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Need some straight answers!!!


Seasoned Expediter
I am a 31y/o laid off autoworker living in Detroit and considering a career change. Spent 7years in the plant and 5 years prior to that was spent as a truck driver working various local jobs, including a brief stint as company driver for a local mom and pop expediting company called REI which I think either ended up selling out to the man, or they folded, not sure which, all that I know is that I no longer see their trucks anymore. Needless to say that working for an expediting company driving a straight truck for $8.00 an hour didn't last very long. It's not that I didn't find the work to be enjoyable it's just that I soon got a better offer in a different line of work. I still have my class B with an X endorsement and a spotless MVR and due to the industry shakeup here in Detroit I am being forced to consider a career change and going back into expediting seems to be my only option as there are no jobs to speak of here in Michigan. I have no desire to work in a team for some fleet owner who will reap all of the rewards of my frustrations, so I refuse to work for anyone but myself. I have the means to purchase a straight-truck but am faced with the obstacle of trying to lease on to a company as a newbie and most won't consider leasing on a straight truck driver without at least 6 months experience. So I am looking to start out in a Sprinter with a sleeper-berth from Midway Specialty Vehicles, a regular cargo-van with an air-mattress behind the seat is not an option for me as I am 6'4" tall with a back problem so comfort is of the utmost importance to me. I am looking into signing on with either Tri-State or Express-1, Panther is not an option as I have heard enough about them to know that unbless you are a fleet-owner you will get screwed by them, or so it seems. Here's the dilemma, I need to net at least $4000.00 a month after expenses are paid and from what I read in the forums, doing this in a Sprinter doesn't seem to be possible. Am I being realistic here??? I live right off of the I-75 corridor in Detroit so I am in a good area for expedited freight. Any input from the veterans in the industry, especailly cargo-van operators who either work or have worked for either Tri-State or Express-1 in the past would be greatly appreciated. Thank you for taking the time to read this.


Veteran Expediter
I would suggest this;
Don’t have the expectation that you will not do well under a fleet owner. Many people have been successful without experience. One is Phil, aka A Team, he and his wife have seemed to have been doing well working for several fleet owners and we should hear form him soon. The reason I say this is that it is a lot easier to plan out the career move carefully where you don’t make a capital investment that you will later regret. Working for a fleet owner will allow you to learn and have more resources at hand, with a walk a way out.

Well don’t take this personal, but if you were laid off in the last 8 months or so, you have a lot of resources at your disposal that many of us don’t – thank you Granholm. Many jobs I ran across on several local job boards are not $8/hour jobs driving a straight truck, more like $12 or $14 an hour. I lost out on many jobs because the preference of hiring autoworkers because of some tax thing that Michigan created. I agree that there are no jobs here in this area and I blame our dumb governor.


Seasoned Expediter
Gavinsdad, hi, I have a sprinter and am making nearly what you need to clear with little lee-way and I have my bunk up on the wall and take 3 pallets sometimes. I will be hard for you to clear that much in a van on a reg basis. I think the advice to try a straight truck first before you put all your eggs in one basket is a good idea, but if you need to clear that much per month, you would almost have to team, I ran single in my straight truck and with expenses and all it was harder to clear that much. Just my opinion and flexibility is the key. I would stick to a large expedite co as I believe they could keep you busier. You can do it but it will require staying out and keepin the wheels rolling! Being out of your area is a big plus, good luck! ;)


Staff member
You can clear $4000 a month in a Sprinter as a solo driver, but only if you are willing to go out and stay out. If you feel the need to be home every weekend, that's going to severely limit the runs you accept, and will end up having you average, on the high end, of 1500 miles a week. I can't count how many drivers I've talked to who complain about not getting enough miles, averaging 1200-1500 a week, with most saying 1500 is a good week, and more often than not they're the ones who are deterined to be home every weekend.

If you stay out, some weeks you'll do 1500, or less, and other weeks you'll do 3000, or more. I average right around 2200 miles a week in my Sprinter. It was that way with Con-Way, and it has continued with Panther. Incidentally, a single, solo owner/operator doesn't get screwed by Panther any more than a fleet owner gets screwed by Panther. ;)

None of this is gonna matter much, though, if you're 6'4" with a bad back and are expecting to sleep comfortably in a bunk that's 8-inches shorter than you are. 66-inches is all you've got across that Sprinter. I'm 5'9" and sleep pretty comfortably, but it's right on the edge. I think that if I were another inch or so longer I might not sleep as well. Before you jump into a high-priced (but very nice) upfit such as the one from Midway, crawl into the bunk and make sure it'll do ya.

Bentz makes a longer bed, 30x76, one that folds up along one of the side walls in the cargo area of the van. Downside is there's no place to sleep while you're loaded.


Veteran Expediter
KW Express
o/o till i die

If this is a plan for a liftime then forget about sprinters.
go with the straight panther II didnt use to require any time except for tractors.Im sending you a pm that may help

highway star

Veteran Expediter
I don't think you can meet your financial goals in a Sprinter. I say this assuming you mean a 4k monthly average at the end of the year, and that you mean after ALL expenses. Fuel, maintainance and repairs, taxes, ect. I'm sure there are a few out there doing it, but they are a VERY small percentage of van O/Os.


Veteran Expediter
>So I am looking to start out in a Sprinter with a
>sleeper-berth from Midway Specialty Vehicles, a regular
>cargo-van with an air-mattress behind the seat is not an
>option for me as I am 6'4" tall with a back problem so
>comfort is of the utmost importance to me. I am looking
>into signing on with either Tri-State or Express-1, Panther
>is not an option as I have heard enough about them to know
>that unbless you are a fleet-owner you will get screwed by
>them, or so it seems. Here's the dilemma, I need to net at
>least $4000.00 a month after expenses are paid and from what
>I read in the forums, doing this in a Sprinter doesn't seem
>to be possible. Am I being realistic here???

I'm sure there will be others who disagree w/ me, but I'd say odds are that isn't possible. I would not advise anyone to get a new van to get into this industry (even if it's not a Sprinter) until they know for sure that they 1) enjoy it 2) know something about it 3)see that their financial goals can be met.

That's a 40K investment, give or take, that will be worth 30 in less than 6 months. If you live in the Detroit area, & can drive a straight truck, my suggestion would be to look into EGL or UPS. I know I seem to recommend EGL (and now I'll be doing it w/ UPS) a lot but the thing w/ these companies is ya can drive both local & OTR.

EGL may have owners looking for drivers which might not be a bad way to go at first. I know ya don't want to work for someone, but this will at least let ya see how much can be made before ya buy a truck yourself.

Whatever ya decide to do, good luck to ya. But I'd for sure hold off on buying a Sprinter. Ya don't want to get into this & find yourself trapped to a high payment. Also, if you have a back problem, driving the Sprinter might not be doing it any favors. I had a Sprinter & my back was often hurting at the end of the day driving that thing. Then it would get better & repeat the process the next day. Fred Flinstone had a more comfortable ride than I did. I'm sure not every Sprinter owner has had back problems, but I think even the most die hard Sprinter owner would have to fess up that those things weren't built for comfort.

Take care,


Expert Expediter
I agree with the others- I'm in a Sprinter and you'll be lucky if you can clear $4K/mo if you want to go home every weekend.
Here's the solution to your sleeping problem: I have a bunk that hangs on chains from the ceiling of my Sprinter with a twin-size mattress. I put it up when I have freight and let it down to sleep. I still have 14 feet of cargo space. This place built the bunk--- Good luck


Veteran Expediter
Straight truck is gona be your only option. You could use part of your savings until you get the 6 months Exp, than begin looking at different carriers if Panther or FECC do not live up to your expectations. BEWARE, some carriers want one year or two years expierence also.

With that said 4K average a month with any company you may find yourself short, very short. If its not a newer truck, you could find replacing an entire front end suspenseion $2K out on the road. These things never break at home, things happen and alot of things are at bad times when you least can afford it.

A large guy, with some health issues, and a need to clear 4K is alot to ask of yourself in this business. Yes it is possible, but its much easier when the pressure is not so tight. Just last month I had a great month even though it did not seem so, than the SHUT ENGINE EMERGENCY LIGHT CAME ON, this could have cost me big, very big, I was immidiatly sickened with the thought of thousands of dollars, well it was very easy PM with no hook on the front of the truck. This is how it can go, I thought my profits would dwindle to nothing or my emergency fund would be crushed.

One other suggestion to anyone reading this, I deduct $100. from every single load that goes into the books. This is my emergency fund for such cases, yeah it stings a little but not nearly as much as depending on 4K everymonth and than being suprised with a bill and having to now depend on 1,500 since the bill was 2,500 for the repair...

simon says

Veteran Expediter
Charter Member
I know for a fact that Tri-State was looking for regional, non-sleeper fitted straight trucks for local work. I am also from MI. and I don't want the little stuff... You can be home often and see how it goes. Grab a cheap motel room when you get out too far. I wouldn't suggest a van of any type for anyone. Glut is already the operative word...
If you get a straight truck that has the wheelbase set far enough back, you can easily put on a small sleeper later, without changing the wheelbase. Or you could get one of those jobs that has the jump-bunk behind the driver. I see at least several EPO1 trucks in MI. whenever I'm home. My advice generally is: ease into the water slowly as it might be too cold...


Veteran Expediter
I'm in a van I'm Home alot I make $800.00-$1000.00 a week before expenses.....Go with the Straight Truck.

Owner/Operator since 1979
Expediter since 1997
B Unit Semi Retired
Somedays are Diamonds and Somedays are Stones


Expert Expediter
Hi GavinsDad,

I am a fleet owner and I have also worked on the inside as a dispatcher for 4 years. My suggestion to you would be since you haven't done expediting to look into driving for someone first for at least 6 months to get your experience in the expediting business. You will either love it or hate it. It is not for everyone and there are alot of tricks you need to learn to be successful at it. As far as a sprinter goes, I'm not saying you couldn't make $4K in a month as a TEAM, taking every load sent to you and staying out 90% of the month. But most carriers have more A units than they really need and the loads take a little longer to get in between loads. If you insist on starting out as an owner, your best bet in my opinion is with a team C unit. Solos in expediting find it very hard to profit due to the time frames of the deliveries. Teams are often called on first for long loads due to drivers hours of service. I have 2 C units on my fleet of 4 and they do wonderful. Most straight truck loads are not that large or heavy so therefore, the C units are given the opportunity first for the loads. I hope this helps you out and I wish you lots of luck in whatever you decide. :) Trish


Expert Expediter
You need to get real about your self before you even think about driving a commercial vehicle?

80% of the people who start out in this business drop off with-in six months, and that is a fact!

You will be away from home at least three weeks at a time before you can go home, unless you do not want to make any money. Vans do not make the money a straight truck does.

After a long day on the road you will get to sleep in some truck stop away from home wondering if your wife? is cheating on you, the gilt of thinking about the kid's not spending time with them. Also those moments when a family problem comes-up and you were not there to make things all better.

(Trucking is not for every body) As you get older those legs & back etc you messed-up for some reason or another will come back to haunt you living out of a truck. Or how about eating at restaurants all the time & health risks from not eating right. Days before you can take that shower at a public truck stop or dealing with pan handlers
hookers and other filth that prays on drivers for cash. No my friend it is a very HARD life so think real good before you possibly make that move. (Good Luck)

Garman351 :'(