In The News
How We Got Started in Expediting: Heather and Jason Hutchens
Heather and Jason Hutchens--who you might recognize from their Our Life on the Road video blog on ExpeditersOnline.com--were looking for a career that would allow them to work and travel together. And after several months of extensive research in 2012, they discovered the opportunity they were seeking: expedited trucking. So, in January 2013, the Hutchens launched their new career together and haven't looked back.
Prior to expediting, Jason had worked for a hot-shot delivery courier company for about 12 years; Heather worked in the eyecare industry as a technician for 22 years. "I would help doctors with the eye exams, fit people for glasses and contact lenses, things like that," says Heather.
So, how did Jason and Heather get started in expedited trucking? What did they discover in their research? And what challenges have they faced along the way? ExpeditersOnline.com recently spoke with the Hutchenses to learn more about their story.
EO: Jason, you came from the courier side of things. And Heather, you came from the eyecare industry. What exactly lead you both to a career in expedited trucking?
Jason: We were tired of the 9-to-5 grind. We were tired of paying for our house that we lived in, that we were working really hard for but weren't really able to enjoy. It was too much for us at the time, and we were really looking for a way to downsize our lifestyle and do a career together where we would be able to work together all the time. And we also love to travel. One time, we were travelling up the coast of California and camping out in the back of our SUV. We were like, "Well, if we can do that, why not get paid to do it? That's when we really started doing the research on expediting."
EO: When you were researching opportunities where you guys could work together, travel together and get paid for it, how did you come across expedited trucking as the answer?
Jason: I had started looking into trucking, primarily researching 18-wheelers. And, at first, we were thinking that Heather would just ride along and do the paperwork, and I would drive the truck. Then, I forget how I came across it online, but I saw a picture of a straight truck with a big custom sleeper on it, and I was like, "Ahh, that's so perfect for us!" That would give us all the amenities we needed to really camp out on the road and enjoy ourselves. Then I started researching how to get into that kind of truck and that's when I came across ExpeditersOnline.
EO: What did you do then? What was your first step to finding the right opportunity to get into a truck like that?
Heather: Talking me into it. (Laughter.)
Jason: That was the hardest part. Heather didn't really have confidence of being able to jump into it. She has always been real reluctant on trying new things, but I spent a little bit of time talking to her about it. We were in the process of considering getting out of our home, and I spent about a good six to seven months reading everything I could on the EO forum, learning everything I could, really trying to grasp an idea of what we could expect out here on the road.
I also came across Bob and Linda Caffee's blog, and I would share with Heather some of the really good ones that Linda would write from a female perspective of being out there on the road. That helped build the confidence for her that, if Linda can do it, probably she can do it, too.
Heather: Jason went and got his Class A license in the process of all of that. And once he got his license, we had the opportunity to sell our home [in November 2012], and we were like, "You know what, this is the time. We're going to do it." And we just decided to jump in.
Jason: It worked out perfect because we were really reluctant on finding a fleet owner to drive for. Back when I was researching it, the biggest horror story was finding a good owner that you could trust. But right when we were selling our house, I found an ad on ExpeditersOnline by Dave Corfman [a fleet owner who has been in the expediting industry for nearly three decades].
Jason: I saw his ad and called him immediately. I knew we wanted to work for him because, all that time I had been researching ExpeditersOnline, I had seen him reply to newbies all the time. He gave a lot of really good advice, and I knew we had to jump on that opportunity to be able to work for him.
EO: How did you guys decide between being a driver versus being an owner-operator?
Jason: Because, to start out, I wanted to make sure we were going to be able to do it together, that we would like it. I knew I would like it. I was really worried that Heather might not find her comfort zone with it. Then working for such a great owner has kind of kept us as drivers so far. We're still reluctant on making a big [truck] purchase but being with such a good owner also really helps maintain the comfort zone of just being drivers right now.
EO: What exactly were you looking for in a fleet owner?
Jason: Somebody who has a lot of experience in the business. Somebody who was handling their business properly. Mostly we didn't want to get in with an owner that was just starting out themselves.
Heather: The other was the stability of the owner--someone who knew the business and knew what they were doing and would be helpful to us.
Jason: Yeah, not just go put us out there and not be willing to really show us the ropes. We wanted somebody who would teach us and be a good partner.
EO: What have been some of the biggest challenges you've faced in expediting since you started in January 2013?
Jason: My biggest challenge has been sleeping in the truck while going down the road. It doesn't matter how comfortable your bed is or how many blankets and pillows you've got, some of these roads are rough, and you get tossed all over the place back there sometimes. This is especially the case if your co-driver hits stop-and-go traffic and people are cutting them off. That's been my biggest challenge: really getting a good night sleep when I'm back in the sleeper trying to get my ten hour break.
Heather: Sleep has definitely been a challenge. It was also a challenge for me to learn how to handle the bigger truck and be away from home and away from family for extended periods. But, as the years have gone by, I've gotten used to it. Often I don't even want to go home; I'd rather just stay out on the road.
EO: What advice do you guys have to give to others who are considering getting into expediting?
Heather: I would say, first of all, do your research. Make sure that you have researched everything you can and know what you're getting yourself into before you get out here. We always tell folks to drive for an owner first, if you can, because you don't want to put a bunch of money into a truck until you know this is right for you.
Jason: I would say definitely the research and then really give it time. Don't read on a website for two or three weeks and think that you've read everything you need to know and come across every situation that could go on out here. Really put in some time, put in a good two to three months or more. Read ExpeditersOnline every day, every possible second that you have. Really try to learn every possible mishap that can happen out here so you're prepared for it.