyle of especially owner operators who, many of them, live in their truck for days, weeks at a time, made a lot of sense.

Blythe Brumleve: 3:42:13

And so I would imagine that maybe in the early days it was maybe easier to convince truck drivers to download an app because it feels, especially on social media, it feels like truckers are very like tech averse. They're slow to trust a company in order to download an app or to install new technology on their truck, things like that. How is, I guess, trucker tools balancing? That Was it easier before and now it's maybe a little bit more challenging, or has it kind of been the same? So?

Kary Jablonski: 3:42:43

we're growing our monthly active users kind of at an accelerating rate actually, so I wouldn't say it's getting more difficult. I think one of our major advantages again is that we started so early, so we've been able to build that trust that has to be earned from the carrier and driver community. Can't just tell them download this app, it's not going to track you and you don't want to get tracked. It's not going to collect any data that you don't want collected. That really needs to be earned over time. So, starting 13 or so years ago, we've been able to prove ourselves out in the market. So that's been a major advantage. So there's a ton of brand trust, a ton of brand loyalty, especially in those early days, providing those free tools for life in the road. We've got 17 tools for life in the road, ranging from truck stop reviews, like I mentioned, way station locator, truck specific routing, parking and way scales kind of everything you might need as an interoperator to live your daily life. We've got in the app so that just continues to drive. Not just kind of that initial download, but continued engagement Over time though certainly over, you know, since the yielding mandate passed in 2018, we've been open to other forms of engaging with our carriers. We're seeing, certainly, plenty of brokers want to track via ELD right now because it's, you know, one time set up, set it and forget it, and it's often more consistent than mobile tracking. It's not the same with carriers. It can be more of a challenge to get them, to convince or get them bought into ELD tracking when it's often actually better for them. There's no safety concern because they don't have to deal with the phone. They, you know, again set it and forget it. Tracking is not going away. It's definitely becoming a ubiquitous requirement, especially in a market like this. So we've we've really focused on building on our ELD network as well, to build, you know, an alternative for carriers to track with and to engage with us with, which has gone really well, and I think that's also just kind of a trust play. You know, when the mandate came out in 2018, trust was probably here. Now it's like just up here and every little bit makes a difference and our goal is to really just meet carriers where they are, however they are. So I talked to them. The mobile app talked about ELDs. We just released a another tracking. I guess I'll call it modality in our text to track and what's up, to track functionality, which is for those drivers who do not want to download a mobile app, may not have an ELD or do not want to integrate their ELD. Brokers can automate sending a one-time SMS or WhatsApp message to them to click on, share their location and go back to driving. So we've really, you know our our goal is to meet the carrier where they are. Mobile app were dedicated to continue to prove out value, which continues to drive our adoption rate, but we're absolutely open to other ways to engage carriers.

Blythe Brumleve: 3:45:21

And it you know, it's one thing during one of these interviews that I was listening to that that I really resonated with is that a lot of the tools that are in trucker tools are giving the ability to the carrier, especially the small owner operators and the small fleets. I think something like 80% of your carriers on your platform have five trucks or less. You listened to all those interviews.

Kary Jablonski: 3:45:42

Great job, I'm so impressed.

Blythe Brumleve: 3:45:44

But one thing I really liked what you said is that you're giving tools to the smaller carriers that the big ones already have, and I think you know everything we've seen over, you know the yellow situation over the last few weeks, even months. Giving access to these similar tools and these similar similar like selling advantages for these smaller carriers seems like a really important play.

Kary Jablonski: 3:46:04

Absolutely yeah, and that's again not as kind of. The founding vision of trucker tools was to democratize and improve opportunity, improve life and the lifestyle of the owner operator out there. So that is super core to our mission to this day, and you know we're constantly looking at our app thinking what else can we be providing that is going to allow the owner operator to be more competitive, to have better intelligence, to make better decisions? Just a couple of examples we integrated with FreightWave Sonar last year. We give away track rate data and Sonar data to small carriers for free. So huge shout out to our friends at FreightWaves for that partnership which helps our owner operators make better decisions about which lanes to bid on, where they should go, what rates they should be pursuing. And we've got a couple of other things in the works right now in the vein of partnerships that we're hoping to launch within the mobile app that are just going to give owner operators more and small fleets more access to whether it's capital, whether it's credit, just help them kind of open up their opportunity set.

Blythe Brumleve: 3:47:04

And I think what one more important tool that you said too is that the digital bookings are the future for small carriers and contractors. You said that about a year ago. That was on BCB Live. I'm keeping my interviews oh my God, I'm done so many. Where did you find all this? It's like all on YouTube. Youtube is like. I love using it or using other interviews to give me that baseline and see where, see what the I guess the predictions were, the thought process were a time here to go and see if we're anywhere closer to that, Because you did say that about a year ago that digital bookings are the future for small carriers and contractors and you want to try to get rid of the one load wonders by helping carriers and brokers develop those relationships. So do you think that we're closer to that reality of the digital broker being the future, or are there still some ways to go?

Kary Jablonski: 3:47:55

So I think we are closer to the digital bookings being a core asset, a core capability of any brokerage. I think digital brokers and traditional brokerages are just kind of converging into one and the same and it's really all about being a tech enabled broker. If you go to the Uber flight floor or you go to the Convoy floor, it's going to look a lot like the Echo floor or the Coyote floor. So I don't really even, honestly, I think probably the biggest difference that there is, like on technology budgets and the kind of probably not even, though I mean these companies have massive tech budgets, which is awesome. They build great technology. So anyway, all to say, I do think that prediction is trending in the right direction Great job, carrie and that we've seen, at least from the data that we track and track with rules, a massive increase in the number of digital interactions, digital bookings that carriers are making and completing on our platform over the year. I think that's driven by a couple of things. One, carriers are chasing freight everywhere. The market is still down, so carriers need to be nimble and the fastest way to try to book a load is to make a digital offer or, even better, book loads completely digitally with a book at now or an automated negotiation, which is another feature that we have. I also think just kind of there are these secular tailwinds of mobile adoption of. You know, jen or the baby boomers are kind of aging out of being drivers. You've got millennials and even Gen Z now aging in their folks who grew up on a cell phone. They're always going to be looking to make mobile decision or use mobile first, if not web first. So I think that's absolutely happening. But I don't see digital brokerages disintermediating traditional brokerages. I just see the adoption of technology continuing to be kind of the number one success determinant of a traditional brokerage. If they're able to build a great tech stack, keep it really up to date and create a really powerful network through that technology, they're going to be great.

Blythe Brumleve: 3:50:06

It almost feels like table stakes now for a lot of brokerages that you have to have some of these capabilities, Otherwise you're going to spend all day on the damn phone.

Kary Jablonski: 3:50:13

Oh yeah, you just you can't. There's no way to exist, especially again in a market like this. I know a lot of customers and folks in the industry brokerages I've talked to while the market's been down stressed they just can't be investing technology now, which I get. You got to run a business and you got to run it lean while rates are what they are right now. But I do think to your point exactly. There is so much that you can automate and if you start thinking about how can technology spend not replace headcount spend, but actually increase the productivity of headcount and reduce the pace at which you need to add headcount into the future, it can make a lot of sense to invest right now 100 percent, because I think that for a lot of these businesses, they're looking to find ways to gain that little bit of an edge and if you can offer a suite of tools, which obviously Trucker Tools is giving that to the carriers.

Blythe Brumleve: 3:51:06

but on the broker side of things, what does that, I guess, experience look like for them? Are they using the mobile app? Are they using a desktop version? What does that experience look like for them?

Kary Jablonski: 3:51:16

So, our belief is MS integration first. We want to be operating wherever the core workflow of the broker is. So we've got integrations with dozens and dozens of TMSs, ranging from the Cadillacs Super Large, in-house certainly custom built TMSs, really, really big brokerages, all the way down to the long tail of TMSs, some of the highly high volume smaller TMS models. So our core products you can think about. We've got our low tracking product for brokerages and our digital freight matching, digital booking product for brokerages. All of them are integrated fully in these TMSs so that when a broker on the floor, a carrier, sales rep, what have you is working on a load, they can simply automatically initiate tracking with the driver phone number, which they should already have in the TMS. They receive offers directly into the TMS so that they can review them in real time. They can set information about counter offers or automatic accepts, rejects based on offer information that comes in to speed up the time from bid to book. So with all the broker experience is 95% of it is happening within a TMS. We do have web portals for digital freight matching and our low tracking platforms, should that ever be of interest or abuse for brokerages. But our belief just again based on what our customers tell us is. They do not want hundreds of tabs open on several screens, like every broker has. They just want the team focused on a single workflow. So that's where we plug in.

Blythe Brumleve: 3:52:48

Yeah, you don't want like 27 monitors. I know like some brokers like that their offices have at least two monitors, sometimes it's four. It gets crazy, it's nuts.

Kary Jablonski: 3:52:58

And then you always got the TVs on all over the place just tracking everything that's going on in the world. It's a fun atmosphere.

Blythe Brumleve: 3:53:05

And it's one of those like how do you guys focus? Like, as a marketer who stayed on the outside of the broker floor, I'm like I don't know how any of you people get anything done on the broker floor.

Kary Jablonski: 3:53:14

Oh yeah, and everyone's on the phone and talking to each other.

Blythe Brumleve: 3:53:17

It's nuts, it's fun, yeah, it's fun to like walk into, like as I'm going to get my coffee, like, oh, yeah, it's exciting, and then I go back to my quiet little like writing hole in order to actually like get some stuff done Now for you know, I guess the broker mindset what does, I guess the the moot move to digital freight. Is it a good one? Is it a more efficient one? Is it? You know, when we say a digital brokerage, are we more referring to like AI and automation, or is it like kind of a combination of like people skills, automation and AI?

Kary Jablonski: 3:53:51

I think it's the latter there. It's the combination of all the above. Again, I think every brokerage is going to be tech enabled, if they aren't already right now, and the winners are going to be who? A combination of two things. Two is building and buying, licensing the best, most efficient technology stocks to empower their people to do more and be more efficient. Bookie more loads per day is kind of a core metric there, Combined with the team. Who is most adept at building and sustaining relationships with shippers and carriers Like this is. You know, you can't just flip a switch and overnight. Everything has gone digital. There's always I'm firmly believe there's always going to be a human element to freight, and that digital tools like ours, AI enabled tools, are served to make the people who are making the freight move more efficient and more productive, cut out more of the noise so they can spend more of their time on kind of value generating activities, whether that's landing a new shipper client or, you know, helping a carrier through a particularly challenging exception management situation, rather than, you know, building loads manually into TMS, making phone calls to track drivers, emailing back and forth to negotiate on a load.

Blythe Brumleve: 3:55:02

And it almost sounds like that's where, like the carrier relationship management part comes into play for a lot of these brokerages. Is that a safe assumption that that's where they can kind of pull their carrier base and keep like the good ones on one list and then on another list is kind of the secondary? Is that kind of how it works?

Kary Jablonski: 3:55:18

Exactly so. Our carrier network, like I mentioned, we've got 315,000 MCs on our network. Plenty of brokerages we work with have carrier networks into the low six figures kind of. Your average brokerage, I would argue, has several dozen thousand carriers in the network. That is a lot of carriers, and if you think about how brokerages have run for the last you know, several decades, it's been a lot of tribal knowledge, pen and paper, excel spreadsheets that may or may not be shared with everyone, mate. You know there's version control issues, everything's manually stored. So our vision for a carrier relationship management system was to digitize all of that information and turn it into a data advantage so that brokers, as opposed to searching for information on which carrier is the best carrier to use for lane or I've kind of one off strange load I can't remember who it was that so-and-so called last time they have all that information digitally at their fingertips in a way that is getting proactively pushed to them and allowing them to engage with those carriers, ideally through digital first channels. But also, you know, we've got email addresses and phone numbers in there so that they can just get the right load to the right carrier faster.

Blythe Brumleve: 3:56:27

Now, on the other like CRM side of things, like the internal, like Trucker Tools CRM, how are you, I guess, approaching you know different carriers and different brokerages to join the Trucker Tools platform? Because it seems like you guys are really like all over the place like podcast interviews, speeches, like I feel like I see you at every trade show, like what does that, what does like the CRM or the marketing high level plan, look like for Trucker Tools?

Kary Jablonski: 3:56:54

Yeah, well, I appreciate that. We've definitely focused the last year on really getting out into the market. So good to hear someone has taken note. I really appreciate it.

Blythe Brumleve: 3:57:03

I feel like I've seen you everywhere.

Kary Jablonski: 3:57:06

Well, we have an awesome team. I would be remiss not to say that. First, our VP of marketing, alex Alvator. Our VP of sales, adlon Adams. Our COO, rohit Bezawada those phenomenal rock stars. We've got amazing product managers, jessamyn and Jarrett. So just kind of top to bottom, our team is awesome, which makes my job consequently very easy. I'd say the we have been super focused on the broker 3PL market. We do work with shippers, you know we're a great solution for them in many cases. But I think when you think about some of the other visibility players in the space, there is a bit of lack of focus and overextension and something we've been deliberate about. Maybe it's because we're private equity backed, which has kind of forced us to be deliberate and thoughtful about who we go after and why. We have just been focused on solving broker 3PL problems and, like I mentioned a couple you know 10 minutes ago, with the virtuous cycle as we onboard more brokerages onto our platform or sorry, we kickstarted things with mobile app for carriers aggravated a ton of carrier supply makes it very easy. Brokers are always looking to build connections with carriers. That is kind of their number one asset as well. It makes it very easy for us to onboard brokers onto our low tracking or digital freight matching platform. Getting more you know loads on our platform, becoming a more ubiquitous you know player in the space drives even more carriers to want to join because they're more likely to be asked to track through tracker tools. We want to make tracking with us the easiest, most seamless carrier experience possible. They're looking for freight right now, so they want to get on tracker tools loads marketplace so they can see what's available, make some offers, maybe engage with the brokerages that they haven't worked with before. So they're going to download the app or go onto our web portal. So the go to market motion is definitely kind of one of this flywheel, but we do. We get out in the market a ton. We want to be talking to customers. I talk to dozens of customers every week, dozens of prospects myself, to get feedback on. You know, this is what we're thinking about building from a product perspective and I get some feedback from you. Hey, what are your biggest problems right now when it comes to visibility and how can that inform what we're building? So it's you know it's not. Our technology is very, very impressive, but I think the way we go about going to market is not, I'd say, rocket science and that we are just in the business of solving broker problems and giving carriers opportunities to make their lives easier. So you know you'll see us at trade shows all over the place. We're going to Banyan in September, mcleod in September, tia in October. So you know we're always out in the market. We've got our sales team going to meet with prospects constantly in person. And again, huge shout out to our marketing team for just upping our presence online. I think freight seems to live on LinkedIn is one thing I've noticed in much time in the industry. So we're definitely growing our presence there.

Blythe Brumleve: 4:00:01

Yeah, it's one of those things where the freight community is really strong on LinkedIn and it's starting to grow on Twitter, which is kind of or X whatever the platform's name is, I'm still going to call it Twitter, I think.

Kary Jablonski: 4:00:14

I know I wonder if we just always going to call it Twitter. I think we're always going to call it Twitter.

Blythe Brumleve: 4:00:17

Yeah, I'm like it's just doesn't flow off the two.

Kary Jablonski: 4:00:21

Oh yeah.

Blythe Brumleve: 4:00:22

Well, I did see a freight wave. Ceo Craig Fuller said last night he's kind of coining the term, freight X is like the freight community on Twitter and he said you know if you have any friends in freight, invite them on Twitter. So that that's my, that's my, my spiel to her for on freight or on Craig's side of things.

Kary Jablonski: 4:00:40

I love Craig's Twitter, so maybe I'm not. I'm very much a kind of lurker on Twitter, where I'm always on there but I'm never. I haven't participated in freight X yet, but maybe this is my sign to get involved.

Blythe Brumleve: 4:00:54

Yes, absolutely. Now I was going to go into a few different like rapid fire questions where I like to ask you know, folks who come on the show like, what is your favorite social media platform? It kind of sounds maybe like LinkedIn, or is there, you know, a surprise?

Kary Jablonski: 4:01:07

I think it's LinkedIn which is really sad. But yeah, I'm not, I'm not big on Instagram or Facebook and I lurk on Twitter, but I think, especially since joining the freight industry specifically, my LinkedIn usage is probably just taken off. I'd have to go.

Blythe Brumleve: 4:01:29

What about? What is your favorite SAS tool that's not your own favorite SAS tool that you can't live without?

Kary Jablonski: 4:01:37

I think it's got to be Slack Close second for notion. I don't know if folks know notion out there, but it's our. We use that for knowledge management at Trucker tools and it's amazing. So one of those two.

Blythe Brumleve: 4:01:51

Yeah, because I will use a similar tool called ClickUp, but I don't know where I would be without some kind of like project management tool. It has to be something that I use every day like a Bible. Okay, so I know that you announced a loach or partnership. Any cool other partnerships that you have going on with Trucker tools or coming down the pipeline?

Kary Jablonski: 4:02:13

Yeah, so, like I mentioned, we're partnered with FreightWave Sonar and we're always looking at deep in that relationship. They're phenomenal partner of ours and Sonar tool could not be more informative for brokers and carriers or like. So we're continuing to deepen that relationship on our mobile app for carriers and also for brokerages. You know we're always adding new TMS platforms to the Trucker tools ecosystem. So, like I mentioned, banyan, we're having their conference in September. They're really making moves in the FTL space right now. They're an exciting one that we've got going, I think, another big one that's a little different than a traditional partnership, but I mentioned very briefly we are now on WhatsApp and, given the near shoring trend so much freight moving from Mexico into the US we saw a real need to build communication channels between brokers and carriers. That you know happened where Mexican carriers tend to communicate, which is WhatsApp. So we're now live with WhatsApp. You can get WhatsApp At any time. You've got a plus five, two phone number on Trucker tools. We're always going to default to communicating with that driver to have them download the app, send status updates are kind of one time text to track. It's all going to happen through WhatsApp, which is awesome.

Blythe Brumleve: 4:03:31

That's super cool. I mean, I'm just completely fascinated by the near shoring phenomenon that's been going on. I even just like the concept of you know some of the infrastructure that has to be established in like South America and road construction, and you know, it's just. I think that that is probably the most fascinating part of the globe right now. Yeah, you brought that that part up where you're incorporating the technology into systems that already exist within those regions of the world. Okay, so you've been a full time CEO for a trucker tool since early 2020 or no early 2022, I think exactly. So you've been on the job for close to two years now. What do you think has been the biggest challenge that you've learned from since that time?

Kary Jablonski: 4:04:16

That's a great question. I'm saying the freight market I don't think counts because everyone's willing with that, but it is. You know the timing of when I joined the business was funny and that you know I joined in. I joined as our COO in late 21. It's like everyone's, you know, just investing in technology and everything is great. And then, kind of as soon as I stepped into the CEO role, things took a turn. We've absolutely grown very, very healthily through it. I think it thanks to our kind of product diversification. But that has definitely been challenging To. I think a unique challenge of our industry is because it is so cyclical and markets boom and bust frequently and hard. You need to be nimble and have solutions to problems that different customers feel in different markets. You know, talking to brokers in a down market is very different than talking to brokers in an up market. So I think that's probably been the biggest challenge I've faced is how do we, you know, pivot the way we're talking about the business to make sure that we're talking to the current needs of our broker customers? And what that's looked like for us right now is really focusing on the low tracking side on, you know, additional nodalities in addition to mobile tracking. So our yielding network we've really grown quickly. Our text of track we're excited about. And then on the digital great matching side, moving from less, from a kind of a carrier sourcing perspective to more of a digital bookings automation perspective.

Blythe Brumleve: 4:05:46

Yeah, it almost sounds like you guys are. You know with how much you talk to your customers. I'm sure you're already like well ahead of the game when it comes to product development and the product roadmap, and it's coming down the pipeline. Now a couple final questions. Anything that we can be on the lookout for from like a release perspective or like product roadmap that you would want to share, or, you know, new announcements, anything like that?

Kary Jablonski: 4:06:09

Yeah. So on the product front, we're really excited over, you know, the next six or so weeks for launching our carrier validation concept, which fraud has also been. I can't believe we haven't talked about fraud. I know, I just, I just I had an interview without talking about fraud, which feels kind of nice, but it's obviously been a huge, huge topic in the space and there's so many interesting businesses out there doing their part to combat it, and what we're doing is introducing our carrier validation concept, which is going to, every couple of months, force every single carrier who has signed up with trucker tools over 315,000 of them to revalidate their identity by answering a series of questions that are kind of akin the trucking version of what your mother's made a name. So what loads or what lanes have you run over the last two months? Which broker did you work with last week so that we're really you know how? What type of equipment do you run, so that we can build a lot of confidence into our brokers that the carriers who are interacting digitally with on trucker tools are who they claim to be?

Blythe Brumleve: 4:07:19

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 $1500, 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 and 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.