Owner Operators have stories—many stories—and they have earned their place in America’s history for keeping their eyes on the road with the resolve to ensure our transportation industry remains on-track and delivering goods. When starting a trucking career, it is important to consider the perspective of seasoned trucking professionals like Oscar Lindelof. We hope his story shows you that it is not difficult to learn how to make money in trucking, but you need to remain focused and dedicated to this exciting profession.
ST: What made you decide to come to the trucking industry?
Oscar: Before starting a trucking career, I was a breakfast cook for nearly thirteen years. Don’t get me wrong, I was happy for those thirteen years but I wasn’t making any money, unfortunately. I heard that the trucking industry was a good money-maker and I knew that would be a good change of pace for me. When I was a kid, I always wanted to travel around America, see the sights, and see what it had to offer. Driving a truck is an easy way to do that very thing for free, haha!
ST: What has kept you in this industry all this time?
Oscar: As I was starting a trucking career, I went to the CDL school of Miami beach, Florida, for about two weeks and I haven’t turned back since. I just love the solitude of the road and the time to think about things. I can’t explain it more than that. Driving can be dangerous too, especially when you’re going back and reflecting on all the things that have happened in your life. Like, God, why the heck did I do that? Thinking back on all the difficult moments, all the missed connections, it could be dangerous being in solitude too—so, you have to be careful.
ST: What tips can you give a new driver when working with their dispatcher?
Oscar: The first thing is communication. Having a good rapport with the dispatchers is very important in this industry, just accept everything that comes your way, and keep moving forward when you’re figuring out how to make money in trucking. I’ve never turned down a load that my dispatcher offered. Since Status Transportation works on percentage, my dispatcher is going to try to get the largest percentage they possibly can, which means they’re going to give me the best paying loads that they can find.
ST: What was your first driving job when you were starting a trucking career?
Oscar: The first company I worked for was Werner Enterprises. I enjoyed working at Werner but I’ve always liked the idea of owning my own truck much more. Werner tried so hard to keep me there, they offered me more money, and tried every trick in the book. I explained to them, first and foremost, how can I even be in this industry without trying to be an Owner Operator?
ST: How long did it take for you to be comfortable on the road when you were starting a trucking career?
Oscar: Since starting a trucking career, it took me a few months to get over the nerves from trucks passing me by while on the road. I was comfortable after nearly two months of driving, but you know, you don’t want to be too comfortable as a truck driver either. You always want to be on the alert when it comes to driving, and knowing what you’re supposed to do in case of an emergency.
ST: How long do you stay out on the road at a time?
Oscar: I try to stay out on the road as long as possible, now that I’m an Owner Operator. If I can stay out there more than four months at a time, I’m happy.
ST: As an Owner Operator, what regions do you run and why?
Oscar: I run 48 states altogether, I feel like if I’m going to be out on the road that long, I want to catch a glimpse at what this country has to offer. Like I said earlier, since starting a trucking career I love being able to see the other areas, and sites while I’m on the road.
ST: What do you think are the most important things for an Owner Operator to consider when accepting a load?
Oscar: Money is always good, but really, it’s “Can I make it there on time?” Or “Am I going to be too late?” “Is the area I’m delivering to a good area to come out of?” These are all the important things I have to consider when I drive and plan my loads and figuring out how to make money in trucking.
ST: What is the average of miles under your belt at this point?
Oscar: It’s very hard to say…I haven’t kept count of my miles unfortunately. But I’ve been driving for over five years and of course two of those years have been with Status, and I am happy they’ve proved to be a reputable trucking company.
ST: How do you handle breakdowns out on the road?
Oscar: I don’t handle break downs very well; I hate breaking down over the road. I try to prevent breakdowns by getting my parts replaced during the quarterly DOT inspections at Status’ Georgia shop.
ST: How did you go about deciding on the truck you now own?
Oscar: The biggest thing for me when deciding on my truck was the space inside the truck. As a new Owner Operator, having that was the most important thing for me. I wanted as much space as I could get for my side projects. I also wanted that space so I could learn new hobbies—and also for my dog, Reba.
ST: What advice would you give to someone who wants to become an Owner Operator for the first time?
Oscar: When you go to purchase your first truck as an Owner Operator, go through a bank. Do not purchase a lease from a company, that way you leave your options open if something happens and you are not tied down to any one company. I would say have the courage to do it, have about $20,000 saved up for the down payment, and of course come to Status Transportation because they’re a reputable trucking company.
ST: Are you planning to buy additional trucks and become a fleet owner in the near future?
Oscar: Absolutely, but unfortunately good people are scarce these days. Whenever I do become a fleet owner, I will make sure I pay my employees well, so they can be comfortable with me as I’ll be with them. Having that trust is essential.
ST: Any tips or tricks that new drivers should know?
Oscar: Slow and steady wins the race, when you’re talking about how to make money in trucking… I’ve had a few traffic tickets along the way though, so I’ve made my mistakes. But that’s how you learn, right? You learn from your failures and you just need to make sure that you don’t fail so badly that you can’t come back from it.
ST: What was the most memorable experience on the road that you remember since starting a trucking career?
Oscar: My most memorable experience as an Owner Operator was when I found my dog on the road in Paragould, Arkansas. She was chasing cars at a stop sign and she looked very sad. She looked like she wanted to be with somebody really badly. She hopped in front of my truck and I beeped the horn. I told her to get away. I had to get out of my truck to shoo her away but she just came right back up to me. I eventually caved and that’s how we met. We have the same birth month, the same scar, and we both needed each other.
ST: You’ve recently added a project table inside your truck, what made you decide to put that together?
Oscar: I was trying to figure out what I can do on my time off where I’m not sitting down or watching movies all day. I wanted to be doing something creative and have some fun while I’m doing my laundry or while I’m taking a 34-hour break. After a while, it got a little bit repetitive to me and I was getting very discouraged. I really love this job, so what kind of fun would I be doing at home?
I was thinking about making leather jewelry boxes, but that requires a lot heavier tools and it releases dust into the truck. So, that was out of the question. I thought about making leather wallets but I don’t want to sew that much, and then I thought about binding books. It requires a little bit of sewing, but binding books is more than that because you can use these tools to create beautiful art on the covers.
It’s not messy, besides the glue, and it just seems fun to me. It’s a first-time deal for me. I’m going to actually turn the middle part of my table into an artist’s easel so it’ll lift up If I ever wanted to change from bookbinding to painting. I think that’s the best thing about this table is that there’s plenty of things I can do with it. It could be my computer desk, a workbench, an artist easel, anything I want really.
ST: Do you have any other hobbies that you pursue at home or on the road?
Oscar: Life is not all about just focusing on how to make money in trucking. When I’m at home, I like to go surfing and I like to collect comic books. I know I’m almost 40 years old, and that’s something that you’re not going to hear a 40-year-old say, but I really do like comic books, more specifically Star Wars comic books. I like the original Marvel run of Star Wars, I have a lot of the Dark Horse set, and now I’m starting the new Marvel/Disney set.
ST: Why is it important for drivers to keep busy on the road (when they’re not driving) as an Owner Operator?
Oscar: I just feel that it’s necessary to keep your mind going and not let it fade away, keep the creative side moving, you know, inspire yourself to think more, to read more. Even though you’re a truck driver and you can’t go home as often as you would like to, because you want to focus on how to make money in trucking, it doesn’t mean you should stop being creative.
ST: Any tips for other drivers who would like to take up a hobby while on the road?
Oscar: The only tip I can think of is if you are willing to spend the money on the hobby, then do it. If you’re on YouTube and you’re seeing this person is building something small, light, and it doesn’t require too many materials, bring it into the truck and build it. Everything is out there for you to learn as you figure out how to make money in trucking.
ST: What is the most important thing that leads to success in this industry?
Oscar: In the booking-binding industry… I’d say patience, and of course lots of repetitive steps. In the trucking industry… All jokes aside, that’s what is most important to succeed in this industry – patience. Patience, determination, and seeing things through.
ST: Are there any situations while being in the trucking industry that have made you wiser or better as an Owner Operator?
Oscar: I would say, talking to other drivers and Owner Operators, just learning their tricks and seeing what works for you. Every day is different, so you grow a little wiser every day. Sometimes, I will watch YouTube videos of trucks getting into accidents and just kind of remind myself that these things can happen to anybody, but more specifically to anybody who’s not paying attention. You have to be careful and constantly learn how you can improve when starting a trucking career.
My advice is if you’re thinking about doing something, just have fun with it and work with a reputable trucking company. Do some research, like “What are all the tools required to do this?” Is there any literature? Are there groups on Facebook? Are there any YouTube videos on how to do it that are in good detail? Just have fun with it. It’s all out there for you.