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Episode 23: Trucking’s Hidden Weapon – How Kevin Rutherford Helps Owner-Operators Succeed

Kevin – 00:00:01:

Welcome to Freight Nation:A Trucking Podcast, where we explore the fascinating world of trucking and freight management. We dive deep into the freight industry and uncover why the trucking industry is more crucial to our country now than ever before. Stay tuned to uncover the driving forces behind successful trucking businesses and hear from the hardworking truckers and leaders who keep the world moving. Let’s hit the road. Well, all right, Freight Nation, it is a big day on Freight Nation today. And I am so glad that you took the opportunity to join us in giving us your time and attention because it’s going to be a really, really unique episode of Freight Nation, a podcast by truckstop.com, as I like to say. So because today is one of those like historical days, like for Freight Nation, certainly, but for me as somebody that’s been in trucking for over 25 years, when I started many, many years ago, you know, there’s always a few people that you get to run into that end up changing your life and what you do in your life and then what you do in your profession. And our guest today, the one, the only Mr. LetsTruck , Kevin Rutherford, the man for helping carriers in this industry is our guest today. He’s my good friend. As I mentioned, 25 years of friendship, longer than 25 years. I think I may have even had a little hair on the side of my head when we first met. But Kevin, man, thank you so much for joining today on Freight Nation. And I’m really looking forward to you bringing your usual advice and us just telling some stories about the industry and then what you got going on in the future. But thanks for joining.

Brent – 00:01:35:

Well, great to be here. I’m sure you’ve set aside like, eight to 10 hours.

Kevin – 00:01:38:

Yeah, well, this will be a multi-episode, kind of like Netflix does and Hulu. This isn’t just like one or two. It’s going to be multiple. So yeah, we probably ought to do that.

Brent – 00:01:47:

There you go. It’ll be a series. Yeah. We’ll even have seasons.

Kevin – 00:01:52:

You know what’s funny is while re-watching Suits, my wife who didn’t want to watch it, she wants to watch it now. So she kind of likes the rhetoric between all the lawyers. But yeah, absolutely. You and I could definitely do a series on the different things in which we’ve had the honor and the opportunity to be a part of in trucking. But you know what? Before we kick it off at Freight Nation, if you’re watching this, you’ll get the visual. If you’re not watching this, I’ll just tell you what’s going on once I do it. So let me just tell you how close I am with LetsTruck and Kevin Rutherford. So you know, Freight Nation, when I’m usually on, I’ve always got something from Truckstop because I’m super proud of Truckstop. I’m proud of what we do in the market. One of the other relationships I got to start was in 1999 as well. The same year I had to start the relationship with Kevin was with Scott Moscrip, who started Truckstop.com. Well, let me just show you how close I am with Kevin because I’m always wearing this logo. Well, I have a special shirt that I’m going to wear just for this episode right there. Yeah. So I have a very exclusive shirt given to me by the man himself, by Mr. Kevin Rutherford that has LetsTruck. For those of you just listening. It has LetsTruck on the apparel. It is a cool, absolutely cool work shirt that has a great LetsTruck logo on the back of it. And it’s got, I think it has Kevin’s letstruck.com. It’s got a signature and everything on it. So I feel honored. I keep these in my closet. I have two of them, believe it or not. And so that just shows you how much I appreciate the friendship that I have with Kevin. That I’m proud and honored to wear his logo of his company and his passion for this marketplace. So what do you think, Kev? What do you think? How do I look?

Brent – 00:03:16:

Well, I think that’s awesome. You know, it’s kind of funny about it. I do podcasts all the time. I have my own show. I do webinars. And I would venture to say, if you can find film or podcast of me with video, 90% of them I’m wearing that. That’s the shirt that I wear when I present. I wear it all week at the CMC when I do that. Today, it kind of felt like this was just a couple of old friends getting together. So here I am in a hoodie and you have the shirt on this guy.

Kevin – 00:03:45:

Well, somebody’s repping the brand, man. I’m repping the brand for you today.

Brent – 00:03:49:

Good. Thank you.

Kevin – 00:03:49:

Well, I can tell you. I can tell you the reason, hey, for Freight Nation, the reason that I’m wearing this shirt is because when it comes to dedicating his life and his business to improving the lives of truck drivers and more specifically independent owner-operators who want to run their own independent business, Kevin Rutherford is the top, the absolute top of the industry when it comes to that. Somebody who’s been a voice for owner-operators and carriers, somebody who’s been a counselor, somebody who’s been sometimes, and I’ve even heard him be a little bit of a disciplinarian. I’ve heard him say, well, that’s stupid. I wouldn’t do it that way. So he’s a guy that just shoots everybody straight because he was an owner-operator. He knows what it’s like. It’s part of his DNA too. And so that’s one of the things that I’ve always benefited from is just Kevin’s real direct and straightforward approach to this industry and no nonsense advice that he gives to the industry. And I know so many, many truckers have had a benefit from it. So Kevin, you and I met in 1999 at something that Overdrive Magazine, that Freight Nation, you know that I used to work there before Truckstop. I’ve gotten to work for two of the greatest brands in all of transportation, Overdrive, which is owned by Randall Reilly. And then I’ve got to work with truckstop.com. It’s been founded by Scott Moscrip. And so I’ve been lucky to do that. But along the way, one of the greatest relationships I got was the one with Kevin. I got to be a part of was the one with Kevin. And that all started in 1999 with a program that Overdrive was putting in the market, was bringing to the marketplace called Partners in Business. It was a business 101 to kind of help teach either company drivers or lease owner operators how to become independent businesses. And Kevin was on a panel and it was a very unique, we won’t tell the whole story on that. Maybe we’ll tell that in another episode. But, it was very unique about how Kevin became a star because he had not planned on being a public speaker in this marketplace. But he ended up realizing, man, I’ve got a real talent for this. And it has been nothing but just a rocket ship ever since. That, I think it was a Friday afternoon at Mid-America where we were supposed to go one and a half hours and went four. So it was all because of Kevin.

Brent – 00:05:40:

Yeah. You know, listening to you say that, you know, the idea that when it comes to helping owner operators, small carriers, that, you know, I’m at the top, it’s interesting why I’m at the top though.

Kevin – 00:05:50:

Yeah, that’s no doubt. Well, do tell.

Brent – 00:05:52:

Because I may be the only one doing it. Kind of easy to be number one when you don’t have any competition. I’m shocked at how little help there is for owner operators and carriers in this market. I look at other industries. I study other industries. I can find all kinds of education on almost every other business. If you want to get started, there’s all kinds of resources. I don’t know if it’s just the idea that truck drivers are so independent that they’re hard to reach for one thing. It’s hard to find these guys. You know in the industry that that’s kind of a thing. Companies that want to market to those single truck owner operators have a tough time reaching them and getting to them. When you get to them about advice and start talking about how they should run their business, they don’t always take well to that. It’s a really unique group, and there isn’t a lot of help. I’ve had the advantage of not really having a whole lot of competition at this. But I think the other thing, the reason it worked for me was what you said. I’ve been there. I struggled. I did it. I failed several times. Not enough that I got put out of the industry, but I had some big setbacks. I had to sell a bunch of equipment. Almost went bankrupt twice. It was a struggle. And then I realized that everything I learned during those struggles, I could help somebody else with. It really, I think I had the credibility because of that. I could say, I was there. I did that. This is what happened. This is how I fixed it. The other thing is you’ve got to be willing to tell these guys just straight out in many times. You’re going to piss people off. You’re going to hurt people’s feelings. A lot of people won’t listen. It seems to me like people either love my show and my content when they hear it, or they hate it and they just go away. There doesn’t seem to be a whole lot in between.

Kevin – 00:07:34:

Well, I think that’s the trucker sort of personality and DNA in between. They’re black and white on so many different issues that they’re for it or against it. You know, you used it really quick. I’ll tell you, to me, in watching Kevin in the 25 years we’ve been friends, from that Friday morning at MidAmerica in 1999 to where he is today, he was a regular contributor to Overdrive, Overdrive Magazine, Driving Force, Big Rig Owner, Pro Truck. Obviously, he was part of Partners in Business for the longest time and also became a radio personality and ended up being the top personality on SiriusXM for a long time. And now, everything moves forward. All programs and platforms, and you run your business and you’re always moving forward. And now, he owns his own platform to reach the audience. Kevin, I’m with you. That’s where I’ve worked for Overdrive, which was the voice of the American trucker, the voice of the owner operator. Very lucky and fortunate to work there. I’m not a truck driver, but man, do I love this industry and I love truck drivers. And so there was some help there, from a content standpoint because Overdrive was a business magazine, business of trucking. And then you came in and helped make Partners in Business a standard in the marketplace. And then you took off with LetsTruck. And then I left in 2013 to go work for a company that actually is right in the center point of where these independent small-com. One truck, two truck, three truck owner operator operations work and find freight where they make revenue. So I’ve had the absolute pleasure of working for two of the most owner operator-focused organizations inside of trucking. And then I have a relationship with one of the other one that is lightning-focused towards the owner operator. We have relationships with others too, you know, but the point is that you’re right. You would think there would be more, but there’s really not. So that’s why Kevin and I take it so seriously. Our responsibility to want to help this market. And I’ve learned so much from Kevin over the years on what does that mean? What does it look like? You can say it. You got to back it up. And so Kevin, let’s talk a little bit about how you started LetsTruck. Because I love people to know your story about how you got that sort of platform built out. All right. And then we can talk about some of the principles that run on LetsTruck. And then we can talk about, you know, what’s the future look like or where are you today in the platform? So I love for people to know your story a little bit about how you built out LetsTruck.

Brent – 00:09:41:

Got it. And one of the things we can do, we can kind of bring that whole thing full circle right now with everything we’ve got going on.

Kevin – 00:09:48:

So can we go back?

Brent – 00:09:50:

Yeah. You’ve mentioned 1999.

Kevin – 00:09:52:

Yep.

Brent – 00:09:53:

Partners in business. And you know my short story and how that goes, we can tell the longer one later. You know, you mentioned three things that I do. You mentioned giving the seminar there at Louisville. You mentioned all the magazines I’ve written for over the years and being on the radio. At any point prior to that in my life, if you would have asked me if I would have been doing any of those three things, the answer would have been absolutely not. Public speaking was my biggest fear. I hate writing. I love to read. I read constantly. I read novels. I average about two books a week. I have my whole life. I wish I had a list of all the books I’ve read in my life. That would be so cool if I had that. It’s about two a week. That’s thousands of books. I love to read, but I hate to write. You know, I used to think with all this reading, I should write a novel someday because you would think I’d be good at it. But I’m not, and I hate to write. And then as far as the radio goes, I couldn’t imagine at one point me ever being on the radio. Why? So it’s odd that that is kind of what I do. I do public speaking, I write, and I talk on the air. Now we are on our own platform. So, and I’ll go back to the start. Third generation in the trucking industry. My grandfather was an owner-operator leased to a moving company when there were no highways, there were no Truckstops. The seat in the truck was a wooden bench. That’s how far back we’re going.

Kevin – 00:11:16:

Yeah.

Brent – 00:11:17:

And you measured a trip from the East Coast to the West Coast in weeks, not hours. Those were trips that took weeks. Its just a whole different world. And my father, growing up around that, dropped out of high school in the beginning of the ninth grade and started driving a milk truck when he was 14.

Kevin – 00:11:35:

Wow.

Brent – 00:11:35:

Obviously didn’t have a license. And that’s all my father ever did.

Kevin – 00:11:39:

And this is where it was, this in Ohio?

Brent – 00:11:41:

By the time I came around, my father would have been in Ohio. Yeah. But Michigan for a while, that area there. I’m the youngest of seven. At one point, my father, four brothers, two brother-in-laws, and a couple of cousins were all either drivers or owner-operators.

Kevin – 00:11:58:

Wow

Brent – 00:11:59:

Yeah. It was kind of a family thing, but never kind of a family business. Everybody just kind of did their own thing. And honestly, my father was really a very frustrated owner-operator.

Kevin – 00:12:09:

Okay.

Brent – 00:12:10:

Yeah. Never finished high school. Didn’t have any business education. He didn’t want to be an owner-operator because he wanted to own a business. He wanted to be an owner-operator because he loved trucks.

Kevin – 00:12:20:

Right.

Brent – 00:12:21:

And he wanted his own truck. He wanted a truck he could work on. He loved spending time in the garage. And, you know, I learned a lot from my father about mechanical issues, which is something I’m really strong on today and I can help people with. I was turning wrenches on cars and trucks and motorcycles before I was 10. And that’s kind of what I grew up with. But, you know, even then it wasn’t enough to just buy the truck and think you were going to stay in business. And my dad, he would buy a truck, he’d work on it, he’d get it the way he’d want it, he’d put it to work and eventually just run out of money. And he’d go back and take a union job that he hated and work that job until he could save enough money and try it again. So that was kind of what I watched growing up. And my thought initially was, well, hell, I don’t want to be in trucking. That doesn’t look like any fun at all. So I thought I was going to be a helicopter pilot. That didn’t work out. Then I was sitting around one day when I was 21 thinking, okay, if I’m not going to be a helicopter pilot, what am I going to do with my life? And nothing sounded interesting. Well, I might as well just go drive a truck till I figure it out because it’s easy. I have all these connections. So at 21, I went and bought an $8,000 truck. I didn’t have to put any money down on it, but I had to borrow the $400 for a plane ticket to go get it. That’s how bad I was financially at the time. To think about starting a business at that time was completely ignorant, but I didn’t know any better. So luckily it worked. I had some struggles in the beginning, but then I had more ambition than brains. Before I finished my first year, I bought a second truck.

Kevin – 00:13:50:

Two cowboy.

Brent – 00:13:51:

Before I finished my third year, I probably had seven or eight of them. And in my fourth year, I was up to 11. The funny thing was, the more trucks I had, the more I was struggling financially.

Kevin – 00:14:03:

Really?

Brent – 00:14:04:

That wasn’t making sense to me. Yeah.

Kevin – 00:14:07:

Let’s talk about that as we get into the more operational part of the podcast. I want Freight Nation to hear a lot about those principles. So keep going. So you got up to 11 trucks.

Brent – 00:14:15:

Yeah. And what happened was really, I was adding trucks thinking I was making more money. And on the top line, if that’s all you’re paying attention to, you do. More money’s coming in. So you’re thinking, well, this has to work. But the top line in business doesn’t mean much of anything. It’s the bottom line. And I didn’t have an accounting system. I was running 11 trucks with no accounting.

Kevin – 00:14:34:

Oh my.

Brent – 00:14:35:

Yeah. Which is common in this industry.

Kevin – 00:14:36:

Yeah. I was going to say that’s not uncommon.

Brent – 00:14:38:

Yeah, it’s not. That was me. What I didn’t realize was even though there was more money coming in, there was way more going out and there was less left over. And it got so bad that there really wasn’t enough left over every week for paychecks. So I wasn’t getting paid some weeks. And I was living on credit cards. I mean, I was buying groceries and gas and just basic daily necessities on credit cards, thinking, well, if I keep adding trucks, at some point this will start working. And the more I added trucks, the worse things got. And I got to the point where I couldn’t make payroll. I was borrowing more and more money. And at a certain point, people will stop lending you money.

Kevin – 00:15:16:

They will.

Brent – 00:15:16:

And I could see what was coming. So I thought, what am I going to do? I went and talked to some bankruptcy attorneys. And believe it or not, every bankruptcy attorney I talked to recommended that I should file bankruptcy.

Kevin – 00:15:27:

Oh, I can’t imagine.

Brent – 00:15:29:

Yeah, every one of them. That was the answer. And I don’t know what made me stop and think, even though these people who should know what they’re talking about are telling me what to do, didn’t feel right. Because when I asked them what, and I was young and naive. And they’re saying, well, look, this is what bankruptcy laws are for. You file this, your debts go away, you get a fresh start. Well, that sounds good when it’s told like that. But in the back of my mind, and I had to ask him, I said, well, what about all this money I borrowed? I owe people money. What do you mean this just goes away? And he said, well, that’s how the law works. It just goes away. I said, well, that doesn’t sound right. They lent me money. I’m supposed to pay that back. And he said, well, you could do a reorganization and you could try to pay it back, but you don’t have enough revenue. That just doesn’t make sense. You just got to walk away from all this. I thought, man, I’m not going to do that until there is no other option. And I see some other options. I can sell things. I can sacrifice some things. And I think I can pay this back. And I started realizing, I started studying business more and realized I needed an accounting system. So I started working on spreadsheets and I did manage to save it. I didn’t file bankruptcy. I paid back every penny I ever borrowed. By the time I started working on that debt between vendors and taxes, it was about 60,000.

Kevin – 00:16:46:

Wow. Okay.

Brent – 00:16:47:

And I wasn’t making a whole lot of money. So it took me about four years, four years of really not doing anything extra, not buying anything new, selling things, cutting my budget way back and really focusing on the business. But it was pretty incredible. The year that I paid off that debt, I also bought my first home.

Kevin – 00:17:05:

Your first home. Okay. Fantastic.

Brent – 00:17:07:

Yeah. You know, I bought that first truck at 21. I didn’t pay off that debt and buy that home until I was 30.

Kevin – 00:17:15:

Oh, okay. Long term.

Brent – 00:17:16:

Yeah, that was a long struggle from start to finish, but I would never want to not have that all happen. Had that not happened, I wouldn’t be here doing what I do today. And I really love this. So the interesting thing was throughout all this, I figured out how to really run a successful small trucking company. I learned how to run one truck as profitably as you could possibly run it. And then I decided not to run a trucking company. I kept my trucks. I kept trucks for a lot of years, but it wasn’t my primary focus after that. I really started working on a company which became LetsTruck, whose sole purpose would be to help other people not have to go through what I went through. To learn how to do this right from the start. And that’s what I did. I started teaching people how to do this. And I wrote a software program, which is how I turned my business around was by writing all these spreadsheets that showed me what was happening. Then I eventually turned those spreadsheets into profit cages, which is our accounting software. And I just really enjoyed that much more than just running a trucking company. And that’s how I ended up writing the articles and then got working closely with the business writer at Overdrive when you were there, Charles Cox.

Kevin – 00:18:29:

Oh, I know Charles. Good man.

Brent – 00:18:30:

Yeah. Good man. Yeah. Great man. And that’s how I got the invitation to be on the panel to speak. And I almost turned it down. I was terrified. I worried about it for months and months. The day I got there, I thought I was going to be sick. We’ll tell the big story on another episode, but I agreed to do it because I was only on a pan. Except throughout the process, I ended up being the presenter, something I hadn’t planned on doing. But again, that worked out well too.

Kevin – 00:18:58:

Yeah, I think that it’s funny. One of the reasons why, and Freight Nation, if you ever wonder why I do this or why I ask the guests on to tell their story is that I always want to present to you as the listener or watcher, want to present to you that there’s lots of different ways to create success. Some people get into trucking, they drive a truck, they create a business, maybe acquire more trucks, and that’s where they want to stay and they create success there. But the trucking industry is so big. There’s so many opportunities for you to figure out what it is you do well. You love this industry, but figure out what you do well. And then just press the gas on it. And so Kevin’s a living, breathing example of that. Actually, what’s funny is facing his biggest fears.

Brent – 00:19:39:

So I got to tell this story because it just kind of highlights how bad my fear of public speaking was. So I go all the way back to elementary school and I said, I’m a big reader. As soon as I learned how to read, I just fell in love with reading. I fell in love with books and stories. So the first time the homework assignment was a book report, I was so excited. I’m like, well, this is perfect. I read all the time. Everybody else says, oh, I can’t believe I have to read a whole book and write something about it. I’m like, I read two books every week. This is easy. Until they told me I was going to have to get up front of the class and talk about it.

Kevin – 00:20:17:

Oh, look out.

Brent – 00:20:18:

Oh, then I thought, wait a minute. I didn’t sign up for this. This is not an exaggeration. Every time that happened, I would do the book report. I would put all kinds of effort into it. It’d be an awesome book report. When it came time to present it, I just wouldn’t go to school.

Kevin – 00:20:33:

Took a sick day.

Brent – 00:20:34:

Sometimes two or three days just to make sure that we had to be past that. There’s no way I was going to get called on to go back up there. That’s how bad it was.

Kevin – 00:20:42:

Wow. So natural, I would say, man. You’re so good at it.

Brent – 00:20:44:

That was the weird thing that happened at that first Partners in Business was if I would have had to have gotten up front and just started talking, I’m not sure how well I would have gone. But it worked out well because what happened was we had a room full of people who had a lot of questions. They had never been exposed to that kind of material before. They had a lot of questions. And what I found out was I was really good at answering questions. And once I started answering questions, I got comfortable. And I could even feel it that first time on the stage, that this was something I could be good at.

Kevin – 00:21:17:

You know, Kevin, what’s interesting is you are not any different than Scott Moscrip, who founded Truckstop. He will tell you right now, he goes, he calls it lecture. Hate lecture. He goes, I’m not any good at it. I sweat a lot. I get nervous. He goes, I just like dialogue. I like the questions. So what he’ll do, I promise you, he’ll come in whenever he would present for Truckstop. He would come in. He’d have about two slides for an hour presentation. Two slides. And one of them would be the introduction. Like, we’re here to talk about this. And then he’d have like three bullet points on the slide. And he’d say, hey, that’s really interesting. But what’s more interesting are the questions you might have around how freight moves and what goes on. What kind of advice do you need? Are there any questions? And I’m telling you, they had to run us out of the room every time we’ve ever spoken. He’s ever spoken anywhere because one question begets the next. And he’s such a comfortable person just with the questions. That sounds familiar. That sounds like Kevin Rutherford. So, yeah.

Brent – 00:22:16:

Well, you know, another advantage, you talked about this industry and how many opportunities there are. It’s almost like its own economy within an economy. I mean, this industry is so big. There’s so many players. There’s so many pieces of it that my biggest challenge, whether I’m doing a webinar or the radio show or a seminar is, what do I focus on?

Kevin – 00:22:38:

Right. Well, for sure.

Brent – 00:22:39:

If we only focus on the one truck owner operator world, think about all the different segments, all the ways they could set that business up, all the issues that are important to them, whether it’s maintenance or fuel mileage or taxes or working with brokers or freight rates. There’s so much in this industry to know. And my biggest challenge is I’ll get invited to do a four-hour presentation, and most people would freak out. Oh my God, four hours. What am I going to talk about for four hours? I look at that and go, can you give me more? Just four hours? I don’t know what I’m going to talk about in four hours. So questions are powerful because I can talk about kind of big picture and then tell people, ask me what you need to know, and then I can focus on that. Otherwise, I might be standing up here for four hours and not ever get to what’s really important to you because there’s so much stuff. So by allowing the audience to ask a lot of questions, it helps you focus on what they really want to hear at that moment.

Kevin – 00:23:38:

That’s sage advice. Speaking at a National Association in a few weeks, and it’s an association that deals with the asphalt industry, and had a meeting with the guy ahead of time, and he gave me about seven or eight topics. And he said, do you think you can fill 45 minutes with that? And I go, I think I might need three or four hours if you really want to cover this. So he goes, could you talk that long with this? I said, easy. So same thing. So you developed this passion that manifested itself into the giving of advice. So you started this out. So you got to building out your platform. And so where did it go from, once you got past the writing for magazines and being a radio personality? How did it all get past writing for magazines and get to the radio personality? How did that happen?

Brent – 00:24:25:

So kind of the same way the whole seminar thing happened. I remember exactly, I was reading an article in Overdrive Magazine, the business column that Charles Cox wrote at the time. And he did kind of a tax time article, and there was a mistake in the article about Per Diem. It wasn’t like an opinion mistake. It was a factual mistake. You know, Overdrive is a great magazine, always has been. I respect it tremendously. It’s been a big force in the industry. I wanted to just help them out to get that article right. So I remember sending Charles an email saying, hey, you missed a point on this or you got a number wrong. And he called me and I’m not exaggerating. I bet Charles and I talked for three to four hours on that first phone call. And when we got done, he said, can I make you my number one source? He said, can I just call you every month when I’m writing my column and run it by you? And I said, sure.

Kevin – 00:25:16:

I’d love that. Smart move.

Brent – 00:25:17:

And Charles was the one that invited me to be on that panel.

Kevin – 00:25:20:

I remember.

Brent – 00:25:22:

So that was what kind of got me into the seminar world. And then I got a call from Dave Nemo out of the blue. And I knew who Dave Nemo was. He couldn’t be a truck driver and not know him. He’d been on the radio forever. And he said, hey, I was reading your business column, because I wrote a business column for another magazine. And it was a series I was doing about buying your first truck. And he said, I would love to have you come on the air and talk about that article. And I said, sure. So I called in and I started talking about the article and he said, he stopped me. We were about 10 or 15 minutes in and he stopped me and he said, you know, he said, I’ve been on the radio a long time. And he said, our phones are exploding right now. He said, we’ve never seen anything quite like this. He said, people want to talk to you. It was supposed to just be an interview kind of thing with, you know, like you and I are doing, but we were on live radio at the time. He hadn’t planned on going to calls. And he said, people are like sending us text messages and the phones are ringing and they want to talk to you. So we opened up the phones and it was kind of like opening up questions at that first Partners in Business. We actually, I don’t know if this was just a fluke or a coincidence, but their phone system shut down while I was on the air. Yeah. They didn’t know if it was the call volume. They said they had never seen anything like that. So we kind of finished and Dave said, before the show ended, he said, you know, I wasn’t planning on doing this. He said, I thought it would just be a one-time interview. He said, but would you be willing to become a guest on my show and come on every month?

Kevin – 00:26:50:

Wow.

Brent – 00:26:50:

And I said, yeah, I’d love to. And he said, why don’t we do this? When you write your column every month, then the next week, come on my show and just talk about your column. That’ll be the topic. Perfect. That’s easy. It wasn’t even a week later. And we had already set up the schedule for a month later when I was going to be on the air, like a week goes by and he calls me and he said, do you think we could bump that schedule up to twice a month? Because we’re already getting a lot of calls. People want to know when you’re coming back. And I said, yeah, that’ll work. He called me the next day after that and said. We really think we just need to make this a weekly feature. Can you be a guest on every week? And I said, yeah, I’d love to. I had also done midnight trucking a couple of times back then. And then that became a regular thing. Then if you remember Sirius and XM were two separate companies.

Kevin – 00:27:38:

I called on both of them. One in DC, one in California. I did it. Called on both of them.

Brent – 00:27:42:

Yeah. Dave Nemo was on XM. And then after being on Dave’s show for a while, I got a call from Mark Willis at Sirius. And Mark said, I’d love to have you be a regular weekly guest on my show. So it got to the point where I was doing three regular guest spots every week. I went to XM at the time when it was still two companies. And I said, hey, look, I’m doing an awful lot of hours every week. Why don’t you just give me my own show? And they did. So that’s how I got started. So 15 years on SiriusXM was a pretty good run.

Kevin – 00:28:15:

Yeah, absolutely. A great run. But yeah, running for running. I was lucky enough to come on there and be on there once COVID started and just updating on what was going on and bringing what I could bring, which is the freight data and what’s going on with the different volumes and rates and lanes and all that stuff. So I found where I fit, that sort of thing. So you helped me find where I fit. So that was a lot of fun.

Brent – 00:28:34:

And that was such a great segment. People love that when you and I would just talk about. Mostly it was focused around rates and lanes and what’s going on. But the two of us, you and I have both lived in that owner-operator role from day one. You know, you talked about your father’s business and you being around trucks.

Kevin – 00:28:50:

Oh, yeah.

Brent – 00:28:50:

That’s when you fell in love with them. And then being at Overdrive, that was the owner-operator magazine. And Truckstop, obviously, small carriers are some of your most important customers. You know, I’m going to make a statement. You said earlier that you’re not a truck driver and you’ve never owned a truck. And this may sound crazy, but I’m sincere about this. You know more about the mechanics of how to run that business. Even though you’ve never done it, you’ve been around it, you’ve taught it, you’ve lived it. You know more, and I’m going to say this on paper, about how to run that business than I would say 90% of the single truck owner-operators in this country. You really do.

Kevin – 00:29:28:

Well, thank you. It’s a high compliment coming from you. It’s because of just being curious and having really, really good friendships. What you’ve taught me over the years, what many, many of the fleet owners have taught me over the years, what owner-operators have taught me over the years, being a part of the Partners in Business program with Overdrive. And there’s my little truck. Overdrive right there. You know, I got my little Overdrive truck. There you go the 1961 Mack right there. Got my Truckstop truck love here. Just being so, I don’t know, I just have this like super love for what trucking’s all about. It’s all about freedom. It’s all about independence. It’s all about working hard. It’s all about doing what you say you’re going to do. It’s all about, you know, loving to serve our country, you know, and how truckers serve our country. And so I’ve been honored to be a part of it. So thank you. I’ve always been, had the luxury of being surrounded by people that can help me to understand it. But the Partners in Business thing was really kind of gave me that sort of inside look into how to run that business and what creates success and what creates challenges. So really fortunate for that, man. I have a lot of thanks for that, appreciation of that, and thanks to you helping me with that.

Brent – 00:30:29:

Well, you know, I can go back a little bit. I talked about how I don’t have a lot of competition with what I do. It’s a tough market. I mean, giving advice to owner operators is a tough market. They don’t always take advice very well. They’re very independent. They can smell bullshit a mile away.

Kevin – 00:30:47:

Linda Longton used to say that all the time. The senior editor, director of Overdrive and CCJ and all that. She’d say, look, you got to remember one thing about owner operators. They smell BS faster than anybody else. So whatever you do, you better be honest and straightforward every single time. So it’s funny you say that because you sound just like her.

Brent – 00:31:06:

Well, boy, I haven’t heard that name in a long time. Linda was a big part of my beginning at OverDrive and I worked directly with her. Boy, she was sharp.

Kevin – 00:31:13:

Oh, still is. She’s doing great.

Brent – 00:31:14:

Yeah. I haven’t talked to her in years. Here’s something I can say, because that is absolutely true. Oh, let me go back and tell a story one time. I knew that. I learned a lesson early on. I think it was my first year on the radio. Somebody called me and asked me a question. I take questions about all kinds of stuff. And I don’t know why I did this this one time, but I never did it again. I had a question about a specific tire on a very specialized kind of trailer. And when they asked me, does Michelin, it was specifically about a Michelin tire, does Michelin make a tire in that size? And I said, yes. And I did not know that for a fact. I made an assumption and I didn’t want to say, I don’t know.

Kevin – 00:31:58:

Yeah, that’s a big rip.

Brent – 00:31:59:

So I just said, in my mind, I thought, well, the odds are, of course. They make that tire. So I just said, yes. It wasn’t 15 minutes later. I got an email from somebody and this guy just blasted me.

Kevin – 00:32:12:

No way.

Brent – 00:32:13:

He said, I thought you were better than this. He said, I’ve respected your advice. He said, but you are completely wrong. They do not make that tire in that size. They’ve never made that tire in that size. And then his final sentence was what was just the dagger in the heart. He said, you’re just like everybody else giving advice.

Kevin – 00:32:33:

That hurts.

Brent – 00:32:35:

Oh man. I said, I will never ever do that again. I will never answer a question on the air and tell somebody I know something if I don’t know it. And one of my most common phrases now, even though I can cover all kinds of topics, talk about all kinds of things, you will hear me use the phrase, I don’t know, a lot.

Kevin – 00:32:54:

Yeah.

Brent – 00:32:54:

But to go back, I have watched you around groups of owner operators walk in and become respected immediately because people understand that you do know what you’re talking about. That’s not an easy thing to pull off.

Kevin – 00:33:08:

I appreciate that. I don’t know. God gives you opportunity in your life to really help people. And if your focus is on helping people. That, you know, go do it as much as you can. And God’s given me this industry to be a part of. And it’s been great for myself, for my family, for my friendships, and to know that I get to get up every day and help people achieve their goals and their hopes and their dreams about running and owning and running their own businesses. And the business that I work for is beneficial to them creating revenue and success in it. And that we don’t do our job really, really well. We actually hurt their business. And so it’s what drives me every day. I don’t get out of bed and go to work. I just get out of bed and help my friends, you know, and I know you feel the same way. It’s just like helping your friends, right? The same thing. And I think that approach, I hope that that approach is always taken as genuine as I mean it, you know, which is really truly to help. And that’s why I’m so thankful that we’re partnered with LetsTruck, that not just Truckstop is partnered with LetsTruck, but that I’m partnered with Kevin Rutherford because the meaningful things that we can do together to help owner operators get to enjoy what they truly love to do even more is something that drives me every day.

Brent – 00:34:13:

You know, what I’ve watched over the years, there’s a lot to learn about this business. I teach a lot of stuff, just an incredible amount of material. And I’ve worked at learning it, but for me, it was easier because I was living it. I had a huge motivation to learn how to do this right because I was doing this. This was my primary source of income for a lot of years were my trucks. What I think is just incredibly impressive is you’ve learned this because you wanted to serve your customers and your friends better. And it’s a lot harder to learn something when you don’t have that motivation to learn. You weren’t learning this so you could run your business better. You learned this simply to serve the people you were serving.

Kevin – 00:34:56:

Yeah. Well, thank you for that. Oh, a lot of friends that owe that to my dad. My dad was that way. He’d just call me Lewis. He’d say, Lewis. That’s my middle name, by the way. He’d say, Lewis. He’d say, just go find somebody to serve, man. If you serve.

Brent – 00:35:07:

Hey, I have an idea.

Kevin – 00:35:09:

Yeah. What’s that?

Brent – 00:35:10:

I just got to say this before I forget it. So maybe we should do a show or a segment that we call the Lewis and Clyde show.

Kevin – 00:35:21:

I’m assuming you’re Clyde.

Brent – 00:35:23:

I’m Clyde.

Kevin – 00:35:25:

That’d be great. That’d be great. Yeah. Oh my gosh. We’ve got about three more minutes in this episode. Now here’s what we’re going to do. We didn’t intend to do this, but we are going to do this. We’re going to do a multi-part series to talk about. So we just basically did this as two old friends in trucking, talking about why we love this industry, why this industry is one of the most important foundational parts of the United States and our experience as a country. And then what we’ll do is next episode, we’ll talk about how the approach to carriers and helping carriers. And then the next episode, we’ll talk about the approach, how to brokers serve this marketplace and how they can best navigate in this marketplace. Is that fair, Kevin? We’ll do that in the next couple episodes.

Brent – 00:36:02:

I love that.

Kevin – 00:36:02:

Yeah, man.

Brent – 00:36:03:

Sound’s great.

Kevin – 00:36:03:

That’d be great. So we got about two minutes left. So let’s just let the cat out of the bag a little bit. We’ll talk a little bit about what we’ve got happening in March at Mid-America that is the sort of resurrection of something and also the recreation of something new. So I want to let you bring it. You announce it because it is something that is so, we’re going to have so much fun with this. So go ahead and bring it out

Brent – 00:36:24:

I’ll try to say this as quick as I can.

Kevin – 00:36:26:

Go for it.

Brent – 00:36:28:

So going back to that first seminar, you and I were there. I mean, that was the start of our friendship. And that program really became your responsibility. I mean, you were my primary contact on Partners in Business for years and years. We worked together on that program. You know, I immediately, when I realized how much I enjoyed doing that, once I kind of settled in and got comfortable, I love being up on stage now. I mean, I still get nervous. I still worry about, but boy, once I’m up there, I love it. I remember reading a book called Guerrilla Marketing. I’m pretty sure that was the book. I read so many books, but I’m pretty sure that was the book where I got this idea. In Guerrilla Marketing, they told the story of a guy who he owned a little carpet cleaning business and he was struggling. And it was a lot like I was struggling with my trucks in the beginning. And he really focused on how do I do this better? How do I succeed? And he got so good at it that he started a seminar program, a business seminar program for people who wanted to, you know, have small carpet cleaning companies or already did and were struggling. The ticket to go to that event was $10,000. I remember reading that thinking, you’ve got to be kidding me. But the idea of this really comprehensive program about running a business, that’s where that idea came from. I created the CMC, Certified Master Contractor, because I really focused on guys who owned one truck, but leased them to carriers. That was kind of my sweet spot in my market. Over the years, because that was a long time ago, we did the first CMC in 2005. We did our last CMC in 2018. And by that time, it had become a five-day program, five days and five nights. We didn’t quit. We had 400 people in the room. We had probably 14 speakers, I think. It became a really big program. In fact, it became too big. We had to rethink it. It had grown so much over the years. So while I was rethinking it, I got a call from Toby Young at the Mid-America Truck Show, and he said, we’re rethinking our truck show. I said, well, that’s interesting. I’m rethinking my seminar and he said, well, I’d like to know if you would be the owner operator, small fleet education at MATS, going forward and make it an official part of MATS. And I said, yes, I’d love to. And obviously you are a part of that. Truck stop is a huge part of it. You’re our partner in this. So this year we could count the days now we’re getting close. We are relaunching CMC 2.0, which is now Certified Master Carrier. A very, very comprehensive program starts at the beginning and goes all the way through to how do you run one truck as profitably as possible? And then once you figured out how to do that, how do we take the next step buying that second truck and starting to build a fleet?

Kevin – 00:39:21:

That’s going to be exciting, man. So Truckstops partnering with LetsTruck and partnering with Mid-America, because Toby Young and the team at the Mid-America Trucking Show in Louisville, Kentucky, home of a giant pork chop sandwich, is I love their pork chop sandwich. Their partner was this was kind of part of Toby’s heart. He’s like, I want to be part of that education, too. And he reached out to you, the leader of this in the market. And we certainly said yes immediately to partnering with you and doing it. And so we got it organized. We’re going to have it on the Wednesday before the show. So we’ll have it all day Wednesday. We’ll have a little get together on Tuesday night. We’ll do it all day Wednesday at the show, which will be all of the certified master carrier information and education that goes along in that. And then we’ll have a little half day after that leading right into the beginning of the show. And then you get to enjoy the Mid-America Truck Show. You get to see all the great looking trucks and all the technology and all the things that go into your business. And so here’s the kicker, though, Kevin. What’s the kicker? Like, it’s kind of limited, right? So we got limited space.

Brent – 00:40:14:

Oh, yeah.

Kevin – 00:40:14:

So tell them a little bit about why they need to go to the Mid-America Truck Show website and register right now for it. Tell them why that’s important.

Brent – 00:40:20:

So the last CMC that we did, one of our biggest problems was for three or four years in a row, we were so limited on space. We could only have 250 people at the location we were at. And we had a waiting list every year. But it got worse than that because we like to reward people that support us. So the way we did our waiting list was if you were at the live CMC event, we would announce next year’s dates on the last day. And people at the event always had first dibs on those seats. What happened was people kept coming back two, three, four, five times and our waiting list, nobody was getting off of our waiting list because we were selling out 70 some percent of our tickets to the people who were already there that year. So we’d only have 30% left and we’d only get a couple people off the waiting list. And we actually had people complaining. I’ve been on that waiting list for two or three years and I can’t get in. So we moved it. Our last one was 400 people for five days. It was way too big. What I love about the way we’re doing this event this year, this makes so much more sense. We were trying to do stuff we’re not good at, but we’re not good at putting on events. That’s not what we do. We don’t have the manpower for it. Truckstop brings so much to this in resources and connections and industry experience and just so much. And then bringing Toby and MATS into this because they do events. Who is better at doing events than them? They do the biggest event in the industry. So the beauty of this now is it’s three very strong partners doing what they do best. I can’t imagine how good this one’s going to be, but imagine we had a waiting list when that ticket was $1,800 and we got 400 people in. This ticket is $100 and we only have 200 seats.

Kevin – 00:42:17:

Just this year, we’re a special offer just to Brentwood as it comes back to the market. You said we had 200 seats, right? So two, zero, zero. So please, if you’re an owner operator, if you’re out there, you want to become an owner operator and you know, I know you’ll benefit from this information because I’ve seen it happen for decades now, people benefiting from this. Please go to the Mid-America Truck Show website and sign up for it. It’s right there. It’s already live enough. Am I correct on that, Kevin? It’s already live enough that they can sign up for it.

Brent – 00:42:43:

It’s got to be really close. By the time they see this, I would think that.

Kevin – 00:42:47:

Yeah. It’ll be live by the time it comes out. Yeah. So we say this because we want to have a great crowd there because this is the beginning of something unique. And there’s also, Kevin, give them a little bit of glimpse into, so this is a day and a half of in-person education. That’s the best way to get educated, but this is also the beginning of the year round education that you do as well. So it’s going to lead into that. Talk a little bit about that. And then we’ll wrap it up.

Brent – 00:43:09:

Yeah. So if I look at the last CMC, five days long, I spent more than 30 hours on the stage that week myself. And we had, like I said, 13 or 14 or maybe even 15 other speakers. Some pretty big names. I mean, who in the trucking industry doesn’t know Dan Baker?

Kevin – 00:43:26:

Right. Oh, sure.

Brent – 00:43:27:

And Dan was at one of our keynote speakers. Larry Winget, six-time bestselling author, was one of our keynote speakers. There’s a ton of material in this program. The new CMC 2.0 has twice as much material.

Kevin – 00:43:43:

Wow.

Brent – 00:43:43:

We could not present this as a live. It’s just not possible. We’d have to keep people for three weeks, which isn’t going to happen. So we decided on a hybrid. We will kick it off with a day and a half of live presentation at MATS. And then two weeks after, we will hold our first virtual training program. And we’ll do it every two weeks all throughout the entire year. And then we’ll finalize that again at MATS in 2025.

Kevin – 00:44:12:

And now when you say virtual, you don’t mean like you’re going to be recorded and they listen to it.

Brent – 00:44:16:

You’re going to be live.

Kevin – 00:44:17:

So be live with you live. So you’ll get Kevin in the flesh as close as you can get, but it’ll just be like we’re talking here, which is by the way, everything, a lot of education is transitioning towards that today, because it’s you being able to get the education more around your schedule, where you can get more in-depth education, where you’re able to get it in smaller doses. So Kevin, that’s super exciting, man. We at Truckstop couldn’t be more happy. I brought this to our leadership and I said, this is the opportunity we have. I said, what do you think about it? I said, are we in or are we out? And the two people I was talking to went, we’re in a thousand percent. So that kind of tells you, Freight Nation tells you a little bit about Truckstop’s heart towards wanting to help the owner operator and to help really create a successful business. That’s how we design all of our products. That’s why they’re still very cost-effective to be able to buy them and use them. And we also give them an in-depth across the board, every way we can to make it available to you. So Freight Nation, that’s a wrap for this episode of Lewis and Clyde. I think that’s what we’re going to call it.

Brent – 00:45:12:

Lewis and Clyde mini series.

Kevin – 00:45:15:

I love it. I love it. What a joy. As you can tell, Kevin, have a real friendship with each other, and there’s nothing more valuable than friendships in this world. And so we hope that you saw that today, but you also saw that we really are unified in wanting to help create great opportunities for owner operators and truck drivers to enjoy what they love to do, which is to drive the truck, man, at the end of the day. Freight Nation, what a fun episode for me just to spend time with one of my dearest friends in my life, but also somebody who actually inspires me to want to help this industry continue to grow. So Freight Nation, look for this episode one. We’ll probably do episode two, three, four, and five, or who knows? We’ll probably just keep going on as Kevin and I usually do. As we always like to say at the end, don’t forget to work hard, be kind, and stay humble. Thanks a lot for listening and watching, Freight Nation. We’ll catch you next time. On behalf of the Truckstop team, thanks for listening to this episode of Freight Nation. To find out more about the show, head to truckstop.com/podcast. If you enjoyed this episode, make sure you hit subscribe so you don’t miss any future episodes. Until then, keep on trucking and exploring the open roads with Freight Nation: A Trucking Podcast.

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