Known on social media as The Trucking Couple, Frank and Stephanie Rebelo haul freight for FedEx’s Custom Critical division, which provides same-day and overnight delivery of expedited freight to wholesalers, hospitals and retailers. Trucker Tools recently spoke with Frank to learn more about the couple got into hauling expedited freight and what it’s like working with a big company like FedEx. We also asked Frank for advice he might have for truckers who are considering working in the expedited market.
How did you and Stephanie get into expedited freight?
“We started as car haulers. I started my own company, got my own DOT authority and started doing my own thing. It was during that time that I saw these trucks hauling expedited freight on the road and started wondering more about them.
I did some research and did some digging. I found that it was called expedited freight. Then I found the website called Expediters Online, which had a forum on it. I joined the forum and started doing some research and reading about it. When I felt like I was close to being ready, I posted in the forum saying that my wife and I were team drivers, that we’re gypsy souls and didn’t need to go home all the time. We had Class A CDLs, so the post got a lot of interest from a lot of fleet owners. I started with Hyfield Trucking as a driver and now I’m a partner in the company.”
What made you decide to work for Hyfield Trucking?
“The owner that I ended up speaking to was Patrick Lee. I’d been a DJ before I got into trucking and Patrick previously had been a sound engineer. It turned out that we just had a lot in common and we kind of spoke the same language. We both came from an entertainment background and we understood a lot of the same things.
We’ve actually come to the realization that people from the entertainment industry tend to do really well in trucking, especially in the expediting side of the business, because we have that mentality that the show must go on and we are able to adapt. We’re creative and we can think outside the box.
I’m more of a gut feeling kind of person and everything else was just a lot of recruiting talk, a lot of noise. Talking to Patrick was just a lot more sincere.”
What is it like working with a big company like FedEx?
“Dealing with a company like FedEx is great. They know what they’re doing and that’s really good. It’s great to work with such a big company like that who offers us a lot of great support. In trucking, you hear a lot about nightmare stories about dispatchers being mean to truckers and talking down to them and things like that. We don’t have to deal with that. With FedEx, t’s a business. I’m a customer of FedEx’s and they’re a customer of mine, so we work back and forth really well together. It’s nice dealing with a company that has it together.
There’s an expectation because it’s a Fortune 100 company that everything is going to be perfect and everything is going to be great, but there’s still a human element and things do go wrong. It’s still trucking. There are still a lot of working parts. Sometimes customs is involved. There’s a lot of law regulatory commissions that are involved in the type of things we haul, such as the FDA.
There’s a whole division of FedEx that handles security that we talk to if we have a problem. There also is a section of the company that deals with regulated temperatures. We do a lot of pharmaceutical, and there’s tolerances and temperatures that have to be adhered to called TVAL, which stands for temperature validated. Those divisions of FedEx make sure that we stay within the parameters that have been set by our customers and/or the regulatory commissions.”
What do you think are some of the positives and negatives of specializing in expedited freight?
“There are a lot of positives. One of the positives is that with most businesses, trucking is from terminal to terminal and you’re going to have to drop and hook and go find your trailer. We don’t do have to do that. We have a box attached to our truck and work from business to business. We are a time-definite type of business. We’re all exclusive use, so we don’t have to load a bunch of freight. We go to the customer, they’re expecting us, and most of the time, they are happy to see us because we’re fixing a problem.
We also have some choices in terms of where we go. Right now, I’m on the West Coast and I’m getting ready to take a trip, so I’m trying to stay on the West Coast. I can decline loads that take me east and just focus on staying on this side of the country. It’s kind of like potluck in trucking. You never know where you’re going to go. You can keep an idea of where you, where you want to be. We’re traveling the West Coast right now because we’re going to be flying out of Southern California.
It’s kind of cool, the freight that we do get to carry. We’re part of this big system. We carry some art, we’ve carried some really cool things that people have heard of and never seen — that type of thing. It’s just cool being part of this big machine that nobody really knows about.”
For truckers who are considering leasing from or working with a large expedited company, what tips/advice do you have?
“Do your due diligence. We have this wonderful tool called the internet. Go on there, search the names of the companies that you may want to drive for, find out what you like and don’t like, and make a list of what you want. Then try to find something that fits you. It’s not a business that I would just jump into as an owner-operator. I would work for somebody else on someone’s dime and learn from them so that you take your bumps and bruises at somebody else’s expense.”
If you’d like to learn more about Stephanie and Frank Rebelo, read The Trucking Couple on Team Driving and How the Trucker Tools Driver App Simplifies Their Life on the Road. You can also visit their YouTube and Facebook channels.
To download the free Trucker Tools driver app, visit https://www.truckertools.com/carriers/.