Nadav Strelitz – Owner Operator Interview | Status Transportation Owner Operator Jobs

Anthony Pruitt – Owner Operator Interview
December 13, 2021

Nadav Strelitz – Owner Operator Interview

Though Nadav may be pushing two million miles over the road, the most important thing he’s earned in his trucking career is his invaluable experience.

ST: What made you decide to come to the trucking industry?

Nadav: A lot of things were changing in my life at that time. I was looking for a career change. I left the job that I had at the time to pursue becoming an Owner Operator in the trucking industry.

ST: What did you do before that?

Nadav: Before starting a trucking career and becoming an Owner Operator I was working at an advertising agency and trading stocks. 

ST: What has kept you in the trucking industry all this time?

Nadav: I like what I do and I think I’ve developed somewhat of a passion for it. I enjoy being able to travel and explore. My wife tells me I have an adventurous spirit. I love being an Owner Operator.

ST: What tips can you give a new driver when working with their dispatcher?

Nadav: The dispatcher can build you or they can break you. Strive to work with a reputable trucking company where the dispatcher gets a percentage of each load rather than being paid like an hourly employee. When the dispatcher knows they will get a cut of what you’re making, they are going to find the best load possible. That’s how you make money in trucking.

So tip number one – as an Owner Operator, you need to work with a dispatcher who gets a percentage of the load so you can continuously make good money in trucking – I guarantee you’ll both be working well together. Tip number two, communication is the key to success. Communicate with your dispatcher foremost. Your dispatcher should be a closer person to you than your wife ha ha! Your dispatcher should always have you in mind when he’s looking for loads and to help you when you have problems. They’ll be the first to know about your issue and assist you with your truck.

For example, I think I might be a little over-communicative with my dispatcher. I text him when I’m loading, unloading, departing, what they assigned me. I report everything to him, everything. And I always recommend reporting every detail to your dispatcher because say there’s a mixup and you require the times of when you were at the location, you’ll have the information to fall back on.

ST: What is the most important thing that leads to success in this industry?

Nadav: Whether you’re just starting a trucking career or you are a veteran Owner Operator, take everything slow. I always say that when you do everything slowly, you get everything done faster. Take for example, you see a driver going over the speed limit – then a few minutes later you pass that same truck parked on the shoulder of the road with a State Trooper behind them. 

Another example – don’t reverse quickly into a loading door. Just think, what happens when you hit it? You’re there longer than you wanted to be.

By taking things slow, you avoid issues, accidents, mishaps, etc. You try to hurry things up and then suddenly you’re spending hours taking photos, filing accident reports, talking to your company about what happened. You don’t need to deal with any of this. When you do everything slowly, you get everything done faster.

ST: What was your first driving job?

Nadav: My first driving job was driving a box truck for a moving company. From there, I discovered that I enjoy the ability to travel. I decided I wanted to start a trucking career so I went to trucking school and got my CDL.

ST: How long did it take for you to be comfortable on the road when you first started?

Nadav: I still don’t feel completely comfortable while I’m driving, and this makes me cautious while I’m over the road. Being cautious as an Owner Operator will prepare you to check everything and keep you safe. It is better to be over prepared than under prepared. 

Remember, you are the captain of your ship, and if you get too comfortable; you risk running over the smaller fisherman. People forget they are driving a giant rig of 80,000 pounds, and that any type of incident can hurt innocent people.

ST: How did you decide to buy your own truck and become an Owner Operator?

Nadav: I was working as a company driver for two and a half to three years before I decided I wanted to purchase my own truck and take my trucking career to the next level. It took me time and a number of driving jobs to finally make the choice to become independent. I think it was my passion for travel and this industry why I decided to become an Owner Operator.

ST: What advice would you give to someone who wants to become an Owner Operator for the first time?

Nadav: Lease, don’t buy. You should try to lease to purchase rather than go to a dealership and buy. The difference between buying and leasing is that when you buy, you might have to finance for one month at a time. If you lease, you can make weekly payments. When you buy, you have to put one huge down payment all at once and usually, you’re taking on an older truck with issues. When you lease, you have to come up with a much smaller down payment, and yes, it’s weekly, but you’ll get a newer truck with fewer issues. When you’re starting a trucking career you need to make money in trucking as soon as you can. You can’t do that while sitting on a lemon.

The 2017 truck I’m driving now I gained through leasing and I only had to put $8,000 down, which included the insurance. The truck, by the way, is still under factory warranty. So I have the peace of mind that if something happens to it, I’m taken care of. That’s the way you should be starting a trucking career, without worry and plenty of peace of mind.

ST: Any tips or tricks that new drivers should know?

Nadav: When you’re a new driver and you’re just starting your trucking career there are two things to know that I mentioned prior. Take things slow and communicate, but also be honest. If you’re running late, be honest about those things – no one is going to execute you if you’re late. If you communicate this promptly to your dispatcher, nothing will happen. They’ll just readjust the delivery time and it’ll be okay. Don’t hide things, always be honest and direct in your communication.

Also, never drive tired. When you’re tired, you don’t have enough time to think or react while you’re out on the road.

ST: What was the most memorable experience on the road that you remember?

Nadav: Driving through the hills of North Dakota with everything covered in a blanket of snow. You couldn’t even see the path of travel. It’s gorgeous out there during the winter. You could see animals alongside the road occasionally. But remember, it’s nearly negative fifty degrees and you need to stand by your truck while you’re fueling, loading, and unloading. The romanticism of it all dies when you’re out there more than a day.

Especially when you’re taking these smaller back roads and you can’t tell where the path ends and the ditches begin. It was probably one of my most unusual experiences as an Owner Operator.    

ST: How long do you stay out on the road at a time?

Nadav: As an Owner Operator I’ll stay out for about a month at a time. Getting a load home was always difficult, just because of where my home state was located. So it based a lot of my trips home on loads that went through other states. In the Winter I’ll stay out for nearly the entire season but now I live closer to Chicago so it’s easier to find loads. 

ST: What regions do you run and why?

Nadav: When I first partnered with my dispatcher he asked me, “where do you want to run?” And I told him “send me to Dollarville.” He asked “where is that?” and I told him “it’s where the dollars are” haha! I will run North, South, East, West, and everywhere in between on your compass as long as you’re sending me where the rates are the highest. That’s how you make more money in trucking.

ST: What is the average of miles under your belt at this point?

Nadav: I average 150,000 miles a year and I’ve been driving for thirteen years now. So I would say somewhere close to two million miles. 

ST: How did you go about deciding on the truck you now own?

Nadav: That’s a simple question! When I was looking into buying a truck, I researched what vehicle was the most popular and sold most frequently around the country. All I did was ‘Google’ “what is the most sold semi-truck within the United States” and I found out immediately it was a Freightliner Cascadia. The reason I sought the most popular is that I wouldn’t have issues finding a dealership shop anywhere.

Whenever I have problems with DEF, a sensor, or an issue that might be a bit more complicated than replacing your tires or changing your oil, I can go to a readily available dealership shop. Kenworth and Volvo shops are not nearly as spread out as Freightliner shops. With a Freightliner, you’ll be able to find a dealership shop anywhere. The other reason I chose a Freightliner Cascadia is that when I worked closely with other Owner Operators up in North Dakota, I noticed something about the trucks in their shop.

All the trucks in their garage were Peterbilt or Kenworth, and they all had engine issues. The lifespan of some of these engines that I found was very short because of engine problems. Maybe they have the same output of power, but in terms of longevity, they fall short. I also chose the truck I own now because of the convenience within the cabin.

I think it’s one of the most spacious trucks. I have more things here in my cabin than most people have in their house. I have a massage mattress on my bed, a refrigerator, toaster oven, electric grill, microwave, coffee maker – I have everything here. I can even watch movies on my tablet, get a massage, while my steak is cooking on the electric grill all at the same time. I think it’s one of the best cabins in the market today. In a lot of other cabins, you feel claustrophobic.

ST: Are you planning to buy additional trucks and become a fleet owner in the near future?

Nadav: I’m planning to stick to what I have going for myself now. After talking with Maykel, the Relations Manager and Juan, my Dispatcher, I’m hoping to find a safe and responsible driver to put into another truck. After consulting with my accountant and Wife I’m hoping to lease to purchase a trailer in 2022-2023 with Status.

ST: What do you think are the most important things for an Owner Operator to consider when accepting the load?

Nadav: Always look at the rate per mile. Don’t worry about if it’s closer to home or where you currently are. You need to look at the rate per mile and understand if it’s right for you.

ST: How do you handle breakdowns out on the road?

Nadav: I always try to stop at a safe place as soon as possible. If you can make it to the next rest area or intersection, anything is better than waiting on the shoulder of the road. Once you’re safe, see if you can find the error code on your dash and once you do research it online. Once you diagnose half the disease, this is already half the cure. I’ll try to find the nearest dealership shop closest to me on my route.

Once I’m in contact with them, I’ll confirm if they have the parts and when they can take me. And in the meantime, by understanding my issue I know how far I can take it.

ST: Any situations while being in the trucking industry that have made you wiser or better as an owner operator?

Nadav: Of course! Buying my first truck taught me a lot. I bought an old truck and it was an expensive mistake. On my second truck, I went to a dodgy shop and as a result, my engine blew. Invest in the maintenance of your truck. It’ll be more expensive now but worth it in the long run.

The last thing I’d like to say is work with a reputable trucking company that has no funny games. Work with a company that will be honest and transparent with you. Status is an honest company and that’s why I’m looking to purchase another truck. All these other companies will nickel and dime you every chance they get. At Status, your word is your word. Working with Status has been the longest I’ve ever worked with a company and they’ve truly helped me grow as an Owner Operator.