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Spotlight on an American Trucker: Tom Winn

Spotlight on an American Trucker: Tom Winn

Owner-Operator, leased to Ankle Pik

Tom Winn from Blackfoot, ID  started driving in 2002 and has been an owner-operator or lease driver since 2006. His 2012 Cascadia Freightliner pulls a reefer in the lower 48 states (except California), and he hauls “whatever can fit in the box.”

Q: How are maintenance/minor repairs handled?  
A: I use a small independent shop near my home terminal to handle most regular maintenance and repairs, and I only use other shops if I’m on the road and can’t wait. If it’s a warranty issue, I’ll use a Freightliner shop.

Q: What are the major challenges with your maintenance/repair program, and how do you resolve each?
A: Money and time, of course, are the two big ones. Because I live about 800 mi. from my home terminal, I can’t just go home and get the truck in the shop. Timing is critical, so when I get to the terminal, everything is scheduled. The shop knows what I need, and it has parts ready. Another consideration is making sure I can afford any downtime at that point, which really ties back into [how much] money is available, so I make sure that’s doable.

Q: How do you handle the maintenance on your trucks and/or trailers to minimize downtime?
A: I follow the manufacturers’ recommended service intervals for all maintenance and lubrication.

Q: How do you ensure good tire mileage? Which brand do you prefer? Retreads?
A: Checking tire pressure on a regular basis is important and I do that weekly, but having a good quality tire is essential. I prefer Michelin because the tires wear better than any other tires I’ve tried. I don’t claim to have used all brands available, but of those I have used, these are the best. I’ve tried retreads but have been disappointed every time because I always lose one when it comes apart. Any savings are lost because of the resulting downtime and added cost of replacing that tire. So I don’t use them at all on my truck or trailer.

Q: How do you determine when it’s time to replace a truck/trailer?
A: When the cost of fuel and repairs (not maintenance) equals or exceeds the cost of replacing a truck or trailer—whether it’s new or used—then it’s time to start taking a serious look into replacement.

Q: What are your specifications for the truck?   
A: My current truck is spec’d for fuel economy and was ordered that way.

Q: What do you do to meet CSA standards for your truck/trailer?
A: I have the annual inspection and follow any other requirements by the federal government. If the company I currently lease to has anything else they need me to do, I comply with them also.

Q: What do you enjoy most about trucking and hauling the freight you do?
A: Driving over the open road is the best. As far as the freight, I’ve had all kinds, which is interesting in itself because I get into a lot of different places I never would’ve been before. I especially enjoy driving out West where you really have open road and sometimes little to no traffic. You just cruise and look at the scenery and realize what a beautiful country this is—there’s nothing like it.    
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