Michael Rivera Shares What He Loves About Driving for Himself, Plus Advice for New Owner Operators
Some kids know what they want to be when they grow up. Only a lucky few make their childhood dreams come true.
Michael Rivera is one of them.
He grew up in the era of Smokey and the Bandit. His dad drove for Greyhound for 20 years. “Driving is in my blood,” Michael says. “The freedom of the open road always appealed to me.”
Initially, Michael worked as a leased owner operator, driving wherever his dispatcher sent him. He liked the work — but he wanted more autonomy. So in March of 2019, he got his operating authority and opened Marr Transport Service, based near Atlanta.
“Now, when my daughter has a dance recital or a family member needs me, I’m not having to ask anybody for time off or explain why,” he says.
Controlling his destiny
In February of 2017, Michael planned to go to a doctor’s appointment with his daughter, who has a rare form of spina bifida. Then he got a call from his dispatcher, who told him he needed to drive from Atlanta to New Jersey — in the middle of a snowstorm.
When telling me this story, Michael laughed. “I said, ‘There’s no way I’m going to New Jersey in a snowstorm!’” Luckily, Michael was able to decline the load — and still keep his job — but some of his trucking friends aren’t so fortunate. He mentioned several friends who recently drove to the Gulf Coast, straight toward a hurricane.
For Michael, the freedom to call the shots is the biggest benefit of owning his own company. “Being independent and able to control your own destiny — and whether or not you end up in that snowstorm or hurricane — is one of the great things about having my own trucking business.”
But owning a business isn’t easy. For owner operators, finding steady work at favorable rates remains a challenge. Luckily, Michael has found a way to ease that pain. “Convoy makes it so easy to find loads. In the app, you can see the rates and even bid. A lot of times, my bids will be accepted. Being able to click and go is priceless.” He mentioned waiting for calls from brokers affected his bottom line — as he put it: “Time is money in this business.”
Hauling power only
I asked Michael what kinds of loads he likes to haul. He mentioned he likes short hauls that keep him in the Atlanta area, especially Convoy power only loads.
Power only loads make it easier for Michael to plan his schedule and spend more time on the road. Because he usually gets plenty of time to return Convoy’s empty trailer, he can use it for another load — even if it’s not booked with Convoy — to get back home. “Being able to use the trailer for a run home is priceless,” he says. He knows that if he’s pulling a Convoy trailer, the equipment is well taken care of. “You’re not running junk when you’re hauling with Convoy,” he says.
“I started running on my own in March, and Convoy was the first broker and app that I used. Every day, I always check the app first,” he says. He recently placed a bid on an 80-mile run. He won the bid. “Convoy opened my eyes to the possibilities,” he says. “Now, I was in Atlanta traffic, so I did earn every penny,” he laughed.
Advice for new owner operators
Michael offered a wealth of advice for folks looking to start their own operation. Number one: Safety first. He’s the guy who yields to other cars and trucks on the road. He doesn’t tailgate or speed through construction zones.
“I try and think of my family being out on the road and how I’d want someone to drive around them,” he says. “Being on time is important, but getting the load there in one piece is the most important thing.”
He recommends buying an older truck previously owned by another owner-operator. They know the history of the truck and took care of it. “Check RigDig (like Carfax for trucks) to see if the truck has been involved in accidents or put out of service at any point,” he says.
Another piece of advice: use Convoy! “I’ve been really happy and making great money running loads through Convoy,” Michael says. “I can stay close to home. If my family needs anything, I’m only two days away.”
A lot of things can go sideways on the road, and Michael appreciates the phone support Convoy provides. Convoy always has someone there to answer the phone, he says, even at 3 a.m.
And when the going gets tough, don’t lose heart. “Sometimes you can bite off more than you can chew,” he says. “It’s a learning process, and I may have a few more gray hairs. But you really take pride in having your own name on the side of the truck.”
“I love the freedom of the open road and being my own boss,” he says. “Compared to other businesses, trucking is one of the most productive. There’s a lot of people out there predicting doom and gloom, but all you have to do is open your eyes — there’s such a need for drivers and a whole lot of freight that needs to be moved.”
Carriers: Save time by hauling Convoy power only loads
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