Meet Frank and Stephanie Rebelo, also known as The Trucking Couple. Frank and Stephanie made a real lifestyle change when they began team driving and hauling expedited freight, selling their home and cars to truly live life on the road. Frank and Stephanie team-drive for Hyfield Trucking, a carrier that provides same-day and overnight delivery of expedited freight for FedEx’s Custom Critical division. Frank recently spoke to Trucker Tools about their journey as a team-driving couple, what he and Stephanie like most about the free Trucker Tools driver app and the benefits of team driving.
How long have you been in trucking?
“I started in 2012 and Stephanie joined me about a year later. Before I got into the trucking industry, I was a nightclub DJ for 23 years in Las Vegas. Stephanie was previously a bartender and she was looking to escape that lifestyle. I could see my expiration date approaching with age and I started looking for an exit strategy from my career as a DJ. I had a friend of mine who was trucking and who had started a company a couple of years before that. He told me about it and guided me and then I started.”
How did you start team driving?
“One of the things that stinks about being a driver out here on the road is being away from your family. Our son was graduating from high school and he had plans to go out on his own and make his own life. So we started making arrangements for Stephanie to join me on the road so she could not only have a good income, but also so we could see each other a lot more. We love to travel and we saw this as a way to get paid and see the country together. We are a couple and we don’t always get along and there are some advantages to being in a home and being able to get away from each other. I mean, there’s a certain satisfaction to slamming a door during an argument and there are no doors to slam. Just slamming a curtain doesn’t really give the same satisfaction.”
What features in the Trucker Tools driver app do you find most valuable as team drivers?
“My favorite features are the Truck Stop Guide and Rest Area features. I love the one touch of those features in the app, where other apps are convoluted and have everything kind of thrown in together. The Trucker Tools driver app makes it so you can go exactly to what you’re looking for and select what you want. You can find what you want easily and go right to it. Other trucking apps make you jump through a lot of hoops.
We also love the Wal-Mart tool. We prepare meals and eat on the truck. With Stephanie and I, our diets are completely different, so it’s important for us to be able to find a variety of different types of food and getting into a Wal-Mart to do that is a big deal.”
“You’re duplicating your efforts. You can cover a lot more miles in a shorter amount of time. Therefore, you can bring in a lot more income when you’re team driving. If you’re not a same household couple, the money is split down the middle and you’re making a little bit more because you can physically accomplish more miles during the week than a solo driver can because of the hours of service regulations. But as a team, you can accomplish more. As a same household team, it’s all going into one pot. Financially, if you do like we did, where we minimized a lot of our expenses at home, got rid of cars, car insurance, got rid of the big house payment and all the utilities and everything that comes along with it, the upkeep…not only are you making more, but you can save more or spend on things you like, like travel. We use it to support our travel habits.”
So this was a real lifestyle change for both of you?
“Yes. And expediting within the trucking community is a lifestyle in unto itself because we have much larger sleepers. Our truck has a bathroom in it. We have in motion Direct TV satellite, an HDTV smart TV, a stove top, hot and cold running water, a sink and generator so that we can be completely off-grid and self-sustainable.”
Have you met many other team drivers?
“A lot, really. Over 100 couples. There’s a pretty large community of team drivers on Facebook. Some of the groups that we belong to include Custom Critical Checkout, Road Friends Old and New, Expedite Nation and Transportation Life Wheels Wings & Rudders.”
You and Stephanie work in FedEx’s Custom Critical Division through Hyfield Trucking. Can you tell us more about that?
“FedEx is a large company. It’s kind of an umbrella and then it has all of these divisions underneath it. You have ground, express, intermodal, supply chain, freight and custom critical, with custom critical being the most specialized of all of those. And we’re all companies within the company. FedEx’s Custom Critical division is a non-asset-based carrier, which means that they don’t own any trucks. They have the business structure, they have all the clients, but they use contractors to provide service to those customers. So there are two ways you can come on: as an owner-operator, where you bring your truck and cover all of the associated expenses and FedEx pays you a certain percentage of every load, or you can go through a fleet owner like we did, which is Hyfield Trucking. When we came on, we were the third truck with Hyfield Trucking and now, five years later, we have 43 trucks.”
One last question. You mentioned that you and Stephanie love to travel. What are some of your favorite places to visit?
“We love San Francisco. We love New York City. We just spent two days in San Francisco this weekend. We love going into New York City and exploring and going to museums and things like that. And we’re foodies, so we like to get out and find different restaurants and little hole-in-the-wall places. I do love Miami. There are a lot of small towns along the way that you didn’t even know existed. I like beaches. One of the cool things I got to do a couple of years ago was that in one week, I was able to put my toes in the Gulf of Mexico, the Atlantic Ocean and the Pacific Ocean all in seven days. Washington DC is a blast, too. We’ve been in all 48 states. We did that in our first year out here.
We take diverted routes sometimes to get around something, whether it be an accident or something, and sometimes we get lost and discover things that we didn’t know were there.”
Looking for more tips from your fellow truckers? Read our Q&A With Industry Influencer Brian Phillips: Tips and Recommended Tools for Truckers. Download the free Trucker Tools driver app.