Samantha Jones

Interview by
Published on
January 10, 2023

In this episode...

Do truck drivers trust brokers? In the words of Rocketshipping’s Samantha Jones - not in most cases because there are bad brokers, carriers, and shippers. But she is quick to follow up that YOU JUST NEED TO FIND A GOOD ONE. When you do, you’ll find not just a good broker, but a reliable partner who will have your back in the industry. Learn more about the unique partnership of truck drivers and brokers, the state of the brokerage industry, and more from Samantha Jones on episode 122 of Life By The Mile, delivered by FreightWorks.

Samantha Jones

Supply Chain Fanatic & Vice President of Revenue at Rocketshipping


I was driving back from the lake and it's a smaller Highway in Kansas but I was like following a semi truck as I'm getting closer I'm like I think I know this truck I didn't like man you know you you know you've really made it in logistics when you know the truck in front of you it sure enough was I know that um the owners of the company from Denver Colorado and I took a photo and I sent it to him as I followed him all the way through town welcome to life of the mile delivered by freightworks one of America's fastest growing podcasts actually produced by Trucking he died at the tell story I need to do something insightful industry Excellence all here right now this life by the mile delivered by freightworks I am so incredibly excited you know why we we have Samantha Jones with us and you know what Samantha I'm gonna give you the opportunity to talk about why you love Trucking Logistics and your whole journey it's great to have you thank you it's great to be here all right start by talking about how did you get into the world that we're in

oh boy so I bet if you ask that to most of the people on my side of the industry we all would just say like I have no idea we just kind of woke up one day and we fell into it but um that's it's pretty accurate for me I actually just stumbled into the industry right out of college I was at a career fair um at my alma mater which is Kansas state and there was a logistics company there and they recruited me right out of school so I literally haven't known anything else since uh post-graduation but it's been it's been a lot of fun and I think the thing that keeps me in the industry and keeps me excited to be in it every every day is the fact that I've never had two days of my life look the same since I've been in this industry that is so good what do you do every day yeah so right now it kind of changes from day to day and depends on what it is that we're focused on but I'm currently the vice president of Revenue at a company called Rocket shipping and we are a younger company in the space we just hit two years old um but we're growing really fast so my day-to-day is a little bit different but as the vice president of Revenue I'm more so um on the shipper side I kind of oversee our strategic shipper Partnerships okay and work with a lot of cool Supply chains what do you think drivers need that most companies don't get foreign

companies don't get

uh well I'm a broker so we we play in The Brokerage space and I the first thing that comes to mind for me for a lot of trucking companies since the majority of trucking companies are less than 10 trucks and a lot are less than 50 trucks um I would say the one thing that they need that they don't get is contractual Freight opportunities for the people that are trying to understand the industry the whole brokerage world looks like what I if you were to describe it to seventh graders what what would you say yeah that's there's a pretty simple way to put it and essentially we are the middleman that goes between a shipper and the carriers the actual truck drivers um whether that's a 500 truck operation or a one truck operation we are the person that acts as that bridge for pairing that truck capacity to a shipper that's actively looking for that capacity when you think about that relationship between a brokerage person and a driver what are the things two two or three things that would help a driver I like what you know I I I've been dealing with brokerage a little bit and and the reality is most drivers want somebody to give them good Insight what what would you say yeah unfortunately I would say in our industry more commonly than not drivers have had poor experiences working with brokerages there's a lot of distrust that's out there um and I can't say that it's that's inaccurate there's a lot of bad Brokers there's a lot of bad carriers um there's a lot of bad shippers there's bad you know bad eggs in every in every Basket in this industry but I think um one of the things I would encourage the drivers to know is that there are good Brokers out there and if you haven't found one yet and you're not working with one yet keep looking don't get complacent with Partnerships you don't feel valued in Partnerships you don't feel like you can trust that partner in um keep looking until you find them and when you find them invest in that and they will invest in you right so so as you look at the coming year what what are some of some of the things that you're seeing and anticipating what what do you think the next year is going to be like for brokering yeah that's a very timely question um we're in a period of change right now for the truckload Freight Market cycle in general so usually a truckload when we're talking pricing which usually follows volume patterns so they're closely intertwined there but usually a truckload Market Cycle takes on average three years to go through a full cycle and you have your up and you have your down and you have you know the the incline and the decline on either side of those and so most of 2022 really after quarter one the first quarter has been a decline and we've seen a decline in spot rates and we've seen a smaller but steady decline in contract Freight rates as well and so we're going to hit the bottom sometime probably q1 maybe Q2 of 2023 um and then it will hopefully steady out and start to go back up but the reality for a lot of people is Freight rates are going to remain low and lower margin for the next quarter to two quarters at least where did you learn what you just said

do you know what I'm asking it's it's like sure there's a lot of information out there but you know what you you have insights where did you learn this yeah so I'm a huge fan a huge proponent of networking I'm a huge fan of LinkedIn okay I'm very present there but really I started when I was with my former employer I was a director of Enterprise sales so I worked with our Fortune 500 brand name shippers and I worked with directors and um vice presidents of supply chain and occasionally C Suites and you know people who they want to know these things and if if you can't tell them that someone else will and so I decided you know hey I need a I need to know this stuff right like this makes me a better partner this helps the partnership grow faster so I I went on that Journey myself like sure did you find this information how do you figure this out um and it involved just a lot of time spent finding sources finding good data sources networking with people in the industry who are the brains behind a lot of the sources so there's a lot of hand like you know very helpful newsletters out there but somebody authors them so go find that person and that's kind of what I did and so I've just started expanding my network and my knowledge and my understanding of the freight markets and then also I mean I haven't been in the industry as long as others but living it if you look and just step back and say what happened over the last 14 years well there's approximately five different Freight Market cycles and you can see the highs and the lows when you stretch it out on a timeline so looking back also helps us understand to an extent what we can expect moving forward I'm going to ask this and maybe nobody's ever asked you this before when you were little were you like playing with trucks or oh gosh

what were you doing when you were young I'm definitely um a girly girl for sure I have a son now and he's four and and he knows like the names of tools and Motors his name is James um you know he can ride four-wheelers he does all this stuff he knows directions like he just told me the name of the highway we were on the other day I was like I don't even know the names of Highways you know but should I I'm an adult so I definitely wouldn't say like I had a natural inclination for this but what I what I would say is that um I I like to learn I'm a fan of continuous learning and so if I'm going to be in an industry I want to make sure that I'm doing everything I can to understand it and actually know what I'm doing because knowledge is power and and having more knowledge helps you be more successful in what it is that you're endeavoring to accomplish that is so good so so you grew up work where yes um I am from the small town of Tonganoxie Kansas it's right between Topeka and Kansas City off of I-70 okay so so truck drivers that drive by there might know where it is right yeah it's actually for for being such a small town it actually has its own right off of um I-70 which has made it grow a lot more in the last 10 years because it's so easy to you know work in one of the larger cities in Kansas but be in the country so to speak they they should make you part of the tourism Development Authority right so it's so funny I actually was driving back into town um from the lake the other day we go ice fishing in the winter when it's cold enough I used to I used to ice ice fish in Bemidji Minnesota by the way it is yeah that's all right finish your story and I'm going to ask you questions go back to that yeah and I was driving back from the lake and it's a smaller Highway in Kansas but I was like following a semi truck and it's a single Lane so I can't pass but I'm getting closer right and not that I would need to you know but as I'm getting closer I'm like I think I know this truck you know you you know you've really made it in logistics when you know the truck in front of you and it was a it was a it sure enough was I know that um the owners of the company from Denver Colorado and I took a photo and I sent it to him and I was like what in the world is your truck doing and Tonganoxie Kansas I followed him all the way through town that that that that is incredible it's look we launched Life by the mile delivered by freightworks we're a asset based carrier here in Western North Carolina I knew nothing about Trucking and Logistics okay I tell this to people regularly I'd love the stories like this yeah yeah so have you ever driven a truck or no oh no well so I've done ride-alongs before um my first job in the industry I worked for ABF Freight which is an LTL carrier and I was in operations for my first first six months and so I did the open Air Freight doc overnight shifts you know dispatching and and load planning and all of that and during that time part of my training was like riding along with our drivers throughout their route deliveries for the days and we'd get in the truck we'd go make all the stops and I mean my anxiety was probably so high but I have so much respect for these guys because I would see them back into spots and get out of the shop and maneuver into places that I mean I couldn't even have done it with my car let alone a 53-foot trailer exactly yes that's the closest I've gotten was the bucket seat what what does it take to be a good dispatcher what what do you believe needs to be the requisite requirements for a driver manager or a dispatcher yeah um so I did that for I you know I sat with the person who did that for a brief stint probably four weeks or so and this was an LTL but it is you have to truly like it puts a whole new meaning to the phrase fly by the seat of your pants right because you cannot predict what's going to come your way in a day and depending if you're managing you know two drivers or 200 drivers or whatever it is between that like you just have to be able to handle pressure and quickly adjust and that's the truth of it it is a fast-paced high intensity job the whole time you're on the clock you know I through all the different businesses that I've had every single great employee by the way was a single mom yeah yeah yeah you know why they multitask they know what they need to do and uh so so drivers need to know somebody on the other end of the phone cares right yeah I would say it's the same way like in brokerage when we're not necessarily we're not dispatching services but we are trying to pair our drivers with Freight and um someone told me this one time and it's always stuck with me and they said that a good carrier sales rep is a mini dispatcher and so we want our carrier sales people when you create a relationship with a driver and you put him on a load and you know where he's emptying you better run him right out of there somewhere else and you if you were the you know ideally as a brokerage partner a true partner what we would do is we would move that truck and we would just keep you going keep you going until you're like man I want to go home and we'll be like oh okay it'll get you a load home you know but we don't want to just use use someone one time transact get them into a market and then that's a capacity you know is there you know there's going to be an empty truck in that market and if you could find a load in that market then you can offer them a loadout so it that's what I would say is um either brokerage or dispatching like try to think like your drivers your partner carriers are thinking they're about to go into a market they're about to empty you know their time frame you know when they can load do you have anything to offer them that is so good so so is so as you look at your own life in the days ahead what what what what do you hope for yeah well I I'm part of growing a company um we actually have multiple service offerings but one of the ones we're we're growing right now is our truckload brokerage and so um it's a lot of fun because this is a down part of the cycle right everybody's talking about how hard it is and how shippers are wanting to cut back on their Partnerships and how rates are falling but you know I think we love a good challenge so growing despite that it like excites us and so um we're excited to face that but yeah in the days to come we're focused on um keeping the carrier Partnerships we already have strong finding new ones and then um finding the the freight that complements their networks with our shipper networks making some good pairs if if people want to know more about you your services and your company how can they they know that yeah um so you guys can connect with me or anyone else from our company on LinkedIn we're all very active there if you're on LinkedIn if you're not my email is pretty simple it's just my first name it's Samantha at go and you guys can shoot me an email anytime and um I'm always happy to talk to people it's something that I do actually if you look at my LinkedIn it says meet me for coffee I now have a podcast called meet me for coffee but I also just um genuinely budget time in my weeks and months to meet people for virtual coffee chats just to say like what do you do here's what I do like let's learn something from each other I'm always happy to give recommendations for people if they're like hey I manage the supply chain and here's what I'm dealing with sometimes we're not the right fit that's okay I'm happy to make recommendations for connections I have in the industry so always open to talking with people you're you're you're bit this is going to sound condescending or something but it's not or patronizing you're very delightful thank you right so all right so before we end here if if there's a high school person a woman or man and and they're considering next steps in life what would you say to them about the possibilities of being involved as a driver or manager or whatever what would be your case yeah so I'll look at it from a few different fronts um but number one overall I would say that this industry in general is it's never it seems It's never intentionally pursued which is unfortunate because there's so much opportunity for growth for career advancement and for money I mean I tell people all the time there's a lot of money in this industry go find it you're kind of in charge of your own destiny in this industry there's a lot of commission plans and it's pretty straightforward as much you put in as you'll get more out um and so it's a great industry for the go-getters and so people who just have Ambitions and you know those work hard personalities it's great on the driving side I know a couple of um young men who drive right now in the Kansas City area um I don't think people realize this but people need to know that I know drivers who work for lto carriers or local trucking companies right you can make a hundred thousand dollars driving a truck local city routes like this I mean we're serious I'm talking real money yes and um it's amazing and it's not the quality of life that a lot of people think either that's a common misconception that you get in a truck and you leave for five days or seven days and you sleep in a cab um there are plenty of jobs in trucking that will have you home every night home every other night um and there's a lot of work-life balance to be had there and then for The Brokerage side I would say you know and which is more what I do on the services side um so many opportunities there's just so many opportunities out there and the great thing about our industry is that this industry is so open to Young Talent right and that's a developing thing it hasn't always been that way um but we are creeping closer to 50 of the workforce being Millennial or younger in this industry and um that's pretty exciting you know that's a lot of 20 and 30 something year olds even in positions of leadership at these companies because there's a Hunger for More talent coming in and we don't get nearly enough of it when you think about how many kids now are going to college how many graduate and say I want to go work for a trucking company not very many so right it's an exciting area of opportunity Samantha you you were so insightful and intuitive and uh you know what the mark of a good conversation is they come to a close and and we're about there but not before we give you the opportunity listen we we love to send out stuff to people that are guests okay all right so um we got this hat you gotta you gotta William is behind the camera by the way he he is the guy that does the work that I get credit for you don't you love that well it uh so so we debuted this ad at Matt's last year everybody loved the Patriotic Theme Life of the mile there right and then the other possibility is the freightworks one hat so if you if you'll tell us which one you want we'll send it to you yeah I love the flag I'm a patriot I love that one great all right so um you know I are you gonna be at bats or no am I gonna be where at the Mid-America truck show I don't think so I have um usually it ends up being one conference a month at this point that I'm allocated to so I don't think so but if I do I will definitely let you know all right well William is going to send you a hat and it's been so great to have you on yeah you know what we love here in life of the mile deliver by freightworks we love hearing the stories of truckers and people that are involved in helping them and and you've been insightful and uh frankly uh just just a great cast and and so I I hope we have the opportunity to have you back soon now if if you would have one thing that you would tell a potential driver what would you say

if I was going to tell someone

who is thinking of driving one thing I would probably say you are your own CEO and you are running a business and if you are running a business you have to understand your own profit and loss and you absolutely have to know your value when transacting with shippers when transacting with Brokers and make sure you have a plan for profitability and sustainability great this life by the mile delivered by freightworks uh please make sure that you hit that subscribe button we're here every week and uh thank you Samantha yeah thanks for having me

thanks for watching this episode you know like by the mile delivered by freightworks is one of the newest largest and fastest growing podcasts actually produced by a trucking company now we want you to like and share this episode if you'd like to see more episodes click here and make sure that you subscribe to this channel by clicking here we'll see you there

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