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American Trucker Magazine

Spotlight on an American Trucker: Justin Pahls

“I got my CDL in August 2017 and authority on May 29, 2018. Been around trucks most of my adult life. Never got to drive until recently because of a poor decision when I was 21. I’m not real picky as long as the rate’s good. Motto: I’ll move anything I legally can and if I don’t have the right accessories, I’ll buy them. My primary focus is making money. My kids [are] going to know I always did my best. I’d like to see them go to college—to hell with all this hard work for them.” -- Justin Pahls, Owner, J-Pahls Transport, Merrill, WI

Make and model of trucks and/or trailers you use in your business.
‘99 Freightliner Century Class Midroof, 12.7 Detroit, Super 10.

Regularly scheduled routes?
I work with a few brokers consistently, load boards to fill in. No direct contacts. When rates go down, I stay home with my kids.

How do you handle maintenance, and what are the challenges?  
Everything’s jobbed out. Rather than waste time at home elbow deep in the truck, I get maintenance done so I can enjoy time with my fiancé and kids. It’s a little more expensive, but I write off parts and labor.

The main issue is finding time. When I get home, the backlog at Freightliner is a hassle, but Brian and Chris in Tomahawk do my PMs and such; they do a good job.

Overhaul and machine work is done by Skarlupka Service in Antigo, WI. The average wait time is three to four weeks, but those guys do an excellent job.

Do you stock parts?  
I stock air lines, fittings, and light bulbs. I’d rather fix it on the side of the road myself than call roadside.

When would be the right time to  replace your truck?
This truck cost $1,500, and I spent 22K between the engine and the front end. It’s made a lot more than that, so it [doesn’t] owe me anything, but I’d like to keep it around for awhile. We’ll worry about replacing it when the time comes.

Your biggest business challenge?
I don’t use factoring because I don’t want to give up the percentage. When it was 30 to 40 below, I said to hell with it and stayed home. I’m learning I need to put more away, because when I take too many weeks off, it can lead to cash flow issues.

If you could change or add one regulation, what would it be?
Loosen up HOS. I like to run hard; my goal every time is to make as much as possible and get back. [As] an independent O/O, I know when I’m tired and when I’m ready to run. No dispatch, so it should be up to me and not the FMCSA.

What do you enjoy most?  
When I ran hauling produce, I was home every day. I can park the truck and not worry about whose shift I’m going to cover or how I’m going to get any sleep when I put the boys to bed at 8:30 and leave at midnight for work. Now I can focus on family time when I’m home.

What does your company do best?
Everything. I’m all about customer service and hauling different things. I’ve had to stop to buy equipment, but if the customer’s happy and the check clears, that’s what matters. I bought this truck to run hopper from Wausau, Wisconsin, to Minnesota. Nine months and 32 states later, I’ve learned there’s no secret. I just run where the loads are and have a few brokers that can almost always get me home. A business plan would only hold me back so I just wing it.  


TAGS: Business News
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