Life By The Mile’s latest episode sits down with a kindred spirit for today’s episode - Trucking For Millennials podcast host Michael Clements Jr. Much like LBTM’s mission to salute America’s truck drivers, Michael’s purpose is to help new truckers get a head start in the industry by sharing his knowledge on what to do, what to avoid based on his experience and to pick the brains of drivers, owner-operators, and other stakeholders so that he can add value to everyone who tunes in. He also wants young people looking for a solid career to take a look at trucking - there are various opportunities in the industry, If there’s anything Michael wants his podcast audience to feel, it’s empathy. He’s part of the trucking family who’s been there, who’s felt similar challenges and chases after the same wins. Like Life By The Mile, Michael wants to bring the community together through informative, relevant content that inspires everyone to deliver excellence every time. Don’t miss this great discussion, and leave your thoughts in the comments section below.
President PDQ America | Trucking for Millennials Podcast
uh so many young folks want to make an impact and i think that if there if there's an area of if there's an industry in this country that you can make a direct impact it's transportation um it's it's somewhat resilient to the things that we're going through in our economy and the things that are happening right now because you learn a skill set that can be transferable anywhere in the nation welcome to life of the mile delivered by brakeworks one of america's fastest growing podcasts actually produced by trucks indicted to tell stories compelling drivers i need to do
this is life by the mile delivered by freight works and i am excited today not just because we have the bookend of generations here i'm a baby boomer talking to a millennial or at least uh someone that is an expert in that arena michael clemons uh tell us a little bit you know what i don't like to read what they put down there about people tell us who you are and what you do yeah so michael clements i'm president of pdq america we're a trucking and logistics company located in northeast texas we focus primarily on the flatbed step deck open deck hauling we do some oversized work and and we are at this point we're working for customers all around the country we pretty much got started in the oil and gas industry working locally here for producers as well as manufacturers that's how we got our start and just like any other brokerage as people find out about you and the type of work that you do and if you have good people good processes and technology and those three things you uh the word starts to get around and i feel like in the last few years that's kind of what started happening to us how did you how did by by the way you're you're not talking to me the way you talked to aaron yeah i've watched some of your podcasts so uh how did you get into this whole industry yeah so in the trucking industry we started off we've got a family business that we we're the manufacturing and uh i've been a part of that company since well really i was a kid watching my dad be in business and do things and whenever i got out of college i had worked there in in high school and i worked in the shop in the warehouse and then dad told me if i ever wanted to be in the office i was going to have to have a degree so i left for four years went to texas wesleyan university in fort worth texas good school yes sir i got my business degree there and moved back home and worked in the manufacturing business for a few years and and while i was doing that i was seeing a lot of trucks coming in and out and so you know you start seeing things happen and you start want to ask questions you know why you know where all these trucks going where are they coming from what's happening with them and you know at that point i had a good a pretty good idea of our customer base and and how some you know how things worked for that business and so as i was uh i guess as we were looking at that company and saying okay what what other opportunities exist here i started saying you know man it seems like everybody just starts a trucking company it doesn't seem like it's very hard i bet i could figure that out so i think i was 24 25 at the time and i was like i'm going to start my own trucking company so got a hot shot truck and a trailer me and another guy and we started doing some lights that is great so we started doing some light trucking uh we had a hot shot truck and trailer it was a it was a uh f-450 with a 32-foot gooseneck trailer and man i'm telling you it i think the max load on those things was like 14 000 pounds let me tell you you can you can load one of those things down but um you know through that you kind of learn what you do what not to do what the laws are and and it really kind of taught me like the hardships that you have to go through when you're starting a trucking business and all the challenges that come along with it so um you know just kind of fast forwarding to 2015 2016 i found myself i had at that point in time around 13 trucks big trucks hot shots we had a lot of trailers we had full staff of drivers had a few people in the office great um we were rock and roll it was great butch but but um it was um i i don't i don't know how to say it but the foundation wasn't there and i started really realizing that as i was doing it is okay i started 24 25 years old i don't really know what i'm doing i just know i wanted to start a trucking company business is good oil and gas was doing great we have plenty of freight to move and and something funny happened oil and gas started not doing so well and that's where 100 of my customer base was and so once that started going down i found myself in a uh in a pile of debt and trucks that weren't moving um you know the thing though great entrepreneurs if you look at entrepreneurship stories if people are honest women and men they will talk about failure to talk about the failures and what they what they learned from from all of that so what did you learn from from that so you know i have all this debt and i'm like okay well i've got equipment a little bit of it's paid off not a majority of it but some of it was paid off and i've got drivers that need loads and i'm sitting here saying man you know i didn't have to do a whole lot of selling just us having trucks and trailers when nobody else did was was was our business model that's how we sold it was just hey we need a load so hey let's get another truck let's get another trailer and let's move it and at that time uh it really wasn't hard to hire drivers i would put an ad in the newspaper monday i'd have three or four calls you know they'd leave a voicemail i'd call them back and at that point in time you could come in with an interview for me at about nine o'clock that morning i may have you on your way to ohio about five that afternoon what would you say in the ad what would the ad say oh it would just say uh you know flatbed flatbed truck driver uh benefits uh paid i think we were paying load percentage at the time so you know it was just a little snippet it wasn't anything special um you know try to have you home on the weekends but i mean it was very small i mean it was just like one of those little little ads that you see in the newspaper i don't even know if anybody goes to the newspaper to look for job ads anymore but that was that was originally where we had put ours in uh 2015 so i've got all these drivers and i've got folks that i've got a little i've got a little staff and and i'm sitting there saying okay i don't know what i'm going to do and i don't i was only moving enough loads for maybe two or three trucks at that time and i got 13. so you know truck drivers are smart right they're smart people and they see the writing on the wall they i think sometimes they can read the companies they work for better than the executives that are running them and and and they started coming to like hey man it feels like it's slowing down here you know should i start looking for something else and and you know honesty is the best policy in this business with with drivers with folks in the brokers no matter what kind of business you're running in transportation it always runs easier if you're honest with yourself and with your people and so that's what i tried to be with those drivers was hey guys i i'm i'm looking for loads i can keep you busy off of a load board but that's all i've got right now and when you're paying load percentage that doesn't sound very attractive and so the the guys kind of started you know leaving and going to different places and i i had some other connections so i helped a few of them move over to some other places and through that i i kind of was like okay so now i've got all this equipment okay the drivers are taken care of they're they're at other places now they're fine kept good relationships with most of them but now i've got all this equipment and so i took all that equipment we sold most of it off i paid off the debt i kept a few pieces of it but at that point is when i fully committed to saying hey i need to figure out how to build a freight broker because i know more about computers i know more about software about doing things like that than i do right an engine on a on a on a semi truck and it was uh i was just thinking like there's people that are really good at this and i don't think i'm one of them i don't think god put me on this earth to be like a person running a 500 truck trucking company so you start saying okay well what is my lane i thought it was this but um so much of business is just following kind of the path that you're you're giving and uh and using the gifts that god gave you and using the gifts that god gave you yeah that's right um so anyways i i started saying hey let's fully commit to a freight brokerage and um a couple years later i i'd had an idea for a podcast for years and and wanted to start the trucking for millennials podcast i had some notes on it you know from 2015 2016 and i always saw myself doing podcasts but i never knew how to do it or how to get into it and i think it was 2019 is when aaron dunn and i both started the trucking for millennials podcast and the whole purpose for that show butch was so i could go and share the the my misfortunes and the mistakes i made and uh all the all the bad decisions and things that you you go through but not knowing i mean you know none of us wake up in the morning wanting to make a bad decision right like it just it just sometimes they happen that way like you look up and you say man we should not have done that three months ago but you find yourself in different places and so i i don't know my my whole goal now is that if i can help somebody else get ahead in this industry especially someone that's in a truck or a driver or an individual owner operator like that's where my heart is that's the folks i care about like that's the that that's a majority of the carriers that we're working with in our freight brokerage or those people um i was that guy at one time with my trucks and i know how it feels to be picked on as a small carrier by brokerage and all those little shortcomings and the things that happened to you um and and and i think it's like once you can empathize with with them but you also have been there it changes how it impacts how you want to run a freight broker do you know how you want to know him and how you take care of him on the back no question and you know there's a principle there michael and uh there's a noted rhetorical critic who said one time you can persuade a person only to the degree they can identify with you and your willingness to be open about ways that you failed and lessons that you learned and share that with other people you know freightworks is a company where not everybody is a person of faith but those of us in leadership are people of deep faith and we really believe that there's a principle of stewardship there and so you know god's given you gifts and abilities you're sharing with other people and there's a principle there with where where that will come back to you so i i commend you for that tell me about meeting aaron how did you beat him so i was at i was at freight waves in atlanta back in 2019 and i'm like watching there was a panel up on the stage and i was sitting there thinking like man you know they're they're pretty sharp but i was like you know like i i think i i could i could talk with these people like i you know what they're talking about what they're doing up there so i'm just sitting there in my chair and i think the next the next thing that comes on is like they were talking about media and trucking and you know should you have a website and this and that and like you know how much should you invest in your media and i remember that morning i think garyvee he was the guy that opened you know he's all about the media and the marketing and all that so like it's just getting pushed down my throat all day and you know like you're saying that you know you're a person of faith like whenever something just constantly keeps being put in front of you you can't ignore it and and i remembered i was wanting to start this podcast and do these things so i was like you know what i'm just going to go to my linkedin network and i'm just going to say does anybody know anyone that that would like to be a media manager and i had a previous media manager that i started a podcast and i think it was like 2017 called manufacturing leadership and i did some local interviews with individuals and leaders in our community um so i started that and and and that that had kind of she she had left and went to take another job well i was kind of like man i'm not even doing a podcast right now like i i love to get behind the mic and and talk and do things so i i just went on my linkedin i was like hey i'm looking for a media manager if anybody knows anything a guy a guy we had hired maybe a month and a half before i think he comments on it and then a buddy of his that he knew one of his connections comments on it and he tags aaron dunn so i start looking at aaron's stuff and aaron's like yeah man we can go to lunch so i start going through everything and i'm like okay aaron already has a podcast aaron already has done some of this he worked for a media a local media company here he was he was doing some website work and some other things so i was like okay he understands technology he understands uh marketing media i feel like this guy kind of has everything that i'm looking for so me and him go to lunch in uh one day and we have a good talk we'll um we were uh we had we we just had a great good discussion it's about an hour and a half conversation so then my wife and i we leave on a trip uh we actually went to it was fun got to go to beijing and go to mongolia it was she was working on her mba and it was a travel abroad trip and i got to go with her so we go on this trip we get back and i call aaron back i'm like hey man you know you think you're still interested you said yeah i said hey let's go to lunch again so um we went to lunch again and i want to say we went to lunch maybe two or three times and on that third time we're sitting there eating we went to a local barbecue restaurant he goes hey man where's this going is it is this going asking you
yeah so aaron aaron you know he he asks hey man where's this going i'm like all right i want to bring you on let's let's work together i think you and i can i think you and i can do this so aaron came on board for i don't know it was like june that year and by august we had our podcast fired up he was waiting for michael he was waiting for a proposal yeah yeah that's right and so he he got it he got it and uh joined the team and man me and him have just been i i absolutely love working with aaron man it's like on the show i feel like we were we get along so well but it's like after after the show it's the fist bumps and the talking about our guests and the positives that come along with it i mean i i mean man me and him just we gel very well and it's it's nice especially because i think it bleeds over into the show and what the listeners and what everybody's able to get out of it well you know you can't you know this already but i'll reinforce it you can't manufacture authenticity people sniff through people that are not authentic and uh and the two of you come across as being very authentic if people want to catch that podcast how do they find you so it's on the it's on the apple podcast app it's also on i believe google play spotify and then if you just google trucking for millennials podcast or go on our website pdq america the the podcast is there and then it's also we're all over youtube we've got uh started uploading all of our videos for all of our shows there's also short clips on there from some of our guests i mean the whole idea much is that like aaron and i mean we like this stuff but that's why i call it trucking for millennials you know why because it you're a millennial it's okay if you mess it up it's okay if it's wrong it's all right we're expected to now now we are getting a little older it's been a few years so i guess at some point they're gonna say you can't make those same mistakes anymore but um no aaron and i we we have such a good time on the show and uh man it's just all about being able to connect and reach the drivers and the folks in the industry that are trying to learn so good now talk for a minute about what would you say to younger people that are considering coming into this industry just just pretend for a minute that i'm not uh the many decades old that i am and i'm a younger guy and i'm considering the industry what would you say to me
so many young folks want to make an impact and i think that if there if there's an area of if there's an industry in this country that you can make a direct impact it's transportation it's it's somewhat resilient to the things that we're going through in our economy and the things that are happening right now because you learn a skill set that can be transferable anywhere in the nation if you can learn things about freight it really translates whether it's drive in flatbed open deck refrigerated oversized all these different types of freight that we got moving through our country if you can learn the basics of it and why it moves how it moves it's all about asking the right questions in this industry right like every load is different there's no two loads that are the same there's always a different occurrence or something that's happened so it's like if you can kind of just get the to the general terms of the business and the industry i think you're on a good path but it's also starting off with someone that cares about you there are a lot of people in this industry that want to take advantage of people unfortunately and so it's you have to go somewhere and start with people that you know say hey what's my training going to be like i think that's a good question i always ask what is the training going to be like here are you just gonna put me in a seat put me on a phone expect to make you money or are you gonna put me in a seat train me up and hope that i develop a skill set that i can take with me for a lifetime and so i think you have to have that mindset if you're coming into the industry is okay i'm willing to do this and i'm also going to learn a skill set that's going to be able to transfer to other parts of the country if i stay in transportation or could also transfer to other places including project management manufacturing i mean the skill set of understanding the world of transportation is one that i think is pretty universal you know michael i i've got four millennial children so uh that puts me where where i am and puts you where you are but you know there are a lot of bad raps for millennials as a generational cohort i just don't buy into because i don't see it you know i've got a daughter who owns their own consulting firm in colorado springs a son that's about to go do his medical school residency at lsu uh you know others so talk a little bit though about the objections or the obstacles to overcome millennials generally speaking may have considering coming into trucking and logistics what are some of the things that they have as stereotypes about the industry that would not sit well with them
so i i think that you know if you're trying to come into a business you know you have to learn to ask questions and listen so i think if you just come in as a millennial and you just start saying well this is how it should be this you know you're not using your tech right you're not doing this right or i think i can make this better i think that that's usually a recipe for like not getting the interest in what you're talking about is there as much interest as you're wanting and and it can be a challenge especially for a younger person because i think a lot of times millennials or even gen z they have good ideas we have good ideas we want to see these things develop we're like okay why are you doing the same thing over and over and over just because someone said that's how it's done but um what i found is that like you have to you have to warm people up just because you go in and say this isn't right doesn't mean everyone's going to follow suit and say you know what yeah the youngest guy in the room he's exactly right we should just change the way and when they see you and aaron both coming together they may brace themselves right
that's right and yeah i i think that you just have to have an open mind you have to be willing to learn and and say okay this legacy system is in place these folks are here for a reason the the 20-year guy's been here for 20 years because there's a there's there's an actual reason it's not just because maybe they they only know how to work the spreadsheet or something i mean there's a lot of things that that i guess go between the the generations and the way we use technology and do things but i think the the biggest thing if you're going to be if you're young and going to a company especially in a leadership position is you have to learn to ask the questions and i guess went over the hearts of the people that you're wanting to change how they work their processes well you know it's interesting it's applicable when i move here to western north carolina of course it's got its own culture when i went through walmart the cashier looked up at me and said you're not from around here are you and uh you know we all need to adapt to the cultures that we're we're we're in michael and you seem to be able to do that really well now where do you see truckee with uh for millennials going
uh trucking for millennials it's gonna go wherever it wants to go i it's it's been fun i mean we've seen a constant rise in in our listeners and the folks that are paying attention to our show um we went from a time where it was hard to find guests to come on the show that now we're we're getting emails and folks are lining up to wanting to come on the show which makes it really easy when you're trying to line up guests um you know we're just going to keep having fun with it i mean there's really we didn't have this big goal inside of sponsors or trying to have x amount of listeners or anything i think it's all about just aaron and i having a good time working together and seeing what happens you know and it's like hey we're almost on on our third year we're all you know we're about to be working on our fourth come august and it's kind of like you know let's just keep doing this thing let's just keep having fun with it as long as me and you get to keep doing this thing together i mean i'm sure at some point me and him are gonna have other things that are gonna you know start pulling at us and getting in the way and and really we've been working through this i mean aaron outside of the podcast i mean all he's done is move up in our business since he joined he went from just doing media to now he's over sales and marketing here at bdq american running a team of sales people so like it's been exciting to see aaron's like skill set grow here and watch him grow as a as a man and and see him uh you know develop in our business and learn the freight industry coming in having no knowledge of it so like i don't know if if i start to put expectations on the show it may it may kind of like steer it in another direction so i like the open-mindedness that we just keep with the show and it's just like hey when's the next one let's just get unless you you know it's it's kind of like a golf shot you know when you're playing golf you can't you can't shoot even par on the first hole you got to take it one shot at a time so we'll just keep taking the podcast talk about the company uh what what do you make of the market these days
and it it is a wild place right now um you know when you look at the stock market everything going on around us and then the economy you have some people saying that we're already in a recession you have other people saying that we're at the start of a recession um all you've done is see you know on paper and what the news tells us the economy is going in one direction but the people that are actually living in this economy have been going in another and now hey you know it's my guess is as good as anyone else's affecting your company i think it should so so for our business i you know i we're just going to continue trying to grow um it's been it has been a challenge with 2020 just like anybody else covered but there was a lot of opportunities that presented itself what i'm learning though is as you're trying to grow a freight brokerage is there's a lot of development that has to go into it especially at the beginning levels and although we've been in business for almost 10 years we've really just been focusing on the growing the brokerage side of this business the last three now we had a brokerage for the last about six seven years but we really try to start growing it i mean last november we hired um about half our team in in one in one week so we we hired and so we've just been training up and it's kind of like you know you you have to get people in you have to train them and then you have to see who those all-stars are so then you can bring in another set of people and it's kind of like this process we're going through of saying okay um you know we may not be exactly where we want to be right now in terms of revenue dollars or the amount of people that we have or the amount of carriers that we have but i feel like we're on the right direction we've got the sops that we need in place we've got good people there's multiple people here now outside of myself that understand the hiring process and how to train people and bring them into our business so you know we're trying to scale but you know when you sell when you're self-funding a business and you're trying to do these things it's not as easy now man if i had some vc money i'm sure we could grow this thing really fast but um i like the way that we're doing it it's uh it's nice and i i just want to continue uh saying okay whatever the lord gives us we're gonna we're gonna take it we're gonna be good stewards with us and try to grow this business at the rate you don't want it so it's so important what you said and of course here at freight works we're very committed as an asset based carrier with a brokerage a small brokerage operation to do things god's way if it's just the principles that are the bedrock of of what we do i had a grandfather who used to say there's no right way to do the wrong thing and a lot of drivers that come here michael they come kind of beat up from companies that didn't tell them the truth and viewed them as a commodity and and the like it really comes down to treating people like people right that's right yeah we've uh we had some owner operators that worked with us over the last few years and and we recently had a i wouldn't say we break we broke up but we we went different directions um we've we're really slowing down our asset side of our business and really focusing on the brokerage and so they moved to another local carrier and it's just like we've kept a good relationship i talked to these guys all the time and they were like man we we didn't have a clue how good we had it over there and and it's funny because i mean i i wouldn't have said you had it good over here we just made sure they got paid on time and processed all their payments and and did all their paperwork ordered their permits and did all the things we were supposed to do that was in the contract and it's just crazy to me how many people especially in the trucking business will enter into contracts and they have no interest in ever honoring them it's just a matter of signing somebody up so you can make another dollar and i'll be honest 20 percent of a load 15 of a load is not that important to me whether you know my reputation and what we're able to do here in east texas so um i think i think it i think you're exactly right with that i've had you know whenever i was hiring truck drivers these guys would a lot of times coming beat up and it's like they're already looking for the thing that you're um you know for back alert for lack of a better term you're screwing them over on there they're always thinking what is where's what's behind the curtain what am i not seeing here and uh it takes a little it takes a while to understand and see that hey maybe maybe these folks are just okay and that's that's what we found i mean man i was like in the business for like three months and i had a driver he was our first driver lester okay really nice guy um older gentleman and man it's like nine o'clock at night he's having issues with a trailer so i come up to the yard my wife's with me in the car well first thing he says to me when i roll down the window is like hey man i think you short paid me you didn't pay me everything on my on my deal and i was like oh ho hold on hold on man yeah i've only been doing this four or five weeks i mean i i had i'm thinking okay everything's fine there's absolutely no way and we got in there and looked and it was just a it was a way he was reading his check and but i was just like oh my gosh this guy is just like all of a sudden i was white on rice here my wife's beside me i just started in the trucking business but but to to like to him asking that question like i understand it better now than i did back then of why like he's probably been he's probably had someone shortchange him before and tell him no i'm not doing that but they are and so i think it's you got to find honest companies to work for and honest people to be around and i mean you can tell that pretty much in the first few months you're at a company whether you know here at freight works we really believe and are driven by the maxim we're interested in relationships long-term relationships not just transactions and it's so funny because i don't even office anymore i'd stay in the driver's lounge talk to drivers get input from them and they'll see me sometimes and think i number one know what they're talking about when they're talking about what's broken with their truck and number two that i'm in a position to somehow fix it which i'm not but you know what a lot of times just listening asking good questions listening hearing being compassionate is is is what you need to do and that comes through in in uh in what you and aaron are doing i love the flow that the two of you have and uh i'll i'll be watching your your stuff here in the days ahead for sure the mark michael of a good conversation by the way this is michael clements trucking for millennials the mark of a good conversation is it comes to an end and we're about to come to an end but not before i do my qvc imitation where my online shopping invitation we actually have a gift for you for being here today and so i'm going to go through three options you tell me which one you want give us an address and we'll send it to you okay so option number one this went over really well at mats by the way this is a life of the mile cap it's got the leather insignia there people really like the uh this in the back here you know the the flag in the back so that's option number one option number two is a genuine yeti mug and it's got the life of the mile logo it's got the freightworks one logo on the front that's good for beverages hot or cold and you know yeti is its own culture and then option number three is a freightworks one cap and you know what we're gonna william we're gonna do something a little different here we're gonna let aaron pick one out as well so so you pick one and aaron pick one tell us right now before the time runs out which ones you want it's either one of the caps here or the ft mug
let's do let's do the yeti mug and the uh i like that cap that's cool or this one yes sir oh man ah let's do let's do that let's do that first one i like that you've got the one on it that's cool you said don't call me sir it makes me feel even older okay i'm butch i i may be the only gainfully employed person in bush that you know although you know what's really interesting and by the way i'll tell you this real quickly i got it because my dad was in the military and he used to cut my hair and give me a butch haircut my real name is dwight but when i talk to people now michael what they'll say to me is oh i knew somebody named butch and i'll say well who was it i hope you like them and often they'll say oh it was my dog it was a beagle you know or it was a poodle or it was something so um in any event i knew i knew this was going to be a great conversation it's gone quickly i really appreciate your authenticity your insights uh i hope we could do this again let's talk again soon and we'll send these items along this life by the mile delivered by freight works on butch mall for your host make sure you subscribe like share engage and be a part of the growing community that we have michael we've enjoyed having you and we'll get you back okay butch thank you so much i appreciate the opportunity
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