Expediter Profile: Bill Hosler
"I think as business becomes more competitive, expedited freight will be more of a neccessity to stay ahead of your competitors. Faster service to the customer, better customer satisfaction. I also think e-commerce will help us benefit because larger LTL services may have trouble keeping up with demand."
So says "Wild" Bill Hosler, an expediting driver from Churubusco, IN, about 15 miles from Ft Wayne. An expediting driver since the mid-90's, this 35 year old Hoosier native has seen the changes in this business, all from the perspective of a subcontractor driving for a truck owner.
"I was born in Ft Wayne, IN, but grew up in another small Indiana town. I've lived in Churubusco, IN off and on for most of my life."
"I suppose I had a typical small town Hoosier upbringing; when I was young, drinking with buddies and tractor pulls were our biggest interests. I've spent many a night in the back of a pickup nursing a six-pack and watching a bugger zapper do it's thing. Some cheap entertainment!"
"I attended Indiana University, where I majored in Criminal Justice but left before graduation. I've worked a variety of odd jobs; fast food, car rental, car detailing and vacuum cleaner sales, just to name a few."
"I spent seven years with various private security companies. While in that line of work, I was shot at and stabbed, all in the line of duty. I also spent 2 years as a reserve police officer in Allen County IN, working in the jails. Sometime during that period I was married, but the relationship ended in 1991."
Introduction to expediting
Bill got started in expediting in 1995 when he made contact with an owner of a truck which was leased to Roberts Express. Bill says, "This owner had never driven a truck himself, so he lacked a realistic idea of trucking. A recruiter had filled his head with erroneous ideas about income potential and other fantasy stories!"
"We had a terrible deal with that owner, and thankfully, we only drove for him for a month. The money was so tight that sometimes it was either food or fuel."
The other part of the "we" that Bill mentioned is Mike Gilstrap. Bill and Mike have been friends for 30 plus years, meeting when they were children.
Bill says, "As seventh graders, we decided that we were going to be trucking company owners. We were obsessed with trucks and truck driving and we had every intention of being big truck drivers when we grew up.
"Mike and I remained in contact over the years and when the opportunity with our first owner came up, I first talked Mike into co-driving, and then I talked the owner into running a team."
After that rude introduction to the world of expediting, Bill and Mike signed on with owners Bruce and Wanda out of Ft Wayne. This couple had a better truck with a better deal and who were leased to Roberts Express as well.
Bill and Mike stayed with that arrangement until the summer of 1997 when they found an owner leased to Landstar Express America(LEA), and began driving for him. Bill reports that the truck he offered them was in such bad shape that they could only stand it for four months before leaving.
Fortunately, Bruce and Wanda reentered the picture by leasing one of their trucks to LEA, and Bill and Mike made the jump over to the couple's truck.
After a short time in that truck, circumstances forced the team to switch over to another LEA owner, whom they stayed with for a year, before making the move to drive for their current owner, Mitch Daczuk from Ft Wayne, who is leased to FedEx Custom Critical.
Bill tells us, "Most of our runs are pretty typical, run-of-the-mill loads. Mike and I did have one run that stood out; we hauled parts for President Clinton's helicopter to the presidential hangar in Quantico, VA.
"In our driving partnership, Mike likes to drive during the daylight hours and I prefer running through the night. It's worked pretty well over the last seven years. We usually stay out 21 days and then stay home for about a week."
After driving someone else's truck for a number of years, Bill says, "I've considered buying my own truck for some time, but my credit was damaged a number of years back and I think financing will present some problems. Until than, I'll continue to run an owner's truck."
"I've thought about going back to school, possibly for computer training."
Bill and Mike are currently running in a 1996 Kenworth T300, powered by a 300hp Cummins coupled to a 9-speed Eaton. The truck features a 60-inch Double Eagle sleeper with a double bunk and TV/VCR in front of a 24-foot cargo box.
"Some of the benefits of expediting," Bill tells us, are being my own boss and not having someone looking over my shoulder at work. Everyday is an new adventure."
"I enjoy meeting new people and experiencing different parts of the country. Expediting has allowed me to see things one doesn't see in the average 9-5 job."
To fill those non-driving hours: "My interests include old Ford pickups, politics, music, old TV shows and movies. I also enjoy the Internet and building web sites."
"My co-driver and long-time friend Mike is a down-home country boy, who is happiest on the farm. His all-consuming passion is antique farm and garden tractors. Mike and his dad, who was a factory-trained John Deere mechanic for 40 years, have over 30 antique tractors on their property in Indiana.
As an expediting veteran, "Wild" Bill has developed some theories about this business:
"If you are paying $80,000 for a truck, you must be able to squeeze every mile out of it. Not only will the truck last longer but also fuel mileage will increase which will lower your cost per mile."
"You must know your cost per mile. You cannot makea good business decision unless you know what your operating costs are. It will help you know if the load offered to you is profitable or whether it will push you back farther from your goals."
Good records keeping
"A company may have a great product but will fail if they can't track their profit and loss. Records are proof of your past successes and shows you the way to future goals."
Must be versatile and fearless
"In this business, if you can haul something the other guy can't, you will get the run while he sits. Tag axles, longer boxes, additional equipment will help you get a load you wouldn't have gotten otherwise."
"I also believe you should invest in the latest technology. A laptop or a wireless PDA can be used to search for loads that you may never have found otherwise."