Folks who’ve been working in the transportation industry for decades often have nuggets of wisdom for those who are newer to the scene. We recently had the opportunity to speak with Adam Wingfield, owner and founder of Innovative Logistics Group, a carrier consultancy business based out of Charlotte, N.C. Adam has spent the last 23 years working in trucking. At age 21 after completing his college degree, Adam got his CDL and from there went on to have a successful career as a company driver, then owner operator and later trucking company owner. He currently leverages this knowledge to help independent owner operators and carriers with fleet management, accessing necessary capital, obtaining new MC numbers, dispatch and best practices for realizing success in the industry.

When we spoke with Adam, he shared what he’s learned from running his own trucking businesses through the years along with his take on the biggest challenges that small carriers, in particular, presently face.

Early Success in Trucking

Adam’s love of trucking started early on. He’d always been interested in trucking and first got behind the wheel of a tractor trailer at the age of 11. Adam told us he’ll never forget the first time that he turned the key and felt the power and rumble of the truck. After obtaining his CDL through a mega carrier, Adam bought his first tractor trailer at 23 years old and became an owner operator. The rest was history. He was running a fleet by the time he turned 30 years old.

In 2003 while he was still driving, Adam was asleep in his birth at a Petro in Joplin, Mo., and woke up thinking about the name Innovative Logistics. That day, he got business cards made and began planning to launch his new business. Adam envisioned using his business to offer guidance to new owner operators and carrier owners based on what he’d learned in his time in trucking.

“As I went to bed every night, one of the things I always did was to write in what I called my sundown pad, a yellow legal pad, my ideas,” Adam shared. “I would reach for that pad and write down my thoughts about what folks need to start a trucking business and to be successful. The ideas I recorded in my sundown pad became an ongoing resource that I’d use to start and eventually make a core part of my business.”

“As I went to bed every night, one of the things I always did was to write in what I called my sundown pad, a yellow legal pad, my ideas,” Adam shared. “I would reach for that pad and write down my thoughts about what folks need to start a trucking business and to be successful. The ideas I recorded in my sundown pad became an ongoing resource that I’d use to start and eventually make a core part of my business.”

Today, Adam uses his real-world knowledge to help owner operators and trucking businesses with everything from compliance to profitability. He offers an array of end-to-end services, from driver recruitment and motor carrier/DOT setup to hand-in-hand mentorship programs. Adam wants his consultancy business to be a “one-stop-shop” for independents and carriers to get everything they need in order to be successful.

Fuel Costs: A Huge Challenge for Small Carriers in the Spot Market

As a carrier consultant, Adam has insight into what challenges carriers and owner ops face and, unsurprisingly, cites fuel as the biggest current obstacle. As Adam noted, small carriers in particular are being squeezed by historically high diesel prices.

“If you look at historical data between now and pre-pandemic, rates are still higher now than they were then,” Adam said. “Fuel is the issue. A lot of carriers don’t have the opportunity to take advantage of wholesale fuel prices. Mega carriers buy their fuel at wholesale, whereas the smaller guy, the owner operators, have to buy fuel at retail prices. Even with the decrease in diesel prices over the last month, the wholesale gap is really, really big. So folks who were spending 40 cents/mile on diesel fuel two years ago are now paying 68 or 70 cents/mile now on diesel. That’s a big increase for the smaller carrier, especially the small carriers operating in the spot market. If you’re on a contract, obviously you can pass through those fuel expenses, but when you’re on a load board, that kind of increase is scary. For carriers that don’t have those sustainable practices in place and are still relying on load boards, it is a scary time.”  

“If you look at historical data between now and pre-pandemic, rates are still higher now than they were then,” Adam said. “Fuel is the issue. A lot of carriers don’t have the opportunity to take advantage of wholesale fuel prices. Mega carriers buy their fuel at wholesale, whereas the smaller guy, the owner operators, have to buy fuel at retail prices. Even with the decrease in diesel prices over the last month, the wholesale gap is really, really big. So folks who were spending 40 cents/mile on diesel fuel two years ago are now paying 68 or 70 cents/mile now on diesel. That’s a big increase for the smaller carrier, especially the small carriers operating in the spot market. If you’re on a contract, obviously you can pass through those fuel expenses, but when you’re on a load board, that kind of increase is scary. For carriers that don’t have those sustainable practices in place and are still relying on load boards, it is a scary time.”  

Despite these and other challenges, Adam doesn’t see the bottom falling out of freight markets any time soon. According to Adam, trucking will always be needed and naturally goes through cycles of ups and downs, lows and highs. Since the pandemic began,100,000 motor carriers came into the industry, which he sees as a sign of stability.

To learn more about Adam Wingfield and Innovative Logistics Group, visit https://www.innovativelogisticsgroupllc.com or connect with him on LinkedIn.