(I copied this from The Welcome Wagon in the hopes of getting more topical responses - Rick)
Like a couple of posters in this forum, I am looking at a career change. Been doing the corporate thing for the last 17 years as a sales analyst but things are always changing and layoffs are happening to people with more seniority.
I'm 57 and exploring things to do either when I voluntarily retire or am pushed out the door. I am getting tired of staring at the 4 walls and desparately need the scent of fresh air (with a small dose of CO and diesel exhaust, lol) Saw an ad for Horizon RV Transport in a Texas job newspaper. Went to their website, saw the promotional video, etc., etc., and read many of the posts here about that segment of the industry, so I am "up" on the general cpm rate, busy/slow times in the industry, very limited availability of backhauls and such. I've also looked at some of the websites for other transporters as well.
A few questions for anyone working in the RV Transport segment (but welcome to comments from all in the OTR industry).
CDL vs non-CDL: Colorado doesn't require CDLs for RV drivers or non-commercial towables over 26000 lbs. but I am guessing that a CDL will make a difference to companies on whether I'm serious about doing this. Comments?
Equipment: 1-ton PU with 8-foot bed 5th wheel, gooseneck and several ball sizes - I get that. DOT-approved sleepers appear to be a necessity unless I want to pay for a motel. Are sleepers that can be installed on this size of truck comfortable enough to sleep in or do I need to be less than 5'4" tall to make that work well?
Double Loads: I've seen websites for companies that modify truck chassis with platforms, ramps and winches to enable a transporter to haul a trailer on the back of the truck and pull one behind, giving a higher (not double) cpm rate than a single load. Do many O/Os in this segment have that type of equipment and if so, what percentage of their loads are doubles?
Larger equipment: I've seen a couple of websites for companies that modify tractors or straight trucks to do double loads (one company in Calgary that converts Volvos and can't remember any of the others). Does anyone use that size of rig for RV transport? Almost all of the transport companies I've looked at don't ask for (but don't disqualify) rigs bigger than the one-ton pickup.
Honest feedback is always appreciated. Feel free to send a PM if you don't want to answer in the public forum.
Rick in Denver
RV Transport questions...
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Some transport companies don't require a CDL. You could be better off without it because they won't give you the heavier trailers that put more wear on your truck and require more fuel to pull.
Now with a haul and tow you probably need a CDL. One thing I see in Canaa I haven't seen here is hydraulic fifth wheels on the ends of flatbeds and trailers that allows a fifth wheel to be pulled behind the load .
Sleepers are no longer necessary because since the end of last month you can now legally log Off Duty in a parked CMV.
My understanding is if you haul 26,001 pounds or more commercially you are required to have a cdl. The company I'm planning to work for soon pays a few more cents per mile if you have a cdl. All the companies I have talked to require your truck to be licensed for 26,000 lbs. If you had your cdl with double/triples endorsement you may be able to haul horse trailers etc for back hauls.
As far as the haul and tow vehicles you will get a better rate but your start up costs and expenses will be more. But you would be able to put a larger sleeper on your truck which would make life much easier out on the road. Also if you had a larger truck 4500/5500 or single axle semi pulling a flat bed trailer to haul 2 campers you would have an even better chance at hauling freight or other goods on your return trip.
If you were planning to haul two trailers tho I would consider doing hotshot loads. You would have a much better chance staying loaded all the way around. But that would require you to be on the road more also.
I've also been told that JET which is the transportation side of Jayco is the best paying transport company around. You would be cutting out the middle man and working for the manufacturer. I've been told that Horizon is a great company too and they take care of their people.
Just to make it clear I have no first hand experience in towing rv's. I've been researching this for the last few weeks so I will know what to expect when I start out. There are some very knowledgable people on this forum and they will help you out.
Another advantage of the larger truck is being able to sell it when I've had enough of the road and that they are generally designed to run for a longer distance than a big pickup.
"If you're under lease to an RV transporter, can you take a backhaul from someone else? Or is it simply a matter of removing one set of magnet signs from your truck and putting on someone else's signage?"
I was told this was not possible. The company you lease to would have to sign off on this or they would be the ones actually finding your backhauls. So I've been told no actual experience. I asked the same question.
I think if a person has the vehicle, proper insurance, can get a DOT#, and has some time, and a little business sense, and can market himself in his region he can do well to simply move trailers for "long-termer's" looking to relocate.
As fuel has risen, a lot have not been able to justify keeping their 3/4 or 1 ton vehicle and dealing with high diesel prices and the parking issues (hard to park a 1 ton crew cab at Walmart or the mall) all year, just so they can move their trailer 2 or 3 times a year. It's more cost effective for them to trade into a small vehicle, and hire their trailer moved when necessary.
But they will want to work with somebody "local" to where they are or where they are moving to and would rather not deal with the likes of UShip. They will look for bulletin board postings in wash rooms, ads in Thrifty Nickle, and business cards at RV park office counters.
I just started hauling RVs for Foremost Transport out of Goshen, Indiana. So far, it has been great! The people are like family and always there to help you. I have had great luck in backhauls. I'm going to Detroit tomorrow to get my passport. I will get it tomorrow with a letter from Foremost on needing me to travel to Canada asap. They have a lot of trailers that need to be hauled to Canada and they pay very well.
They have orientation on Mondays and Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Tuesdays in Goshen. Your truck has to be @ 3/4 ton. They accept short beds. You have to have a DOT inspection. Plated truck less than 26000lbs including trailer. You need to have a DOT physical and CDL is helpful. Also, you need to have an insurance on your truck with at least $500,000 liability. If you dont have insurance they have a company that will write you up right there.
I'm not going to sugar coat it. It cost me roughly $1000 to get all my hitches, safety requirements, physical, insurance, DOT inspection and a few other expenses.
After the 2 day orientation and your truck passes DOT you will be expected to pull your first load!!
Good luck!!!!Last edited by a moderator: Mar 19, 2012
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