Okay, the next thing I want to discuss is goals, expectations, and understanding what you are getting into if you go the route of an o/o driver with a mega company.
There are many different business models out there for companies to hire o/o's under their authority. I only have experience with Crete Carrier's program.
Before I say anything else, let's be clear here. Crete Carrier as a company is not interested in your success, even though the people you interact with are generally nice enough. The Crete Carrier o/o system is simply a risk and cost mitigation program primarily intended to allow them to sell their old trucks and potentially move freight with experienced drivers in older trucks for less risk.
Crete offers no truck leasing program, and does not allow new truck financing through their associated truck loan program. You either buy a used truck from them, or bring in your own truck that is either owned outright by you, or financed elsewhere. I am not sure if they will allow a o/o with a new (or even used) truck financed elsewhere to participate in the company insurance system - the truck financing company might also have issues with Crete Carrier as an insurer. Not sure how that would work. It's research for you if you want to follow up on it.
That said, Crete is a very good place for an o/o to learn two critical things. First, do you have the work ethic to keep the left door closed and roll miles, and second, do you really want to be an o/o? While buying a @ 50k used truck to learn these things might seem expensive, buying a @150k new truck to learn the same things somewhere else could potentially be even more expensive.
While you are testing yourself to see if you have what it takes to do the job without someone telling you what to do, and if you even WANT to be responsible for all the decisions, Crete offers an excellent set of o/o training wheels.
If you are already a Crete company driver, you can transition from being a Crete company driver to being a Crete o/o and maintain several important company benefits. Firstly, you keep access to Crete's company healthcare plan if you want it, and it's a pretty solid plan. Secondly, you keep (and continue to accrue) company tenure. I worked 1.5 years as a company driver, 2.5 as a o/o, and am now a company driver again, and my effective hire date is when I was first hired as a company driver. This is handy if you decide to return to being a company driver, as several aspects of pay at Crete are impacted by tenure. Profit sharing and retirement Vesting, for example, as well as CPM pay.
Crete has an arrangement with ATBS (accounting company) to provide accounting and tax preparation services for drivers. They will send a lot of your financial details to ATBS so you don't have to. Settlements, expense breakdowns of insurance, etc.
Crete allows access to their discounts for fuel, and also for parts & service at most dealerships and some other shops. To access those discounts you have to pay for the services with the Crete maintenance account that they deduct from your settlements. If your truck is financed by Crete, they require you pay 15 CPM into a maintenance account. That account requirement ends when the loan is paid off. There is an elective maintenance account that can also be set up, either in addition to the mandatory account while a loan is active, or as a primary maintenance account after the mandatory account is closed when a Crete loan is paid down. There are some pretty reasonable savings to be had this way.
Crete also pays for tolls, reefer washouts, and deadhead miles for their o/o's, as well as 100% of FSC.
All that said, Crete is a place to LEARN, not a place to EARN.
The CPM rates offered by Crete are low for o/o. Not low enough to prevent a person in good financial condition to live on comfortably, but nothing like what you can earn at a company that actually caters to o/o's.
Do NOT expect to TAKE HOME as much money as an o/o with Crete as you would as a company driver. If you go into the Crete o/o program expecting to take home 60k per year or more to the house, you're going to be sorely disappointed. Expect to take 25-40k per year home out of 140-170k gross. If you have a really solid truck, a good, low cost shop, keep the left door closed, and avoid needless expenses to keep the truck pretty, you might improve significantly on that, but I don't see anyone clearing much more than that at Crete rates. Even after you pay off the truck note, it's likely your maintanence on a paid-off truck will eat most of what you save on truck payments, though there might be a sweet spot for profit between paying off the truck, and the truck really starting to fall apart.
Do not expect to be able to take off as much time as some of the Super Truckers you see talking about working nine months out of the year and sitting at the house through the winter. Crete rates (and most other mega o/o or lease programs) being what they are, you're going to have to keep the left door closed That said, after you prove to yourself that you have the drive (pun definitely intended) to do the job as an o/o, then after you take off the o/o training wheels and leave Crete (or wherever), you might find a company that is a good place to earn, since you've already done a good bit of learning. Maybe then you can be more picky about when you work. However, always remember that a lot of these folks taking off months at a time are in seasonal specialties. Even the guys that are o/o in dry van and reefer haulage and claim to take whole months off in the winter likely work their ##### off through the rest of the year to allow themselves to take a winter vacation. I'm sure some of them really have found niche work that allows them incredible rates, but don't count on finding out exactly how they do it, because in at least some cases, it's based on friends & family, favors, etc.
Once your truck gets past the manufacturer's warranty, be ready for extended downtime on a fairly regular basis. Try to keep an eye on the potential issues and get them addressed while you are at home before they fail on you. Personally, until my truck hit over 700k miles, I rarely lost time to repairs while on the road due to staying out 6-8 weeks at a time, then putting the truck in the shop for a laundry list of developing issues for a week to 10 days of home time.
As a modern truck gets older, it will get harder to stay ahead of problems because the problems will start getting weirder as wiring harnesses, relays, and other electronics start failing. It's normally pretty easy to tell if your clutch is getting close to failing, but your motor control circuits or oxidized wiring harness connections could go from full function to total failure in one pothole. Again, the older a modern truck is, the closer you want to keep it to somewhere you can get it fixed at a reasonable cost.
Taking the plunge. My journey as an O/O.
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Why I didn't move on to other o/o opportunities, and plans for the future.
I touched on this a while back, but there are several reasons why I stayed with Crete.
First, I was treated well at Crete, even though I wasn't making trucktons of money. I also get to keep Crete 'tenure' by staying here.
Second, driving is still something I enjoy doing on most days, and I'm cautious about changing that by making myself miserable.
Third, my mother is nearing retirement in the next year or so, and she's still not entirely sure what her post-retirement plans are. I need to be in a position to offer her assistance, even if she doesn't think she will need it. Either buying a new truck, or trying to run an old truck with mounting expenses as an o/o right now would possibly have impacted my ability to help her transition, whatever she decides to do.
Fourth, I am working on a patent which has the potential to allow me to retire almost immediately, if I can get it through the USPTO. The patent was on hold for a couple years after I re-filed it with some clarifications, but it's active again now, and it will cost me $500 + per exchange (every couple months or so) with the USPTO in order to continue pursuing it. When I do get the patent, I'll need to pay even more to finalize it. I do not want to find myself at the bottom of a major repair hole when I need to make significant payments to the USPTO.
There are other reasons, but I think those are enough to make the point that it's simply not an ideal situation for me right now to either buy a new truck and go elsewhere, or take the old truck elsewhere.
So, what do I plan for the future?
Well, after my mother is settled into retirement, and if the patent fails to provide me a retirement, there is a very good chance I will look into becoming an o/o again.
If I do so, I will do so with a new truck, or, (much less likely,) with rebuilt old iron. If I go the new truck route, I will work with a company that lets me pull from a load board, and I will run the truck for 400k miles and sell it.
In the meantime, I am going to settle back into being a Company driver where I can take home good money, have vacation time that I can use to take time off without losing income, and, hopefully, continue doing work that I enjoy doing.Last edited: Aug 8, 2021
Reason for edit: Completed Recap post #3
Why does everyone get so bunched up about people using the recommended oil and changing it at the manufacturer’s recommended interval?
The thing I would’ve placed at the top of “What I’d do differently” would’ve been to not run on a cheap mileage contract when freight rates were high. I’ve followed this thread from the beginning and know you had your reasons but you left piles of money on the table running for Crete.
The 'recommended' interval is simply a 'wink-wink-nudge-nudge' way to allow mega-companies to pretend that they are properly maintain the trucks, so they can sucker people into paying more for used trucks that have barely been maintained. The engine will last a few hundred k miles being abused like that, but once the truck gets significant miles on it, that wear and tear will start to accelerate.
So long as the mega companies keep buying replacement trucks every 400k miles, the manufacturers don't lose anything.
I get it. The truck broke down. They all do. But I don’t agree with pinning everything on Crete. I doubt the manufacturers want to chance premature failure and warranty claims because they write their manuals to keep the megas happy.
I don’t want to hijack your thread because it’s one of the most honest ones here. I simply found it odd that you listed a lot of things wrong but your income wasn’t on the list.
As far as the manufacturers are concerned, premature failure can't happen after the warranty is up. My truck had roughly as many miles as yours has now when the cracked head developed. I hope yours fares better.
My income was not indicated as a problem because my income was not a problem.
No mortgage. No wife, kids, or child support. No debt other than a truck note. I made enough to pay for everything I wanted, with little stress.
Another person with more financial responsibilities would find themselves more concerned with income, I'm sure.
My reasoning for going back to a company driver rather than jumping to a higher income company as an o/o is both financial and mental. I might need more flexibility than raw income in the near future.
There is a good chance I will go back to being o/o later, and if I do, I'll do it smarter next time, both because I know more, AND because I have proven I can do it.Last edited: Aug 8, 2021
Reason for edit: Clarity
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