Russell Koranda, an owner-operator from North Las Vegas, NV, became the 100,000th member of the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association Tuesday, Aug. 19, Joy Guffey, supervisor of the association’s Membership Department, said.
Koranda said he was attracted to OOIDA because of the organization’s reputation among truckers.
“I heard a lot of good things about it,” he said. “I heard that they’re out there making a difference on some issues like limited rest area parking and things that get me aggravated on a daily basis.”
Koranda started his trucking career 11 years ago hauling gravel for Johnson Construction in Chicago.
Several years ago, he bought his own truck and made the jump into being an owner-operator. Like most owner-operators, Koranda has a bit of an independent streak in him.
“I got tired of being told what to do every day,” he said. “I just got tired of somebody else constantly, directly over me, telling me what to do every minute. I kind of just enjoy not having anybody to answer to … pretty much.”
These days, Koranda and his 379 Pete rig are leased to Marten Transport of Mondovi, WI, a gig he’s had for about two years. He travels most of the time with his wife, Donell. The two were married recently.
“She’s with me all the time,” he said. “She does all the paperwork, takes care of all the bookkeeping and everything. She’s there as my partner. We’ve been together for a long time, and we never leave each other’s side pretty much.”
Jim Johnston, president of OOIDA, stressed that while the 100,000 landmark was important, he is looking toward the future.
“While reaching the 100,000-member mark is fantastic for us, even more fantastic is the accelerated growth rates. This demonstrates the growing awareness among truckers of the need to join together to address the issues,” Johnston said. “That same trend, continuing into the future, will improve our ability and effectiveness in representing all truckers.”
“Obviously, the growth of the organization should dispel any thoughts that some truckers and others may have that truckers can’t get together and work for common goals and common improvements in the industry,” Todd Spencer, OOIDA’s executive vice president, said. “While 100,000 is monumentally impressive from our perspective, it’s just a good start.
“By far, the bigger growth in the association is yet to come, and of course, with that growth, its greater ability to make needed improvements for truckers … all truckers.”
After a count made late the previous night, Guffey’s department made an understated announcement the morning of Aug. 19 over the organization’s computer system: “100,010 is the membership count.”
OOIDA is doing a bit more for its landmark member than a few words, though. The association is sending Koranda an OOIDA jacket with his name and the words “100,000th Member” emblazoned on it.
While he may be new to OOIDA, Koranda has been on the road long enough to look back and think about what he would do differently if he had it all to do over again.
“I probably would have bought a truck earlier,” he said with a laugh. “It probably would have been paid off by now.
“We’re working real hard to get it paid off, doing a lot of running … legally, of course.”
—by Mark H. Reddig, associate editor Mark Reddig can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.