Tim Larson spent most of his professional life as a loan officer and commercial lender prior to starting his career as a professional truck driver with PAM Transport in 2015. Today, he’s a respected Owner Operator with three trucks in the PAM fleet, having started as a student driver and advanced to owner status thanks to PAM’s Lease Program after driving OTR as a Company Driver.
How Tim Found Trucking
In 2008, the bank Tim was working for closed down and he took a job working for the FDIC. Tim’s role at the FDIC was to close banks and liquidate their assets. After doing this for quite some time, he decided that a career change was needed.
While on a trip out of town, he ran into a PAM Owner Operator at a gas station in Austin, Texas. As the two started talking, the Owner Operator proceeded to tell Tim that he was making more money than he ever has as a PAM Owner Operator.
Tim took this experience to heart and began to investigate a truck driving career. He quickly learned that the first step in the process is to acquire a CDL-A license.
As a firm believer in the idea that everyone can be successful if they have a goal, Tim set his first goal: getting a CDL. “You must know what you are working toward and always look forward,” he says.
In May of 2015, Tim enrolled at the Driver Solutions/C1 training school in Fort Worth, Texas. Upon completing his training, he called PAM and was hired as an over-the-road Company Driver. Within a year, he was an Owner Operator thanks to PAM’s Lease Program.
Tim will be the first to tell you that starting out as a truck driver has its own set of challenges. He knew that the first year was going to be the hardest as he got to know his new job and the procedures of the company. “I had to understand and I told myself that driver managers are doing their job too,” he recalls. “You must be patient and know that driver managers are here to help you.”
Tim’s Golden Rules for Success
Tim’s first golden rules for himself is avoiding being around negative people. “You have to separate yourself from all of the negative people or you become one,” he says.
Staying focused on your goals is another major key to success in Tim’s book. “Never lose sight of what you are trying to accomplish. Always think, ‘Where am I going and why am I here?’ Make sure you understand what you are doing. Once you get the answers to these questions, you will have a better understanding of how you can accomplish those goals,” he says.
The third rule Tim lives by is creating a system and living by that system. So what exactly does that mean? Well, some of his systems include spending as little money at truck stops as possible. “They are gold mines,” he says. Instead, he keeps his truck stocked with everything he needs. By eating a lot of sandwiches and salads, he is able to stay healthy and save money.
Tim is also committed to being willing to take any load. “Work harder than everyone else and you will stand out,” he says. “You will learn more and be better prepared for the next trip. Plus, your driver manager will know that they can count on you.”
Finally, TIm is adamant about safety and being cautious when operating heavy equipment. “Never get in a hurry when driving or you will make mistakes,” he advises. “Don’t internalize the sense of urgency when working around big equipment. Now does this mean be slow in everything you do? No, but do it in a professional manner and think about what you are doing. Schedule yourself out so you can get there without having to hurry. Don’t build unnecessary stress. If you are on a load that is too tight, communicate with your driver manager about your concerns and how you need to progress. There is always a solution.”
The Fast Track to Owner Operator
When asked how he managed to become an Owner Operator via PAM’s Lease Program so quickly, Tim says: “I saved up as much as I could and watched my spending closely. Also, I called a month in advance and got as many details about the program as I could.”
According to Tim, his life changed after becoming an Owner Operator. He is making more money and owns his own business. “Life as an Owner Operator has its own set of challenges just like being a Company Driver,” he says. “Now the payments are on you and you have to really budget your money for any and all truck expenses. Budgeting and planning is a must as an Owner Operator. Managing your home time and saving money are two key factors in being a successful Owner Operator. Yes, your lifestyle will change but you have to plan that.”
Tim is a firm believer in never taking a vacation until he has sufficient funds set aside so it will not put him in the hole. In fact, he made it very clear that “for one to be successful as an owner, setting aside as much money as possible will only put you ahead in the future. You never know when the unexpected will happen, so set aside now in order to live a more comfortable life later.”
Today, Tim owns a three-truck fleet and is enjoying better than average earnings — an evaluation that has to be taken seriously coming from a former banker.
With those earnings comes greater responsibility, of course, as Tim has to manage his fleet’s equipment, as well as a pair of employee drivers. “The hardest part is finding quality drivers. But once you find them and develop a relationship with them, they stick around until something forces them to move on,” he says. “My philosophy has been to treat people well and they’ll treat you well in return . . . You need to care as much about their own success as you do your own.”
Looking back, Tim has a profound sense of accomplishment from all of his success at PAM. “Since getting my truck I have a greater sense of responsibility,” he says. “I took pride in what I did as a Company Driver, but when you own something, you have a different sense of pride.”