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American Trucker Magazine

Spotlight on an American Trucker: Gil Hansen

“I grew up in the moving business. My dad was an owner-operator. I started riding with him at nine. By 13 I was carrying furniture, and by 16 I could back a tractor-trailer and do a very good inventory. At 17 I was doing quite a bit of driving. I went in the military at 18; two deployments to Vietnam with a Navy Seabee mobile construction battalion. Got out in 1970 and went right back to the moving business. Been affiliated with the van lines pretty much ever since.” -- Gil Hansen, company leased to Total Transportation Logistics (Mayflower) in California

Make of truck/trailer?
2015 Peterbilt 579; pulling 53-ft. three-axle climate trailer

Type of freight?
Mostly microchip manufacturing tools, medical equipment, and a few trade shows.

How are maintenance and repairs handled?
I try to do most of my minor repairs and maintenance myself. When time and circumstances allow, I like to grease the tractor and trailer. It’s good to get under there and check air lines, shocks and wires. Grease is cheap; parts are expensive. I have a maintenance account set up for major repairs should they arise. I pull out $400 per settlement that also pays for tires and registration.

Any tire-mileage strategies?
I like to gauge my tires cold at least once every two weeks. Run a 110 all the way around. I believe proper air pressure is the number one variable in tire wear. It’s critical. [Usually] I ran Michelin or Bridge­stone, but  this time I put low-rolling resistance Goodyears on. Have about 100,000; seems to be a little rougher riding and a little noisier but wearing well and no difference in fuel mileage.

How do you determine when it’s time to replace a truck/trailer?
In the old days, I’d trade trucks at around five to six hundred thousand. Now with newer trucks, I think maybe four to five hundred because of sensor and pollution control issues. I expect this to be my last one, so I haven’t given it a lot of thought.

What’s the biggest business challenge you face with your trucking operation? 
The same as it’s always been and that is controlling costs. The challenge is to know accurately what your costs are. I hear a lot of complaints about rates; some may be valid, but if you can’t control your costs, it makes no difference anyway. I’m an old guy. I was around in the so-called ‘good old days.’ Truck operators were going broke then too, mostly for the same reason as today: failure to control costs.

If you could change/add one trucking regulation?
I think we have enough regulation in our business right now. I’m learning to live pretty well with the ELD. I’d like to see some changes in the 14-hour rule; not exactly what or how, but I find it pretty restrictive. There should be a way to address the safety issue with a little more flexibility.

What do you enjoy most about your profession?
I still enjoy what I do. I’m very fortunate. It’s all I ever really wanted to do. From a financial standpoint, it’s been very good to a working-class guy like me. I like the challenge of different loads, the loading and scheduling. Not as much freedom as before all the electronic tracking devices but better than showing up at a factory every day. Next February I’ll have 50 years doing this. I could afford to retire. My wife and I have discussed it, but I’m not ready to give it up yet.


TAGS: Business News
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