I am 38 years old with a four year business degree. I have a class A CDL and have several years of tractor trailer and dump truck driving experience. I have been working for a large dump truck company based in the Charlotte, NC area for a couple of years now, hauling everything from sand, rock, asphalt, and dirt.
My question is, are any of you familiar with the Charlotte, NC area? What are rates like from an owner op standpoint? I would be buying a new quad and running it pretty heavy. Charlotte is growing so fast and there is a ton of work being done in and around the city. All types of work.
Any advice on getting started and what you guys think about the idea in general would be most appreciated. Thanks in advance for any tips or advice.
Starting a dump trucking biz as an O/O
My experience w/dump trucking was a couple decades ago, in the Madison WI metro area. As a company driver, and years before that as a fuel supplier to a couple dump truck outfits.
I was told more once, when you start out go for the stuff nobody wants to haul. Get a ‘decent older truck’, hook up with company’s that do excavation, dig out parking lots, busted concrete, asphalt, rock/boulders, etc.,etc. You will be busier than a long-tailed cat in a room full of rocking chairs.
I’m not in your area but I started a dumpster business, not dump truck but a family friend has owned a rock hauling company since early 80’s. Some general advice would be work up a complete business model without knowing your competition’s rates. Figure your rough fuel costs, equipment lease/purchase, disposal rates if going to a landfill or other disposal facility, taxes, registration, insurance, yadda yadda. Then add in what you need to survive and you can begin to get a picture of what rates you need to charge. You will be under the rates of the big guys as an owner operator. When I started I figured what we needed to charge per dumpster and adjusted as I learned more during operation. I also simply called around asking for rates on made up jobs to see what the rough pricing was to see how my modeled rates stacked up.
You’ll get an idea of what the other guys charge as you work more but you’ll need to undercut them and still make some money for yourself for awhile until you get a name for yourself. That shouldn’t be hard to do since you won’t have the massive overhead of a corporation.
Be sure to give a lot of thought on how to structure your business. I highly recommend starting an LLC. It’s usually cheap to do and well worth it. Get a good CPA right from the get go so the company’s books are kept in order. You can still keep the books but at least they can look them over from time to time and help you get started off right for your type of business. It’s hard to go back and clean up a mess.
Lazer is spot on. You won’t be competing for work that requires 10-15 truck loads of gravel in one day. You’ll need to pair up some smaller construction companies or if you are going to serve the residential customer you’ll need some sort of website, signage, or whatever to funnel them to your business. You’d also be surprised how much business you can potentially get out of some charity work too. Giving away load of gravel to school fund raisers and such get great attention. A lot of people love doing business with and talking directly to owner operators instead of calling a random dispatcher or a huge corporation. Once you get some consistent clients and you treat them right then you’ll have endless work.
I started my dumpster business 3 years ago and I’ve been able to add a second truck, more dumpsters and we are going to be building our own shop soon (if the COVID lumber prices ever go down...) It’s been a hell of a lot of work and a ton of learning, but I can’t imagine doing anything else at this point. It’s definitely worth a shot. A few last pieces of general advice is do not leverage your personal belongings. If the business fails, don’t let it ruin your personal life (house, marriage, etc.) Don’t try to grow too fast even in good times because crazy stuff happens that can dry up a business. Try not to be tied too closely with the well being of another company (as in hauling exclusive for another company.) You want to be diverse. We’ve had big clients come and go but have never been very hurt by them leaving us.
Last piece, it will take more people than just you to make it work, so be sure to stay humble.
Do you own an excavator, loaded, and bob cat to go with the dump truck as well as a big ### pile of sand/gravel? Because that’s about the only way to make money with a dump
buisness degrees doesn’t really mean dick in this industry
A friend of mine here in Colorado runs a tandem dump truck. Rates for a tandem are about 75-85/hr. He said he averages about $107K per year "gross" on his single truck. Keep in mind we have a lot of snow days here too. I never see any owner operators around here running new trucks. Lots of 80"s trucks with old CAT 3406b's. And they run them hard. But no truck payment to keep the costs down.
The work is all hauling off foundation dirt. So much dirt with all the new builds that no one knows what to do with it.
Find whoever dispatches at the quarries or asphalt plants and ask if they need another truck. Ask what and how they pay (hourly, tonnage, etc) You won't be setting rates. They will tell you what it pays, and your options are to haul it or go elsewhere. Ask what insurance coverage they require.
Get quotes for insurance for a used truck. Unless you're independently wealthy starting out with a brand new truck isn't a good idea.
Find work and affordable insurance FIRST before worrying about buying a truck. Trucks are everwhere and easy to buy.
Don't listen to the idiot who suggested you should cut rates to get started. There are plenty of flakes in the dump truck business. Show up everyday ready to work, and you already have half of your competition beat.