Brad Henley shares his take on going from driver to fleet owner

It’s hard to believe that the Mid-America Trucking Show has come and gone. We spent our time in Louisville learning from the trucking community and re-energizing ourselves to continue our work empowering carriers and shippers. From owner-operators to small fleet owners, we’re sharing the stories of some of the old friends and new faces we met at MATS 2019.

It’s hard to believe that the Mid-America Trucking Show (MATS) has come and gone. We spent our time in Louisville learning from the trucking community and re-energizing ourselves to continue our work empowering carriers and shippers. From owner-operators to small fleet owners, we’re sharing the stories of some of the old friends and new faces we met this year at MATS.

Brad Henley

Hometown: Waukesha, Wisconsin

Role in the industry: Driver and small fleet owner

Been in the industry: As a fleet owner, 2 years. In the industry, his whole life. His parents were both drivers, so he grew up around trucks.

Has been to MATS: Twice

What advice do you have for someone who wants to break into the trucking industry?

It depends on which segment they’re going into.

If it’s a brand new driver going in, go in as a company driver and get your licks in. Learn flatbed. Learn reefer. Learn dry van. Do specialty freight. Learn what you actually enjoy doing. Try to run over the road. Try to run regionals. See what actually is enjoyable for you. Because when you are unhappy with what you’re doing, you’re going to be unhappy all the time. And if you find where you fit, life gets real easy.

Did it take you a while to do that yourself?

No, I had a really good idea what I wanted, and I was right. But once again, I started going over the road when I was tiny. My dad was a truck driver when I was born. He met my mom that way. She was one of the truckers back in the ’70s, 80’s when women truckers didn’t exist. So, I always knew I wanted to be over the road.

What advice would you give someone who wants to transition to a fleet owner?

Being a fleet owner is a business person. If you don’t know what an expense ratio is, you probably shouldn’t own a business. You can be the world’s best truck driver and go bankrupt in months. If you don’t have a business degree, then earn one. Colleges also have classes online that are free. Every single library in the world has an app online. You can listen to audiobooks while you’re driving. You can build a business plan through these books. You can have an idea of what the business is.

When you think about the trucking industry, what’s your biggest hope for the future?

I really am excited about autonomous trucking. I know a lot of people think it’s a terrible idea, but that is exactly why I started moving towards being a fleet owner. If you can have autonomous trucks, you take away the biggest liability in trucking, assuming that autonomy works. You get to the point where autonomy works, the biggest liability is distracted driving, and that’s gone. The trucks will do exactly what they’re supposed to do, exactly when they’re supposed to do it, presuming maintenance works.

What do you love about your job?

Independence. I like being out there. I like going and doing and seeing. My office view is better than yours.

The views and opinions expressed in this post are solely those of the individual being featured. Experiences may vary.

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