Partnering with Owner-Operators for Quality Drayage Services

Canal Cartage has been partnering with Owner-Operators for quality drayage services in Houston Texas, since 1983.  Our commercial customers are business owners from a variety of sectors, including retailers, e-commerce entrepreneurs, mechanical parts manufacturers, health and medical suppliers, construction supply and equipment manufacturers.

Port Houston is one of the largest and most important transit points for the import on the Gulf of Mexico, and exports are also increasing through Texas annually. Our commitment is to provide quality reliable drayage and warehouse consolidation services to growing businesses who rely on container shipping for supplies, and for retail merchandise.

Working with CDL Owner-Operators in Houston

There is some seasonality to the amount of volume freight requests that logistics companies receive throughout the year.  Naturally, the Fall season is particularly busy, as retail stores stock up for holiday shoppers.  In the early part of the year, freight imports of construction parts and supplies increases in tandem with the peak season of Spring and Summer for commercial builders.

One of the efficient ways that Canal Cartage manages the peaks and troughs of freight demand, is by partnering with Owner-Operators. Our trusted teams of independent CDL owner-operators live in Houston and the surrounding areas.  We provide leased contracts to drivers who are carefully screened, interviewed and background checked to ensure that we are awarding these contracts only to the best and most experienced independent drivers.

Canal Cartage has a large and competent team of drayage service providers, who are trained to work seamlessly with our in-house dispatchers, safety and customer service staff.  This business model offers a number of benefits to the drivers, to our company and to the end user customer that we’d like to explain as a competitive advantage.

What Is an Owner-Operator Truck Driver?

Some professional CDL truckers find excellent employment opportunities as a fleet driver, working for an hourly rate for large trucking companies.  Did you know businesses like Walmart have their own fleets?  These are typically hourly but sometimes salaried positions, that require a set number of hours per week and a schedule dictated by the fleet owner or company.

An owner-operator is a professional truck driver that has invested and become an independent business owner.  A new heavy truck can cost about $125,000 if it is equipped with a sleeper cab, or room for the driver to rest, cook meals etc.  Once the vehicle is purchased, the CDL trucker (if they have met the safety requirements for the vehicle and have a history of safe driving) can start to apply for leased contracts with large drayage and freight companies.

One of the challenges for independent owner-operators is balancing their driving time and optimizing their income earning opportunities.  An owner-operator driver wears a lot of hats.  He or she is responsible for driving the vehicle, and conducting drayage pick-up’s and drop-offs, the routine maintenance for the vehicle, private commercial insurance coverage, and fuel costs.

The benefits of partnering with owner-operators in this business model include:

  • Freedom over scheduling. This matters a great deal to individual drivers who want to make their own weekly and monthly schedule and have some control over how many hours they will be working.
  • The option of short-haul or long-haul contracts.  Owner-operators can vary the contracts that they have to specialize in short-haul (so they’ll be home for dinner) or augment their income with long-haul contracts, which are more time consuming but generally higher paying opportunities.
  • They own their truck, and as an independent business owner, the owner-operators are able to write off certain expenses helping them reduce before tax earnings with significant deductions for fuel, meals, supplies and truck maintenance.

In the past four years, there has been a significant migration of qualified truckers from fleet or hourly drivers to a contract role as an independent owner-operator, because of these significant benefits.  But one of the things that matters most to an owner-operator, is the ability to balance their homelife with their hours on the highway, with a schedule that makes sense for them and their family.

How Do We Choose The Drivers We Work with at Canal Cartage?

Leased contracts are provided only to qualified owner-operators in the Houston area, who meet our rigid standards for safety and service.  Each owner-operator is required to apply to be considered and awarded a leased contract with Canal Cartage.

Part of our interview process involves a comprehensive background check of the driver.  If the individual has a clean driver’s abstract (no accidents) and they have undergone the appropriate certifications and training, they join our roster of qualified drivers.  Experience is also a key part of our decision-making process, and the owner-operators we award our contracts to have years of safety, drayage and transmodal container shipping experience. 

The Savings Are Passed on to Our Commercial Customers

There is a misconception about the trucking industry, regarding the value and services that are provided by traditional fleets, or hourly staff drivers.  Some businesses believe that they get the best value and competitive rates (and reliability) from an hourly team.  That’s not the case.

When a trucking company must maintain a large fleet of heavy trucks, the cost of maintenance alone is staggering for the freight provider.  Not to mention fuel costs, which in spite of commercial discounts, can be extremely expensive when multiplied by a hundred or more heavy trucks in service.

Those high costs are always factored into the rate that is provided by the logistics company, to the commercial business owner.  And the customer is paying for an aggregate rate that reflects the total cost of fleet management, the hourly rates of the drivers and more.

Our model that creates relationships through partnering with Owner-Operators, allows us to carefully control costs, and provide the best competitive rates for drayage, transmodal freight and warehousing services to our customers.  It’s about carefully monitoring the quality of service our commercial customers receive, while keeping freight costs competitive, and providing good pay for the experienced owner-operators that work with Canal Cartage to deliver the service we’ve built our reputation on.

When deciding on a freight and logistics company to support your growing business, and for drayage, warehouse consolidation and transmodal container services, talk to our team at Canal Cartage first.  Contact us for a freight quote and learn how we can help your business streamline drayage and storage costs.

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