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Apr

07

2014

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Carbon Monoxide Can Kill You

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Carbon Monoxide Can Kill You

Carbon Monoxide (CO) is a toxic but colorless, odorless, and tasteless gas. And because it is initially non-irritating, it is difficult for people to detect. Most people associate it with gasoline engine exhaust, and erroneously believe that unless they smell the engine exhaust they don’t have anything to worry about. It is the product of incomplete combustion of organic matter in an enclosed space (like an engine cylinder) with an insufficient supply of oxygen to enable complete oxidation to carbon dioxide (CO2). It’s not as big a problem with newer gasoline motors, but it certainly is with older engines, as well as with other gasoline-powered tools, generators, propane and other gas heaters, and cooking equipment.

Carbon monoxide exists naturally in the atmosphere at about 0.1 parts per million (ppm). Inside the average home it is between 1-5 ppm. Exposures at 100 ppm

Feb

19

2014

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Can You Haul HAZMAT Without an Endorsement?

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An endorsement is only required to haul HAZMAT, if the HAZMAT requires placarding of the vehicle An endorsement is only required to haul HAZMAT, if the HAZMAT requires placarding of the vehicle

 

In order to haul HAZMAT you must have a CDL with a HAZMAT Endorsement, right? Most people, when they hear the term “HAZMAT” they think “endorsement,” because you need the HAZMAT endorsement to haul HAZMAT. This can be a source of great confusion among drivers of all types of vehicles, because it depends. Sometimes you need the endorsement, sometimes you don’t.  It depends on the definition of hazardous material, and on who is defining it.

Hazardous Material is defined by the Secretary of Transportation as any “particular quantity or form” of a material that “may pose an unreasonable risk to health and safety or property,” or the environment. The Secretary is required by law (49 U.S. Code § 5103) to designate any such material as hazardous, which is listed on the Hazardous Materials Table. The table can be found in the Hazardous Materials Compliance Handbook available at most truckstops, and online in the Electronic US Code of Federal Regulations.

Anything listed on the Table of Hazardous Material is indeed hazardous, but being on the table doesn't in and of itself mean it requires a CDL with a HAZMAT endorsement to haul, as simply

Jan

26

2014

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Keeping Warm Out There

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Baby, it's cold outside Baby, it's cold outside

It's a challenge especially for those in Sprinters or cargo vans - how to keep warm during the winter. Some people idle their truck, but that’s not very cost effective. It uses a lot of fuel and puts a lot of unnecessary wear and tear on the engine. Some people just tough it out using zero degree mummy sleeping bags and flight suits and electric blankets. Whatever floats yer boat, I guess. Others just get a motel room, but that can get expensive. Some will run an electric space heater off a generator, but that requires the generator to be on full load most of the time, using a lot of fuel, and requires frequent oil changes in the worst weather. The two most popular methods are the propane heaters like the Mr Buddy Heater or the gas and diesel heaters like the Espar

Jan

17

2014

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It's Not Just a Job, It's an Adventure

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“In the middle of our life’s journey, I found myself in a dark wood.” “In the middle of our life’s journey, I found myself in a dark wood.”

Every time this job gets boring, I get a load like this. I get this load delivering to rural SW Georgia, between Albany, GA and Tallahassee, FL. And by rural I mean ruhr-rall. The town is 4100 people, and the delivery is to a house 8 miles out of town. I'm delivering parts for an in-home hospital bed, head and foot board panels, maybe 40 pounds total in the two boxes. I'm feeling kinda like a UPS or FedEx Home Delivery Driver. The Garmin takes me to the correct address, right to the mailbox on this one-and-a-half-lane-wide semi-dirt country road. The problem is, there are no houses in sight. There’s one, but it’s well up the road, with clearly a different address on the full-of-mail mailbox, is a well-weathered trailer up on cinder blocks, and has a for-sale sign on it. It does

Jan

13

2014

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Where is Your Money Going?

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One for you, one for you, and one for me One for you, one for you, and one for me

The Rule of Thirds is a concept that tells you where your gross revenue should be divided up and distributed. It is akin to a budget but is more generalized. It is a barometer of your money.

Basically, one third of your gross revenue will go to operating expenses (chiefly fuel, oil, fuel additives, truck washes, tolls, parking and other costs to operate the daily business), one third goes to the truck (maintenance, repair, insurance, registration), and one third goes to the driver. If any of these thirds are significantly out of whack, there's a problem, and it tells you where to look in order to fix it, as well as how to help in preventing it from happening in the first place.

It’s not a hard and fast rule, of course, but a general one. There will be times when the percentages vary

Jan

04

2014

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How to Kill Your Batteries

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Main positive distribution busbar of a battery bank Main positive distribution busbar of a battery bank

For our purposes out on the road, there are three types of batteries available with which to work: cranking, deep cycle and dual purpose. And regardless of the type, most people are experts at killing them.

Cranking (or starting) - used to start the engine. They are designed with lots of thin lead plates which provide more surface area for the batteries to provide those cranking amps for a short burst to turn the starting motor. These are measured in cranking amps (CA), marine cranking amps (MCA) or cold-cranking amps (CCA).

Deep Cycle – Designed to discharge power at a slower rate for an extended period of time. They have fewer, yet thicker lead plates which allow them to be discharged more deeply without damaging the plates. These are measured in Amp hours (Ah) and reserve capacity (RC). The Ah is the number of

Dec

26

2013

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Creature Comforts

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Cargo Area. Cargo Area.

 

 

I began my expediting career in a short wheelbase Ford E-350 cargo van. I lived in that for a long time, using a double-height twin air mattress that I would inflate and deflate on a near-daily basis. After 3 months or so, the mattress would get stretched out to the point where it had to be replaced. With even one pallet on board, there was no room to inflate the mattress, so it made Friday pickups for Monday delivery kind of a pain.

I learned in that van just how important it is to be comfortable out here on the road, and the importance of getting good, quality sleep. If you’re not comfortable in your van or truck, you won’t want to spend any time in it. You’ll want to go home as often as possible, most every weekend, and you’ll lost load opportunities on Friday, over

Dec

15

2013

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A little About Me

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My first two vans My first two vans

I began my expediting career several years ago in a Ford E-350, but I had been preparing to be an expediter ever since I got my first driver’s license. I have always loved to drive. Over the years I have had jobs which required very little travel, and some which required a lot of it, and it was those jobs that involved a lot of driving that I enjoyed the most. Just getting out on the road, going from A to B, and seeing whatever there was to see along the way.

As a jazz and classical musician I traveled quite a bit. As a chef and restaurant manager not so much. I happened upon a career in photography and portrait sales with Olan Mills, doing church directories and working at venues in small towns. Most of that was spent in an area of western Tennessee, northern Mississippi and southeast Arkansas, but would occasionally get to work in the upper Midwest, the Deep South, the East Coast and New England. The places I enjoyed most were the places I had never been, and it was the “getting there” part that I enjoyed.

After ten years

Sep

15

2013

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Part ll....Carriers Behaving Stupidly…… Driver Loyalty and Productivity Issues

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hotshotchronciles.com hotshotchronciles.com

 The New Paradigm For Rewarding Contractor Retention and Productivity:

Let me first start the conversation based on my ten years experience as a Wall Street stockbroker. In many ways O/Os and drivers are very much like stockbrokers. They get a tax form 1099 at the end of each year which makes them self-employed and entrepreneurs. They both work on a productivity basis; in that their level of compensation is based on the fruits of their labor. The ones who work the smartest and hardest in running their businesses make significant amounts of money. Also 30% of the stockbrokers and 30% of the drivers produce 70% of their respective firms’ revenue. Those 30% in the brokerage business are called “Rainmakers”. While on the topic, I was never a “Rainmaker” and I’m a much better trucker than a stockbroker. Oh and so much happier too. But, in the financial services world, the Rainmakers are coddled, pampered, and rewarded with significant bennies and "training" opportunities to Maui. If a firm is going to spend money to increase productivity, spending it on the Rainmakers is where the leverage of resources and cost/benefit is most fully realized.

To Brad Jacobs lament, “Why are drivers flipping

Aug

21

2013

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Carriers Behaving Stupidly... Driver Loyalty and Productivity Issues

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The Uncle Buck Approach The Uncle Buck Approach

In February 2012, I attended a conference of owners of smaller second tier expediters sponsored by Sylectus. The new CEO of Express-1, Bradley Jacobs, gave a speech followed by open questions from the audience. Mr. Jacobs is a hedge fund manager whose firm had recently invested 150 million dollars in Express-1. Brad (his preferred handle) is publicly known best for his purchase and turnaround of a small mom-and-pop company called United Rental. He stated that he was attracted to the investment potential in the expediting business because of two factors. It is a highly fragmented business sector with lots of players and collectively generates billions of dollars in revenue.

With his business experience and expertise, he is looking for opportunities to consolidate and purchase businesses within the sector to quickly grow a medium size company into a major player. In fact, during his speech he gazed out over the audience and stated, “I will be buying several of the companies that are here today”. I could just hear the cha-ching going off in the heads of the business owners present. When a hedge fund invests $150 million in a company the size of Express-1, they get to pick the

Jul

01

2013

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Oliver And The Sergeant

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Oliver Oliver

0100 hrs. local time, at an airbase on the Jersey shore. I told the guards at the main gate that I had a delivery of munitions in the morning and was looking for a “safe haven” for the night. After checking my ID and paperwork, they told me to head down to their commercial gate and someone would meet me there shortly to open the gate. I found the entrance and pulled in front of the closed high wire gate and waited.

It was one of these deep black nights where the darkness seems to suck the light from the headlights. Even the high beams would not penetrate the darkness. I waited for a few minutes, but couldn’t see anyone in the gloom. Suddenly the high wire gate began to slide open and I drove into a dimly lit inspection bay. The gate closed behind me and I stopped again and turned off the engine. Still, no one had appeared. I climbed out of the truck with my ID and docs and peered into the darkness. To my left, a soldier stepped out of the pitch dark of the night.

Now this was one prepared and impressive trooper. He had

Jun

05

2013

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Driver Security…..Do ya feel lucky punk?

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There is something about a woman’s firm grip around a crowbar... There is something about a woman’s firm grip around a crowbar...

The female Canadian border cop asks, “Do you have any weapons on board such as guns, knives, pepper spray or mace?  As usual I say, “No” and most times that ends questions. But then she says, “Do you regularly carry any such weapons when driving in the States?” I’m thinking, “Hey wait a minute lady, that’s none of your damn business.” What I almost said was, “Officer, we make it a point of being totally defenseless when entering Canada, and we drive around the States like a bunch of wimpy, bleating, sheep just waiting to be somebody’s victim.” Ya right.

The freight security thing gets kind of weird, or rather the driver security thing. We now regularly carry cargo that an assortment of bad guys, criminal cartels, and terrorists would love to get their hands on. And when placarded with explosives, we are required to advertise what kind of explosives we have on board. However, we are trained not to resist a criminal attempt on the taking of the truck. We have good training and protection from an assortment of passive measures. We also have an extra layer of satellite monitoring and more friendly eyes are watching our truck than

May

20

2013

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An Amish Winter

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One Room Amish School House One Room Amish School House
Travel Log
In early January we had a load that took us to Berlin Ohio, in the east central part of the state, not too far from Pennsylvania. Never been there, but wasn't expecting much of a change in scenery, just the same old flat Ohio farm lands but with a fresh winter coat of snow. As we drove into the region we noticed something different and unusual as the farm country became more rolling with more and more winter. The sights which were different was the presence of neat stacked piles of harvested corn stalks surrounding tidy farms which lacked the plethora of modern day farm equipment. We were in Amish country.


With all our journeying across America's farms lands, we had never seen such remnants of a corn harvest. As we were to find out later, we were to deliver a load of furniture making glue to the center of one of the largest but little known Amish communities in the US. It seems this area has not received as much tourist attention such as the Amish in the Pennsylvania Dutch country in Lancaster PA. Berlin is the center of this large community of Amish but the town

May

05

2013

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Ice Road Truckers....Well Almost

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Oliver vs Montana Blizzard Oliver vs Montana Blizzard

The national headlines from the Great Falls, Montana's, Thanksgiving winter storm read, “There was one storm related death". We delivered a load of explosives to Great Falls during the storm and the low was -15 degrees with a wind chill of -25 due to constant 30 mph winds. The local news described the fatal incident.

It was early evening and the height of the winter's first cold Arctic blast. A woman was driving her car on a rural road when the car slides off the road into a shallow ditch. When she got out of the car to check her situation, the car door locked behind her. She never got back in. At -15, anything that could have been used to break a window was frozen fast to the ground. What she was wearing at the time, determined how long before hypothermia set in. Her frozen body was found along side of the road a distance from the car indicating that she was trying to walk her way out. Having been in that weather myself, I figured even with normal winter jacket she had about an hour. Personally I couldn't take more than 20 minutes being outside with normal winter

Apr

28

2013

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Part II, The Belief, Art, And Science Of Accepting A Load

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Visit us at www.hotshotchronicles.com Visit us at www.hotshotchronicles.com

As a business practice, we accept most load offers but we have the right of refusal and use the following criterion for turning down a load:

We don’t drive into blizzards.

We need a $120 bonus to drive into or through the New York CityMetro Area (covers pain and suffering)

We need to make a reasonable profit on the run. (we determine what is reasonable)

In a previous blog, I describe our KISS method in determining our cost per mile at about a $1.00/loaded mile. Using the same math, annual gross earnings (haul income plus fuel surcharge) divided by annual loaded miles driven, we compute our gross revenue at $1.75/loaded mile. So when our dispatcher calls and pitches us a load offer, we can do some basic math to see if we are in the ball park of making a reasonable profit on a run. Again, these are approximate numbers that are easy to remember and keep us from making emotional errors about refusing a load.

When calculating costs\revenue for a load offer we use total miles in our formula (dh+loaded). Through experience, we figure that we need to net at least forty cents per total miles driven for us

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