Trucking People
OOIDA’s 30th Anniversary, man’s best friends and more

René Tankersley

Taking care of man’s best friends
OOIDA member Chris Ogle hauls a veterinary clinic, animal shelter, a makeshift hotel, a rescue ambulance and two rescue boats, all at once in an 18-wheeler.

He drives the mobile command center — a 1996 Kentucky 53-foot moving van trailer pulled by a 1992 Freightliner COE with a 3406E Caterpillar engine — known as BART (Big Animal Rescue Truck) by its sponsoring organization, Code 3 Associates/Essential Animal Services Search & Rescue Team. It also features an 18-speed transmission and a 120-inch Double Eagle sleeper.

Code 3 Associates/EASSRT is a nonprofit organization that provides disaster response and animal rescue nationwide, as well as training in the areas of disaster preparedness, on-scene officer safety and animal cruelty investigations.

The mobile command center houses supplies, equipment and facilities to meet the needs of 50 animals and nine team members for up to seven days without resupply. Tucked away in the rig, you’ll also find a 4x4 animal rescue unit — a 2001 Ford Explorer SportTrac with a two-horse trailer — and two rescue boats — a 15-foot inflatable Zodiac boat powered by a 15 hp Mercury outboard motor and a 14-foot flat-bottom johnboat with a 10 hp motor.

Before he started driving the Code 3 truck, Ogle worked as an HVAC building engineer and volunteered with a horse rescue in his home state of Maryland, helping horse owners and animal control with horses during small-scale emergencies. He became acquainted with Code 3 because the horse rescue partnered with Code 3.

In 2002, Ogle came to Code 3 as a full-time volunteer, working up to five missions a year, helping rescue and care for animals during disasters such as tornados, hurricanes, fires and floods. Most recently, Code 3 hired Ogle as director of emergency services and driver of the mobile command vehicle.

The mobile command center and its staff — Ogle and the disaster response team — work with local veterinarians, animal control agencies and the Humane Society to rescue animals displaced and often injured during disasters such as wildfires, tornados and hurricanes. Some of Ogle’s most recent missions have included the California wildfires, Hurricane Isabelle and Pierce City, MO, which was hit by a tornado in May 2003.

Truckers helping truckers
OOIDA member John Ewing joined the trucking industry in 1990 after the recession put him out of work. He and his wife, Sheila, saw trucking as something they could do together. They drove two years as a company team for CR England before buying their own truck in 1992.

As a former quality manager in the computer industry, John had taught himself computer programming. He even wrote a few programs that his employer used. As company drivers, the Ewings needed a way to check their logs, so John created a spreadsheet program.

When John and Sheila became owner-operators, he rewrote the program to help keep up with their income and expenses, reconcile their settlements and record their fuel tax mileage. They started sharing their computer program with other owner-operators and added features as requested by the program’s new users.

“We were a 6,500-mile-a-week team,” John said. “I’d drive my shift, work on the program an hour or two, then I’d sleep a while.

“Customers started growing, and we started adding things. It was actually written by my customers — what they’ve asked for. They told me what they needed to do, and we gave them the tools to do it. It’s the only complete package that will do everything you need to run a small trucking company.”

With versions for company drivers, owner-operators and small fleets, the program now includes billing, load management and tracking, dispatch, brokering, accounting, logbooks and safety compliance, maintenance, fuel tax tracing and reporting, routing and fuel optimization and a comprehensive reporting module. The Truckers Helper also offers ProMiles and GPS options.

“It’s easier to use than when we first started,” John explained. “In the beginning, you had to enter everything on the spreadsheet, but we’ve changed to a trip sheet format like the old standard trip sheets we once turned in to the company.”

Once the information is entered for each trip, all the bookkeeping is done from there. To reconcile settlements, just enter the information directly from your written settlement page into the settlement reconciliation form.

The logbook program allows drivers to maintain their daily logs electronically. At the end of each day, you can print the log page, a duplicate of one you would find in a regular logbook.

The driver’s version sells in truck stops for less than $50. The owner-operator version without routing is just under $200 (roughly $500 with routing) and the small fleet version runs under $350 without routing (just under $1,200 with routing). Currently, the small fleet version can handle up to 100 trucks, but John and his new business partner Brian Wilson are working on a new version that will handle an unlimited number of trucks. This version should be released some time later this year.

John, who previously wrote a computer technology column for Land Line, gives his customers an extra boost by offering a free one-year membership in the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association. For customers who are already OOIDA members, the company offers a 10 percent discount off the software program’s cost.

To Ewing, “The Trucker’s Helper” is more than the name of the company, it’s his creed.

“It’s the attitude I run the company with,” he said. “We help truckers.”

Quilt commemorates OOIDA’s 30th anniversary
Sue Lynch, a professional trucker from Prairie du Chien, WI, recently presented the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association with a handmade quilt commemorating the association’s 30th anniversary.

Lynch presented the quilt to OOIDA President Jim Johnston during the association’s fall board meeting Nov. 13. OOIDA hosted a celebration Nov. 14 commemorating the 30th anniversary of the formation of the national trade association for professional truckers. The event also highlighted the association’s recent milestone of surpassing 100,000 members and celebrated the expansion of the group’s headquarters in Grain Valley, MO.

Lynch, an alternate member of OOIDA’s board of directors, began work on the quilt back in June while team driving with her husband, Bill. The quilt features the OOIDA logo with a yellow and orange background encircled by a black ring topped with an eagle. The orange and yellow variegated background and eagle’s feathers are evidence of Lynch’s meticulous attention to detail in the design of the quilt.

Lynch’s quilts have caught the attention of the producers for Simply Quilts, a national quilting program on the cable channel Home & Garden Television. The camera crew filmed Lynch and her quilts Nov. 22 for a show about the quilting trucker. The show, titled “Quilting Semi,” will air in early 2004.

René Tankersley can be reached at rene_tankersley@landlinemag.com.