Overdrive Magazine

July 2019

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July 2019 | Overdrive | 39 E Q U I P M E N T A fter testing the waters of independence, Rich Rukstalis in 2011 returned to Landstar as a leased owner-opera- tor, hauling dry van loads and transi- tioning away from working the spot market as a reefer hauler. A year into his stint with Landstar, he had a revelation. "I looked at the numbers, and I said, 'Now wait a min- ute. If I had my own trailer, I could get an extra 7%,' " he says of the percent- age of revenue rate that Landstar pays its owner-operators. That is, Rukstalis could score 72% of Landstar's paid rate rather than the 65% he was earn- ing. "Why should I give them the 7%?" he asked himself then. Not long after, he was the proud owner of a new 2012 Great Dane dry van trailer, which he bought for $30,000. His insurance and payment on the five-year loan totaled $800 a month, but it enabled him to earn an extra $1,200 to $1,300 a month, he says, netting him as much as $500 extra in income. Such higher percentage offers for trailer ownership are standard fare at many carriers — even smaller ones. For owner-operators willing to make the investment and handle the maintenance costs, stronger profits could follow, as well as ownership of a major asset that generally lasts longer than a tractor and requires less maintenance. Trailer arrangements such as Landstar's are typical, says Todd Amen, president of owner-operator financial services firm ATBS, which works with about 15,000 owner- operators, of which about 80% are leased. Many carriers, whether using percentage or per-mile compensation, offer 5% to 10% more pay to owner- operators who bring their own trailer. Owner-operators can "go from earning about 68% to 72% if you're Max Heine Pulling its weight E Q U I P M E N T Buying your own trailer can be a smart investment, with immediate payback, as long as you can live with its limitations. With market conditions and new tax incentives, now could be the time to make the move. BY JAMES JAILLET An older dry van with basic specs can be bought for around $10,000. Some newer ones can go into the upper-$30,000 range.

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