There’s an old adage that says: “life is a journey”. While this statement is certainly true, the subjects of our latest issue of Spotlight News prove that “business is an adventure”! Pam Powell and Mario Loubriel are a seasoned transportation team whose careers have spanned over three decades of life on and off of the road. We discuss their business and the choices they’ve made over the years (including leaving a lease purchase) to arrive at true truck ownership through ES, as they recently took the PTO (Path to Ownership) to get their MBA (Much Better Alternative) to truck finance to achieve Success in Trucking. So, buckle up as Pam tells their story, as well as her take on Women in Expediting and transportation as a whole.
How did you and Mario get into the transportation business?
I guess you could say transportation is in my blood. My mother was a truck driver, my grandparents were truck drivers and I began my career as a truck driver at age twenty four. I’m now sixty, so I’ve been at it on and off the road over the years. Mario, my business and driving partner has also been in the business for many years. He convinced me to go into business with him as an owner operator about eight years ago. Over that time, we’ve had ups and downs just like any business, but I learned a long time ago, that the right equipment is essential to being successful. The first truck we bought was old and broke down a lot and we began to lose money because of it. We finally sold it and I decided to retire.
What led you into Expediting?
As with many things in life, my retirement didn’t last. Mario came back into the picture and proposed that we sign on with Panther Premium Logistics, a service of ArcBest, because he had heard so many good things about the company. He convinced me that because of their great track record, we could make a lot of money and our business would be successful. I agreed, but with the stipulation that if we didn’t make a certain amount of income within a certain time, I was going back into retirement. He agreed and we began driving with Panther back in 2014, but for another fleet owner. It wasn’t long before we were not only meeting the goals I had set out — we were exceeding them.
What factors made you and Mario want to become owners?
Within a short time, our business was doing well. We had taken on life science credentials to qualify for more profitable loads, helping to increase our revenue even more. It didn’t take long to realize that we could maximize our earnings as an owner. After about six months we were ready to take the next step. But that next step was a doozie, because it was a Lease Purchase agreement!
Tell us about your Lease Purchase experience?
It was easy to get into the lease purchase, but that was the only easy part about it. They put so many restrictions on what you can and can’t do with the truck, such as repair and maintenance and tires. We realized that this just wasn’t going to work for us. On top of that, we were paying much more than the truck was actually worth. We also realized that there was no way to beneficially pay off the truck. Our LP agreement had been going on for about three years. We began to look for a Much Better Alternative — and we found it with ES!
How did you hear about ES and their PTO (Path to Ownership) and MBA (Much Better Alternative) to truck finance?
We told our coordinator at Panther about our desire to become true truck owners because this lease purchase was a terrible arrangement, thing just weren’t working. He told us about several options and we chose ES because their PTO & MBA programs made the most sense for our business. We soon contacted them and that’s where our path began. Panther was very supportive of our choice.
Tell us about the process of starting your Path to Ownership and how it lead to your MBA?
It was easy, actually. We contacted ES and told them about our desire to become true truck owners. Danny Vernon, Expediter Truck Sales Manager, stepped up and began the process to find the right truck for our business and Steve Kochensparger at Expediter Equipment Finance helped us with our paperwork for the loan. ES looked at a number of factors including our work history, work ethic, attitude and aptitude. The process didn’t take long and we were soon approved. Danny at ETS found us a new 2018 Volvo 780 and had it transferred to a local dealership. It was just what we wanted. It features a very nice factory sleeper, a ThermoKing Tri-pack APU and a refrigerator/freezer. We love it and we got a great deal!
Since purchasing our truck we’ve seen an increase in our bottom line and our return on investment as truck owners has been wonderful. Taking the Path to Ownership and getting our MBA was a great choice for us. We’re looking forward to many more years of a profitable business. It really helps to have someone in your corner to support you with industry leading discounts on fuel, insurance, repair and maintenance, as well as programs to support your operations. Having a great motor carrier such as Panther Premium Logistics is also helpful when it comes to being profitable and successful.
As a woman in transportation for over thirty years, what are the changes you’ve seen in the industry?
Everything has changed in transportation over the years. I went from no air ride, no air seats, no power steering, no seat belts or laws to enforce them, no electronic devices, no APU, no refrigerator, a small sleeper you had to climb over, no cab room, a 4×5 twin stick, and many other things — to this beautiful truck that we are calling (The Red Pearl) and it only took 36 years. Their were only a few women drivers back then, I got a lot of attention. Now women are everywhere, I love it!
I applaud ES and the Women in Trucking Association for issuing the 150 Women-Owned Business Challenge. I hope many women take advantage of the program. (Read more about the WIT/ES 150 women-owned business initiative here.)
How do your tasks differ from Mario’s as it relates to your business?
We both drive, but Mario is much more involved with the day-to-day maintenance and workings of the truck. I spend more time with paperwork. But each of our tasks equal out because it truly takes a team effort to be a successful in this business. We’re both looking forward to being even more productive in our new truck.