Last week a trucker named Lou phoned in and as the Czar usually does, he got Lou to reveal how much bread he brings home as an owner/operator. Lou doesn’t pretty well for himself.
Amid this shortage of truckers, owner/operators have the ability to pull in big money.
"Truck driver Eric Mesker doesn’t mind working nights, sometimes 14 or 15 hours at a time. There’s less traffic, and he gets to sleep in after a long shift.
The 37-year-old driver for Fort Worth-based Sisu Energy pulls those night shifts two to three weeks a month, hauling fracking sand for the transportation company serving the oil and gas industry. He spends the rest of the month with his family in North Texas.
And he’s bringing home between $14,000 to $15,000 each week he works."
Amid the supply chain issues and shortages of truckers, these owner/operators are pulling in big bucks.
Sisu Energy founders Jim Grundy says his top drivers are making $20,000-plus a week with one driver making $29,000 weekly.
“Grundy has 200 to 300 openings for truck operators in Texas, Louisiana and Mexico.
“Our top 10 percenters are doing $22,000, $23,000, $24,000 a week, but we’re not talking about 80% of our fleet that make $16 grand a week,” Grundy said. “When you separate that, of course, there’s over $700,000 a year in revenue for truck drivers. That’s more than the guys on Wall Street.”
But it still isn’t easy for Grundy to get the talent he needs. For starters, he doesn’t own any trucks. His drivers operate their own and split revenue with the company — 83% going to the driver. Mesker said the cost differs each month to own a truck, depending upon maintenance and gas prices. But insurance can run anywhere from $187 to $240 a week.
“It’s not going to fix itself overnight,” Grundy said. “We’re talking about a multiyear issue here.”
Before the pandemic began, there was a national truck driver shortage. Now that shortage is amplified. The American Trucking Associations said last year that the industry faces a historic shortage, needing 80,000 drivers.
The average weekly earnings of long-haul truckers have been increasing four to five times faster than the historical average, according to Transport Topics, citing U.S. Department of Labor data.
Grundy said many veteran drivers retired at the start of the pandemic.
“A lot of folks left the industry entirely; a lot of folks lost their jobs,” Grundy said. “They couldn’t make payments on trucks. It was catastrophic, economically speaking, for a lot of folks in the industry. So it came down to the companies that really had the leverage and the buying power to sustain some level of operations.”
Driving schools for truck drivers also were closed during the pandemic, shutting down any potential influx of new drivers, Grundy said.
Another barrier to getting new drivers on the road is insurance. Over 172,000 drivers in Texas held commercial driver’s licenses as of 2020. Insurance companies typically won’t insure commercial drivers who aren’t at least 25, according to Grundy, despite the Texas Department of Transportation allowing 21-year-olds to obtain a license."