TSQ: Do company drivers or owner/operators have a brighter future?
March 1, 2013
MISSISSAUGA, Ont. – Muir’s Cartage delivered a shocking blow to its company drivers to start the new year, as the carrier with over a century in business announced its company drivers would be released and it would operate solely...
MISSISSAUGA, Ont. – Muir’s Cartage delivered a shocking blow to its company drivers to start the new year, as the carrier with over a century in business announced its company drivers would be released and it would operate solely with a mix of owner/operators and drivers from a third-party agency moving forward. Marcus Pryce-Jones, CEO of Muir’s parent company Calyx Transportation Group, said the decision was made “based on customer demand and what the market would bear.” (For the full story on Muir’s decision, see pg. 39).
One would argue that, historically, working as a company driver has been a safer bet than working as an owner/operator, given all the financial risk that equipment ownership and maintenance entails. But might Muir’s move signal a shift towards more owner/operators or a changing mindset in the industry? Truck News spoke with drivers at the Husky Truck Stop in Mississauga, Ont. to see whether they think company drivers or O/Os have a brighter future in trucking.
• Kirk Hale, a company driver with Carpenter Liquid Transporters out of Rockdale, Ill., is pessimistic about the fortunes of either side, saying “I don’t think either one (has a bright future) to be honest with you. I can see pros and cons to both.”
Hale says that in the end, it will come down to the best way for companies to save a buck. “If they can get it so they don’t have to pay us and don’t have to pay the benefits, they’re going to do it,” he said.
• Though Chuck Walsh has opted to run his own Newfoundland-based trucking company, Clarenville Movers, he still tips his hat to company drivers as having the advantage.
“The cost is just too high for owner/operators. And the money’s not there, people aren’t willing to pay the money to keep us running,” he said.
• Inderjid Singh, an owner/operator with Fortigo in Toronto, agrees with Walsh. “Because of the prices for fuel and everything, they are really high, but the companies are not putting any money into their owner/operators. It’s much better (for company drivers since) they’re getting benefits and all that.”
Asked why he opted to take the owner/operator route, Singh said he was “just out of job. This company was hiring, so there was no other choice. (I took the job) so I can keep my house working.”
• Jeff Reeves, a company driver with Stevens Transport out of Dallas, Texas, says he thinks the debate can’t boil down to simply company driver versus owner/operator.
“It’s based on the personal situations of each individual driver. I’ve been a company driver for my entire seven-year career and I don’t have any intentions of being an owner/operator.”
He said a company would have to make it desirable for him to want to make the switch, including lease-purchase options with minimal buy-out, fuel surcharge on loaded and empty miles, and tolls paid.
• Davidson Matthew, a Toronto-based owner/operator with his own company, Matthew Transport, says that O/Os have always had a better future than company drivers.
“I was just talking to this guy, he’s been driving for 15 years and he can’t figure out how is it that I’m making better money and doing it for a year? So owner/operators are always going to trump company drivers,” Matthew told Truck News.