One Truck for Many: D. Weaver Trucking grows sixfold in two years

“On the one hand, you get to be at home in the office and dispatching — and on the other hand, the drivers really respect the fact that it’s still there with them.” lisa turley, D. Weaver Trucking Office Manager, About the Company’s Founding Owner and Operator Dannel Weaver

D. Weaver Trucking is located a 20-minute drive south of Canton, Ohio, in Strasburg, a mile and a half from I-77 and where founder Daniel Weaver lives next door to his company store, pictured above. Weaver began his trucking career in 1993 after working on a dairy farm where he drove trucks from time to time, having learned at a very young age. “I bought my own in 1997,” he said, pulling a dry box that distributes bird seed around the country, taking a few livestock, pulling a refrigerator and some flatbeds as well.

Early experience with the final dump, moving sand and gravel, and grain hopper led to his eventual recall. “I’m back in my bucket,” he said, “finish the dump, whole bucket.” D. Weaver Trucking is unique among the 2023 semifinalists DriveSmall Fleet Championship At the start of the four-year evaluation period for this year’s award, just one truck was in business. In just two years, the company has multiplied that number sixfold with trucks mostly pulling landfills and transporting industrial byproducts from one plant to another.

As the quote from Lisa Turley of D. Weaver Trucking above explains, owner Dannel Weaver runs his family of operators and builds loads by working with customers while still behind the wheel himself.

“He got his footing in 2018,” said Turley, who started doing bookkeeping for Weaver in 2017, when it was hired, and the duo quickly became more than just a trucking team. They have been operating as a family business ever since, with their daughter Lindsay now also involved in the back office.

Lisa Turley and Daniel Weaver with the fleet’s No. 2 truck on site during the military parade in Fredericksburg, Ohio, on July 4.The company moves in and out of many steel mills, working with a major brokerage client who manages traffic for various operations in and out of the Midwest, Pennsylvania, nearby southern states and elsewhere. “One man’s trash is another man’s treasure,” Weaver said of freight, the leftover waste from steel processing that moves from one plant to another to be reworked into pig iron.

Among the few specialty brokers Weaver works with are US Bulk’s brokerage division and, more often than not, All-Pro Transport, which accounts for the bulk of their business.

“Most of our work is done by All-Pro,” Turley said. Dannel Weaver came to All-Pro by word of mouth, and became familiar with the company when he was leased to another company that occasionally moved them.

All-Pro station manager Randy Snyder said of Dannel, “I think he does a great job. It’s all about developing a relationship.”

Early on with the All-Pro, Weaver “ran miles to see what we were doing with the trucks,” learning the lanes and what could fit into his schedule to make a profit and bring it home.

“Today, he and I discussed one of his empty trucks in Lordstown, Ohio, northeast of D. Weaver Trucking’s home base,” Snyder said in August. “Snyder offered him a potential driver’s tour, which would take him east to Pennsylvania,” Snyder said in August. Then back to Toledo, Ohio, to Michigan to reload and return home. Given his location in Lordstown at the time of the conversation, Weaver could see “it would be better to do this” with his driver in Lordstown, even with a dead head, “than another truck.” .

Overdrive's Small Fleet Champ logoThis is one of 10 Small Fleet Champ semi-final profiles that will be running throughout this month. (Access all published profiles via this link.) Two finalists in each category (3-10 trucks, 11-30 trucks) will be announced in October.Snyder was able to offer a price for the tour on a per-mile basis to help speed up Weaver’s evaluation, although his operators receive a percentage of the load against their paychecks.

The pay percentage comes along with a close-knit family culture that both Weaver and Turley feel has been effective in seeding growth by attracting professional drivers as word spreads. Snyder pointed out that culture himself. “When he goes to Louisville” for the Mid-America Trucking Show every March, “all his drivers go with him,” he said. “He does things with his drivers. It’s not just ‘Here’s your paycheck, go home.'”

(Related: Wallace & Sons Transport: Specialized Bulk Loads, Trust and Efficiency)

Building a base for investing in families

It’s early days of managing personnel at Turley and Weaver’s trucking company, since the couple only started adding trucks and drivers in 2021, two in January of that year and three more last year. This followed a lesson learned in 2019 after a very good year for Weaver, which was reliant on one truck at the time. “It’s the old-school way of paying your bills and saving your money” — the tax man “doesn’t like that,” Turley said. The couple decided on a long-term expansion plan, lowering their tax bill by investing in equipment in the short term.

D. Weaver Trucking now operates a Kenworth T800 and five W9s, all purchased from individual sellers.

D. Weaver Trucking's #2-5 trucks in profileThe W9 models are all 1996-2000 models, while “the T800 is a ’02 model,” Weaver said. A project truck is waiting in the company shop for work that he hopes will be done in earnest soon: “It’s a 1982 Peterbilt 359…. Hopefully we can get it done in the next year or two.”

“I think he’s making wise decisions about his growth,” All-Pro Snyder said. “He doesn’t mortgage everything…his tractors are not brand new but they are in good condition.”

Weaver and Turley employ a mechanic, and have “been through some things” in recent years. However, Weaver selected the truck knowing that he could work on all the engines himself if needed. “Most of our mechanical work is done right there in our own shop,” he said. “I like it that way. I’m very interested in mechanical work and how things work.”

Lindsay and her husbandDaniel Weaver used a Kenworths to drive his daughter Lindsay to church on her wedding day, as shown here.

Turley credits maintenance capacity with ensuring the company’s success, as it relates to revenue, safety and everything else. “We need to know that things are going right,” she said. “If you just correct something here and there, it will come back to haunt you. Then, the costs can quickly add up[when you]break down on the road.” .

Three of the trucks are powered by Cummins N14s and “the rest are Caterpillar trucks,” all of which are pre-emissions, Weaver said. “The ones I can still work on. If I get stuck, there are several mechanics within a quarter mile of where I live who really help me out” with recommendations.

Two of them handle “the larger jobs of engine and transmission work,” Turley said.

2022 Kenworth T800 from De Wever TruckingUntil recently, the T800 was in operation towing a flatbed, the only platform in D. Weaver Trucking’s operation. “Flat bed prices have come down a lot,” Turley said, with companies no longer paying fabric fees. Among other pressures, Weaver discontinued the flat bed and put a bucket behind the T800.

Weaver final dumps are generally newer than tractors, although two from the manufacturer Raven are late 1990s models. “This is where you need to spend your money in this business,” the All-Pro Snyder said in reference to the trailers.

In addition to his recent purchase, Weaver also owns a 2011 Mac, a 2016 Trailstar, and a 2021 Stargate. The flatbed in reserve is a 2016 Fontaine.

The investment in expansion equipment was partly enabled by a lump sum bank loan from a local source, and other investments include the properties on which the store is located, the Weaver and Turley home and an office space that will be completed in 2021.

Dr..  Weaver Trucking OfficeLisa Turley and her daughter Lindsay also work out of the office on a side business that handles quarterly reports and bookkeeping assistance for another owner-operator in the area, LT Transport Management LLC.

View from the balcony of D. Weaver Trucking's officeBeautiful view from office balcony.

Most importantly for Daniel Weaver, the decision to expand is a decision to invest in a different asset – the community around it. That’s how he looks at the project, as an investment in other families. Our drivers are family to us. … It’s very much a team effort here.

Although Weaver and Turley have had a few comings and goings over the past two years, Turley believes “right now we have a really good team that will stay with us for a while.”

This team includes Tony Owens (pictured) and his family, shown with the No. 5 D. Weaver Trucking Truck in the 2023 Fredericksburg July 4th Parade.This team includes Tony Owens (pictured) and his family, shown with the No. 5 D. Weaver Trucking Truck in the 2023 Fredericksburg July 4th Parade.

Two workers who Weaver trained to unload the waste work himself. He likens working at a landfill to hauling livestock because “it takes a special breed of person,” he said. “You don’t stay clean all the time… Sometimes you have to put a shovel in your hand – I’ve shoveled quite a few loads.”

He also added: “Once the load is loaded, it will get there as quickly as possible.” “Most of the time there is something waiting for you” when you arrive to unload. Sometimes, it’s difficult to reconcile the lively atmosphere around day-to-day operations with what’s necessary to manage a team effectively. patienceWeaver pointed out that this is the quality that has really helped him along his growth journey, the ability to “stay strong when things are bad, if that makes sense. Some weeks, things might go bad with four of the trucks.”

Meanwhile, the driver needs to run, and dealing with all of that is sure to be a challenge.

But he does, and so does the underlying relationship with the All-Pro that keeps Weaver busy shipping. Most payloads are booked at a fuel surcharge to help offset the volatile nature of these highly variable expenses. D. Weaver Trucking is also a member of the National Small Trucking Carriers Association and uses its fuel program to get discounts at the pump.

Inside Weaver Trucking officeWeaver and Turley’s daughter are in the office today “doing most of the bookkeeping at this point,” Turley said. Meanwhile, “I’m tracking compliance, equipment, safety meetings, etc.” “This is important as we don’t have to look to an outside source to handle our business,” added Daniel Weaver.

He has some direct clients that he works for occasionally, but he knows the value of his relationship with Snyder and the All-Pro, nearly three years later. “Sometimes, they’ll see some loads that I can’t see.” Even if it means working with a different broker, he said.

Nastek logoThe National Small Fleet Trucking Association is sponsoring this year’s Small Fleet Championship program. Finalists receive a one-year membership in the association, with access to a myriad of benefits from NASTC’s well-known fuels program, drug and alcohol testing services, and more. All will be honored at the association’s annual conference, where the winner will be announced in November. Learn more about the association via their website.Snyder noted the collaborative nature of their relationship in this regard as well. If he knows that another broker has a load that fits a Weaver operator’s site—delivered every morning to the next day’s site by Weaver to the All-Pro—he just makes the referral without expecting any pay.

“That’s the relationship I built with the lead broker,” Weaver said. “I don’t want to cut off the hand that feeds me. There have been customers who have come to me,” saying, “Why don’t you go straight away?” And I told them: Listen, I would like to do that, but I cannot do it due to my conscience and sincerity.”

He’s focused on building his company’s reputation in the meantime. “There were a few (shippers) requesting Weaver trucks” specifically, he said. “This is the reputation I want to build, and I expect that from all the drivers I work with as well. In the long run, this will make us better with everyone.”

(Related: K&D Transport: 3rd Generation Flatbed Company Turns Quality KW to New Heights)

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