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Driver Lifestyles

Driver Profile: Mike Klinger

By Jeff Jensen
Posted Feb 25th 2003 4:43AM

mike_klinger.jpgMike Klinger is an expediter, but an expediter with just a little different approach to the business.

You see, Mike has been running an expedited "dedicated" run for the last three years, and as he puts it, "It's almost like having a real job!"

Mike is a cargo van owner/operator leased with Tri-State Expedited Service, Inc.  He was born and raised in Defiance, OH, and still resides in the North Western Ohio city with his wife and two children.  His wife is a secretary with the local school system and his son, 20, and daughter, 19, are college students.

"After High School," Mike says, "I put in four years at college, graduating with a degree in business administration, specializing in transportation.  I then worked for a regional transportation company for 16 years until, because of the company's bankruptcy, I was downsized."

"I tried other vocations such as selling cars and insurance, and I also worked for a couple of small local trucking companies as a dispatcher and office worker."

In 1997, Mike discovered expediting and liked what Tri-State Expedited Service, Inc of Perrysburg, OH had to offer.  He worked as an "express" expediter for his first few years in the business and says that he enjoyed the variety of places he visited.

"I love expediting; there's different everyday and the driver gets to enjoy the changing scenery.  I compare this business to that of being a fireman; you never know where you're going next, only that it has to be done now."

Just about three years ago, Tri-State secured an account with a Toledo-based company that had a dedicated run from Toledo to Pittsburgh, PA.  Tri-State asked Mike if he would be interested, and he said he would give it a try.

"It appears that the previous carrier handling this dedicated run didn't work out," Mike says. You see, there's often some waiting time that goes with this run, but only up to an hour or so.  The drivers from the original carrier would complain about the wait, so the company got fed up and contacted Tri-State.  It's funny, the waiting time is no big deal."

"This run totals up to 3100 miles a week - Toledo to Pittsburgh and back.  It runs Monday-Friday, 5 days a week and it requires a substantial workday.  I leave the house at 11:30 am and get back home around 11:30 pm.  The loads can range anywhere from 200 lbs. to 3000 lbs - just right for a cargo van."

Mike adds, "Tri-State will occasionally find me a return load; that is, when they have no trucks in the Pittsburgh area, and if the load is coming back to the Western Ohio area, etc.  In addition to the dedicated trip, I will also take the occasional weekend load, usually a short run.  I help them and they help me."

Mike says that this run pays less than would comparable miles in "express" expediting, but says he trades that for, "the home time I enjoy and seeing my family on a daily basis."

This expediter takes care of business with a 2001 GMC 3500 extended van.  His first expediting van, also a GMC, was a gas-engine vehicle, so he thought he would try out a diesel in this truck.  It's a 6.5L diesel with 335,000 miles, "and I haven't had to touch the motor yet."  Fuel mileage averages around 18-19 mpg.

Mike states that he's happy with his carrier as well:  "I've been happy with Tri-State from Day One.  I've been content with dispatch, and the other people in office.  If I've had a question, there has always been someone to help me out." 

On the state of expediting, Mike says, "I think expediting will be a growing field because business needs their stuff right now.  I believe that e-commerce will continue to grow, driving companies to deliver more freight more rapidly." 

"As time goes on though, I think cargo vans will have a diminished role, it appears that the freight is changing; shippers want a lot of value for their money and they want bigger trucks that haul more."

Mike advises prospective expediters that, "You have to have patience, patience, patience.  Being in your own business, you have to keep good records, live within a budget, keep an eye on finances and take as much freight as you can get.

He continues, "I guess the most important thing would be the task of bookkeeping on the road. I keep daily records and account for all of my expenses on the road."

"It's also essential to keep the truck well-maintained and ready to roll at all times.  I have a super local dealer; if I have any problems with the truck, he gets me right in." 

Mike says his family is supportive of his expediting career and that they understand the absences.  He says he that when he was still working express, he tried to make it back home frequently, and now with the dedicated run, he enjoys the regular home time.

"I don't have any big quarrels with expediting, except the usual stuff like traffic, weather, etc.  I still enjoy running around the country and seeing different things.  Overall, I prefer dedicated because of the home and family time, but if it becomes necessary, I'll hit the road again."

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