We love talking to folks in the trucking industry! We recently sat down with Jamie Hagen, owner of South Dakota-based Hell Bent Xpress, to learn more about his trucking company, his trucking career and his views on technology. Jamie has been working in the trucking industry for his entire adult life. His previous experience includes time as an owner operator running flatbed and doing tanker as a company driver with Cliff Viessman Inc. Jamie currently runs five trucks (food grade tanker and dry van) under Hell Bent Xpress on the spot market and has three trucks leased to Cliff Viessman Inc. His goal is for his company Hell Bent Xpress to be at nine trucks by the end of next month. 

Read on to learn more about Jamie, Hell Bent Xpress and why he thinks technology is the future of the trucking industry.

Following in His Father’s Footsteps

Jamie’s father was a farming truck driver and used long-haul trucking to supplement his farming income in the 1970s and 1980s. Jamie told us that he spent a lot of time in the truck with his father as a child and that since then, he’s always wanted to work in trucking. When Jamie was a teenager, he and his brother started driving all over South Dakota to help their dad with his work. At the time, the state didn’t have a CDL requirement for intrastate trucking, so Jamie was able to drive a truck starting at the age of 16. When Jamie was 18, he got his CDL to meet South Dakota’s new requirements. 

“Once I turned 21, I was able to leave the state and I immediately bought my first truck right out of the gate and the rest is history, as they say,” said Jamie. “I worked under a motor company in Iowa for three years running flatbed, which was very educational. It was just a lot of work for what little they paid at the time. It was disheartening, whereas today they actually are finally paying people, which might actually get people into the industry. That three years’ time in the late 90s wasn’t exactly the best in trucking either.”

“Once I turned 21, I was able to leave the state and I immediately bought my first truck right out of the gate and the rest is history, as they say,” said Jamie. “I worked under a motor company in Iowa for three years running flatbed, which was very educational. It was just a lot of work for what little they paid at the time. It was disheartening, whereas today they actually are finally paying people, which might actually get people into the industry. That three years’ time in the late 90s wasn’t exactly the best in trucking either.”

Following his stint as an owner operator, Jamie became a company driver for Cliff Viessman Inc. in 1998. According to Jamie, his time as a company driver taught him some valuable lessons, which he drew upon when he started his own trucking company, Hell Bent Xpress, in 2010.

Load Tracking and Technology’s Growing Role in Trucking

In our conversation with Jamie, he talked at length about the role of technology in trucking and how much that role has grown in recent years. Jamie himself currently uses Geotab Analytics, Samsara dash cams and LinkeDrive’s PedalCoach to gamify fuel efficiency, safety and performance for his drivers. When it comes to digitally tracking loads, Jamie says it’s something that he thinks truckers have to get used to because it’s here to stay. 

“We’ve used Trucker Tools’ mobile app for tracking on a few loads, as well as other apps for load tracking,” said Jamie. “That’s the future, honestly — apps. It doesn’t bother me at all to be tracked. I would prefer it, honestly. It’s way easier than reaching out to somebody daily. Every once in a while, we’ll get a load with no digital tracking on it and then I’ve got to make a phone call three or four times a day on the load, or the broker will reach out to me to ask where the driver is. Then I’ll take a screenshot of where the driver is and send it to them. Meanwhile, I’m thinking, ‘You know, you could track it yourself instead of me doing it.’ I’m just acting as the middleman.”

“We’ve used Trucker Tools’ mobile app for tracking on a few loads, as well as other apps for load tracking,” said Jamie. “That’s the future, honestly — apps. It doesn’t bother me at all to be tracked. I would prefer it, honestly. It’s way easier than reaching out to somebody daily. Every once in a while, we’ll get a load with no digital tracking on it and then I’ve got to make a phone call three or four times a day on the load, or the broker will reach out to me to ask where the driver is. Then I’ll take a screenshot of where the driver is and send it to them. Meanwhile, I’m thinking, ‘You know, you could track it yourself instead of me doing it.’ I’m just acting as the middleman.”

Drawing Younger Folks into Trucking

“The future of trucking is technology,” Jamie shared. “It didn’t change for years and years, which is something that I try to remind people all the time. You have to evolve with trucking, and it’s finally evolving after decades of kicking and screaming. Everybody needs technology now. It’s changing so fast and evolving. I get a lot of heat on social media for saying this because a lot of the old school truckers don’t even want electronics in their truck, much less to be tracked and all that stuff. But that’s literally the future. We’re seeing the spot market really grow because of technology. Shippers can just put their loads online kind of like Uber, and along comes a truck driver who takes that load and they don’t have to have a relationship with a mega carrier to get the load moved now. The future is finally here and it’s pretty cool.” 

Jamie went on to say that it’s an exciting time to be in the trucking industry right now because of the shift to using more technology. He thinks that it’s technology that will pull younger people into the industry. Jamie sees younger folks as fiercely independent people who don’t want to be led, they want to lead. He said that it can be difficult to cater to the drivers who’ve been in the industry for years and to cater to a new generation of truckers who live and breathe technology.

“A lot of companies are struggling with that right now. How do you cater to the people that got you here, while still putting technology in trucks for young people because it’s what they want,” Jamie said. “It’s the same way with Harley-Davidson. They have an electric Harley now. Their main customer is retiring and dying, so they need to start looking to the future or they’re going to go away like the dinosaur.”

To learn more about Jamie Hagan and his company Hell Bent Xpress, visit https://hellbentxpress.com

Read Level Up Your Trucking Business: Three Mistakes To Avoid When Starting a Trucking Business for more from our interview with Jamie. To download Trucker Tools’ mobile app, visit https://www.truckertools.com/web/carriers/