#37: Linn & Will Owen – Owners of Linn Owen Trucking Inc.
Linn and Will Owen Podcast Transcript
Neil Dudley: Okay everybody, this is the Pederson’s Farms Podcast. I’ve got some guys that make sure- well, they just play a really important role in getting our products from Texas to everywhere else we go with it. I want y’all to meet Linn and Will Owen. That’s a father and son duo, isn’t it? All right, good. They’re going to talk to us all about trucking and how that plays a role – well, they may not know exactly how that plays role for Pederson’s, but they’re going to know how it plays a role in their lives and their business and what the tricks and tough parts are of trucking these days. I know this much, it costs more than it used to. Fuel in itself has, I don’t even know, probably over a hundred percent increase. Okay so, Linn, since you’re the dad, we’re going to let you go first. Tell us a little bit about how you got in the trucking business, maybe just your story, just so the listeners can get a quick glimpse into that. And then, I want to ask you some questions about the business.
Linn Owen: I started trucking in ’78 because my family was all in the ranching business and I didn’t really like the trucks we were using. So, we started out small and bought one or two, and that’s how I got started. And I’ve had them ever since.
Neil Dudley: All right. So why did you buy them? Why did you just- you didn’t like the way the other guys that ran trucks treated you?
Linn Owen: Yes. And just the reliability.
Neil Dudley: Ah, reliability. I kind of want to introduce you to FedEx and UPS. The UPS man was just in here. I should have talked to him.
Linn Owen: But the convenience of getting a truck when we wanted one, that was our main deal going in.
Neil Dudley: Well, I love that kind of entrepreneurial spirit you had, too, to just say, okay, well I’ll buy one, just jump right in.
Linn Owen: It wasn’t what my grandparents and parents wanted me to do, believe me. They fought me the whole way.
Neil Dudley: Well, I think that kind of happens to every kid. Will, you ever get fought about doing something, wanting to do something a certain way?
Will Owen: Oh yeah.
Neil Dudley: I guess if you’re listening to this and you don’t understand that most all commerce in the United States of America, maybe the world, runs through semi tractor trailer trucks, now you do. Let’s explore that a little bit, how dynamic that is. Now maybe you guys can answer me this, I don’t know, do y’all drive the trucks?
Linn Owen: That’s the way we started out. Both of us drove and can still drive today if we need to.
Neil Dudley: How often does that happen where you need to?
Will Owen: Once or twice a year.
Neil Dudley: Yeah, I think back, this is kind of a story from Pederson’s years ago. Cody and I – and I say Cody and I, there were 7 or 8 of us. We’d get in there, make the bacon, put it on the truck, drive it. Well, then we got to 10 or 12 of us and one person was kind of in charge of the truck driving. Well, that was a 2:00 AM start time because you need to be to the stores early, et cetera. Pretty often, more than twice a year at that time in our career, they’d call up and say, aw- or we’d get to work at six or seven and the truck would still be sitting there. What happened? Well, I got stung by a bee, I couldn’t go drive. You didn’t want to call me and let me know?
Linn Owen: We could print a dictionary on that kind of excuse.
Neil Dudley: So as a business owner, in those circumstances, that really brings home the gravity of what it means. The buck stops at you.
Linn Owen: Exactly. It doesn’t take much for us if there is a problem for either one of us get in one and go. We try to keep one at home for each of us to drive in that case, if something does happen.
Neil Dudley: Now, do y’all drive kind of exclusively reefer trailers? Or are you hauling all kinds of freight?
Linn Owen: No, just all reefer. All reefer, but we haul all kinds of freight in those reefer.
Neil Dudley: How did you end up in that niche? Because that’s a long ways from cattle. Talk about that a little bit.
Linn Owen: Well, I got to put all the credit to my right over here because he came up with a friend of his, and he told us one day, Will’s friend told us that if you want to keep one those trucks busy, you need to buy a reefer trailer. And we kind of thought he was full of bull because I’d never done that before, but we said let’s try it. And we did. We haven’t turned back since.
Neil Dudley: Isn’t that funny how sometimes it happens like that? We had this bold idea we were going to put in a spiral oven for fully cooked bacon. Now we need four of them. That particular niche, that particular thing is just really in demand right now. So, the reefer trailers. Had you been hauling LTL? So, I say this acronym and I should probably explain what LTL means. It means less than truckload. So, a lot of freight will be hauled by a full truck load. Somebody will buy that full truck and send it wherever it’s going. Now, LTL is I got a couple of pallets, that guy has got a couple of pallets, and you figure that out. Are you guys dabbling LTL?
Linn Owen: We do a good bit.
Neil Dudley: Well, tell me about that and how- what’s that- I just imagine that’s got to be a logistical nightmare to try to put these trailers together in a way that is sensible.
Will Owen: We don’t normally put the loads together, but we haul them for other people that have put the loads together.
Neil Dudley: When are you going to get in the putting the loads together business?
Will Owen: Well, we kind of need a cold storage to do that.
Neil Dudley: There you go. And see, this is just the whole story I think a lot of consumers have no clue about and how for sure Pederson’s bacon gets to the shelf at a grocery store in LA from Texas, how that actually works or even New York or Florida or Georgia or Nebraska.
Will Owen: It’s a lot of trouble. It’s not real easy.
Neil Dudley: Sure. And when you get- It’s funny how the world works and we all kind of end up in these little places in life where we’re solving that problem, or that trouble seems less bothersome to us then it does the next guy, right? Years ago, we were working with Whole Foods and everybody, before Whole Foods was Whole Foods and owned by Amazon and this huge kind of juggernaut in the natural food space, everybody hated it because they just made you fill out affidavits and do audits and just all kinds of painful stuff. We never knew any better because we just always thought that was normal. So that’s how I think you end up in certain places. You just never realized that painful thing isn’t just normal, so it works for you.
Will Owen: That’s kind of how we got started on the LTL. Our stuff leaving Texas was LTL. And so, when we hauled LTL back to Texas, it wasn’t anything new for us, and we learned there’s a lot easier ways to do things.
Neil Dudley: Sure. Well, now that makes me think I missed that piece of the equation. You don’t like to drive those trucks back empty. So, you’re picking up- wherever you go, you’re heading somewhere to find another trailer full of LTL freight to bring back or full truck if you could.
Linn Owen: I couldn’t say the exact percentage, but I’m going to say it’s over 90% of ours is loaded all the way. We don’t dead head or go empty anywhere. We keep them loaded. You have to to make it work.
Neil Dudley: I was going to say, that’s right unless you can figure out how to charge there and back on one load. And I think we’ve had to pay that sometimes when it gets- we just have to get it there. Especially throughout this kind of pandemic year or even subsequently, it still seems like there’s a big rat’s nest in our supply chain, in the whole system right now of trying to get it all shipped back out. And I think- what do you think that rat’s nest is? Or do you believe there is a rat’s nest that I feel like there is?
Will Owen: I’m not sure. I just know that COVID’s been good to us.
Neil Dudley: Yeah, busy, business grew? Okay so, I’ll throw my thought out and then you can tell me if you like it or dislike it or agree or disagree. Now that is so totally part of this conversation. I need disagreement. I’m not brilliant about everything, so if I’m wrong or at least you think I’m wrong, I want to hear about it. I think it is lack of truck drivers that has caused the big rat nest in what I feel like from freight getting here, there, and otherwise.
Linn Owen: I would agree with you there. I think that’s a large percent of it.
Neil Dudley: Well, I mean, do you guys have a hard time finding enough drivers?
Linn Owen: Yes.
Neil Dudley: And is it hard to keep them when you find them?
Linn Owen: The good ones seem to be easier to keep then the not so good ones. The not so good ones seem to go away quicker. They fire themselves sometimes.
Neil Dudley: Yeah, sure. I would argue everybody fires themselves. They know what is expected of them and they choose not to do it. I mean, I never have very hard time letting somebody go really because unless I’ve done a really bad job of communicating, they had no clue they weren’t showing up or getting freight there on time or all these things that typically ends up causing some kind of a separation, then they’ve known what was expected. I mean, I have to show up, I have to do the stuff that has to be done. Nobody really needs to tell me what it is. I know what it is. They know what it is. It’s not a secret.
Linn Owen: Well, yours and Will’s generation seem like that’s a major problem in that generation. And y’all too, I know from just talking right now that y’all are both not normal for that because y’all do understand what it means to get there and get it done.
Neil Dudley: Well, generational difference will be a thing we’ve got to deal with for the rest of my career, I’m sure, because the truth is we’ve got to find the value in all generations. Even my kids, I hope to live long enough that I’m working with my kids in some way, or they’re in the workforce in some way. Then I know they will think about it differently than I do. It’s inevitable. I don’t know the solution to that. Everybody be thinking on it. If you come up with it, please send me an email. Get in touch with me. I need to know that. I need that solution. I need that answer.
Linn Owen: Well, I was very fortunate. I have two children. Will is the oldest and my daughter Justine, and they’re both from the old school ethic. I don’t know how they got there, but they are that way.
Neil Dudley: Well, I bet you do know how they got there. I bet they could tell you you had a big role in it because you really do what you see.
Will Owen: We didn’t have a choice.
Neil Dudley: I imagine you heard something like this: You’re under this roof, you’re going to get out here and help me do this. Paycheck, what? That’s valuable stuff I heard and lived. I’m not sure I’m passing that to my children in the same way. So, I want to accept some responsibility for all of this stuff. I think the parents are the ones where the responsibility ultimately lies.
Linn Owen: I agree with you.
Neil Dudley: So, anyways, now we’re off on parenting philosophy and stuff. We’re really here to learn about trucking, logistics, and the role that plays in getting food here, there, and yonder. So, I’m just thinking, for the life of bacon, or let’s just say if somebody buys Pederson’s bacon, the trucking piece really starts once it’s in the package in a box on a pallet, it starts living its life on trucks, a lot of it. So, it’ll go on a truck from Hamilton to our cold storage up in Grand Prairie. And it’ll get kind of stored there for a minute until we get an order from a customer. Then that’s when our team starts putting out loads and orders, and this is what we’ve got going here, there, and yonder. And then the people, I don’t even know exactly who the people are, but somebody within this system somewhere says, okay, I see all of these loads, they can go here. And they talk to you guys about do you have availability, or have we got you guys kind of locked down on a certain couple of loads every week? How is our current relationship exactly?
Linn Owen: Well, we start out in the Midwest for y’all, and we go towards Pennsylvania first. That’s one of the first loads.
Neil Dudley: Oh man, you’re like- see, all you had to do is say that, and I know you’re dealing with Wegmans in some way. That’s a huge customer of ours and that freight’s really important. And it’s weekly. It’s every week. It’s never- Oh no, we don’t need anything this week. No, they need it every week. They’re running their stores in a way so they’re wanting to rotate that product every week. They don’t want it sitting around. That’s money sitting on the sidelines and everybody wants money in their business in the game. So, all right, cool. But y’all leave. You leave from Texas.
Linn Owen: For Wegmans, we leave from Grand Prairie, but we start out up in Sioux City.
Neil Dudley: Bringing fresh pork back.
Linn Owen: Back to Hamilton and back to Whole Foods.
Neil Dudley: See, that’s why I try to stay uneducated, that way when we’re talking, see, because really people won’t get this. You’re a huge part of our vertical integration as well because you’re helping us get the fresh pork we need from the Midwest back to Texas. So, is that just a loop you really make from Sioux City down, out to Wegmans? Does that same truck come back to Sioux City?
Linn Owen: No, do you want to tell him? I’ll let Will talk.
Neil Dudley: Paint a picture of what that route looks like. Where does that truck live?
Will Owen: We go to Pennsylvania, which is Telford. What are they?
Linn Owen: Godshall’s.
Will Owen: Godshall’s. Drop off there. We were going to Maryland, but I guess that kind of slowed down.
Neil Dudley: I’m trying to figure out what was in Maryland. Well anyways.
Linn Owen: The pork and bean store over in Maryland, we’d deliver. And then also Quality Foods in Providence, Rhode Island.
Neil Dudley: Oh yeah, Truebridge. Yeah, sure. That’s one of our partners. Matter of fact, Gary Dial, which is a big piece of Truebridge foods and Aberdeen Farms, and some of helping us raise the pigs, he was on the podcast like our second or third episode talking about just our pig raising practices. I need to ask the question better because what I’m really curious about is I want to know, is the truck gone and back in 7 days, 10 days, 14 days, 3 days? Does the truck ever stop anywhere outside of maybe waiting on a dock? Paint that picture for me. Tell me, just pick that route and kind of give me a decent idea of how it works.
Will Owen: When we first started, we were hauling three or four loads out of the Midwest for Pederson’s. So, I was having to take the loads before I even had loads going up there. So, I was taking loads that we were a thousand miles from.
Neil Dudley: So, you were starting the truck here and going up there, picking it up, bringing it back.
Linn Owen: Yeah, we would load them.
Will Owen: We’d get loads up there. But it was pretty- it took a little bit learning curve to get all of our trucks headed towards the one spot every Friday.
Linn Owen: Sioux City is what we want to try to concentrate on, getting them there for the end of the week.
Neil Dudley: Are y’all running a business that’s really hubbed out of Sioux City and Omaha?
Will Owen: It felt that way for a while.
Neil Dudley: I’m curious, it might be true. I mean, it’s how the world works a little bit these days. A lot of times, you don’t necessarily- and I just don’t know the trucking business that well. I mean, I drove a truck, but it was we’d leave at 2:00 AM, we’d be back home. So, we were out and back same day to what I would call the hub.
Linn Owen: Well, the question you asked a while ago about the Wegmans, that truck leaves Grand Prairie Friday morning, he unloads Wegmans, Pottsville, PA, Sunday evening, sleeps there. And then you usually have another drop at Rochester at Big Apple Deli. I guess that’s safe to say.
Neil Dudley: Sure, that’s another- that’s a partner of Wegmans that we work with to actually help them get some of our product into their prepared foods department.
Linn Owen: So, he leaves on Friday. He’ll dump that last drop at Rochester on early Monday morning. And I loaded him this morning from Rochester back to Dallas. So, Thursday morning, he’ll deliver back in Dallas. So that gives you from Friday morning until Thursday morning.
Neil Dudley: See, now you said I loaded him. Do you just fly in lately? You organize the freight.
Linn Owen: I found the load for him to come back. Through brokers.
Neil Dudley: There you go. Okay. I was about to say, so how do you do that? I mean, how does that work? so you’ve got to have a network of people that you know are looking for- Is that there every week or that’s probably just a one-off thing?
Linn Owen: It’s there every week. It is not the same thing, but similar, similar loads.
Neil Dudley: I never have actually probably said this on the podcast. I think consumers would be interested to know bellies go from Sioux City to Texas, get made into bacon, from Texas to Pennsylvania, Rochester, New York. So that meat has- like the trucking piece of this is so important. Yeah, we’ve bought bellies from Quebec City, Canada, all the way, Texas, then back to Washington state. I mean, and you’re picking up, I don’t even have a guess of what it is in Rochester and bringing it to Texas. There’s so much crossing the country.
Linn Owen: It is dairy products this morning.
Will Owen: And whatever goes to Godshall’s, we pick up the next week to bring back to Texas.
Neil Dudley: Right. We’ll take bellies up there. Your trucks there doing that. Now, they don’t wait on that. They’re still busy. Or do they wait for that bacon? No?
Will Owen: Well, we reload there at Godshall’s.
Neil Dudley: So, you drop off the bellies, reload the bacon, come home.
Linn Owen: Drive two and a half miles to their other facility and then come back to Grand Prairie.
Neil Dudley: Oh, you guys know so much little intricate stuff about the way everything is structured. This company, oh well, yeah, we’re doing business with them, but you actually got to go two miles down the road to get the stuff, but here’s where they tell you to go. I mean, these truck drivers, that’s one valuable thing about them. If they’ve been with you for a little bit, they know all those little tricky things.
Linn Owen: You don’t even have to put the addresses. You don’t put anything on there because they’ve been there so many times already.
Neil Dudley: Oh, you said good earlier. What makes a good truck driver?
Linn Owen: Attitude. That’s a lot of it, for sure.
Will Owen: You don’t want to dread it whenever the phone rings.
Neil Dudley: Yeah. Okay, explain that a little bit. I’ve got a couple of guesses, but what’s a good attitude?
Will Owen: Just, I mean, stuff happens all the time in trucking. There’s no way around it. I’ve never seen any trucking that doesn’t involve bad stuff.
Neil Dudley: For example, bad stuff is?
Will Owen: We got here and they say our appointment’s tomorrow, not today. It happens. What are you going to do? Throw a fit? You’re still going to be here tomorrow.
Neil Dudley: I think that’s a really good- I hope everybody’s listening because that’s a really good explanation of what I think is important in every business.
Linn Owen: We try to- I’d say Pederson’s and us both, we try to make everything be perfect, but you’re dealing with a mechanical vehicle and you’re dealing with a lot of other people loading and unloading. So, there’s lots of variations that can- a lot of moving pieces of the puzzle.
Neil Dudley: One blowout, just a flat tire delays things. And in a real busy dock situation, there’s like a of 30-minute space there for that truck because there’s more trucks coming, all this important. I want to go off the rails when somebody won’t let me in a dock. I’m like there’s an open one right there. Pull the door open, let me back up. I’ll get in there, run the forklift, get the stuff off. I got things to do. No, they don’t want strangers in their cold storages, food service. Now I also lived in a time 20 years ago when it was a little different. Pretty much come on in boys, unload it. Yeah, thanks. Appreciate the help. Good. Want to check it into our system? Okay, yeah sure. I knew several retailers’ backend systems, how to even receive POs. I mean, I was receiving POs for them just so I could get on to the next stop.
Linn Owen: Believe me, we’ve done similar. We’ve helped them stack it on the shelves. We’ve done whatever it takes, the faster to make something happen. Don’t be scared of the labor. I mean, you got to be able to- I don’t want any of my guys to do anything I wouldn’t do.
Neil Dudley: Totally. I think that makes it easier to do what the boss man asks. Oh man, I’ve seen him doing it, so I guess that’s what I got to do. And sometimes it’s just a kind of an inherent desire to be a get ‘er done kind of person. Okay, y’all said this is impossible; surely, it’s not impossible.
Linn Owen: Don’t tell Will something’s impossible. Watch out.
Neil Dudley: Have you got a good example off the top of your head of something that you’re like, man, they told me we couldn’t do this, but we did it?
Will Owen: Nothing really sticks out in my head, but there’s a lot of them. I mean, we maintain all of our trucks and trailers right there in San Saba at our shop because you can’t depend on anybody else to do it right, so you got to do it yourself. And we do stuff that people don’t do.
Linn Owen: We run a little out of the ordinary too on our equipment. Our reefers are all newer trailers. We keep pretty new trailers. And there’s not a whole lot to mess up beside sensors and stuff. So carrier units that we use on the reefers are pretty darn dependable. Match them.
Neil Dudley: Yeah. See, now you’re talking about something else I didn’t even think about.
Linn Owen: Thermo King, that’s the other big name, but not to knock Thermo King because we’ve just never been experienced with them. We started with Carrier and we stayed.
Neil Dudley: That’s a good example of dance with the one that brought you. Though in cold chain, I don’t know, I can’t think of the word, but we want to make sure our cold chain is secure the whole way. You guys get to play a role in that. I’m sure we’ve come across something getting rejected because it temped out of spec or something. Maybe if that’s never happened, you’re setting a record because it’s just-
Linn Owen: I can only think of that, and Will probably can think of it, one time, not on one of y’all’s loads but-
Neil Dudley: That’s worth having those newer trailers so you’ve got all this stuff always working.
Linn Owen: We were doing LTL and there’s probably a seven to nine stop load coming back from New Jersey, and they had his appointments so tight. Well, he got into DFW, and he got held up at one stop. They kept him like six and a half hours with the doors open.
Neil Dudley: Oh, backed up to the dock.
Linn Owen: Well, he slams the doors and just hooks it to the next stop.
Will Owen: It wasn’t a refrigerated dock. It was a dry 80, 90 degree dock.
Linn Owen: And he’d gets over. I could name the name of the grocer. By the time he got over there, they said you are a little warm, so they rejected it.
Neil Dudley: So now was that the trailer was warm or the actual product was warm? Yeah, see, that’s another piece of it. Like you want them to okay, temp the trailer, ah, the trailer is a little warm. Okay. Temp the product, the products good.
Linn Owen: Nope. I’m talking two degrees. They turned it down.
Neil Dudley: I think the listeners would like to understand and appreciate we’re trying to avoid that as hard as we can, but at some point, there’s a line that has to be drawn. Look, no, it’s over that temperature. Ah, it’s one degree, come on. I mean, okay, so cool. All right, we’ll do that one degree. What’s wrong with going another one degree? Eventually you’re totally have no rule. You always have to start- that’s right. You have to kind of keep with something. But that is painful. It costs money when things like that happen. I know that some of that poop that Will’s talking about that you have to deal with, like just stuff happens and those truck drivers, now that’s slowing them down. And I would bet any truck driver worth his sand is always in a hurry. I got to get to my next stop. I’m on a schedule, every minute matters.
Linn Owen: Your slow steady ones, they’re really valuable.
Neil Dudley: Oh yeah? See, because I would be not valuable because I’m always- like I did this job in college where I had to pick up the mail. I would end up picking up two minutes too early, so then I had to go run the whole route again, because you can’t be too early because people expect that the mailman is coming to pick that box up at a certain time. I picked it up two minutes early, I had to go back. So, I learned that lesson a little bit in college just trying to make money that way.
Linn Owen: We probably have some drivers that could tell you the same thing, getting in a little bit of a hurry up in the Midwest for Pederson’s too because it wasn’t quite all there and all ready.
Neil Dudley: Oh, sure. Anyways, I mean, this conversation I hope gives people a chance just to hear. We haven’t even touched on really most of it. Let’s talk for a second about the really dynamic things that have changed in your industry and the piece of the puzzle you guys play in food supply, et cetera, just in the last six months. And I’ll give you some- just tell me about fuel cost. How have you been able to keep up with that?
Linn Owen: Well, a lot of our guys have- the weather’s helped a little bit, but they’ve really- when that hit two months ago, we told them we’re going to have to bite the bullet here, less idling and try to run a little slower, get a little better fuel mileage, but we’ve tried to work on it a couple of different directions.
Neil Dudley: See, I wouldn’t even have thought about that.
Linn Owen: 75 and 68 is a lot of difference.
Neil Dudley: Really? What about the idling? When you say that, you mean just waiting on the dock or something?
Linn Owen: If you’re going to go in and take a shower and eat or whatever, there is no need for that truck to be running.
Neil Dudley: I need to listen to that. I never turn- I’ll take my little one ton diesel truck, I never turn it off. It’ll just sit out there for two hours running.
Will Owen: It gets expensive.
Neil Dudley: Well, I mean $5 a gallon.
Will Owen: $5 dollars an hour.
Neil Dudley: How many- Okay, is that about what it takes an hour of driving and burning-
Will Owen: An hour of idling.
Neil Dudley: An hour of idling will burn a gallon of diesel.
Linn Owen: A lot of these guys like to- I guess the old Caterpillar guys and Cummins too, they wanted you to idle the engine up to have a little better oil pressure when you are idling. So go ahead and idle up to 850, 900 RPMs. Well, that’ll use a gallon and half when you do that.
Neil Dudley: How would they do that? Can you do that? Is the truck built where you can just- is it tweaking the actual engine or is it something you do inside?
Will Owen: Cruise control.
Linn Owen: If you go with the cruise, it’ll idle it up to whatever you want.
Neil Dudley: Well, there you go. See, more insight, more little nuggets of information nobody knows outside of truck drivers and people that live and make their living in the trucking business.
Linn Owen: We were talking about the trailers a while ago, I’d like to say something else real quick that kind of went back with that. Will is a master mechanic, I think, in my opinion.
Neil Dudley: Did he go to school for that, or is that on the job learning, education?
Linn Owen: Both. But we have tried to run these ’95 to 2006 and ’07, well, even ’07 I think. We tried to stay in that range with these, we run majority Peterbilts, and we try to stay in that range. The dependability is just unbelievable on them compared to the newer.
Neil Dudley: Okay. So how many trucks do y’all own?
Linn Owen: 25.
Neil Dudley: You and him own 25 trucks? Do you use any contract guys that own their truck and trailer and just drive for you?
Will Owen: Two of those guys.
Neil Dudley: Wow. Okay so just Google 2006 Peterbilt truck. How would you Google one of them reefer trailers? I’m just trying to paint the picture of y’all’s capital outlay in this business is tremendous just to be doing what you’re doing.
Linn Owen: We burned 48,000 gallons of fuel in January.
Neil Dudley: There you go. It will make you really pay attention to the political climate, some of the decisions being made there. That has direct effect on your business. All I know is my freights costs socialized across my business is up 100%, 70%. That’s a big number for us because if we don’t deal with that and raise the price on our products real fast, we’re upside down. When you’re burning that much fuel, I guess I don’t even know how our billing relationship works or anything, but what’s the easiest way to deal with that? That’s where you start hearing about fuel surcharges and stuff? That’s the only way, in my mind, you could deal with it quick enough.
Will Owen: Instead of changing our price all the time, try to wait and see if it’s going to level out or go back to normal, but in a couple of weeks, you’ve burned a lot of diesel.
Linn Owen: You can’t wait. On our best customers, like y’all and two or three of our main customers, we try to wait as long as we can, but then again, you can’t wait too long.
Neil Dudley: And I mean I probably moan and whine about it, and I don’t want to pay a higher price, but ultimately, I need you to stay in business. I mean, I really do. And grocery stores need Pederson’s to stay in business and consumers need us to stay in business.
Linn Owen: Consumers need all of us to stay in business because that’s what helps keeps their prices down.
Neil Dudley: And it’s tough. It’s just not that easy to do these days. All right, cool. That’s a lot of trucks. I wouldn’t have guessed that. So, thanks for sharing that information and that many gallons of gas or diesel. That’s a lot.
Linn Owen: The reefers aren’t too bad about burning fuel, their consumption’s not too bad. I think you can run-
Will Owen: Quarter to half gallon, depending on the settings and the outside temperature.
Linn Owen: Sure. And then we can run cycle on a lot of this product too because our ranges are set where it’ll only cycle up so many degrees and kick back on. And these trailers are, it’s amazing, these newer trailers, how tight they are.
Neil Dudley: And the technology just in the computer that runs that reefer. It’s sensitive. It understands what’s going on. Will, what makes you or what got you into the mechanic-? I mean, have you just always played with stuff, like mechanical stuff?
Will Owen: Yeah. And we had some mechanics in San Antonio that we took our trucks to to get worked on. And I started getting more and more trucks, and they were like didn’t you go to school for this? I was like, yeah, but they didn’t really teach us anything, nothing direct, just kind of teach you how to read a book. And they said, well, you need to be doing- you got enough trucks, you need to be doing your own stuff. And I had a mechanic hired, and he died in the shop and had a motor halfway torn apart. So, I didn’t have a choice. I had to put it back together, and I saw some of the stuff that he did.
Linn Owen: He really built- he was a good influence on Will because Will could have done all this earlier, but he didn’t have confidence. And this guy, he helped Will get the confidence to go ahead and dive off into whatever we needed to do. So finally, Will and I both got where we were rebuilding our own engines, he and I. And I’m not near the mechanic he is, but I can bring the tools to him as fast as he can use them.
Neil Dudley: That little- I said little. That person to help get the tools, and I helped my dad that way, welding and different things, part of that ranching kind of stuff I learned. I think it is really valuable to me today. Helping with the tools is just as important as turning the wrench and knowing what you need. So, it’s cool that you guys get to do that together. I don’t even know, we’ve been doing this for too long already. I told you I’d take 30 minutes and we’ve already been over 40.
Linn Owen: We’re good.
Neil Dudley: All right, cool. As long as y’all don’t mind, I got a couple other things I’m just curious about. Plus, I got to get Will over there, he needs to talk some more. What makes him like that? He just doesn’t want to talk. No, I’m just giving you a hard time. I think it takes all kinds. My brother is similar, like you could get him in here. Matter of fact, I’ve been doing podcasts for three years and I’ve never got him to get on one yet. It’s just not his thing.
Linn Owen: Y’all should have seen the look on Will’s face when I told him you called.
Neil Dudley: But I read a book called What It’s Like Being an Introvert in a World That’s So Loud. You’ll find out people with Will’s personality are thinking, they’re solving problems that everybody else out here needs solved. We are yapping along, and we totally missed the fact it’s even there to be worked on. So, I appreciate you. I’m only giving you a hard time about not talking because I think you just have so much valuable insight and I want to hear about it. I mean, I’ve already learned stuff. A great piece of this thing is I learn so much just because I’m here having the conversation, asking the questions, and then you’ll say something. I’m like, well, I never heard that before. Idle time matters, the truck idling matters. So now next time you go to a convenience store or a big truck stop, walk along all those trucks or drive along and see how many of them are sitting there idling or not. And then you’ll know which companies are paying attention to their bottom line.
Will Owen: Well, a lot of states don’t allow you to idle.
Neil Dudley: Is that over emissions or something?
Will Owen: California and New York are both big on that.
Neil Dudley: We didn’t even talk about that. Are you hauling freight into those- Well, yeah, you’re definitely hauling freight into those states. So, you have to- what do you got to do to haul in those states? Do you have to be licensed or something?
Will Owen: Yeah, you’ve got to have special stuff for New York. California, you have to have special equipment.
Linn Owen: We don’t- we shy away from California.
Neil Dudley: Why? Because they’ll make you put something on your truck?
Will Owen: Emissions and stuff.
Neil Dudley: Do you have to go get inspected in that state? Or you just have to have some paperwork with you that says you have the equipment?
Linn Owen: Your model.
Neil Dudley: Oh, your model. Yeah. What about DEF fuel? Do the big truck tractor trailers require that?
Will Owen: We’ve got one truck that uses DEF.
Neil Dudley: What’s your take on it just from a mechanics perspective? Is it BS or not?
Linn Owen: Yeah, I don’t know that it’s doing anybody any good.
Neil Dudley: I’ve heard you can run water in there and it’ll just trick along just like it’s no problem.
Linn Owen: We also heard California’s trying to outlaw it now because when it runs out of the trucks, out of the tanks or whatever, it kills the grass. So, they decided to outlaw it and try to figure something else out. California has- I have family that lives in California, but they have really regulated this whole industry, and they’re not that big a player. We don’t need to let them regulate all of this.
Neil Dudley: That’s true. Well, we still live in the greatest country in the world I’d argue, and we aren’t perfect, but geez, how’d you like to be somewhere else? It’s not going to be a lot better. Now, ladies and gentlemen, this has been just a little short snippet, insight, exploration of Linn Owen and Will Owen and the career and the company they run and they play a big role for Pederson’s for getting product from Texas to New York and back and forth from here to Iowa, all over the place. I hope it tells you a little bit more about where your food comes from and how it happens in a way that you probably wouldn’t have a chance to know otherwise. Linn, Will, thank you for being here. Thanks for coming up and just telling us what you do.
Linn Owen: Thank y’all for being a customer.
Neil Dudley: Oh yeah. And there’s a whole other piece of the thing we could explore, just customers and customer service and being appreciative of the business we do together. I appreciate y’all for being reliable, good vendors to us.
Linn Owen: I’m afraid if we weren’t, we wouldn’t be here.
Neil Dudley: Well, that’s right. If you weren’t, you wouldn’t be here. If you didn’t support us well, we’d lose the business we have. I mean, it really all is one big thing that depends on every little piece. If you don’t do a good job of getting it where it needs to be on time, well, we lose that business. Then, well, maybe we’ll hire somebody else, but we’ve already lost the business. It is too late. And people that don’t build business, they don’t understand how hard business is to get.
Will Owen: I’ve lost a lot of sleep trying to keep stuff like that from happening.
Neil Dudley: It’s not just sitting on every corner waiting on you to come by and you’re out there begging people to give you a chance, just come on, just work with me for a month. Give me a chance to show you what I can do. We’re out there doing the same thing at Pederson’s. So, we all depend on each other, and I hope we keep making this high-quality product, getting it there on time. People get to eat it for breakfast and enjoy it and come back again and again. So, we’ll see y’all around. Come back next time, folks, hear the next story we have tell about where your food comes from. I promise it’s going to be worth listening to.
(3:46) – Linn & Will’s background in trucking and how they started their business
(13:00) – The Rat Nest of the freight industry
(16:14) – Parenting philosophies
(16:58) – The process of trucking Pederson’s products
(25:34) – What makes a good truck driver, and what issues do truckers normally run into on the road?
(33:40) – What’re the most dynamic things that have changed in your industry over the past 6 months?
(40:46) – Will’s background in mechanics
(44:09) – Emissions regulations across the US
(46:41) – Wrap up