Episode 4: How Rahmel Wattley Built The Truck N’ Hustle Community

Brent – 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 hard-working truckers and leaders who keep the world moving. Let’s hit the road. Welcome to Freight Nation, a trucking podcast. Thanks for joining us today. We appreciate you giving us your time. Joining me today is the one and only Rahmel Wattley from Truck N’ Hustle. You’ve probably heard him all over The Internet, giving great information and doing great interviews with people trying to give everyone the information on trying to help to run their trucking operations better and make more money inside of trucking. We’re really, really proud today to have him on. On the program. Rahmel is a very unique person in the industry. He is a serial entrepreneur. He comes up with ideas and brings them to life in the market. Truck N’ Hustle was not his first endeavor. He’s owned two different companies that deal with recruiting truckers and staffing within the industry and has had some success with that. N’ then 2019 launched Truck N’ Hustle. And it’s been a super success across the industry. And why not? Because his big personality is something that’s infectious and people love and they trust. And so we’re just happy to have him on today. We want to hear his story and we want him to talk to you guys and tell about what makes him tick and what great success and what he looks for. So, you know, Rahmel, thanks for joining us today. And I really appreciate you doing it.

Rahmel – 00:01:30:

Brent, it’s an honor, sir. Thank you for having me. I appreciate the opportunity.

Brent – 00:01:33:

Yeah, well, you got it, Rahmel. At Truckstop.com, you know, we’re all about bringing information to the industry and to all the players in the industry, especially the small businesses that are out there. That’s what got Truckstop.com started back in 1995. And what we stick at today, 90% of our customers are small businesses. And so I know that’s really a lot of what you talked about. I’ve seen a lot of your programs out there and watched the different interviews and stuff. They’ve always been so compelling. You know, the thing that I always like to know, and I think everybody wants to know Rahmel, it’s like, okay, they see this guy on a podcast. And so you get a little starstruck, right? You know, you’ll start, yes, you know, they get, Ooh, he’s famous, you know, sort of thing, which is cool. I know when you walk around show, people go, oh, hey, Rahmel, you know, they probably want to get the picture made with you and stuff. So what I think people really love to know is the backstory, man. What got you started inside of this crazy freight trucking freight moving industry? So just tell a little bit about that. What got you started and what keeps you going on?

Rahmel – 00:02:27:

Man. So it definitely is crazy. And the way I got into this industry is very interesting. I get into that. I don’t know if I’m famous yet, man, but it is amazing. Like when I’m at the trade show and when I’m out and about and people do recognize me, they show me a ton of love and I’m super appreciative for that. So the backstory, I have been in transportation for over 20 years. I got started in the industry probably around 2004. So I always get the dates mixed up, but I entered the industry getting my CDL. At that time, it was really a means to an end for me. I was unemployed and I was looking for a job opportunity that could pay me a decent wage. And at that time, you know, there was a lot of marketing material out there to say, you know, become a Truck driver, you’ll make $50,000 a year or whatever that number was. And it was obviously very attractive. So I said, you know what? Why not? I was actually on unemployment at the time. And I went to it was in Trenton, a place called One Stop, and they were sponsoring people to get their CDL. They were just, you know, they would pay for your class. And I was like, hey, no brainer. They’re going to pay for me to make $50,000 a year. Yes, sir. Let’s do it. Right. You know, so I went, you know, it took me about six weeks. I got my CDL. Class was really cool. Met a lot of great people, you know, learned a little bit about the industry there. After I got my CDL license, then became the job hunt to, you know, actually get a job. And when I was kind of like looking around for different jobs, I quickly kind of realized during the class, even though I passed, I knew that driving a Truck wasn’t for me. I’m also a driver recruiter. I have driver staffing services. And I always say, like, you know, a driver, like when you shake his hand, like as soon as you shake their hand, you know, if they’re cut out for the work or you know if they’re not. And I’m just a guy who just I’m really just not cut out for it. I’m not mechanically inclined. I could drive a regular vehicle, but I’m not a great driver, you know. So I was like, man, you know, I don’t know if I’m the last doing this, but at the end of the day, I did have the license. And I said, let me see if I could put it to work. But very quickly, I found an opportunity which really changed the trajectory of my career. There was a small mom and pop company called Bond Transfer. And I had an interview there and I was telling the guy and I was like, listen, you know, driving a Truck isn’t really something I ever really wanted to do. It was kind of like a means to an end. And the gentleman, he was a young guy, he was about 30 years old, and he was running this account. It was a local account. The company was called Bond Transfer. They were based out of Maryland. I’m in Sinamins in New Jersey, but they were at a warehouse called Ball Plastic. So basically what they did was they would deliver plastic bottles to all the Pepsi’s across the country. Right. So they would take like the resin, the small resin balls would come in on the automatic trailers and then they would go into this machine. They would spin up and then you spin up a plastic bottle and then they would take 22 pallets, put them on 48 foot trailers and ship them out to like Cranston, Rhode Island and different places like that. Right. So that’s what they did. So talking to the guy, he was like, man, you know, you know, cool. He really liked me, really personable guy. We kind of hit it off. And he was like, did you ever think about becoming a dispatcher? And at that time, I’m like, well, what do you mean? Like, so I was familiar with like dispatchers is like police dispatchers, things like that. Right. So I was like, well, how does that translate into this industry? I really didn’t know. He was like, man, basically, you’re just managing the guys. Right. Like, you’re just going to manage them. Like, you’ll tell them where to go, what to do, kind of plan their routes and so forth. And just kind of make sure they stay on point. Right. And I had some background in doing a little bit of management, you know, from some previous youths in a previous life, just like working in different fields. It was still early. I was still my early 20s, but I had some job experience. And, you know, I was like, yeah, I could do that. You know, I’m very good with people. I’m very good leading men. I said, that’s no problem. And he was like, well, listen, he’s like, I have an opening here. Would you like that opportunity? And I said, sure. I said, how much does it pay? So he said I could start you like 40, 45000 dollars. And I was like, what? 40, 45000 dollars. Now, mind you, at this time, this is early 2000s. Right. I didn’t have a college education or any degree, right, or anything that would put me in the position or say I was qualified for this position, right. Any type of corporate opportunity. And to find a job to pay that much as a salary, that was amazing for me because ultimately that matched what I would be doing driving the truck. And I don’t have to drive the truck. So I’m like, man, let’s do it. So he hired me right there on the spot. He talked to the owners and he was like, listen, I met this guy. I like him. I want him to work here and be a dispatcher. We’re looking for a guy anyway. Met the owners. They were like, cool, let’s do it. So started working for that company. And I learned a lot. I learned a ton. It was a small mom and pop business, as I said, and I really got to see how a trucking business was ran. For the most part, all of the routes were dedicated. They would do the Pepsi plants and they would also do this thing called Beverage Capital out of Maryland, where they were like sipping bottles over the BevCat. And then sometimes we would do some like light backhauls, like just to get our drivers back. So I learned about load boards at that time and how to find loads and so forth. And just really started to understand trucking. Moved forward a couple of years. The gentleman who brought me in, he actually ended up getting fired for committing fraud. Plot twist, right? He actually was creating these fake companies and then like invoicing himself as these fake companies. And like it was just a crazy fraud thing that was going on a lot back then. So the company found out what he was doing. Obviously something happened and they had to let him go, obviously. But because we were such a small operation, I was kind of like the next man in charge, right? Because it was me and there was another woman who was there doing like some accounting and maybe like one other person. But really, in terms of like running the business and the operation, I was the next guy in line. So because of that, I actually ended up running that account. So I went from like this young 20 year old guy who kind of came in in like an entry level position to two, three years later. Now I’m running the account and now it’s my account. This is a multi-million dollar Pepsi account. And it was just really by default because I was the man. I was the guy who knew everything. It was like they could try to hire somebody new, but they would end up having to train somebody all over again and all that. Right. So I just took over. So obviously I get in that role and I learn a ton more because now I have a lot more responsibilities I didn’t have before. Shortly after that, they go out of business. Now it wasn’t my fault. I didn’t drive them out of business.

Brent – 00:08:31:

Wait, my money’s in fraud and now they go out of business.

Rahmel – 00:08:35:

Now they go out of business.

Brent – 00:08:36:

The success you are today is amazing because it’s like you’re like the guy that just no matter what, just won’t give up.

Rahmel – 00:08:42:

I won’t give up. So this company goes out of business, right. And basically because of their financial mismanagement, they were like a second or third generation company where their father or grandfathers had started the business. Look them up. Bond Transfer, right. And basically the sons, you know, they kind of just took it over because it was their business takeover, but I don’t think their hearts were really in it. It was more so just something that they had and they were just building on what was already designed.

Brent – 00:09:07:

And second generation sometimes very hard to then run a business. It’s just exactly. All the time. Yeah.

Rahmel – 00:09:13:

Yeah. So they ended up losing that ball plastic account and then they pretty much went out of business. That was their bread and butter. Right. So as that happened, obviously I had to find a new place. So while I was there, there was another gentleman who kind of came to help me. That gentleman went to work at Ryder while I was still there. So when Bond was going out of business, he knew and he reached out to me and he was like, hey, man, listen, I hear Bond is going under. You want to come to Ryder? And I was like, sure. Why not? I’m a safe man. And I want to just mention this because like this is what relationships are about. Right. My entire career, whether it’s, you know, from my entrepreneurial career to my work career, I’ve always gotten opportunities because of the relationships I’ve had. I’ve never done a true interview. Right. And even starting businesses, everything was kind of there in place because of the relationships. I was able to leverage the people I knew in my network in order to get started and to give me a head start. Right. So again, there’s a relationship. So he pulls me in, he says, come over the Ryder, come work with us. So I go over the Ryder. I work for their RIL division. So that’s Ryder Integrated Logistics, which is like their local account. So they had the CVS account at that time. They no longer had that account. Penske took over that account now just recently. But so basically what they were doing was they were delivering to the regional CVS is right in the area. So that’s like Jersey, basically like Maryland, the main is the region that they covered. So, you know, went there again, learning the Ryder way just kind of took my knowledge up to another level because they’re extremely process driven, systems driven. Everything is like, you know, checks and balances and they just do things the right way. Right. Because obviously they’re a huge corporation and they have great people that work for them and they just really know how to run a trucking business. That’s why they are who they are. Right. So learned a ton working for Ryder. I stayed there for seven years.

Brent – 00:11:05:

How long were you at Bond?

Rahmel – 00:11:05:

I was at Bond for four years, three or four years.

Brent – 00:11:09:

We’re now 11 years into it.

Rahmel – 00:11:11:

Yeah, 11 years in the game, man. Eleven years. Right. So now we’re at Ryder. We learn a ton about the business again. And then, you know, my entrepreneurial bug starts to kick in. Right. I’m like, man, I’m not working for these people anymore. They are driving me crazy. Even though I’m learning a ton, I’m super stressed out. I’m not sleeping. I’m working 24 7, you know, dealing with drivers and so forth in the operation. It was one of those very time sensitive operations to where you have managers calling you at night. “Where’s my truck?” And just everybody’s going crazy. And I’m like, if I’m going to go through all this stress, I might as well do it for myself. I want to start my own thing. I’ve always had the entrepreneurial spirit anyway. So while I was at Ryder, we had about 50 to 60 guys that we always kept. Right. That was our driver pool. But there were times when we’d have seasonal spikes, like during Christmas, Valentine’s Day, Thanksgiving, right. Any holiday where we’d have to increase the number of driver count because we’d have all this commodity to deliver. Right. Like because everybody’s buying stuff now. CBS needs a bunch of stuff for Valentine’s Day, a bunch of stuff for Thanksgiving, whatever. So we had increased the driver count. And during that time, we’d reach out to these driver lease companies. Right. So we would get, you know, a driver here, a driver there, 10 drivers from this company. And we’d have a pool of 60. But we would take from some this other pool to increase our driver count during these times. So I was like, this is an interesting business. And I started like really studying it. And because I’m kind of behind the scenes, I’m looking at the invoices, I’m looking at what they’re charging for the driver. I’m talking to the drivers because I’m dispatching them and they’re telling me how much they’re getting paid. So I’m doing the math. I’m like, hold on. So I’m seeing the company charging like forty five dollars. I’m seeing you’re getting paid like twenty dollars. There’s like twenty five dollars in the middle here that this company’s getting. Right. You do that hourly. This could be a pretty decent business. So I started doing my research and I end up starting that type of business. So I end up leaving Ryder to start my first driver staffing company, which was called Ultimate Driver Staffing. The funny story is, is Ryder becomes one of my first customers. I go from being, you know, a dispatcher for Ryder to sending Ryder drivers from my company. Right. Just like a really full circle cool moment. So I get into business. I start Ultimate Driver Staffing. We have a very successful first year. We did about one point two million dollars in revenue. This was around 2015. And the reason was not because we were good entrepreneurs. I started with myself and a partner who was a driver also. It wasn’t because we were great business people. It wasn’t because we were good entrepreneurs. It was just because demand was so crazy at the time. Everybody needed drivers. Right. So we had a few accounts. Not only do we have Ryder and all the Ryder accounts, we had a few postal accounts that kept us really busy. Company called Eagle Express. And, you know, we just had a ton of different accounts because everybody just needed drivers. So they would look to companies like Line to Supply and with drivers. So we did really well. However, on the flip side of that, because we didn’t understand business, we ran into a lot of issues. Right. We didn’t understand how workers’ comp worked. We didn’t understand a lot of the costs that kind of went into running the business, you know, because we just were we were hungry. We just wanted to do it. Right. So we kind of were like, we’re going to jump and then we’ll like put the parachute together on the way down and we’ll figure it out. And at the end of the year, that’s exactly what happened, man. Ended up like making like one point two million dollars and own about three hundred thousand dollars to workers’ comp. Right. So even though we made so much money, we still were in the red at the end of the year because we didn’t manage our money correctly. It was our first time becoming entrepreneurs and we just didn’t know what we were doing. Right. And that’s just a whole nother story. So we were able to dig ourselves out of that hole eventually over the next couple of years and stabilize the business. But then myself and my partner, we came to a point in the road where we just didn’t see eye to eye. Right. We had different visions as to how to run a company. He was more like an outlaw. He just would do whatever it took to kind of make the money. I was more like I want to have a business that’s around for, you know, 10 plus years that I can exit at some point and sell a lot of our core values were just different and what we wanted in the vision. And anybody listening to this, I would say if you do ever get into a partnership, make sure you have those discussions very early just to understand, like to know that you guys want the same thing and you guys have the same vision because if you’re not aligned, it’s going to be a problem later down the line. And there were some other issues there as well. You know, I won’t even get into that, but it led me to end up selling that business right to him because it was one of those things where either you have to go or I have to go. He wasn’t going to go. So I just said, you know what? I will sell you my piece. We came up with a number and I was able to leave that situation, you know, and be able to still start another business. There was no non-competes or anything like that. Put myself in a position where I could leave. I left him the business. I took a chunk of money and I was able to start something else. But in the interim of that is when I started Truck N’ Hustle in 2019. And that was because I realized everything I went through in this business. Right. I wanted to do something to like give back and teach people like, man, this industry is difficult. I was always like a podcast listener. I love podcasts like since the early days before everybody had a podcast. I was also into music as well. So I loved using my voice to express myself. So I was like, I’d love to do a podcast, but I don’t know what to do it on. And this one day just hit me, man. You’ve been in this trucking industry for so long. Do it about trucking. Do it about the business. Do it about what you love. So I was like, all right, cool. So I started the business and the goal was to talk about people who were getting into business in the industry. Also talk about my story and just talk about, you know, just the grind and the hustle of it. Right. Truck N’ Hustle. Right. That’s where the name kind of came from. It was like perfect. When they hit me, I’m like, man, this trucking thing is just a hustle. Truck N’ Hustle. That’s exactly what it is.

Brent – 00:16:40:

That’s how you got to the name.

Rahmel – 00:16:41:

Really? That’s how I got to the name. It was that simple. It was that simple. And when I said it, Brett, it was like, that’s it. It’s Truck N’ Hustle.

Brent – 00:16:49:

I’ll tell you something funny because I love the name of your company. I think it’s awesome. First off, it’s very timely. It feels very timely. But I work for a Truckstop. Right. And our official legal name is The Internet Truckstop. And most people don’t know this. I’ll just say real quick, it’s kind of like Truck N’ Hustle. All right. People go, well, how did you become The Internet Truckstop? It’s like, well, we were founded by a physicist who knew all about The Internet. He knew from a little bit of experience that truckers found loads at truck stops on TVs. And he said, well, we’re going to be on The Internet. So we’re The Internet Truckstop. That’s how The Internet Truckstop.com got its name by a physicist that didn’t know any better. So you’ve always been about wanting to help people, even as a dispatcher from the beginning. And you’ve also, my guess is there’s something deep inside of you that just won’t quit and won’t give up no matter what your circumstance. I’m sure that you heard before, OK, with no education, how far are you going to go? Well, that didn’t look like it stopped you at all, Rahmel. Looks like that fueled you to kind of say, OK, life’s about learning. Life’s about continuing to learn and continue to grow. I’m going to keep doing that. So, tell me, was that sort of part of your motivation for Truck N’ Hustle?

Rahmel – 00:18:00:

It was, man. I mean, number one, yeah, people do feel if you don’t have any formal education that, you know, it’s only so far you can go. But there’s a thing about just real life experience that always is going to trump any formal education. And that’s not a knock to formal education, because I think people should always take advantage of any education they could get. But we can’t discount just real life experience going out there, learning, falling on your face and just getting up and doing it over again. That’s the true education. And that’s where formal education actually materializes and becomes real applied knowledge, right? Because you have to get out there and actually do it before the theory actually kicks in, because everything else is theory until you get out there and actually do it. Right.

Brent – 00:18:38:

And I agree with you 100% that in 1995, something cool happened for everybody in the world. The Internet started, right? The information now is free. One of the best things about it is that you can continue to grow. By the way, you only by the time you finish any formal education, you’ve only learned about 25% of what you’re going to learn your whole life. You got to keep growing. You got to keep moving. N’ I know that’s a lot of what you talk about on Truck N’ Hustle.

Rahmel – 00:19:00:

So honestly, when I first started it, it was a passion project. It wasn’t a business at all. It was something I was doing because I just needed something to pick me up and just kind of like just bring me back to life and invigorate me because of what I had just went through. I went through a very difficult time in business that was like I didn’t see that coming. Right. So it was like, man, I had worked to build this thing. I named it. It was my baby. I put most of the money up to get it started. I was the one who started this business and now it’s gone. So for me, Truck N’ Hustle was like, I need to do something to be able to like pour into myself and also pour into people. When I was working as a dispatcher, I always was that guy. People call me R.J. That’s my like name in like the industry. R.J. Right. And that’s because like people always messed up my name, Rahmel. So I just said, you know what? R.J. Is cool. Right. So the thing is, is like I was always known as that dispatcher or that guy that the drivers loved. I always looked out for everybody. Right. So that’s always been who I was. If guys know that, like they’re not getting their fair shake, they can come to me and say, hey, R.J., man, listen, this is what’s going on. I need this or this person isn’t treating me right. I was just always that go to guy. Right. And I’ve always wanted to just help people. It’s just innately who I am. Right. So when I started Truck N’ Hustle, it was just the same principle. It was like, listen, I learned some things and starting this business. I had a lot of failures and I want to put that on front street. I want to talk about it. And I want to also shed a light on this industry because literally this industry like saved my life. Right. In terms of like, I didn’t know what I was going to do when I was 20 something years old. But I got this opportunity to be in this industry that number one was forgiving of the fact that I didn’t have the college education. Right. I didn’t have all the accolades and credentials that it takes to get into some industries. All I had was Hustle and determination and I was willing to learn. And that was one thing that I always loved about the trucking industry. Even like when I worked with Ryder, a lot of the C level people at Ryder started out as mechanics. Right. Like they would always promote from within. It didn’t matter what you had on paper. It just mattered where you are, hard worker. And did you want to do the work and where you were leader. Right. And that’s all they cared about. And I noticed that about the industry. It’s not about what you have on paper. And things have probably changed a lot since then, because now they’re looking for more academics to come in and run things. But at that time, 20 years ago, it was just all about men. Like, it was like a secret society. Like being in the industry, it’s like everybody didn’t know about the industry like they do now. It wasn’t so social media driven and all that. Like it was a very secret industry that it’s like, if you know, you know, if you’re in this industry, you know about it. If you’re not, you don’t know anything about it. It means nothing to you. Right. So I wanted to kind of have conversations around that. Right. So I started trucking. Also, my first interview was with a gentleman by the name of Dante Dean. Dante was one of my drivers at Ryder. Dante left Ryder, started his own company. He bought a Truck and he started pulling Intermodal. He started pulling trailers out the port. Container. Right. So I watched him transition from a company driver to a owner. Right. Now he owns his own company. He bought two trucks. Now he’s employing people. And we just talked about that story. Like, how was it being a company driver for Ryder? And now you own your own business. You know, tell me emotionally what you went through just that whole transition. And in turn, I was able to tell my story about being his dispatcher to go into owning my business and staffing. And now I’m sending drivers to the very company that I used to work for. Right. So this was a cool story of just kind of trading those war stories about what we both had been through. And then I kind of followed that blueprint moving on. And it just really picked up fast, Brent. Like, people just gravitated for it. I think we were early. I think we just came out of Town where this is like early 2019. People were yearning for it and they didn’t even know they were yearning for it. That’s what it was. It was like people wanted to hear these stories, but they didn’t know that there was, number one, a platform that would share the stories and number two, that when they heard the stories, they would be so exciting or be so recognizable. Like, oh, man, I hear myself in that person or this person sounds just like my uncle or this person. I went through the same thing. I’m going through the same thing. Or I want to aspire to be that person, whatever that looked like. Right. So when these stories started being shared across social media, it just picked up and just attraction was crazy. And it got to the point where people started reaching out like, I want to tell my story. And then it went from me reaching out to people to people reaching out to me. But, you know, so when I started to hit grown legs and grown that kind of traction, I was like, man, we have something here. Like, people really love these stories. And at that time, we’re doing Podcast Audio. I’m on Zoom right now. We’re going into the pandemic. So everything is on Zoom. And I wasn’t sharing anything on YouTube like how we do now with Zoom calls. Everything was just audio, pure audio. But it was in 2000, I think late December 2019 or 2020, I did one interview on video. It was because I was going to Atlanta for a conference. I did an interview on video. I put that video on YouTube and that video got like maybe seven or eight thousand views. And I was like, oh, man. I said, there’s an opportunity now, mind you, before my kids used to be on YouTube doing like little things and stuff like that. And I’d be like, what are you doing with yourself, man? Get off YouTube. You know, this is not a real, this is not a real career. But when I saw like the opportunity on YouTube, I was like, hold on, I have something. That same first video now has like over 700,000 views. So when that happened, I said, man, what am I doing? I got to get on YouTube. So I immediately started like all the Zoom calls that I had. I started just upload them to YouTube. Before that, I didn’t want to because I didn’t want people to see like what happened behind the wall, like behind the curtain. Right. But at that time, I didn’t realize that that was a good idea. I thought podcast people just want to hear your voice. I didn’t think they wanted to see your face. It just was my mentality at the time. But when I got on YouTube and in this interview, I was like, oh, man, people love that. So I started uploading all the YouTube interviews and it started building my YouTube channel. Then I did the one video that ended up doing 700,000 views. It just like really started building the channel. So I said, you know what? I’m going to go all in on this thing and I’m going to start doing all content, this in person, in studio. And that’s what I made the transition to actually going to people and just really invested in building it. And that’s how we just started growing, man. Once we started doing the in-studio, in-person stuff and just really started like improving the content, the level of content, it just took off and the channel just started growing exponentially from there. And that moved us into the other verticals that we’re in now, like the event space and the conference and just doing the different things that we’re doing now. So that’s kind of like the story of Chuck and Oswalt, man, how it all began.

Brent – 00:25:41:

All right, look, I got to ask you this question, I look you’ve had a really incredible result with. Continue to build things. But as you’ve said a couple of times, you didn’t have it all figured out and you got into the trucking industry, but you didn’t want to be in the part that everyone thinks that is what it’s all about, which is the driving part of the market and certainly we don’t have trucks moving things places, nothing happens. But the trucking industry is a giant, giant industry just in moving freight alone. The cost of it, it’s over a trillion dollars. So it is so big as far as the opportunities out there. And so you kind of by process of continuing to move forward, continuing to be persistent, that is great. By the way, I got to point you to a great quote by Calvin Coolidge about persistence and determination, because I think that is like also part of the foundation of Truck N’ Hustle, which is, you know, basically you never give up. You know, it’s, “you don’t have to have all the brains, you don’t have to have all the opportunity, you don’t have to have all the pedigree, but you do have to be persistent and you have to be determined that you will not give up”. And that’s a definition of what you’ve done. I mean, that’s an incredible story. I see you get Truck N’ Hustle launched. You got cool swag. You got all kinds of great stuff. You got a great logo. It’s like everybody loves the stuff, but you’re not sitting still because you said, all right, well, I’m going online, but you said the word relationship. And so you created something. The next iteration of Truck N’ Hustle was FreightFest. You guys just had FreightFest, right? We did. I looked at what you were doing and it’s just fantastic. The way you’re meeting people face to face, because in the end, this industry is the most relational industry in the world. And that’s one reason why I love it. I’m like you. I’m not even as qualified as you. I don’t have a CDL. I’ve been in the industry since 98. And as soon as I got in and I went to my first show, it was a show, believe it not, about truck stops, the Nassau show in Nashville, Tennessee. I just fell in love with it, man. It’s the most honest, wonderful industry in the world. N’ so you got to Truck N’ Hustle. You’re building even more into that because you’re continuing to iterate it and move it forward. So you got FreightFest. Tell me what made you take a giant risk and do a live event. Because let me tell you, I’ve done lots of live events. Soft, they’re hard as you know what to do. Second off, they’re super expensive, but you guys did it. You’re obviously creating success with it. So tell us a little bit about how you got to that idea. What were some of the first steps? What were some of the missteps? And then tell us how this year’s show went.

Rahmel – 00:28:10:

So because we developed these relationships with so many people, because we’re in person, we’re going, we’re spending time, we’re breaking bread with them. A lot of times we’re going out to dinner and meeting their families after we do these show, like that’s why I call it the Truck N’ Hustle family, because everybody that comes on the show literally is like family because we spend time together, right? We literally sit down, we’re talking, we learn about each other and so forth. So because we’re able to develop these relationships, we have a huge network, right? And we have an awesome and amazing network. So one of the things that people would always kind of ask about was like, you guys should do some meetups. So you guys should do some events, man, because when somebody goes on Truck N’ Hustle, the next thing that happens is their DMs, their inbox, their emails, their phones, it blows up. It goes crazy because now everybody’s trying to reach out to them for their products, their services, their expertise, whatever it is they’re talking about on the show. Now everybody’s trying to get to them. So people will be like, man, you should do something where you have like these people together. And I’m like, all right, let’s think about that. So we started doing events last year and I feel like we’ve been doing forever, but it’s really started last year in July. We did our first networking event, which we call the reset. So basically what that was, it was just, I was like, yo, let’s get together. Let’s network. Let’s bring our community together and let’s do something to where we have like a speaker. We have like some good food. We have some networking, like games and enforce people to kind of get to know each other. They could exchange business cards and so forth. Just create like an environment for people to connect. So we did our first one. It was in June 28th, 22. And we got our first one in Atlanta, Georgia. We planned for 80 people, 150 people showed up to the point to where the fire marshal had to say no one else could come in here because the venue is too small. Once we had that, we were like, man, this is cool. Let’s do it again. Two months later, we did another one in Houston, Texas, 450 people showed up. So we’re like, oh man, people love these. What have we been doing? You know what I mean? So myself and the team were talking about it and in my years are paid events. Like people are paying to come to these events and free. So we’re like, man, people want to connect. And mind you, this is like COVID is kind of like starting to tamper off a little bit. It’s still a thing, obviously, but it’s not people are kind of starting to come outside and so forth. So we start seeing success with the events after the second event. We say, you know, we’re going to do a conference like let’s go all in. Now, in my mind, I had already planned. I had already thought about this thing. Freak this. I had this vision one day because it’s number one. Our birthday was just a couple of days ago, October 2nd. So in the fall, you know, there’s a popular thing called FreightFest, right. For like Halloween. So I was like, man, I want to do an event in the fall around my birthday and I want to name it FreightFest. And this is how I ideate. Right. When I have an idea, I write it down in my notes on my iPhone and I immediately go and I grab the domain, right? Whatever domain is applicable. I just grab the domain names and I just go to go daddy or whatever, grab the domain, just leave it there. And I’ll pay for it for years. Sometimes I never use these things, but there was just an idea and I want to have it just in case I go back to it. So I grabbed the domain. This was a while ago, but I didn’t know when I was going to do this. It’s just an idea for me. But after we did those two events, I said, you know what? FreightFest, let’s do it. So literally in two months, we put together FreightFest, reached out. Now, this is the power of having a network. It wasn’t hard for us to reach out to everybody from the Truck N’ Hustle Network and say, hey, I need you to speak. I need you to show up. I need you to do this. You know, we put together about 40 speakers and just put together FreightFest. N’ all it was was Truck N’ Hustle live. Right. So we’re taking, I took the people who I felt had the most compelling stories or could add the best value to the conference, who I felt would just really shine on stage. And I mean, there was so many to choose from. It was easy. And everybody was just so willing and happy to pour back into us. They’re like, sure, where and when? Let’s do it. So we put together the first conference and it just was amazing. We had a great big turnout. Everybody had so much fun. That was just the start of it. We knew we had something. So, you know, FreightFest is just for people just kind of listening. Truck N’ Hustle, we cover transportation and logistics end to end. Right. So we don’t just focus on just traditional trucking. We focus on all things, transportation and logistics. Right. So we want to expose all the different opportunities, whether it’s Last Mile Logistics, right, whether it’s like Heavy Haul, whether it’s a specialized Cypher Freight like Air freight, ocean freight. Right. We don’t want to just focus on one thing because it’s a huge industry and we want to just show you all the different opportunities out there that are out there for you. Right. So we cover government contracting. We cover it all. But then we always make sure we underline it with just the fundamentals of, you know, how to get funding. Make sure you understand compliance. Right. You know, insurance, all these things that any business needs to know, specifically trucking, obviously. Right. You got to have compliance, safety, all that stuff. So we make sure we underline it with that. But it’s just really an exploratory of where you get to go and discover just a world of freight that you may not have known existed because you have people who have been in the industry for 20 plus years and they’re still learning. You know, like when they hear about it, like, oh, I didn’t even know that that existed. You’re a part of the supply chain. But you pick up at that point and end at a certain point. There’s things that happen before you and there’s things that happen after you that you may not necessarily know about. And that’s what we wanted to expose on the platform. And as we started interviewing people, we realized that that was our edge. That was our moat. That’s what we did that nobody else was doing. Everybody was talking about two things. Number one, we were telling stories and number two, we were covering the industry end to end. Right. So whereas a lot of different platforms, they cover one part of the industry, we’re bringing it all together. Our mission statement is we globally connect transportation and logistics professionals. So now that gives you an opportunity to not only understand different areas of transportation and see how that impacts your business or how it could impact your business, but it also gives you opportunities to connect with those people. And if you wanted to pivot your business or you wanted to add different services to your business, now you understand how these things work. That’s what grew into our goal. We wanted to be the one place where everybody could have the commonality of saying you could be in mergers and acquisitions or you could be a small fleet owners and you were both on the same platform. Now you have a bridge because at some point a person who’s a small fleet owners could become a big fleet owner. That’s going to need to understand how M&A works. Right. And now you have a direct person or a company or somebody. You could put a name or face to that process. Right. Whereas a owners in M&A needs to understand how the small business person thinks, right, because there’s always just that disconnect in this business. Everything’s so fragmented and everybody’s on their own silo. They don’t know what everybody is talking about or the pain points of everybody. So that’s what trucking us does. It brings it all together. Right. So that’s what we found that was special. So when we do the live events now, you fast forward to this year. Man, you have people from every different vertical of the industry sharing the stage.

Brent – 00:35:06:

How many people came this year?

Rahmel – 00:35:07:

So we had about 500. So we had a lower turnout this year, but a extremely quality turnout, right? And last year we had a quality turnout too, but I feel like the content was just, we took it up to another level. What happened is this year people struggled, the industry struggled. And everybody who I spoke to who does conferences and trade show is difficult to get people out because a lot of businesses are struggling right now. And obviously there’s a price point associated with this conference. You alluded to the fact earlier that they’re expensive, right? So I tell people all the time, it’s like, we don’t wanna charge these numbers, right? But if we can’t get a certain amount of sponsorship in order to foot the bill, guess who has to pay for it? We do, we gotta pay for it. And this isn’t any rinky dink, just come into a warehouse and watch people talk. No, sir. Like this is top of the line. You know, you’re eating every second hour of the day. We’re giving you live performances. We’re giving you a full experience for the weekend. So this stuff costs tons to put together. So we have to recover what we put into it, right? So because of that, I feel like so many fleet owners were struggling this year. We didn’t have the turnout that we had last year, but we still had an amazing time. And I think it really set the pace for next year. We’re gonna take it to a whole nother level.

Brent – 00:36:22:

Well, there’s no doubt. It’s just like everything else, man. There’s ups and downs. And if you keep holding this show, people will keep seeing it as a destination spot, so I look forward to being there next year and watching the action and stuff going on. So I just want to ask you a question. So just give me like a little taste of, okay, you got Truck N’ Hustle, the podcast and the media platform and you’re everywhere now you went into live events. All right. What’s in your brain next?

Rahmel – 00:36:45:

So the next thing for me, what we’re launching is something called Logistics League is going to be something for founders and transportation and logistics professionals to have a place where they can have these high level conversations with each other and talk about some of the different pain points that they’re having in their business. During the conference, we had a really cool mastermind. I had my friend Ami Kassar, who’s the president of Entrepreneurs Organization in Philadelphia. He brought the president of Entrepreneurs Organization from Houston. And I also had Mitchell Ward, who was on our panel, who owns MW Logistics, one of the largest three PLs in Dallas, Texas. What we did was we brought our VIP attendees together in a room. They had an amazing dinner and we all just talked about what was going on in their businesses. So we had about 20 different tables and we had the tables kind of come together and create one question. They all talked together independently. And we said, come up with one question that you guys could agree on. That is the most important thing of you all that’s impacting your business the most. And they asked that question. And then we went roundtable and just discussed it and just talked about best practices and different things that some of the senior leadership, some of the senior people in the room were doing to get through certain problems that some of the people who are newer in the industry were going through. And it was amazingly helpful. People just loved it. Even down to talking about books that people could read and just resources, there’s so many different things that seem simple, but sometimes you need to hear it again. Right. Talking about making sure you have a clean balance sheet and like the simple things in order to be bankable, your balance sheet has to be on point. Like focus on that. And these are things that we know as business owners, but they’re not the first thing we’re thinking about all the time because we’re so caught up in the operation. Right. So we want to create something like that virtually to where we can have that online space for that, where people who are running these transportation and logistics space can not only connect and leverage each other’s contacts and businesses, but they could also share best practices and also just do some coaching and different things like that. So right now we’re in the beta phase of that. We want to build it in public to where people help us build it. We don’t want to just put something out there that we think the people want. We’re just doing some surveys. We want to know what you want. And so right now we launched it, but we’re doing it very slowly and quietly to where we get the right people who are interested and we let them help us build it in tandem. That way we know what the people are asking for. We know what they need. And that’s really our next big thing. N’ as we build that Truck N’ Hustle, a lot of the content will start to kind of go into Logistics League. A lot of our meetups, a lot of our content, it’ll be kind of like all there. And that’s where it’ll live. You know, we’re big now. Like we reached the masses, but we want to reel it in and just really start building a community of serious entrepreneurs in this space who want to grow. So that’s the way we reel it in. We have a place for everybody to come and then we start, you know, creating the content for those people specifically in building more intimately. So that’s really the next goal. So we started out wide with the wide net and now we’re just bringing it in a little bit tighter. That’s the next iteration.

Brent – 00:39:46:

That is so exciting. I can’t wait to see how that grows and how the Logistics League continues to grow it into an impact in the marketplace. Well, Rahmel, I could talk to you all day. Your energy is infectious. I can tell why you’re successful. You got the right heart towards this thing. You really want to help and serve the trucking industry and help people be successful, which is the same mantra we have at Truckstop.com. And now I look forward to what we can do together as two businesses in the market. And so it’s just been a joy to have you on today, man. You have a great story. I really, really appreciate you telling it to everybody on the Freight Nation.

Rahmel – 00:40:21:

Thank you so much, sir. I appreciate you. I wish you continued success in Truckstop.com, continued success. I look forward to working with you guys as well.

Brent – 00:40:28:

Oh, man, it’s going to be great, man. Well, everybody at Freight Nation, thank you so much for listening today. You got a treat listening to Mr. Rahmel. You got a PhD in how to be an entrepreneur and how to stay at it and make sure at all times you’re hustling. I’m going to steal a little bit of your word there. Thanks to the Freight Nation and Trucking Podcast. We at Truckstop are just here to help you succeed. Make sure you stay focused on your business. Make sure you work hard, you be kind, and you always stay humble. Appreciate it. Thanks to the Freight Nation. Y’all have a great day. 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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