TAFS had the opportunity to interview trucking dynamic duo and high school sweethearts, John and Cindy on how they have successfully owned and operated Bugging Bear Trucking for 21 years. Through driving school and co-piloting a dry van for countless miles, they share their top secrets on how to make it work on and off the road!
Q: First thing first, how did you come up with the name “Buggin Bear Trucking?”
John: We have always had nicknames for each other. I call her “Bug” and she calls me “Bear.”
Cindy: And I like to bug him from time to time, so we dubbed our business “Buggin Bear Trucking!”
Q: How did you both get involved in the trucking industry?
John: Cindy & I were high school sweethearts. When we graduated, we both went to CDL School together. It was a very tough and grueling process to obtain our license, but we found strength in each other and through our faith.
Cindy: However the trucking industry is a lifestyle commitment so we took a hiatus until we were in the right place to commit to that. Only after our kids were grown and out of the house did we get involved with the trucking industry. John had another business and I had been in the graphic arts field. We decided it was time for a new chapter together, an adventure!
Q: You both were team company drivers for a while, what advice do you have to drivers who would like to make that transition from company driver to owner operator?
Cindy: It’s important to have a strong support system if you are going to start your own trucking company. Having each other to depend on and delegate the responsibilities helped immensely in the first few years as owner-operators.
John: I would also recommend if you are starting your own trucking company, to utilize services with TAFS that help you grow your business, like ProDispatch. I work with my dispatcher Chad, to help me and my part-time driver find freight. He’s absolutely the best dispatcher I have ever worked with and has helped my company over the last year.
Q: So you mentioned that you used to drive as a couple in the past, how did you make that work?
John: Cindy is my best friend, there’s not another person I would want to spend my days with. That being said, we have a faith-based marriage. I think the fact that we are committed to being a team, and have a strong common ground makes it easier.
Cindy: It’s true, we have loved each other since we were kids. But being out on the road in close quarters can be a challenge. One key factor is making the rig feel like home. I definitely gave the sleeper area a feminine touch. I supplied necessities like a fridge, microwave and prepared healthy meals and snacks for us out on the road. By establishing a home away from home, we both felt more comfortable out on the road together.
John: Installing a Porta- Potty and knowing all the spots with prime showers was a lifesaver too!
Q: What advice do have for couples whose significant other is over the road?
Cindy: John drives 2-3 weeks out of the month, and I work on the administrative side of the business, so you do have to make an effort to keep the relationship strong when you’re in the trucking industry. The way we do that is by communicating throughout the day. By knowing each other’s schedule, whether I have an appointment or he is hauling freight to a different destination, we feel connected, like we are a part of each other’s day.
John: I also always err on the side that she is always right. That is the bread and butter of a relationship. Ha-ha. But also we plan trips and outings when I am home. We both enjoy kayaking and taking our motorcycles out for day trips, by planning our home time, we both have something to look forward to doing together!
Q: After 26 years in the Trucking Industry, what advice do you have for new owner operators just starting out?
John: Invest and maintain your equipment is the key to running a successful business. If you have to keep repairing your rig because of negligence or improper maintenance processes, the cost of repairs can cost you your business. You have to know when it’s time to trade in your rig for a new one that is more efficient. Also partner with the people that you can trust, whether it be ProDispatch, TAFS or the body shop, I make sure that I am partnering with people that are transparent and have the best interest in mind for my business.