Robert Clark is a transportation professional who was raised in the industry. Over the years, he has seen many changes and taken many roads throughout his career. Several of those roads led to lease purchase agreements, that as you’ll see, turned out to be dead ends because they never achieved truck ownership or maximized profitability for his family or his business. But recently, he ventured onto a new path by signing on with Forward Air as his carrier and taking ES’s PTO (Path to Ownership) that led straight to true truck ownership to get his MBA (Much Better Alternative) to truck finance. This is his story.
How did you get started in transportation?
I guess you could say I was born into the trucking business. My father drove for thirty-two years. My mom and I would ride along with him quite a bit, too. I’ve been driving now for seventeen years. It’s something I love and enjoy doing.
Why did you choose Forward Air as your carrier?
I have a friend who has been with the company and told me about how great they are to work with and I should consider them as my carrier. At first I wasn’t too crazy about how their drivers drove mostly at night (in the LTL division), but now I love it and prefer driving this way. I actually like it better than daytime driving. I also like how Forward Air drives from terminal to terminal. They’re really a good company to work with. I’ve been here since January and things are going great.
Tell us about your lease purchase experience?
Over the past five or six years, I’ve tried several lease purchase services. The results were always inconsistent. Either the truck was okay and the lease company was awful or it would be the other way around. And if the truck breaks down on you (which mine did), the lease companies are almost impossible to deal with. Because of these factors, it’s difficult to build a foundation for a business through a lease purchase agreement.
Of course with practically any lease purchase they’re easy to get into with little or no money down, making it seem affordable. But at the end of the day, the payments are high and there’s practically no way to beneficially pay off the lease. Up until ES came along with the PTO and MBA, a lease purchase was just about the only option available to someone like me who wants to be a truck owner. Even when you look at traditional banks, it’s almost impossible getting a loan for a truck through one of them.
Speaking of ES’s PTO & MBA, tell us about your experience with these programs?
Back when I was first looking at Forward Air as my carrier, I discussed several options with them to help me get into a truck. My coordinator told me about ES’s PTO and MBA. At first I thought it was too good to be true. But it sounded like a great opportunity and I wanted to learn more about it. Soon I was in touch with ES Recruiting Manger David Withers. He thoroughly explained the programs to me about how I could drive for Forward Air in one of ES’s trucks in order to see if I had the aptitude, attitude and ability to run my truck and my business successfully. After 93 days, ES evaluated my performance and said I would qualify to own my own truck. It was that straight forward.
Needless to say, I was thrilled with the news! I then hooked up with Danny Vernon, Expediter Truck Sales Manager and told him about the kind of truck I wanted — and he found it: a 2019 Volvo 860. He did a great job finding just what I was looking for. Next, I was in touch with Steve Kochensparger at Expediter Equipment Finance. True to their word, ES looked at my work history (along with my credit), and my approval was final. The entire process was quite easy, actually.
Within a short time after that, I headed down to the ES home headquarters in Southaven, Mississippi and picked up my truck. It’s wonderful! My truck even has a ThermoKing Tri-Pac APU, along with a nice sleeper and other amenities that I enjoy. Everyone at ES has been just great to work with. They’ve all done their part to keep me informed all along the way about the PTO & MBA. Everything they’ve told me as I went through the purchasing process has been true and I was treated with dignity and respect, too. It’s been a great experience all around. I can’t say that for many of the lease purchase companies I’ve dealt with over the years.
Has your new truck made any difference in your business yet?
I’ve only been in the truck for just over three weeks now, but my latest settlement (which covered just over a week) showed a very nice increase. I can already tell that being a true truck owner through ES was a great path to take! It’s true what they say at ES: If you can drive a truck, you can own the truck.