Is it possible to make good money hauling containers (intermodal)?

Discussion in 'Intermodal Trucking Forum' started by Byrds Eye View, Sep 2, 2012.

  1. ChicagoJohn

    ChicagoJohn Road Train Member

    Jan 14, 2016
    Dam, those are almost tanker rates. But I still don't want to pull cans. Lol
    Bean Jr. Thanks this.
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  3. '07 KW w/53' Conestoga

    '07 KW w/53' Conestoga Medium Load Member

    Sep 28, 2015
    JJ - I completely believe you. But, you failed to mention what kind of loads those are...regular freight or container work?

    If it is regular dry van freight, that is pretty much the average rate that I get from my customers around Chicago. In fact, a lot of times, we are doing better...we get hot loads out of Green Bay WI or Central WI that pay even better...the key though is, these are 1 - way rates for freight! We bring something to Green Bay or Central WI, hence, we are almost always at least doubling our money, if not more!!!

    If you are getting these rates for running containers, I said it a bunch of times and I'll keep on saying it about container work, you are getting screwed big time! Pardon me...I am not going off on you. I am just assuming, and of course, you know what that does for the both of us! LOL!

    I appreciate your example, and, pardon me for going off a bit on a tangent here if you are discussing 1-way rates and not containers. I just had this "discussion" with a VERY stupid O/O a few months ago, a guy replied to an ad I was running, wanted to come on as an owner op with me, in fact, he did!

    I got him his first load of freight going to Kansas City MO paying $2,400 one-way, and he DROPPED the load because his old broker called him just before he took off to go get loaded, upped his ridiculously low container load rates to a whopping $625 for a round trip to Milwaukee. A total crap rate.

    The doofus basically killed any relationship with me and totally blew any chance of getting on later with my HUGE broker because he ####ed us both and decided he wanted to work for LESS THAN 50% what I was paying him, dropped the load, and didn't respond until 90 min after his appointment time for the PU.

    Indulge me for a moment, I will put it in black and white for you...Here is the problem with the container rates and the time it takes to run them:

    1.) Drive to rail yard - 0.5-1 hour min
    2.) Time spent at rail yard in line, finding container, back in line to check out - 1-2 hours
    3.) Time spent driving 30 mi to customer - 0.75 - 1.5 hrs
    4.) Time spent waiting to load or unload - 2 hrs
    5.) Time spent driving back to rail yard - 0.75 - 1.5 hrs
    6.) Time spent at rail yard returning container - 1-2 hrs

    These times are averages, there will be occasions where you will spend WAY more time than this due to being detained at a customer and/or rail yard delays.

    Total time for the $400 load - 6 to 10 hrs which means, as an owner operator, you are GROSSING $40-$66 per hour, and your NET wage is somewhere around $20-$30 hr, not including your truck payment or replacement, which is TERRIBLE! If $20-$30 hr before taxes is all you can expect to earn driving your own truck, you'd be far better off driving someone else's truck than taking the chance you have a major repair bill to face down let alone the eventual replacement of said truck.

    If you get on the 200 mi trip, you are doing slightly better, earning $900 for 8 to 13 hours work. But, at 13 hours, you are grossing under $70 hr, which is still pretty low.

    Here is what you COULD get doing the SAME thing, except, live loaded dry van freight.

    Chicago to Milwaukee - $500 - $700 one way
    Milwaukee to Chicago - $500 - $800 one way

    This is a VERY do-able day trip. It is approximately 100 mi one way.

    Here is the time break-down per leg of the trip:

    1.) Drive to customer pickup location - 0.25 - 1 hour
    2.) Time spent loading - 1 - 2 hours
    3.) Time spent driving to delivery - 1.5 - 2 hrs
    4.) Time spent waiting to unload - 1 - 2 hrs

    Total time spent for $500 - $700 1-way load: 3.75 - 7 hrs
    Total time spent for $500 - $800 1-way load: 3.75 - 7 hrs

    Hourly rate for round trip - $71 - $200 hour

    If we average the trip times and the rates, you are earning $135 hr and working about 10.75 hrs a day, which is what MOST local O/O are looking for, and grossing about $1,450 a day.

    Even if you think my figures are HIGH, it is still beating container rates hands down.

    Now you see why I say that doing container work SUCKS!
  4. 4noReason

    4noReason Road Train Member

    Nov 29, 2012
    your a guy thats verrrrryyyy good to know lol. i do cans also. same company @JJKid is with. the rates he put are round trip. but if yoyur talking van dry van home a lot. that is sweet deal you got tbh. esp being your own boss
  5. JJKid

    JJKid Medium Load Member

    Aug 17, 2014
    Chicago, IL
    Was too long to quote your post but kudos to you bro, that's amazing. yes forsure, from your aspect, that's amazing and i'd definitely see where your coming from. but i'll tell you this, as a owner operator, i found a good home to pull cans going on 6 years now, making a good buck & i'm home everyday and that's all i'm looking for. sky's the limit? im sure, am i losing out? MOST DEFINTELY... but my mentality surely is different then yours and im a-ok with what i'm doing!!! If I ever do own an authority..well... i'll be sure to hit you up haha
  6. Oldironfan

    Oldironfan Road Train Member

    May 22, 2017
  7. RERM

    RERM Road Train Member

    Dec 13, 2012
    Chicago, IL

    Which is why my days running containers are numbered!!!!!
  8. '07 KW w/53' Conestoga

    '07 KW w/53' Conestoga Medium Load Member

    Sep 28, 2015
    Thanks JJ! Sorry for such a long reply, but, I had the time and the numbers in my head...and I type fast!

    You are comfortable and happy, and if you are treated well, more power to you. I guess I never was all those things...and I am the kind of person, when I see someone else doing basically the exact same thing I am but in a slightly different way and making way more $ at it, I just naturally want to gravitate to it.

    I get it if you want to stay put, but, if you ever do change your mind, I'd be glad to work with you! And, FYI, not that I am telling you not to do this, but, you don't have to go out and get your own authority to run with me, that is one of the benefits of coming to work with me, we can get started in less than a day with just a few pen strokes.

    Having authority takes time...and money. There are also occasional paperwork and other tedious items that must be done too...and, frankly, the biggest obstacle to enter is the insurance. It has gone completely off the deep end. When I first started, I was paying about $2,400 yr per truck (this was 23 years ago). Then, when I got interstate authority, it went to about $6K (that was in 2012)...every year from then on, it went up and up, I was about to renew, it was $12K per truck. And, I was getting my insurance from a friend, so, I never thought twice about cheaper alternatives. I said "Whoa..." and got some comparative quotes. I finally qualified for the best rated company and haven't looked back. I'm nearly half that rate now, but, I have a squeeky clean MVR and my safer scores are on par and I stay within a 300 mi radius from home. The further you go out, the more the insurance costs.

    I have guys come to me and tell me they just got their authority and pay between $15K and $25K per truck! That is insane!!!

    So, whenever you are ready, just ping me and let me know!

    Good luck to you and stay safe!!!
  9. Smooth 1

    Smooth 1 Bobtail Member

    Jul 29, 2018
    What type of truck are you driving and your average maintenance?
    '07 KW w/53' Conestoga Thanks this.
  10. hotweather

    hotweather Bobtail Member

    Jul 28, 2013
    What is the best rail company in the Memphis area?
  11. '07 KW w/53' Conestoga

    '07 KW w/53' Conestoga Medium Load Member

    Sep 28, 2015
    No clue...but, I think it's an oxymoron to say "good rail company" because they all appear to STINK!

    Not sure its universal, but, just about anything you do in a truck that brings you home every night the same hours is going to be low paying.

    But, rails seem to have their own unique style of problems unlike any other that make them particularly bad.

    But, it all depends on you. Some guys think grossing $1,500-$2,500k a week is GREAT money. Notice I said GROSS, not net.
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