Morale among Canadian drivers and owner/operators is not as healthy as one would hope, based on conversations I’ve had with many of you.
I hear it over and over again: You can’t make a decent living in this business anymore – at least, not if you want to do so legally.
It’s always refreshing to hear from someone who thinks otherwise, even if it doesn’t happen very often.
The Truck News staff recently had the pleasure of enjoying dinner with this year’s Owner/Operator of the Year Merv Connolly and his wife, Donna.
Merv’s passion for the industry was obvious as we discussed the business at length over dinner. Not only does Merv love what he does for a living, he’s damn good at it. And he’s proud of it, too.
Merv doesn’t drive the shiniest, flashiest truck you’ll find at any truck stop parking lot. But his truck is paid for. He usually isn’t the first to the top of the hill. But he always gets where he’s going on time.
“I’ve never had my foot to the floor,” he told me, proudly.
Merv knows his cost of doing business. In hardly any time at all, he can tell you exactly what his cost per mile is when running to Illinois compared to the Carolinas. He still accepts the loads L.E. Walker assigns him destined for Carolina, but he knows the hills there will cost him a few cents per mile. He takes the load anyway, because being a reliable business partner is as important to him as maximizing his own revenue.
Merv spoke unabashedly about the financial success he’s achieved in this industry, yet he empathizes with those who don’t have the business acumen to do likewise. He feels not enough carriers train their owner/operators how to successfully manage their businesses and wishes there were more resources out there for struggling O/Os.
“I’m proof you can do well and make good money trucking,” he said.
I couldn’t help but be inspired by Merv. Here’s a guy who’s doing what so many people have told me is impossible. He’s doing what he loves and making good money at it. He’s nearing retirement without a care in the world because he has managed his business meticulously and saved up along the way.
And all the while he has proven to be a decent person, whether it be helping the younger drivers get their feet wet at L.E. Walker, or putting himself in harm’s way to stop at an accident scene and lend a helping hand.
You can read about Merv in the cover story of this issue of Truck News. But that won’t be the last time you see his name. A coming issue of Truck News will contain an article outlining tips on achieving success as an owner/operator – tips from Merv himself.