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Getting started with hoppers

Oct 29, 2022 at 08:58 AM CST
+ 9 - 1

I think the key to success in trucking is specialization. It's hard to complete if you stick to dry van, reefer, and flatbed. I've conidered pneumatics, but I don't have the technical knowledge. Hoppers seem to be an easy entry in to the bulk world? I would have no intention of surviving with load board freight and I've been around long enough to know how to develop relationships. We run nearly 20 trucks and haven't hauled a broker load in more than two years. I intend to add at least 10 trucks over the next 12 months and would like to enter something specialized. I'm hoping to learn a little from the people in this forum that know a LOT more about the bulk world than I do. I'd like to know if grain and other bulk product move year round or seasonally? Can I keep a few hoppers busy all year, or do I need to run them seasonally and then run them on one of our other contracts in the slow periods? What features should I be looking for in trailers that I buy? Any and all advice is appreciated. Trucking is a better industry when we work TOGETHER! Have a great day folks!

Replied on Sun, Oct 30, 2022 at 06:34 AM CST
+ 3

Andy, if you are having a hard time competing in the dry van, reefer, and flat bed market then why do you believe hopper would be any different? Hopper rates are some of the worst in trucking because you will compete with farmers that can take a load of their own grain to the shipper and leave with a load you deadhead to get.

You mentioned Specialized work. IMO specialized work in trucking means a couple things; for example, having a skilled operator that knows how to chain oversized loads on a flatbed, or someone who knows how to handle livestock that pulls a pot. Specialized can also mean having a truck with a wet kit, blower, or pump. A hopper bottom trailer isn't specialized. The trailer is literally a couple tubs that when opened gravity does the work. The problem with getting into specialized work is cost and finding qualified drivers to run the equipment.

I've said it a couple times on this forum already and it's just simple truth. You will never be able to compete with immigrants, retirees, or a farmer with a hopper bottom trailer...

Replied on Sun, Oct 30, 2022 at 04:24 PM CST
+ 1
Quote: "Andy, if you are having a hard time competing in the dry van, reefer, and flat bed market then why do you believe hopper would be any different? Hopper rates are some of the worst in trucking because you will compete with farmers that can take a load of their own grain to the shipper and leave with a load you deadhead to get. You mentioned Specialized work. IMO specialized work in trucking means a couple things; for example, having a skilled operator that knows how to chain oversized loads on a flatbed, or someone who knows how to handle livestock that pulls a pot. Specialized can also mean having a truck with a wet kit, blower, or pump. A hopper bottom trailer isn't specialized. The trailer is literally a couple tubs that when opened gravity does the work. The problem with getting into specialized work is cost and finding qualified drivers to run the equipment. I've said it a couple times on this forum already and it's just simple truth. You will never be able to compete with immigrants, retirees, or a farmer with a hopper bottom trailer... "

that is complete bullshit..the immagrents..farmers..and retirees aint the problem....its the cheap dipshit drivers and so called owner op that haul the cheap crap...thats the problem....oh..lets not forget the wonderfull liein theifin brokers...and i have 2 cattle pots...parked because of the cheap ass rates 4 a so called specialozed work...they are some of the cheapest rate in the industry...after figure all the cosy.. a 5 dollar a mile cow load will pay u 2 dollars after fuel ,,driver..and ur bounce 500 mile to get it..then hope u get payed in 30 day...real a specialized deal..cattle are a joke anymore.. ..hopper pays a hell of a better rate..and u can sleep every nite..ur not runnin 1000 mile days..and not even appreciated..i got both my pots 4 sale to any one in the soecialized shit..

Replied on Sun, Oct 30, 2022 at 09:59 PM CST
Quote: "that is complete bullshit..the immagrents..farmers..and retirees aint the problem....its the cheap dipshit drivers and so called owner op that haul the cheap crap...thats the problem....oh..lets not forget the wonderfull liein theifin brokers...and i have 2 cattle pots...parked because of the cheap ass rates 4 a so called specialozed work...they are some of the cheapest rate in the industry...after figure all the cosy.. a 5 dollar a mile cow load will pay u 2 dollars after fuel ,,driver..and ur bounce 500 mile to get it..then hope u get payed in 30 day...real a specialized deal..cattle are a joke anymore.. ..hopper pays a hell of a better rate..and u can sleep every nite..ur not runnin 1000 mile days..and not even appreciated..i got both my pots 4 sale to any one in the soecialized shit.."

I hauled livestock for over 3 years and sold my pot in June for the same reasons you mentioned. I still believe livestock hauling is specialized work because to be any good you have to know how to handle animals, it's not for everyone.

Replied on Mon, Oct 31, 2022 at 07:55 AM CST
+ 2
Quote: "I hauled livestock for over 3 years and sold my pot in June for the same reasons you mentioned. I still believe livestock hauling is specialized work because to be any good you have to know how to handle animals, it's not for everyone. "

100% true..and dont 4get..ur gear shift has to go to the ceiling and ur jake brake must work in the parkin lot..the new breed of cow hauler are a joke...ive hauled cows 40 years..i enjoyed it..but the new breed can have it now..and every swingin dick thinks its just cool to run around with a trailer full a holes..lots a lites..and a ten gallon hat ,,and bump the shoot..and jump out in flip flops..baggy shorts down around their knees.....i think..maybe after the mid terms..and 2024 if shit dont change..its just time to flip burgers at mcdonalds for 25 bucks an hr

Replied on Mon, Oct 31, 2022 at 12:18 PM CST
+ 2
Quote: "100% true..and dont 4get..ur gear shift has to go to the ceiling and ur jake brake must work in the parkin lot..the new breed of cow hauler are a joke...ive hauled cows 40 years..i enjoyed it..but the new breed can have it now..and every swingin dick thinks its just cool to run around with a trailer full a holes..lots a lites..and a ten gallon hat ,,and bump the shoot..and jump out in flip flops..baggy shorts down around their knees.....i think..maybe after the mid terms..and 2024 if shit dont change..its just time to flip burgers at mcdonalds for 25 bucks an hr "

I never hauled cattle. Never wanted to. I have however been in the insustry since 1986, 24 years behind the wheel and 12 years behind the desk and I can tell you will all certainty that the trucking industry is 180 degrees from where it was then! We were respected and did a hard job in the mid 80's to just being a "damned truck driver" in the 90's. It is a shame! I guess it goes hand in hand with the dumbing down of the american people!

Replied on Mon, Oct 31, 2022 at 05:05 PM CST
+ 1

We are starting to move a ways from the posters question. To stay on track I will say this, since I've moved to hauling bulk I've been more profitable than when I hauled livestock. There are lots of available loads here on this site that can get someone started. Bulk hauling is more than just hopper bottom work though. There are loads here for dumps, belt, walking floor, pneumatic, and tank trailers. My personal experience with hopper bottoms is that they are great for hauling grain but not so great for hauling wet sticky feed ingredients that often times pay a premium. That premium is often times meant for a specialized trailer.

Replied on Mon, Oct 31, 2022 at 06:35 PM CST
+ 1

Andy, just my opinion. I would talk to a 3pl like Reliant in Lincoln, Ne. as a core carrier. I do know a couple of guys that do very well there. There are others. I would try that. Then you can see what it is really like. Give up some voting rights, but it is a start. You will figure out real quick if it is a fit or not. Everyone has to do their own thinking and go down their own road.