If you are using every trick in the book to protect and grow your trucking business, then you already know about OOIDA’s Business Services department. If you do not know what this team of professionals can do for you and your business, you are not using the right book of tricks.
The goal of OOIDA always has been to have the services an owner-operator needs in one place. “The professional driver is on the road to make money,” says Mike Merrick of Business Services’ conflict resolution unit. “They don’t have time to visit or call half a dozen places to do business. A member of OOIDA has one-stop shopping. We offer everything in one place.”
The Business Services department is located in OOIDA headquarters in Grain Valley and is loosely divided into five units - collections, conflict resolution, permits and bonds, authority and fuel taxes. Each unit is staffed by personnel specifically trained and cross-trained to handle questions, problems and paperwork relating to their special unit.
When OOIDA was established more than 25 years ago, one of the association’s functions was to help its members with business problems. “We began with collections assistance,” Mary Johnston says, reminiscing about OOIDA’s early years. To those who made it a habit to “stiff” hard-working truckers, Mary became a skilled opponent.
“Then members began to contact us with questions on insurance, collections and authority,” she says. “As the membership grew, so did we.”
The current staff of 14 features a stellar lineup of specialists whose collective backgrounds offer expertise in the areas of truck insurance, authority, fuel taxes, permits, lawsuits and collections. Any OOIDA member who needs help can take advantage of the department’s “know-how.”
The collections unit assists members in recovering money owed to them by carriers and or brokers. Mary Johnston has managed the department since its beginnings. “It’s a lot easier now than it was back in ’78-’79,” she says, “We have more legal resources available to us now.”
The clout behind the collections unit is not only the resources, but the professionalism and experience of “Mary J. and Company.”
Sylvia Dodson joined the department three years ago, but she’s far from being a newbie to trucking or to OOIDA. She’s a 15-year employee of OOIDA, having spent 12 years as a truck insurance agent. The credentials of the rest of the team attest to the depth of the department’s trucking savvy. Vicki Shewmaker (six years with OOIDA) is a former claims adjuster. Joan Harris (two years with OOIDA) spent the previous 25 years in the business office at Cartright Van Lines. Jim Mulkey (five years with OOIDA) is a former insurance professional.
The unit as a whole has established a 95 percent success rate. In the past year, the unit has collected more than $175,000 owed to members. The unpaid sums Mary Johnston and her crew dedicate themselves to recovering are not always high-dollar debts.
“Sometimes we go after a small amount of money just because the carrier or broker believes they can get away with cheating the owner-operator,” Sylvia says. “It’s the principle. Some brokers and carriers believe they are above the law. They are not. The amount they owe our member may not be significant to them, but to a trucker, every dime is important.” Calculating fuel taxes is the specialty of Mary Dennis. Like the rest of the department’s staff, Mary brings professional and practical experience to the job. From 1985-93, she operated her own trucking business. (Yes, she was an OOIDA member.)
For the last three years, Mary’s job has been handling the paperwork for the department’s fuel tax customers. Customers are supplied trip sheets and envelopes for a weekly mailing of trip reports and fuel receipts. Mary calculates them as they come in and completes quarterly tax reports. Permits and bonds are handled by Paula McGee, who has more than 20 years of experience working for motor carriers and three years with OOIDA. She files applications with state agencies to establish permit accounts for her member customers, sets up IFTA accounts, Single State Registration (SSR) and more. The permits and bonds desk does not issue temporary permits or permits for oversize or overweight loads. Business Services does plan to begin issuing base plates at the beginning of the year. Is operating under your own authority in your future?
Business Services has a pair of experienced customer service professionals who have been with the association a total of five years. Tammy Hodges and Cathy Koncilia (who can be found working in fuel taxes and permits as well) will assist you in completing the proper applications and, when requested, file applications. Business Services has a comprehensive booklet available free of charge to members considering filing for their authority.Conflict resolution and compliance is a unit within the Business Services department that is known at OOIDA as “Problem Solving Central.” Directing this team is Gary Green, a veteran trucker with a total of 30 years in the business. Gary is also an OOIDA member and six-year employee. Green is one of the association’s leading authorities on rules and regs. If members ask “can they do that?” – he’s the “go to” guy.
Gary is backed by the unit’s other professional problem fixers: Mike Merrick (with 28 years trucking as an owner-operator); Jerry Bartley (22 years trucking as an owner-operator) and Doreen Winkler (10 years as a trucking company owner); Karen England, who has a trucking/fuel business background; and Pam Morse, who brings strong customer service experience to the team.
“We work on a daily basis to enforce the goals of the association,” explains Green. “One of these goals is to level the playing field by giving owner-operators the means to fix their own problems.”
Green says usually a predicament involving compliance or conflict with a carrier can be solved in-house. Each situation is reviewed individually, researched and the OOIDA member is informed of his/her options. Just a few of the complaints logged on a daily basis include questions on leases, warranty, cargo claims, downtime, tickets and logbook violations. The unit also handles repair shop problems, parking problems, lumping complaints and even helping you find your stolen trucks. The unit does lease compliance reviews, as well. Many of the class action lawsuits filed by OOIDA seeking fair treatment of truckers begin with complaints brought to Business Services department.
For more information about OOIDA’s Business Services department, .
Your membership in the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association is an asset to your business and your personal resource for information essential to a profitable small business. In times of fluctuating fuel prices, low freight rates and slow-paying carriers, OOIDA is an oasis of services to its members. In upcoming issues of Land Line, we’ll get up close and personal with the association’s service departments.
Are these services available to all professional truckers?
The only requirement is that you are a member of OOIDA.
Are the services free to members?
Many of the services, questions, referrals, etc. are free. The collections unit charges 10 percent of the total amount collected and no charge if collection attempts are unsuccessful. Permits, bonds, fuel taxes are all affordable services depending on your needs. Authority will cost you $450 ($300 to the feds, $150 to Business Services).
Does Business Services have a legal department?
No, there are no attorneys on staff. The department provides attorney referrals to members who request legal help.
In February we’ll feature OOIDA’s membership department. If you think these people just take care of dues and send you membership cards and decals, you’ll be surprised.