115: The History of the Hopper Division

During this week’s episode of the Oakley Podcast, host Jeremy Kellett is joined by Bryan Hill to share the history of the hopper division: when it got started, how it got started, and what’s going on now. Tune in to hear how we went from nothing to the bustling division alive and well today.

Key topics in today’s conversation include:

  • Oakley Update: 2290 forums due, customer compliments (2:41)
  • How the hopper division got started (4:57)
  • How the hopper division has expanded so much (10:57)
  • More pay for hauling more weight (16:41)
  • Communicating with long-distance terminals (20:59)
  • The future of the hoppers (22:05)

Oakley Trucking is a family-owned and operated trucking company headquartered in North Little Rock, Arkansas. For more information, check out our show website: podcast.bruceoakley.com.


Bryan Hill  0:12  

They do their best for Oakley truck and it’s not just worried about, hey, I’m going to get this. They want to make sure that we’re taking care of kids. That’s pretty much a blessing when you’ve been here for so long and you see so many come and go. But you had the group men and women that works for you right now that really, I mean they really care about what they do and who they work for it.

Jeremy Kellett  0:32  

Welcome to the Oakley podcast, trucking, business, and family. This show is brought to you by Oakley Trucking, headquartered in North Little Rock, Arkansas. The purpose of this podcast is to communicate with Oakley owner-operators and their families by giving them up-to-date information concerning Oakley Trucking and the trucking industry. From business advice to safety updates to success stories. Also to give an inside to outside truck drivers that might be interested in joining the Oakley family.

This is Jeremy Kellett, Director of Recruiting here at Oakley Trucking and I’m your host for this podcast. This is episode 115 here on the Oakley podcast: trucking, business, and family. So we’ve had a couple of requests to learn a little bit more about the hopper division, so that’s what we’re gonna do today. I dragged Mr. Bryan Hill away from his desk to do this with me to talk a little bit about the history of the hopper division. Actually, kind of when it got started and how it got started and what’s going on with it today, too. And how we’ve gone from nothing to where we are today. So we got a little bit of that going on. We’re going to get in-depth with that. But first, let’s do our Oakley update sponsored by Arrow Truck Sales.

Keith Wilson at Arrow Truck Sales in Springfield, Missouri is currently offering $1,000 off your first month’s payment when you finance with transport funding, or $1,000 off the truck price if you bring your own financing. They’re also discounting the cost of an extended warranty by $500. Arrow Truck Sales has been a longtime partner with Oakley Trucking and that’s because they specialize in first-time truck buyers, they don’t do any leases, they have the best-used trucks money can buy (because used trucks is all they do, they don’t sell any new trucks), and the biggest reason that Arrow and Oakley are partners is service after the sale. It is very important to us at Oakley that when we refer you to a company, that they are a good company with good people, they do what they say, and they understand our requirements. So give Keith a call at 573-216-6047 for a good used truck and tell him you heard about it on the Oakley podcast.

A couple of things on the Oakley update one is Miss Wendy said, “The 2290s are due and could you please tell everybody.” So if you don’t know what 2290 is, it’s your heavy road use tags. It’s that $550 that you have to pay the IRS every year just own a truck. So it’s due between July the first and August the 31st you can start pre-filling now if you would like the website that we recommend that Miss Wendy recommends is express truck tax.com. And they’re very usually user-friendly. The cost will be $550 to the IRS and that will need to be paid by your routing numbers slash account number. Online fee to express truck tax will be $14.90. And that’s using a credit or debit card. And of course as always, when he said give her a call her or Megan Commons if you have any questions on your 2290.

The other thing: I always like to pass along good information if I get it. Russell gave me some good information yesterday: we had a customer, Colin, bragging on Miss Shante. As a matter of fact, she was on the podcast not too long ago. It was the customer at Strategic Materials in Sarasota Florida just bragging on her of how courteous she was and an excellent job she did.

Bryan Hill  4:06  

She is amazing. If y’all haven’t met her, you need to. She is amazing.

Jeremy Kellett  4:11  

So that’s always good to get some good information out there. We get so many of those, we just don’t tell you enough. So we’re trying to do a better job with that. What’s going on Brian Hill?

Bryan Hill  4:22  

Oh, another a beautiful day.

Jeremy Kellett  4:23  

Isn’t it a dandy?

Bryan Hill  4:24  

I’m telling ya. We have so many loads right now that we just can’t get them all covered at all times. We have enough people say here we go. scramble down in recruiting. Let me tell you this. I’ve been here so long that having more loads than you have trucks is much more of a blessing than adding more trucks and you have loads and net upgrades and it’s amazing. It’s absolutely amazing.

Jeremy Kellett  4:48  

We got to talk about doing a podcast on his Hopper division. We talked about a couple of times, but we got to talking about it the other day and I actually asked you— I was thinking how this thing all got started. I started going through my mind trying to figure it out and how we came about with 250 hoppers that we have now or whatever. So one of the things I did, I went in there and I talked to Mr. Binney to see if he can remember. I think you told him, it was around ’02, ’03, ’04, somewhere in there that we started the hopper division. He said, No. We started in the mid-80s. I said, really?

Bryan Hill  5:34  

I didn’t know that.

Jeremy Kellett  5:35  

Yeah, that’s what he said. He started in the mid-80s. I said, Well, how many do you have? Oh, probably eight or 10. Okay. He said, but they didn’t last long. So he had they did try it, I think back in the 80s, which was, well, that’s first time I’ve heard. Yeah, me too, because I didn’t know that either. But he said they did have hoppers back in the mid-80s, but didn’t last long and went on with the rolling with the dots and then got into the pneumatics. And then we get into the hoppers later on. You remember how first of all, you’ve been here a long time? 18 years, 18 years, and you’ve been on a podcast before I have Yes. They have. Everybody needs a refresher on who Brian Hills is. You had to go back some podcasts and listen to his history, but he’d been here 18 years, he knows what’s going on and basically all that’s been in the hopper.

Bryan Hill  6:31  

Almost every year, I did do sand for a little bit. Of course, when I first started me and Kobe were doing end dumps in opposite same time. We had very few hoppers at that time, we were running back and forth out of Memphis, going up to like Bowling Green, Kentucky, Lebanon, Tennessee, sometimes we go over to Iowa, but that’s what those guys did every single day.

Jeremy Kellett  6:52  

I talked to Kobe about it, too, just to verify that because it started back in… So that would have been ’04. So when you started, we already were doing it. So somewhere in there, ’03 or something, your man Winston Guest— What’s he go by?

Bryan Hill  7:07  

He goes by Yamaha.

Jeremy Kellett  7:08  

Yamaha. And he’s been with us a long time. He started doing a run, and that was for Cargill. And he was stepping it up a notch with that.

Bryan Hill  7:20  

He did. He actually helped attract a lot of the business to us, because he had already been done some of that. Before he came. I’m almost sure that’s what if I remember correctly. I’m most sure that’s what happened. He was doing a little bit of stuff. And then we got that with Kobe. And I think he got the rest of it. And him and many went out and got the rest of it because he had been doing some of it. I’m almost sure that’s right. Yeah, because it led into a little bit more. Yes, sir. I got pretty big we got up to I think when I got here, there was probably four to six trucks doing it going back forth. And at one time we got up to 10 or 12 or we’re doing it all over the place.

Jeremy Kellett  8:00  

That was mostly from Memphis but then it expanded to coming out of other areas of the United States.

Bryan Hill  8:07  

Absolutely. We were doing stuff out, I will back down. We’d go to St. Like we went everywhere back in that day. So you didn’t go, Pennsylvania didn’t matter. You went and got it.

Jeremy Kellett  8:17  

I can remember that because me and Kobe pretty good friends know. And I can remember hanging out with him on the weekends and him and we’re and from COVID Yeah. And from Cargill. You ever talk to her?

Bryan Hill  8:29  

I haven’t talked to her in quite a while.

Jeremy Kellett  8:33  

He stayed pretty busy.

Bryan Hill  8:35  

That clipboard was always there. That was our life.

Jeremy Kellett  8:40  

I know it. That was good, but man. Winston, he helped us out. Of course, then you had Winston “Yamaha,” David Heel, David Light, Carlton Russell.

Bryan Hill  8:53  

Yep. Danny Troutman.

Jeremy Kellett  8:54  

Danny Troutman. Danny’s still with us. Him and Winston are still with us.

Bryan Hill  8:58  

Scott Golden. I think that’s about it when I first started.

Jeremy Kellett  9:04  

They were keeping it going.

They were rocking it, I promise you.

I was talking to Scott about that, too, and he reminded me we had to talk Benny into buying new hoppers, and that took a while. We just kept, Hey, let’s buy about five more. And then finally he started buying.

Bryan Hill  9:23  

And then we got up to I think about 20, 25 at one point. kind of cut it off a little bit. And that’s when I just started slowly doing Hopper bottoms. We started getting a little bit more stuff. We went back to doing some roofing granules had come in, we started doing stuff for Owens, Corning more on a hopper bottom stuff ended up where their stuff for certainty down in Dallas. So that just helped us be able to pick up more drivers pick up more stuff around that area. And then it just kind of even expanded even more to where I had 50 trucks. Yeah, and then it was hey, we need somebody also there for him to, to help him out and Russell came over, started helping me out. He was doing both end-ups and hoppers at that time. And to where it is now. It’s like 10 or 20. It’s crazy.

It is. It’s a good niche. And for us, I just allude to our book and you get some customers that couldn’t take dumps. But like deck a hopper bottom drop.

Yes, sir. Yeah, it’s helped a lot of guys, for us to be able to track log guys in those areas, say, Dallas, Oklahoma City. Even out as far as North Carolina. We’ve got guys that run back and forth every day out of Montclair, North Carolina, Jacksonville, Florida, Atlanta, Georgia, Savannah, Georgia, no Hampton, Georgia load right back out of Sarasota up to Atlanta. I mean, it’s just, I mean, stuff that we would never even thought about doing back in those days, you didn’t really get them out of the region, if they got out of Texas or Oklahoma, you didn’t know what the heck—

Jeremy Kellett  10:54  

You were lost.

Bryan Hill  10:55  

You were done, but this has expanded so much.

Jeremy Kellett  11:01  

Why do you think that is?

Bryan Hill  11:02  

It’s easy, as far as what we feel that most of our drivers do force, they can get undershoot, they roll to our back, start loading one half of the hopper and then they start pull up a little bit or pull back whatever the case may be at that time and they start loading a little bit, I had to get out and start walking down on scrap metal, they’ll have to bounce around in the mud anywhere, they’ll have to come run in and out of a scrap yard and ruin stuff like that pretty much every place you go to is concrete. And it’s nice facilities where they go to so makes it a little bit easier for us to be able to sell that and plus people go back and forth pretty much same place a lot of times so they get to know these people and it makes it a lot easier for them to go do their business.

Jeremy Kellett  11:46  

Yeah, I tell you it’s helped a lot with our older owner operators to be able to give them something that’s not as demanding as a pneumatic tanker and end up outside the hoppers a little bit, I’m sure there are guys out there thinking oh, it’s easy for you to say than they ever did I’m sure it’s definitely not easy, easy, but it’s the easiest thing we have that’s given those guys an opportunity and it’s helped us lease on women.

Bryan Hill  12:15  

Absolutely. So I have Kara Balta works for me. I have Shante that works for me. I have Teresa Thompson that worked for us and Kim Humpers whose workforce our workforce all for those ladies will mean they can run circles around most men they have bad to the bone now mean they flat out go. And they don’t go home every weekend or anything like that. They stay out for three and four weeks at a time. Oh really. Some of them stay out for two months at a time. So it’s helped us expand. I think in the first 16 years I worked here we had one woman that pulled a hopper Yeah, we actually had to the other one pulled sand when we were doing it up there working for Cal Frac and stuff.

Jeremy Kellett  12:59  

And I guess since we’ve created some dedicated routes, that’s helped a lot. Does that help you guys also?

Bryan Hill  13:08  

There are a lot of guys that will come out that say hey out when they start here, I only want to work four days a week. I only want to work five days a week and then when they’re going home every single day. I man you got another load I do want to go and get the sixth one this week or man that’s module stay out. I’m going home every day my wife says checks look amazing, so I’m gonna just keep going. So it’s helped us be able to recruit a lot of people that we wouldn’t have gotten otherwise. Yeah, it has helped in the recruiting side of entertainments. Yes, sir. I mean they’re so happy because you get to go home every day. It makes us happy also, and they’re not mad because their wives are at home missing them, their family is at home missing them. They still get to go home and see their families at some point. Maybe not every day, but three or four days a week at least.

Jeremy Kellett  13:56  

You can talk about the good all day long. What are some of the negatives with the hopper division? What are some of the challenges? I guess this is a two-part question. Some of the negative for an owner operator doing the hopper and some of the challenges that you dispatchers see.

Bryan Hill  14:13  

They may main worries or the main challenges that a driver will have is going waiting somewhere they have to wait at 3 am for six to eight hours to get unloaded. What’s going to cut into their time to be able to get down there get unloaded say they go to Daingerfield which is only 204 Miles well. I still set at 3 am for eight hours waiting to get loaded then they have to deadhead or take off down to Dangerfield to be able to get unloaded and try to make it back up to do another one Baltimore, and that’s tough. Sometimes they want to get a good check. And don’t get me wrong. They do get paid detention. But still, it’s not the same thing as going down the road. That’s what these guys like to do. They like to get loaded. They like to go unloading and come back and get another one and a lot of times that happened for hot Hopper buttons but the wait times are the main thing I would think for any Hopper bottom driver. As far as the dispatch, and part of it goes hand in hand. We have set schedules that we have for these roofing granules that had to load a certain time they had to deliver at a certain time. We don’t always hit those marks and we got little windows that will help but, when they are delayed for six to eight hours out of customer land, he shut down a reference point and it’s a bad situation. People start calling from all over the country trying to find some.

Jeremy Kellett  15:28  

So they run into waiting time creates y’all having to changed signings on your end. Evidently, we’ve been doing business with them for a while, something-teen years.

Bryan Hill  15:40  

There are so main changes that I’ve that come and go through 3 am or Daingerfield, or Irving, Texas and stuff. I’m still worked for the companies, they just work in different divisions and nice. They’ll call me like, Ron, what the heck’s going on own? It feels pretty good, actually because I’ve got to do this my whole time. I got trained by Kobe. Me and Kobe still work hand in hand on this stuff. And these people still call Kobe also. So it feels good that you still have that name out there with customers that you’ve been doing business with for over 18 years, and they trust you. It feels good.

Jeremy Kellett  16:14  

We’ve had some customers longer than that.

Bryan Hill  16:16  

Oh, yeah. Absolutely. They were here before I got here, you know what I’m saying? So yeah, absolutely.

Jeremy Kellett  16:22  

Yeah, that makes a big difference when you have them for that long. You still gotta give them a good customer service. We stress that all the time.

Bryan Hill  16:31  

Oh, yes, sir. That’s not something that is optional.

Jeremy Kellett  16:34  

What about the hauling the weight? I know sometimes I tell our listeners about the advantage of hauling the weight is there’s a 15-cent bonus that they can get on the all the loaded miles starts with a few 150 to 51,000, you get an extra five cents on all the loaded miles for that load? Yes, sir. If you get 51 to 52, then you get an extra 10. And anything 52 plus, you get an extra 15 cents on that load.

Bryan Hill  17:02  

Yes, sir. You’ll see guys starting to lighten up their trucks, I promise you won’t see that. And also, a lot of these guys, they worked their butt off to try to get the weights on so they get a little bit extra, but they know it also creates extra for Oakley Trucking man. And that’s, that’s one thing that I can say about our drivers. Man, they do their best for Oakley Trucking. And it’s not just worried about, hey, I’m going to get this. They want to make sure that we’re taking care of it. That’s pretty much a blessing when you’ve been here for so long. And you see so many come and go. But you had the group of men and women that work for you right now really care about what they do and who they work for.

Jeremy Kellett  17:41  

That means a lot. And I would think they would because that’s their bread and butter.

Bryan Hill  17:47  

Absolutely. I promise you, you short them on some weight, you will hear about it up for obvious you and they will call you immediately. Brian. They won’t put it on there, but that’s good. What’s a weekend work block. Pitch tough right now not a lot of people want to work on weekends. I can’t blame them. I mean, I don’t always want to work on the weekends either. But we do have these dedicated guys that will work every other weekend. And like I said, a lot of them don’t mind pulling an extra load on the weekend because they know that gives them an extra money on their check. The weekend work is not stopped and we have to literally tell people we just can’t do it because we don’t have enough people. And some people you could say hey, do you want to work Tuesday through Saturday or Tuesday through Sunday night? Yeah, man I’ll take off Monday trying to take care of some stuff that I couldn’t take care of on the weekends and then you have some guys that I literally we had probably 10 guys that run for two or three months at a time. Okay, I promise you and they are warriors. Now didn’t think any of those existed anymore? It’s I know it sounds crazy. No seriously I understand because when you and I first started and when I first started here it was you worked every weekend, there was and this was an optional so men and blessing these guys are do now.

Jeremy Kellett  19:02  

Yeah, and it’s about time it rolled back around to the truck drivers I think so they’re gonna do I mean they’re getting paid good money they like a good live in Georgia and we know they are they’re making good money I mean these owner operators with us may not I look at a few checks here and there too. And I know you do every week. What are they bringing home every week after fuel and after deductions put in their pocket?

Bryan Hill  19:31  

Well, for my actual drivers it stays consistent every month and has for years and years. It’s $3,200 to $3,600 every week. That’s for a hopper bottom.

Jeremy Kellett  19:42  

Yeah, and that’s probably less than 2,500 miles or somewhere in there. That’s pretty good money. It’s not bad, especially net bring home put in your pocket. It makes a big difference. What about the trailers? I know we’ve been known to have good equipment. You have any trailer issues or trailer information? Or I mean, I know we keep them looking good. You keep them clean.

Bryan Hill  20:05  

Yes, sir. Absolutely. These guys take pride, and these women. They take pride in what they get because they know if that trailer breaks down, they’re not gonna make any money off of it. So we’ve put a pretty big emphasis on pay if something’s going wrong with that right now, need know about it, make sure you’re checking your logs, make sure you’re checking your doors, because if they open up that cost you money, it’s going to take your escrow or something like that if roofing granules get wet, or anything has happened to me, with these people, I mean, you just can’t say enough about all of our drivers. Okay, but these guys on Hopper ballsy. They have a special breed that they take care of us.

Jeremy Kellett  20:43  

And we want them to keep it clean.

Bryan Hill  20:44  

Yes, sir. They look good, their trucks look good. They don’t want nothing braggley behind them, I promise you. And if something happens, they let you know about it.

Jeremy Kellett  20:53  

How’s your communication? We should have mentioned this in the beginning. We’ve got quite a few hoppers out of Oklahoma, an old terminal over there. I don’t know, we got 50 over there, maybe just something like that.

Bryan Hill  21:09  

We actually just swapped all the dedicated back to me. So Seth has a thing. 39 I think that but that’s just recently within this day.

Jeremy Kellett  21:19  

How’s the communication work?

Bryan Hill  21:22  

The back and forth between us and them tends to work out pretty good and not like it used to back in the old day when we had people down in Louisianam, it was a little bit more difficult. Technology has helped that quite a bit. We get to talk back and forth and messenger and on the phone and things like that a lot of us that’s been here for a while Justin Russell myself, we sit there and watch the trucks, we try to see what they’re doing and try to keep up with what they’re doing and make sure that they’re taken care of. And Ceph. Man, you can’t say enough about him. He does a great job being in the office not next to here and everything yelled and screamed out, man. That dude is a go-getter. And he makes sure his drivers are taken care of. He’s just he needs a big pat on the back.

Jeremy Kellett  22:05  

What’s the future of the hoppers?

Bryan Hill  22:08  

I hope more dedicated lanes honestly love to see it continue to grow. I know we’ve got more opportunities out there that we’re just unable to hit right now. But the good thing about it is we will go out there and try to make sure that it’s happening if we can make it happen to where drivers are being taken care of Oakley is being taken care of and the customer has been taken care of man, there’s nothing we won’t do. I promise you if that means that you get to go home every other day or whatever the case may be if that’s something that we can attract and find we’ll go find it.

Jeremy Kellett  22:38  

What some other areas that you could use some guys where they live?

Bryan Hill  22:42  

We may not have some more East Coast guys now. I mean, we’re turning down loads left and right there. We turned it down loads here every single day. Because we just can’t get enough trucks up here to Little Rock.

Jeremy Kellett  22:54  

Yeah. Oh, yeah, I’m aware of that. Yes, sir. Yeah, I hear you guys. Behind Jack gum, and can you get any more? We’re, we’re trying to do the best we can. But it is a challenge.

Bryan Hill  23:07  

It is. Our drivers are recruiting very well, so that helps out tremendously.

Jeremy Kellett  23:14  

Yeah, it does. That’s where we get the majority of them. And we encourage them to start their own YouTube channel and tried, do that kind of recruiting, it helps a lot. And we got a lot of guys doing that. Well, no, we don’t either. We got two or three doing that, and we need a bunch.

Bryan Hill  23:31  

It would be nice if we could get Shantay or somebody to do something like that. It would be Yeah, it would be amazing. I know when Rob Hawley started that, it helped a whole bunch.

Jeremy Kellett  23:42  

The thing about it is—and everybody’s heard this before on the podcast—but when you’re looking for that right person, it’s not easy to find and now we’ve been we have standards that we gotta meet. We’re gonna stick to Yeah, and look for that best one out there.

Bryan Hill  23:58  

And I’ll tell you what, that’s another thing I think our drivers pretty much love about us is they have standards themselves. So they want to be represented very well. Also, the whomever they’re gonna try to recruit in here, they want them to represent also so well.

Jeremy Kellett  24:14  

Good discussion, man. Anything else you’d like to add about the hopper division?

Bryan Hill  24:18  

I don’t know of anything else. We appreciate everything y’all do, of course, especially in recruiting department. I know y’all getting beat right now. These podcasts I believe help tremendously. And like I said, I’ve been here so long I’ve seen us do a lot of stuff. Yeah, I’ve seen this almost out of scale where we yelled and screamed and we said no you go get find something else to do. That change has been amazing just for me myself on the way out and I’m at home so it’s it kind of translates into our owner operators now too. So it’s a big lesson.

Jeremy Kellett  24:49  

Well, it’s good to have somebody that’s been here 18 years and you got some— there’s a lot of seniority over there with you and Russell Wilson jolly and these are The guy’s really coming on now because Jackson helping you and William Yeah. And hey, guys coming on doing great. And so the hopper I think he’s got a great future ahead of it.

Bryan Hill  25:11  

There’s no doubt about that.

Jeremy Kellett  25:13  

The potential was there the opportunities there, we just gotta, we gotta keep meeting we got to keep so keep getting some owner operators out here to do it.

Bryan Hill  25:21  

You guys bring some more people, please.

Jeremy Kellett  25:24  

Yeah, please. Please. All right, man. Well, last year, appreciate you hanging out with me and doing this taking time out of your work workday. Because anytime the middle of the workday, so let’s get it done. Yeah. And I appreciate everybody listening to the Oakley podcast, I really do. This is something that from time to time, we struggle coming up with stuff for you guys. But we want to keep this going the best we can because it has become a great communication tool, retention tool and recruiting tool for Oakley trucking and more. So retention than recruiting, we did this. When we started this podcast. We did it to communicate with our owner-operators. It was not we weren’t doing it for a recruiting tool. It’s turned into that. It sure has, by accident, we did it to because we wanted to be able to communicate with our owner operators and try to get them the information that was going on right now with Oakley ways we could tell them so it’s just been a great tool. And so please spread the word about it. If some of our owner operators that are not listening to it, or watching it on YouTube, they don’t know how and try to get clued in on it because we’re gonna pass along good information about Oakley, check out last week where we talked about the company party coming up in October we laid out good info on there. So that’s gonna be good. So appreciate everybody listening, y’all be sure to like, subscribe, check us out on YouTube. And if you got any input on what you want to hear you’re talking about, let me know and we’ll talk to you next week.

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