In the weeks following the conclusion of the 18th Annual Expedite Expo, Johnny and Mary Mullis continue to carry a feeling of elation and excitement about the decision they made during the Expo to take a major step toward becoming owner-operators through a truck ownership program offered by Expediter Services. The path to truck ownership the Mullises have taken with Expediter Services reflects the emphasis that ES places on building relationships with people. It also demonstrates the many ways in which ES is willing to work with potential candidates over an extended period of time – an effort focused on positioning program participants for success.
For Johnny and Mary, the journey to realize their dream of truck ownership actually began one year ago during their first visit to the Expediter Expo in Lexington, Ky. While exploring the various exhibits and meeting with vendors at the largest trade show for the expedited sector of trucking, the Mullises spent time at the Expediter Services booth and got to know the team at ES. Johnny and Mary were immediately impressed with the comprehensive set of services and support Expediter Services provides to owner-operators within the ES Driving Community.
At the time of the Expedite Expo last year, Johnny and Mary were honoring a commitment they had made to drive as a team in the expedited operation of a friend. After that commitment came to an end, Johnny and Mary were once again thinking about the ownership opportunities they learned about during the 2017 Expo through ES. That’s when they met Brian Tucker, a new fleet owner in the ES Community. Brian needed a team for one of his trucks, and the opportunity proved to be a perfect fit for Johnny and Mary. Not only were the Mullises able to continue working within the expedited sector, but driving one of Brian’s trucks offered them an inside look at the level of comprehensive support provided by Expediter Services.
“We were looking at our next steps, and Brian was in need of a team. It was a perfect fit,” said Johnny. “The people from ES made an unbelievable impression on us last year at the Expo, and it was incredibly valuable for us to see how ES works. We were able to do that through the experience we’ve had during the past year while we drove Brian’s truck. We have the phone numbers of different departments at Expediter Services, and we know exactly who to talk to, depending on what the situation is. ES has provided an incredible level of support to us on the road and for Brian as a fleet owner.”
150 Business Challenge Program Continues To Promote Further Growth For Women-Owned Businesses
The ownership opportunities and comprehensive support programs offered through the ES Network continue to be a popular topic of discussion, and that was the case during the Expedite Expo. In fact, the 150 Business Challenge – which is a collaboration between the Women In Trucking Association and Expediter Services to encourage the growth of women-owned businesses in transportation – grabbed the Expedite Expo spotlight in a number of ways. The 150 Business Challenge has been designed to assist in adding much-needed truck capacity to a busy freight market. Among the more than 40 new businesses started through the program thus far, many of the participants are working in the expedited sector. Participants in the 150 Business Challenge also have the option of going into general trucking through the ES platform SuccessInTrucking.com. Forward Air and Panther Premium Logistics, a Service of ArcBest, are the participating carriers in the program, offering consistent freight opportunities to entrepreneurs in the 150 Business Challenge.
Similar to the other truck ownership programs offered through Expediter Services, participants in the 150 Business Challenge have access to competitive market-rate financing, a broad range of new equipment choices and fuel discounts. ES also provides participants with industry-leading support, featuring a maintenance program and operational expertise as well as back-office services and business planning assistance.
One example of the positive impact of the 150 Business Challenge during the Expo could be seen through the experiences of two of the program’s participants – both of whom came to the Expo with an eye on growing their respective businesses.
Earlier this year, Nora Weston, part of the Panther fleet, utilized the 150 Business Challenge platform to become an owner-operator. While attending the Expo, Nora took the opportunity to visit with various vendors and learn from the panel discussions held at the event. At the Expo, Nora was able to further explore the steps she needs to take to become a fleet owner. Meanwhile, veteran owner-operator and fleet owner Donna Sleasman, who recently added to her operation by securing additional trucks through the 150 Business Challenge, returned to the Expo with an eye on eventually reaching the goal of running a fleet of 20 trucks. For both Nora and Donna, Expediter Services will be central to their respective plans related to fleet expansion.
“The 150 Business Challenge has been great for me in starting my business as an owner-operator. Expediter Services has given me all the support I have needed, and I am ready to grow,” said Nora. “I would like to work with ES and the 150 Business Challenge to build a fleet.”
“What Expediter Services is doing through the 150 Business Challenge is very important because it is allowing women to be their own boss, create their own business and grow those businesses,” said Donna, who has been working with ES for the past several years. “ES serves as the force behind the business owners in the program. They have been a valuable resource to me over the years. As I’ve looked at ways to expand my operation, I’ve gone to ES and they are working with me on a plan to help me move closer to the goals that I would like to reach.”
Expediter Services President Jason Williams, while speaking at the ES Group Gathering Dinner event during the Expedite Expo, highlighted the focus the ES Team places on building relationships and providing information on the company’s programs and the trucking industry in general. During his presentation, Jason also noted the emphasis the company places on allowing prospective participants all the time and support they need in making the decision to become contract drivers, owner-operators and fleet owners within the ES Community.
“We are working to build a community that provides opportunities for business owners to have the career path they desire, and a main focus in our community is working to help position you to be profitable,” Jason said. “One of our goals during the Expo is to make sure that you have good information that will allow you to make good decisions. We understand starting a business is a big decision, one that can take time. We don’t try to rush people into our programs. When you are ready for us, we are ready for you. And when you become part of our community, we have the network and support systems in place that will help you in your career as a business owner in trucking.”
Johnny & Mary: A Year-Long Journey On The Path To Truck Ownership
For Johnny and Mary Mullis, the benefit of having the time and gaining the perspective that Jason noted in his comments during the Expo proved to be invaluable. They were able to compare options available in the marketplace, and, while serving as contract drivers for a fleet owner in the ES community, Johnny and Mary were able to have a valuable up-close-and-personal experience with Expediter Services during the past year. The time on the road, while being supported by the ES Team, helped Johnny and Mary to rekindle their interesting in buying and operating their own truck.
While Johnny has more than 20 years of over-the-road experience and Mary has now logged over five years as a professional driver, the Mullises already understand what it takes to run a small business. They built, and still manage, a tree service in their hometown in Florida. As the miles passed by during the past 12 months, the conversation while driving Brian Tucker’s truck as part of FedEx Custom Critical fleet often turned to Expediter Services and the truck ownership programs offered through ES.
“We would talk about it quite a bit when we were out on the road,” said Mary of buying a truck through ES. “We’ve had the seed to buy our own truck for a long time. We just wanted to make sure that we had everything in line with the right opportunity. In addition to what we had learned at the Expo last year, what has really sold me on the program is the way that they have worked with our fleet owner. He’s new to trucking and they’ve really helped him. They’ve also been there for us.”
As they returned to Lexington this year for the Expedite Expo, Johnny and Mary knew that one of their first stops would be to revisit the Expediter Services booth. If the couple had any doubts about taking the next steps in their personal path to truck ownership, the chance to see and to ask questions of the ES Team confirmed the feeling that they had carried with them for the past year. ES offered the opportunity for true truck ownership that they had been seeking for the past few years.
“It almost feels a little surreal, because when we started thinking about truck ownership, it seemed like an unobtainable, unachievable goal. Now we’re here, and it just feels like it was one small step away. That’s what the process of working with ES has been like for us,” explained Johnny. “From talking to ES last year, we had an impression in our heads of what the process was going to be. But when we got here and starting working with them, they exceeded our expectations, and the experience of buying our truck is proving to be worlds beyond what we could have imagined.”
Johnny and Mary have been particularly impressed with the value that ES placed on the couple’s work history as professional drivers.
“Most people have (financial) struggles and complications at some point, and we thought purchasing a truck would become a challenge. Anybody, unless you have a bottomless pocket, is naturally going to think that way,” said Johnny. “But it wasn’t that way at all with ES. We’ve put up some really big numbers in terms of mileage and revenue. By looking at our work history, ES has been able to focus on what we do as professional drivers. They have also been able to see we have a good safety and service record over a long period of time. We feel like we’ll make a good fit for their program.”
“When we came to back to the ES booth, they made us feel at home again right away,” said Mary. “They focus on things that most lenders won’t consider.”
“And that’s one of the great things about ES. They’re so involved in the industry, whereas any banker or normal traditional lending institution is not,” said Johnny. “Also, traditional lenders typically don’t know much about trucking, and ES is directly involved in every part of the business. They are able to give you the support that you need to be successful.”
The excitement around starting a new business and the continued adventure of being on the road with a new rolling home office is now closer than ever for Johnny and Mary.
“We’ve still got a few final details to work out, but we feel really good about the process and our prospects for the future. It will be an exciting day when we pick out our truck, get the keys and take that first run,” said Johnny. “We are looking forward to working with Expediter Services for years to come. We know that ES is in our corner and standing behind us.”