Truck Leasing a Hedge against Uncertain Economic Times

Truck Leasing a Hedge against Uncertain Economic Times

The recent recession left its mark on many industries in the U.S., and America’s truck fleets and companies didn’t escape the pressure. Yet the trucks kept rolling down America’s highways during those lean years.


Darrel Hopkins, director of the Success Leasing program, credits the entrepreneurial spirit of the industry’s independent contractors.  “We’ve gone through a fairly tight period of time as far as our economy is concerned,” Hopkins said, “and not once during that period of time do I know of the trucking industry having too many drivers or too many independent contractors. It’s a tough profession, everybody knows that, but it’s one that offers great opportunity.”

You should never sugar-coat the risks involved in trucking: the time and miles away from home, the nasty weather, the deadlines, the price of fuel. However, there are few businesses that can reward hard work and individual initiative faster than trucking.

“The true entrepreneurial spirit has to come out and override the ‘I’m just in it for the job’ approach. It requires someone who wants to take ownership of their business, their fuel, their time, and their responsibilities. This is a chance. What other business, will let you walk into it with no money down and step into a $140,000 piece of equipment so you can start your own business?”

That’s the kind of beginning Success enables. Like those contractors who have used the opportunity to jump-start their economic lives, Success Leasing has also come a long way since its launch in 1985. It started with offering one truck and one type of leasing arrangement; now contractors can choose from four different brands of trucks—with more than one make/model under each brand—and three different types of leases, all with purchase options.

Those trucks, by the way, aren’t scaled-down, thinned-out versions. “We spec our trucks to true owner-operator specifications,” Hopkins said. “If you walked into a dealership interested in buying a truck, these are the kinds of truck you would look at to buy.”

Industry-leading warranties, opportunities to customize trucks, and a chance to run freight for anyone—including Prime—are also part of the Success Leasing story.

In 2012, 828 drivers were paid out with the Success Lease Completion Incentives, totaling a whopping $6,729,022.84. This is an average of $8,126.84 per driver.

Then, there are the drivers who earn incentives to complete the full term of their lease; they’re the ones honored during Friday driver’s breakfast meetings, holding $25,000 checks and grinning with anticipation of buying a house, a motorcycle, a trip with the wife to Cancun.

Of the 5000+ trucks running with Prime on the highways, more than 3,000 are independent contractors taking advantage of the Success Leasing program. Many of those could end up like the drivers Hopkins talks to every once in a while—the ones who started leasing a few trucks and eventually built up their own fleets or bought trucks through the Success program and then run them for Prime or other companies.

“They’re building their small fleets and now they are truly trucking company owners,” Hopkins said. “They’re not just being independent contractors. They’re hiring employees and drivers and managing their own businesses.”

You don’t get much more entrepreneurial than that.

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