Welcome to the Gold Standard of podcast for the Gold Standard of Drivers. This is the Liquid Trucking podcast with your host Marcus Bridges. How’s it going out there? Liquid Trucking Drivers? My name is Marcus Bridges and I am the host of your brand new shiny podcast, the Liquid Trucking podcast. This is such a cool thing that your company has a podcast that is for you and about you. We’re gonna be bringing you all sorts of company updates, safety information, interview with staff members that have important things to tell you. And of course, my favorite part of the entire thing is going to be the driver profiles that we get to do each week on the show. We’ll try to feature a different driver from Liquid Trucking so that we can hear stories from the road advice and uh just their take on what it’s like to work for Liquid Trucking. But for this first episode, it’s gonna be a little bit different as I was there in Plattsmouth, meeting the staff and, and getting to know Liquid Trucking as a company. One thing that I got really intrigued by was how the company started. I kept hearing these stories about Roger and Mike and then Josh and Gabe as kids and now they’re running the company and, and Roger and Mike have, have built this thing from just a few trucks into what it is today. So I thought what better way to introduce the podcast then to have our first episode be about the history of liquid trucking. So coming up in this episode, we’re gonna hear from Mike Bynes, we’re gonna hear from Roger Schmidt, Josh Schmidt and Gabe Schmidt about all of the formulation of liquid Trucking and how things got from where they started to where they are. Now. It’s a great story and I can’t wait to share it with you. So let’s get to our first interview and get this podcast kicked off and now Vice President of Liquid Trucking, Mike vs joining me. Now on the Liquid Trucking Podcast is Vice President of Liquid Trucking, Mike Bynes. Mike. Thank you so much for being here with us today. Thank you, Margaret. Now, when I was in Plattsmouth, Nebraska, meeting the team, uh getting a little bit of a feel for what Liquid Trucking is all about. Uh I went up and sat in your office for a while and you told me a great story about the origins of Liquid Trucking. Can you tell us that story right now? So that all the uh listeners can hear it as well? We have to basically from 1990 I was working for Cargill Transportation Services, running a private fleet of trucks hauling molasses liquid beads out of Omaha, Nebraska, Cariola opted to get out of the trucking business and wanted to wanted someone to participate and fill all their molasses for him, which uh I did, I had worked for him for 16 years. Kind of like my last position there. So I was able to do that. We were operating like seven or eight lease tractors and roughly 10 trailers hauling molasses for cargo out of Omaha to the local feedlot and areas did that for, you know, that was in 1990 in 1992 or, but at that time, Roger was uh had four trucks leased to build brothers out of Omaha. Nebraska was brought in a mechanic shop down here in Plaza Roger and I had grown up together. Basically, he kind of had the maintenance expert expertise side. I had the sales dispatch expertise site. So I started operating and he started pulling some of my tank trailers in 91 I believe 92 we we opted to basically become partners. I was opposite out of Omaha. At the time that time we moved last month, started out a local junkyard here in town. Like I said, Roger had about four trucks and I was running about eight. So we started roughly 10 to 10 to 12 trucks and about 12 traders like said liquid feed molasses, the egg industry was kind of our, our thing back then, we, uh, continued to grow this thing branched out into getting into chemicals and food grade business and things like that and basically ended up where we are today. You know, we’re currently at over 200 power units and roughly 350 stainless steel liquid tankers all pretty much anything liquid from food grade to chemicals. And we still do all of that where we start where we work? That’s amazing. And did you ever think back in the early nineties when you guys first decided to become partners, you and Roger that you would get to where you are today as far as the capacity and the size of the company? No, not really. I mean, I would, you know, I had 50 maybe but uh to this, I mean, it just everything we worked hard at it later on in it. The boys come on, Josh and g come on board. I continue to do the dispatch sales side. You know, Roger was, was a maintenance guy and, and uh, he came in, started up as a driver, you know, as a thing about, you know, he got into the master side. I say Josh, that wasn’t a driver but he, you know, he did come up through the ranks and eventually became general manager. So, but no, I, I didn’t have no, no idea we could get to this point. You know, I said I had envisioned maybe 50 trucks. But, uh, you know, 50 to 75 back, never thought we’d get this big. How much, how much different is the workload between 50 trucks or so? And, and the, you know, hundreds that you’re operating now. Well, Gabe and I dispatched it probably till we were about 75 trucks ourselves. I just fail to dispatch and he would help me with the dispatch. Yeah, once it got that big, I had to concentrate more on sales side. So we started adding dispatchers from there. I think currently today we’re running about eight dispatchers and Danner and myself down on the sales side of it. That’s amazing. Now, I, I was told some stories when I was in, uh Plattsmouth Mike about, uh, the fact that you, you’ll kind of work anywhere. Uh, you had some phones installed all over the place so that, uh, so that you can constantly be in touch with people. Uh, was there ever a phone in the bathroom? That was about the time cell phones started getting popular. I mean, my wife accused me of being married to the business for a long time. Oh, and, uh, I’ve done it so many years. You know, you would get a page that I get a phone call in the middle of the night and be able to wake up with a dead sleep and know who it was and tell the driver what to do. I guess I was just fortunate I had that, that back foot and that kind of memory at that time. Yeah. Yeah. You don’t want to wake me up in the middle of the night and expect any, uh, work of any quality to get done. I’ll tell you that, Mike. So that’s a special talent that you’ve got there. Can you summarize the goal of liquid trucking in just a couple of sentences for me? Well, you know, we, we came this far, I think, you know, you know, I’m, I’m getting older now. Probably will be retiring in a few years. Even jobs are young and looking to make this thing to continue to grow and if history is any, or perhaps history is any indication, I don’t see why we can’t continue to grow for sure. Yeah, it was, it very important. I mean, I, I guess that’s kind of a rhetorical question. I didn’t, I know it was very important but Josh and Gabe coming up through the ranks like they did, they pretty much worked between the two of them. Every job that there is to work at Liquid. Is that, is that true? Yeah, pretty much. It’s like it’s been a family, you know, we ran pretty slim for a number of years. So we just got big enough to do justice. The job we sort of had, had to have help. We just couldn’t do it all ourselves. Mhm. Yeah. The larger you get, the more, the more sport that you gotta have. Of course. Yeah, and the staff is, is huge now. And, and you’ve got a great staff of people there working for you. I’ve got to meet quite a few of them at this point. And uh everybody was very gracious with their time. But one thing that I, I definitely noticed was that people seem to enjoy working at, would they enjoy uh the, the challenge that is presented, how have you guys built out the company culture uh at Liquid and, and what would you, how would you describe that culture? Uh I guess you already did kind of describe it as family. So I’ll just have you concentrate on that. How did you build out that family culture? Well, I mean, we grew up as friends. Uh Roger and I both come from a farming background. I think that was the culture we came from when we were, when we were a smaller company. You know, we lifted our drivers as part of the family and we still try to today. It may not seem like it with the numbers we’re trying to do here, you know, just the sheer size now makes it a little tougher to, to maintain the culture we had, you know, but we still try to maintain the family, the family oriented, uh work with our drivers for time off, things like that. If I’m a prospective customer, Mike, what kind of things can I expect? Liquid to offer me as a carrier. We pride ourselves in, in doing the job. Right. That’s how we built this business and that’s how we run for. Sure. Well, Mike, uh, we really appreciate having you here. I’m gonna leave you with this, uh, this podcast is obviously it’s a, it’s a new thing. Uh, this is going to be the very first episode. So, but it’s for your drivers, they’re gonna be the ones that are listening. And, uh, you know, if anybody else wants to listen, we’re always glad to have them here, but I want to give you the floor if there’s anything you’d like to say right off the top at the very beginning of the life of this podcast, uh to your drivers, the floor is yours. Please say whatever you would. Well, first, I’d like to say, you know, we’re in a service business. You’re only as good as your drivers. Um Yeah, our drivers are extension of our company. Yeah, they do a very good job. We need to have that to continue to be successful. Well, Mike once again, thank you so much for the time today. We really appreciate you being here. Uh It’s been great to uh to learn about the origins of the company and I can’t wait to talk to you more as the podcast grows and uh we find more reasons to get in touch with you once again. Thanks for your time and we’ll be in touch Ok. Ok. Thank you. That’s Mike fines there. Uh Vice President Liquid Trucking, Mike, we appreciate the time from odd jobs around the shop all the way to running the show. General Manager of Liquid Trucking. Josh Schmidt. Please welcome to the podcast, General Manager of Liquid Trucking. Josh Schmidt. Josh. Thank you so much for being here today. Thanks for having me guys. Hey, no problem. Uh We’re super excited to get this podcast off the ground and we’re using this episode to really give our listeners a good idea of, of the origins of liquid and where the whole thing came from, how it started. We’ve already talked to Mike, which he was very informative. I love the history lessons that we get from him. But from your perspective, Josh, I know that you kind of started from the ground up with liquid. Uh working with your dad and Mike. Can you kind of walk me through your term with the company and how you started to where you are now? Sure, I can do that. First of all, we’re very excited about uh this podcast. We have uh looking forward to it, I guess. Uh going way back. My dad started a trucking company in 1989. He was kind of a, a mechanic. He’s working on people’s tractors, their cars, that kind of thing down in the salvage yard. And about 1989 a guy that was ready to retire, talked my dad Roger into buying four trucks from him. Roger says, you know, I don’t, I don’t have any money and the guy says, well, you don’t need money. You can just pay me off over four years on a land contract. I think it was somewhere around $100,000. At that time. I was about 12 years old. So I had already been kind of going to work with dad in the summertime. My brother Gabe, he’s 10 and we’d go down there and mostly Jack around like 10 or 12 year olds do. But, uh, he’d put us to work sweeping the shop. And so we got to see kind of how hard he had to work to get things going from an early age. And, uh, as we got older, you know, we did more odd jobs, organizing parts. He taught us how to, how to drive the trucks around the yard, which we thought was pretty cool, hooking up trailers, that kind of thing. Uh, one cool thing about my dad and Mike both were, they gave us a lot of responsibility at a young age and allowed us to screw up, which was important for us to, to learn. I’d say fast forward to. And then we just did those odd jobs. Fast forward to. Oh, high school age. You know, I was washing out the inside of the trailers. My brother was more working in the shop back then. We’d wash out trailers, which is a hot V wand. And so I was kind of a smaller guy. So it worked out well for us at that time. Even into college, I was in college from about 97 to 2001. I’d come back and, and work, work for Roger and Mike. The company had grown probably from those first four trucks to in 1994. I believe Roger and Mike joined forces and became liquid only at that time. They are basically just hauling cattle feed. Then they went into hauling some fertilizers and then some, some by-product for darling national really nasty stuff. Um So by so there’s kind of a timeline for you and then by 97 to 2001, I was in college, but I was also working there still working mainly in the wash thing, doing those kinds of things. And uh it just so happened in about the year what 99 2000 internet became pretty widespread. Uh People started using more and more software in the trucking industry. The business itself had grown to probably 20 or 30 trucks. So they were getting bigger and they were trying to do everything with papers. So that was my opportunity to kind of weasel my way into the office. Got to come in and say, hey guys, there’s a better way to do this. You know, we need to buy some software, you know, we need to get some high speed internet service in here. So we kind of interviewed a bunch of software companies started their, picked one, they sort of let me take charge in implementing that software. So that was kind of my way to get into the office and uh really get going on the admin side of what liquid trucking is today. And since then, I think it was about 2002 when we got that first piece of software implemented that since then it’s, it’s sort of been off to the races. Um One thing that I’ve picked up on since I was young, uh up until now that my brother and I have kind of tried to carry on for Roger and Mike is their, their secret sauce was to drum up some business and, and make it work no matter what. And part of making this work is having high level employees high-level help. So what we’ve really always done is paid kind of top of the scale when it comes to our drivers, you know, our administrative help, our mechanics, our wash bay people, even our, our general maintenance people, you find somebody good, you try to hang on to them. And I think we’ve done a fair job of that over the years. We got many employees that, that have been here, you know, 5, 1015, 20 even 25 years. So I think that’s, that’s been a lot of the secret to our success is having really great loyal employees that know what they’re doing in their area of expertise, you know, hell, even more than, than we do these days. Well, that’s all great. And thank you for that, Josh. I uh you know, there’s a couple of things, I was taking notes when you were talking and one, I have to ask, how excited were you when you finally did find that avenue to weasel into the office and get out of uh washing out the tanks because I understand that’s not the most glamorous job on the lot. No, it’s not the most glamorous job, but it’s, it is one of the most important jobs. So, you know, I got to screw that up a few times and, and take the chewing from both, both Mike and, and my dad recognized the importance of that job and knowing that, you know, hey, I’m in college, I think I can make an impact for this company at the time. I, I felt maybe it’s a small impact to start with, but I could see the success that the company had had already and, and what it could possibly be in the future. So I really did want to move into the office and, but I had to prove myself that was my method of doing. So I was very lucky that it worked. I think we all had, it worked well, well, great job with that. You know, I have a lot of friends, uh Josh, that work in the trades. And one thing that’s very common amongst these guys is that uh when they have to work with engineers or people that don’t have a lot of uh of hands on experience in the field. The one gripe that you hear is man, if I could, if I could give this guy a broom and start him from the ground up and have him work up to where I’m at. I think he would understand the job so much better. And I, one of the things I think is so cool about your story is that going all the way back till you were 12? That’s, that’s how it started for you. You were sweeping up the shop, you were organizing parts and you were in, in effect, learning every aspect of how to operate within the company and how the company runs. Is that a very, uh, a real value experience set for you? Uh, when you think about what you do today compared to what you did back when you were 12 and 13 years old. Absolutely. That, I mean, that’s, that’s the secret right there. I tell people. Yes, I went to college. Yes. It helped me get my foot in the door at the company of being someone that could be leaned on some more. But 99% of my experience is just working, working at the company, starting at the ground level, doing all the jobs. Uh, with the exception of driving. I never did drive. I kind of ruined that for myself when I was about 19 years old. I got ad U I. So that was the, the end of my driving career before it even started. So I wasn’t a perfect kid. Definitely did my share of screwing up. That’s just kind of the way it was. But my brother, on the other hand, he got his start, you know, working in the shops. He did start driving a truck at the age of 19 years old. He actually went to work for someone else driving a truck because Roger and Mike didn’t feel quite comfortable with him at the time. So he got a couple of years of experience called for a company named Fast Graft. So he’s hauling flat beds of uh of grass, a thought into uh housing development. So I don’t know how safe that really was for a 19 year old kid to be doing, but he did it kinda kinda how he got going. I guess the big thing is to, to recognize, I think Roger and Mike were great partners. Uh They both handled kind of opposite sides of the business. And then as Gabe and I came in, we were able to handle some of the things that maybe Roger and Mike were weak at. And so we’ve, we’ve made a four great partners over the years for sure. Now you talked about the, uh, you know, paying drivers a little bit better and I know that liquid, uh, likes to pride themselves on hiring kind of the gold standard of drivers. Why is that important to liquid? To have the best of the best out there on the road? Well, it’s because we’ve got a very unique and complicated, yet profitable business model. Um, we’re doing a lot of things that a lot of other tanker carriers won’t do. A lot of tanker carriers will set up shop like near airport or in Chicago, you know, in a big city and they’ll, they’ll have just a handful of customers and they’ll haul high volumes as high a volume as they can of the same kind of product back and forth all the time. Uh, that eliminates their need to wash out. Um, they’ll do a lot of contract freight. The reason we’re different is we’re hauling to, you know, thousands of different customers and it’s hundreds of different kinds of products, maybe thousands that we haul every year. Some are food grade, some are hazmat, uh, some are feed grade, some or other. So that kind of complicates things. We’ve built two commercial wash facilities to help with that. We have to wash our trailers often because of the different products that we haul. And so that kind of makes it more profitable because we aren’t under contract. We’re kind of picking and choosing the freight that we can haul at all times. And, uh, so just by that description, you can tell it’s, it’s sort of complicated. Our drivers need to be top of the line because they’re not just doing one thing. Our, our drivers are very intelligent guys and they’re having to kind of learn on the fly and get the job done, maybe sometimes when they don’t have all the information. So we’re also very appreciative of those guys and uh we try to pay them well. Absolutely. And, and they definitely command that for good reason. I, after being in Plattsmouth with you guys and, and kind of learning about the, uh the company for, for a week, which was really cool by the way. And uh thank you so much for having me there in house. I really enjoyed it, but I would equate what the drivers and, and the rest of the staff told me to, you’ve got a set of LEGOS and, you know, at the end of the day that you’re supposed to build this house and the house always comes out the same, but every single day you’ve got a different set of directions on how to build that house with every different load. It’s like, yeah, the, the lo the point is to get the product from point A to point B but the onload, the offload, the wash, all that stuff can change. There’s so many variables to what your drivers are doing. Nailed it there. Marcus. Well, it’s, uh it’s really cool to see. I got and, and just so everybody out there listening knows I even climbed up on the catwalk and I was looking down into the truck while it was getting steamed out, which is why I said, I know that’s not a glamorous job. Those guys in the tank watch are working hard and they’re in small confined spaces. Uh I know that the drivers have to have this extended breadth of knowledge as far as, you know, hookups and everything like that. And, uh, I, it was, it was really fun to see this operation run as, as smoothly as it does, you know, II I said this to Mike and I want to give you the opportunity too because we’re up against the clock here. Josh, I wanna let you get back to what you’ve got going on today. This podcast is for your drivers to listen to and I wanna give you the floor to say anything you wanna say to the drivers or any of the rest of the staff of li that might be listening before we let you go as one of the owners here. Now, along with my brother, Dad, Mike, we’re just so very appreciative of all the, all the long term help that we’ve had over the years. Our employees are second to none. I mean, you can’t build this kind of business without having some, some loyal employees that’ll, that’ll stick by you. And, uh, we have to be loyal to them as well. That’s how life works. So, uh, this couldn’t happen without everybody. We’ve got many drivers that have been here a number of years. We’ve got drivers that have been here just six months or a year that do a great job for us. And, uh, we’re just gonna do our best to keep humping along here and, uh, pay our employees what they’re worth. That’s awesome. Well, thank you so much for that and, and thank you for uh giving us this opportunity to create this podcast and be part of that uh that keep pumping along mindset because I, you know, I’ve got so many stories that I heard when I was out there in Plattsmouth for, for a week and, um, I can’t wait to get into some of those. I can’t wait to talk to some drivers, hear some stories from the road and tell the story uh of, of Liquid Trucking as it sits right now. Uh 30 plus years in. That’s your general manager, Josh Schmidt, Josh, thank you so much for being here today and I look forward to talking to you again very soon. Thanks Marcus. Thanks everybody and now president of Liquid Trucking Roger Schmidt joining us next here on the Liquid Trucking podcast is President of Liquid Trucking Roger Schmidt Roger. Thank you so much for taking the time to join us today. Thank you Marcus. Now, the point of this episode is really to dig down deep and, and hear about the history of Liquid Trucking, how you guys got started. We’ve already talked to Mike and uh he told us a bit of, of his side of the beginning of Liquid. But I want to hear from you going all the way back to when this thing first started. Tell me the story behind Liquid Trucking. So Mike and I basically became partners in 1994. But Mike and I have known each other and our families knew each other for as long as we’ve been alive, basically, you know, he worked for Cargill. But I had a trucking business in 1989. And I started in the dry box business and I was leasing trucks to Hill Brothers in Omaha, Nebraska. And I had a little mechanic shop down in the, in the main street in class of Nebraska where I repaired all kinds of vehicles. And then uh uh an older gentleman had like four trucks he had and I was helping him on weekends because I was starving to death, panic trade. So I started helping him on weekends. He got ready to sell his trucks and move to Arkansas and he wanted to sell them to me. So I was able to purchase him, come in with uh basically nothing down on land contract and just send him a check every month. So that’s how I got started in the trucking business. So then in 1992 I bought some more trucks. And then, uh I started leasing them all at different places. And then in 94 Mike was still working for Cargill and Cargill wanted to sell all their uh tank business off and they were basically hauling molasses and he was dispatching the trucks. So Mike called me and, and uh, we got together and for partnership and then, uh I started buying trucks and tanks and he started wrangling the drivers and dispatching the trucks and keeping fruit in front of them. And so then we just kept growing every year. And then as my boys grew up, they got involved in the business and then they took it from there and grew it further than we could ever have grown it. So we’re, we’re still hanging around here, but they’re, they’re really more the keys to the puzzle nowadays. Did you ever think Roger that it would go as far as it has? And, and is still going? Did you think that ever when you started all the way back with four trucks that one day you were gonna be sitting here with hundreds of trucks on the road and hundreds of trailers in your lot? No, everybody asked me that question. I get asked that all the time. Well, you must have had some sort of a grand vision of this. I said, no, I was just putting 1 ft in front of the other one. I was just trying to make a living at first and then we actually, Mike and I had probably one of the rare partnerships that you can have. We really have never, uh, argued over anything and we’ve never really been disgruntled with one another, you know, and, and, uh, he handled the trade end and I handled buying the trucks and financing and wrangling the Murray and, and making sure everybody was getting paid and putting accounts payable and accounts receivable and the payroll and all that sort of stuff. And, and Mike was just the guy that was a real, he had like a million dollar phone voice. So it’d be like a, he was like a disc jockey. So no one ever forgot that who they talked to because he had a real deep voice. So people still, he picks up the phone and talks to them and they, they know immediately who they’re talking to. So it just started perpetuating itself out of that because we had a unique combination of, of being able to Mike and say, hey, these guys just offered us 40 loads a week going to. So and so, and, you know, we don’t want to turn them down because we got, we’re doing, you know, half their other business and we don’t want anybody else in the door. Let’s, let’s go ahead and do that. And so then I go out and buy some more trucks and luckily had enough friendly bankers to help me along the way. And, uh, that’s kind of how it all perpetuated itself, but we didn’t really, it wasn’t a master plan. Sure. Well, it kind of sounds like the, the relationship between you and Mike was special for more reasons than, than what you’ve mentioned already. It sounds kind of like you guys came from the two sides of the trucking industry that, that you need to have had that, uh, you know, kind of that, that dispatch and sales side going on. Well, you seem to really have the, the mechanic side and the ability to go and, and procure trucks and everything. If you don’t have all of those bases covered, you probably never make it to where you are today, I would assume. Right. You’re exactly right. And, you know, the thing is we, the other part of this is, is we both were so his parents and my parents used to go to the Eagles Club and go dancing on Friday nights and we’re both, they were all farm hands. You know, my parents were farmers and his parents were farmers and, and, you know, they just had kind of a solid work ethic and everybody just kinda did what they had to do and, and that goes a long ways too. You know, neither one of us were too bashful about, put 70 or 80 hours a week. You know, Saturdays, Sundays take the phones home, answer them in the middle of the night, come back and do it the next day. So we, we basically did all that for a long period of time until we got on our feet. We were able to recognize other people’s talent and that’s been the other key to the growth thing. As soon as we were able to have enough gold in our pocket to start procuring other talent, then, you know, things got easier because we were able to find the right people and we were able to pay more money. And so the volume started helping us along the way as far as monetarily being able to pay people and put the right people in the right spot, so to speak. Well, you know, I, I wanna touch on two things. First of all, what you said about Mike’s voice is 100% true. Um, sitting there across the room in the office when I was, uh in Plattsmouth, getting to, you know, meet everybody and, and kind of understand the company a little bit better. There’s one thing that stuck in the back of my head because I come from radio and I could not help but think, man, you put Mike on like a smooth jazz station or maybe a rock station or something like that. He’s gonna do really well as a disc jockey. That’s what I always say. You get a, get a million dollar phone voice. He said he could have been a disc jockey. Exactly. Right. The other thing that you brought up that, uh, that really stuck out to me was when you were talking about the work ethic, Mike did tell me that, uh, he has been accused in the past of maybe being married to his job a little bit. Sounds like the same thing could be said for you back during those growth days. Yeah, that’s right. We, we basically, you know, work seven days a week for a long time. you know, we started. So then the, the deal started happening. So we, we have tanks and we’re running eight or 10 tanks and now we’re running like 15 tanks. So then all of a sudden the mad cow disease came in and then we were only hauling liquid feed. We weren’t hauling any food grade products or anything. But all these people, no matter whether it was Cargill feed, they want you to have a wash out for every tanker you brought in there and have a wash ticket with it. So now we get another problem. Now we got to wash these tanks out and send him a clean tank every time. Well, guess what? There’s nobody doing that yet. Right. So I’m down in the tank, I’m squirting water out of these things with a posy and I come out of there looking like a rat every time. So, washing these. So now the deal is, and now we washed them out what we do with the wash water residue, you know, now we gotta do something with that. So, you know, I went around the whole countryside for almost six months going to every place that I knew that did have a wash bain running and took the best of everybody’s ideas and built the first wash bay, you know, so then we went to wash from Washington, you know, six or seven tanks out a day to washing 60 tanks out a day because we got all the right equipment and we got our own sewer treatment plant and, and all the things that go along with that. So that, uh, we got three giant digesters which basically act just like your stomach does. They, they basically, they’re heated and they’re mixed and the bacteria grows in there and it eats all the residue up and then you end up with clean water after about 40 days. But there’s, it’s a cycle. That’s amazing. I, I had no idea that the, that the bacteria would basically make clean water out of all that waste water. II, I had no idea. Yeah, that’s just, you know, it works just like your stomach does. Those things are sealed. So there’s no air. They’re called anaerobic digesters. That’s what they do. They, they give off methane gas. And so you got to burn the methane gas off of them or use it one of the two. But that’s what all the dairies are doing nowadays and turning that sludge into usable fertilizer that won’t really hurt the logical value of anywhere you put it. Sure. Well, you know, when I was out in South Sioux Falls down at Bartow, uh, meeting Chris B, he told me a story about, uh, some digest bugs that went bad in the, uh, in the lot there. And, uh, and some things that happened with that, I, I can’t wait to hear all of the stories behind the, the growth of, of liquid. And I know that Chris is gonna have a lot of those. But can you talk about Bartow and Ofc and, and the other arms of, of, uh, liquid a little bit and how they contribute to the bigger picture? Yeah. Uh, so, uh, so Chris Baltus, we’ll start on that first. So Arco, those guys were two brothers and they own brow trucking and we had, and Mike had a relationship with them back and we’d swap some spit up there in the Sioux City area. We’d haul for them and they haul for us. But they were a small cup. They had maybe, you know, they probably had six or seven trucks when we had 30. Anyway, time goes on, they ended up, uh, one brother got divorced and, and they farmed some. So anyway, they decided to split the cheats. The brothers did and they wanted to sell a truck and, and off. And so they came to us and wanted to know whether we’d buy it or not. And so we kind of agreed to buy it and they didn’t want, and Chris is working for Bruto, he’s working for the brothers. They wanted me to go up and look at it and, uh, Mike did and, and uh, so I went up there and Chris doesn’t, didn’t know me from a load of coal. And so, uh, I said, hey, I was sent up there because Jeff Barrow wanted me to look at these pumps and other stuff that you have extra on the shelf and they want to get rid of it. So, Chris is real nice. He takes me around and so I’m beknownst to him, you know, I was interviewing him but he didn’t know it sneaky. So, yeah. So anyway, I, uh and Chris is kind of a biker looking dude, you know. Did you meet him? Oh, yeah, I met Chris. He’s, I sat in a room with him for about an hour and, and yeah, you’re right. Just looks like he would belong on a Harley Davidson for sure. Uh So anyway, I’ve got this other old boy that was with me. That’s a good friend of mine. He’s about, oh, he’s probably 78 now, but he’s a, he worked for NPPD for years and he was their, their station manager and he was kind of a sales guy, people person. And so drove me up there and we’re looking around and so we get back in the truck and we’re driving down I 29. And I said, jeez, he said that guy, is that the kind of manager that you were talking to? And I said, yeah, I said, man, he said he had a lot of tattoos and earrings and blah, blah, blah. And I said, yeah, he said, well, what do you think of him? I said, he answered every question the right way. And so I got back here and said, we need to buy that and hire that kid. He’s smart and he was pretty young then. So forget about the tattoos. We all make those decisions when we’re young. Right. Yeah. Right. That’s, that’s such a cool, that’s how we got started with Bartle and Bartle kind of contributes to our, our bottom line by, they’re the, they basically haul a lot of the Hazmat products. Like they, they haul a lot of sulfuric acid and caustic and things of that nature that go into the, uh, ethanol industry in the upper Midwest and they’re mainly a short haul trucker, you know, so they don’t haul a real long distance. Most of their, most of their stuff is, you know, home and back almost every day. So they, they have a little bit better ability to, uh, have a long, longevity of a truck driver more than Ofc and Schmidt does because we, we basically do everything down here. Well, that’s, that’s so cool. I, I just, it was really cool to see, you know, both terminals and the differences in, in them and, and, you know, getting to see some of the personalities that was actually where I got out in the, in the uh wash bay and got to look down into uh a tank that was getting steamed out at the time. And, and that’s a, that’s a job uh for, for a special person because the claustrophobia and just, you know, like you said, you come out of there looking like a drowned rat when it’s all said and done hats off to those guys because that does not look like an easy job. It’s not, it’s not for the faint at heart. Amen to that. Well, Roger, I don’t have you for, for very much longer, but I gotta ask you this. Uh, you know, I know that your son started off working for you doing odd jobs and pushing brooms and stuff like that when they were very young, you kind of get welled up with the sense of pride. Now, uh, seeing Josh and Gabe have the success that they’ve had within the company and knowing that you’ve kind of passed on that work ethic that you were talking about down to them. Yeah, that the, that’s really great, you know, get along with your kids and work with your whole family and, you know, they got, they got kids of their own that, you know, I babysit for them yesterday while they were out doing something else. And, and, you know, the really cool part is that they got things, you know, I might have, I might have grew the apple but they shined it. That’s a great way to put it. Roger. That’s awesome. Well, I can’t think of a better way to, uh, to finish off this podcast than to give you the floor. Uh, you’re, you’re the president of the company, is there anything you would like to say to the company at large, whether it be the drivers that might be listening or any of your, uh, terminal staff. Yeah, I, I’d like to commend all of the truck drivers that we have and they’re more pilots than they are truck drivers because they have to, you know, they have to load and unload these trailers and it’s hot out and they’re hauling, like today, it’s like 100 and four. So if they got a suit up the Hazmat suit on this afternoon to unload a truck, it’s a, it’s not nice but they, they’re a hard working, you know, they’re just like the old cowboys of the old west. They gotta get up every day and go out early and work hard and, you know, they have to deal with everybody that’s out there on the road and, and it’s unbelievable the way they get treated sometimes and, and we’d like to, you know, we’d like to change that atmosphere and I think we’ll hope we work on that. A little bit at a time. And that’s the reason we have done some things that, that a lot of people aren’t doing yet. And I think it’s, it’s all good. That’s great. Well, Roger again, thank you so much for taking the time to come on and talk with us. I really look forward to what this podcast will become. Uh, you’ve got a great company moving there and, uh, it’s just been a pleasure to get to meet all of you guys and, and figure out a little bit about how this whole thing got started. So we really appreciate you here on the podcast and we look forward to talking to you again in the future. All right. Ok. Thank you, Marcus. No problem. That’s Roger Schmidt, President of Liquid Trucking. We’ll be right back with the next interview and now Operations Manager of Liquid Trucking, Gabe Schmidt. Next up here on the Liquid Trucking Podcast. Joining us today is Gabe Schmidt, operations manager over at Liquid Gabe. We really appreciate the time. Thanks for being here. Thanks for having me. No problem. Now, you have an interesting uh history with Liquid Trucking as you started out as a very young kid working with Liquid. And, uh your dad, Roger and your brother Josh, and of course, Mike, who we’ve already talked to. Can you uh talk me through how you started out and how things got moving for you at Liquid? Sure, as a young kid and my dad was running a mechanic shop. I hung out at his shop quite a bit. Then he later on, bought, bought some trucks and, you know, I continued to hang around the shop and eventually I worked in to help it out with doing some light mechanical things in the, in the shops. And my brother and I both uh, washed out tanks outside. You know, when we were 1415 years old, we did tank washes and, and light mechanical. And eventually I got my CD L and I, I did some, some short runs home every night runs just out of high school. So I was about 22 and then 2002, I, I went in, I started learning the dispatch side of things with my clients from there. I did that for about 13 years. Got to the point up to about 100 trucks, uh doing all the scheduling. I think we had about 34 dispatchers when I left and, and went down to help out, run in the shop in 2014. And that’s kind of where I’m at now, taking over all the shops and kind of turn into the running the overall operations of the company. Now, tell me this, do you prefer uh kind of being on the uh the operation side or would you rather be back in dispatch? Which, which one of those things do you kind of gravitate towards more Gabe operations? For? Sure. Dispatch is probably one of the toughest jobs in this company from, from my experience. Um, there’s just a lot, a lot to handle. You’re the communications hubs for everything. So no matter what department needs something, it kinda, everything has to flow through dispatch. So not only do you have to think about the driver’s wants and needs the customer’s wants and needs the, the company’s wants and needs, you kind of have to take all that stuff and juggle it and, you know, create schedules and, you know, deal with everybody’s problems so it can be a thankless job. It’s a tough job. So I personally would, would rather not get back into the dispatch kind of thing. I feel, I feel like you’re being very cool. Yeah, I can feel their pain though. So from the operation side, when dispatch has a problem, I can relate to the problem they’re having and have a little empathy for him and help, try to solve the, help him solve the problem for sure. Well, and I think that’s one of the cool parts about, uh about your, your tenure with the company here is that you’ve, you’ve worked almost every job from the very beginning. I mean, your dad Roger told me you guys were pushing a broom when you were like 10 and 12 years old. So you’ve, you’ve seen the company from the very inside out and having that experience has got to be very valuable to the people that now work beneath you because they do see that you have that empathy and that understanding and, and you’ve gone through the, through the uh hard knocks of those positions, not just gotten your, your position, you know, gifted to you. You’ve really worked for it. We have, and, you know, watching sing, Mike and Roger’s work ethics over the years. You know, those two guys didn’t matter how many hours they worked, you know, what they had to do to, you know, get this company off the ground. They were, they would do it. They just, they never, they, they’re, they’ve never had that. I give up attitude. And so just, just seeing that your whole life is very humbling. I should say, I don’t, I don’t know how to, how to really put that. But, well, it seems that that work ethic really does get passed down. It’s, it’s like a, you know, it’s a good habit that, uh, that you learn at a young age and all of a sudden you’re putting in those 60 70 80 hour weeks as well. You don’t have that give up mentality in you either because you’ve never seen anybody operate like that in this company, right? And the respect for the risk they took to even start the company that was the hardest part in my eyes is, is those two starting the company and growing it to, to where it was when, when Josh and I got into it. They really did the hard part. And for us it’s like Josh and I don’t wanna screw up something that goes to, we saw how hard they worked to build. So, so we got some big, we kind of have some big shoes to fill. You know, I hear you. There’s a lot riding on it. I every decision I’m sure now, something I wanted to chat with you about a little bit that I didn’t get into with uh with Roger or Josh or Mike was uh fleet optimization. When I was out there in Plattsmouth, we talked a lot about uh fleets, fleet optimization in the short time that I got to sit down with you and actually talk face to face. And I was really interested in your thoughts on fleet optimization and the the many different layers that there are to that. Can you talk a little bit about the the bigger picture of fleet optimization at liquid trucking in and then the way that you tried to implement that? Oh man, I’ll think about that one for a second, you know, the the fleet and the technology and all the different moving parts is pretty complicated and ever changing. I don’t think there’s a uh there’s a playbook per se that goes by that, that we go by for that for fleet optimization. But over time, we used to run our trucks, you know, to over a million miles because we couldn’t really afford to buy new trucks. And we were growing at such a rate, we couldn’t buy them out of new trucks to keep up with our growth. So we would keep running trucks, we would buy new trucks, keep running them the older ones. So they got you a million miles. But, you know, in the last five years we’ve, we’ve kind of made it to the point where we’re able to, where the growth isn’t so big every year. So we’re able to start, uh, rating that back and, and start trading trucks at a, at a lower mileage or selling them, the lower mileage. So, you know, we went from selling trucks with 1.3 million miles on them now to finally starting to get into a cycle where we can start getting rid of them at, you know, 606 150,000 miles. And, and I think as time goes on, um, we might decide to even get that number lowered, but it, it all just kind of depends on your growth patterns and, uh, you know, if you have a big opportunity to grow, you might hang on to some trucks a little bit longer than you really want it for sure. And there’s probably ripple effects to that. I imagine that the shop sees the truck more often if it has one b uh, 1 million miles on it, overseeing it as often as they would, if it only had you know, half a million miles on it. Is, is that true? Oh, yeah, for sure. Yeah. And especially this day and age with the, all the after treatment devices. I don’t know that, uh, I don’t know that they would make it to, to the mileages they would back before all the emission standards. I mean, the other thing for us is, you know, being a liquid carrier, we put a lot of extra things on our trucks after we buy them, it’s probably, you know, $30,000 worth of extra equipment and labor to get it done. Um, after we purchase the truck, so it really doesn’t make sense for us. So maybe sell our trucks at 400,000. Like you might see a drive in a reefer company doing because we’ve already put all that effort into those trucks with the hydraulics and the wet packs and things like that. So, uh beyond hydraulics and wet packs, what are some of the other things that you end up spending some of that money on uh to up ft the trucks after you buy them? Uh We put the smart drive dash cams and DVRs in them. You know, the electronic logging devices we put in um epic view satellite TV, which is basically direct TV. So drivers can watch, you know, football games or whatever in their downtime, we say whatever to, but we know that it’s mostly football games and sports, right? That’s the that’s the only reason most, like, well, when it doesn’t work, that’s why they complain because they couldn’t watch their favorite game for sure. And, you know, when I was out there I, I believe it was Tanner and Dispatch told me that he’s, he’ll, every now and then get a call at, you know, 2 a.m. on a Sunday morning. Hey, my TV is not working and then, uh, that gets under his skin a little bit because if he has to wake up at two in the morning, he doesn’t want to wake up for your TV. Not working. He wants to wake up to make sure that your truck’s still rolling. That’s, uh, that was something he told me. So, and that’s another reason why I don’t want to be back in dispatch. Aim into that man. Aim into that. Well, hey, I, uh, again, I really appreciate the time that you’ve spent with us here today. I, I’ve done this for all the other guys that we’ve had on for this first podcast. You know, this podcast is going to be for liquid drivers and, and staff and I want to give you the floor here, Gabe before we let you go. And if there’s anything at all that you want to say to the drivers or the staff, uh, or anybody else for that matter, the floor is yours, please. I don’t have anything else at this time. Just keep the greasy side down and stay safe out there. That works, that works as well as any other it, Gabe. Thank you so much for being here. Uh I’m looking forward to having you on this podcast more as the future unfolds. All right. Thank you Marcus. Yeah. Take care Gabe and there you have it. The story of Liquid Trucking in podcast form. This is really exciting. First of all, Liquid is a, is a fantastic company. I keep hearing that from people and I can’t wait to hear it from even more people. Everybody seems to like working there. Everybody seems to feel like they’re a big part of the family. I felt like I was a big part of the family. Uh I, they took me under their wing and treated me like I had been working there for a decade the first day that I was in house meeting the staff. So I’m very excited about this podcast. If you’re wondering how we’re going to do it, what you’re going to see is weekly episodes from us. Uh And each episode will feature a topic, we’ll talk to the appropriate staff members, we’ll get you a driver interview and uh you’re encouraged to take part in any way that you can. If you see posts on various social media about the podcast, feel free to interact with it. Comment, like, subscribe all of these things, help the podcast more than you could possibly know and they’re free if you click that subscribe button on whatever platform you like to listen to podcasts on. It will alert you every single week when a new episode drops. If you want to be a part of the podcast, all you have to do is contact your dispatcher, uh talk to any number of the employees that will help me out with this podcast. Jason Eisenman, Bo Hanky Nick Meyer Tanner Bowman, these guys will all get you where you need to be put you in touch with me so that you can be the next driver that we do a driver profile on. We appreciate all of you for listening to the podcast, interacting with it, liking, subscribing and sharing it with your friends. I’m very excited about what this podcast holds in store for us all at Liquid. So without further ado, we’ll put the wraps on this episode and get ready for one next week. I’m your host Marcus and this has been episode one of the Liquid Trucking podcast. Thanks for tuning in and being the gold standard of drivers on the road. Be sure to like and subscribe to the channel and tune in next week for another episode of the Liquid Trucking Podcast.