In The News
Part 2: Why I Chose a Straight Truck for Expediting
This is the second installment of a three-part series to introduce you to each type of vehicle typically used for expediting. The first article covered "Why I Chose a Tractor" and the third article will address "Why I Chose a Cargo Van."
Tom and Tina Evans are fleet owners with TNT Expedited Services Inc. and owner-operators leased to Load One Transportation & Logistics. They started in expediting with a straight truck in 2001 and currently drive a 2005 Freightliner Business Class, with a 96-inch sleeper and 22-foot cargo box. In July, they'll be taking delivery of a new truck at Expedite Expo 2016 in Lexington, Ky., which will be the sixth truck in their fleet.
If you're new to expediting, you might be wondering: what exactly defines a "straight truck" vs. a tractor-trailer? A straight truck is the combination of the cab, sleeper, and cargo box all attached to a single chassis that's usually rated up to 33,000 lbs. gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR). A tractor is a heavier rated truck that pulls a separate cargo trailer, instead of the cargo box being permanently installed onto the truck as a single unit.
So, why did Tom and Tina choose a straight truck for expediting?
At the time Tom and Tina started in 2001, the most common vehicle used in expediting was the straight truck -- and it still is today. Why? "The biggest reason at the time we entered into the market was that the straight truck was the most productive in terms of the number and type of loads you could get," says Tom. "Vans weren't very prominent, and there weren't a lot of semis in expediting at the time, either."
Since the truck is a single unit, it's easier to drive than a tractor-trailer, says Tom. "You can pretty much take it wherever you need to. It's enough of a challenge to maneuver a straight truck that has 25 feet behind you, let alone trying to drag around a trailer where you've got 53 feet behind you."
Cargo vans are even easier to drive, but the limitation with the van, from Tom and Tina's perspective, is space, which makes for tighter sleeping quarters -- and profit margins.
"The straight truck provides a much better lifestyle on the road, plus a reduced cost on the road from the fact that we aren't as apt to get motel rooms," says Tom. "We can actually cook, bring more food with us, store more food, and take more clothing. It's just having a better option to live on the road at a reduced expense than what we thought the van would provide."
What advice do Tom and Tina offer new expediters on how to decide what type of vehicle is right for them?
"The biggest thing is for each individual to weigh out their own situation and decide what they are going to need to survive, what they want as far as their income potential, and what risks they're willing to take as far as purchase goes," says Tina. "The trucks are becoming quite expensive, so you have weigh that risk and the time for return on investment. And make sure you're willing to put in the hard work. If you're not willing to be out there and work 40 weeks a year, minimum, you're probably not going to want to get into the truck side of this business and spend a bunch of money. If you want to work a little bit less, you might be able to swing it with a used van just to get into the market."