177: From Trash Business to Trucking Success: Rusty Wiley’s Path Leaving Oakley and Coming Back

This week on the Oakley Podcast, host Jeremy Kellett chats with Rusty Wiley, one of our Owner-Operators at Oakley. During the episode, Rusty shares his journey from being a company driver to becoming an owner-operator, including his experience of starting his own business, Wiley’s Containers. Despite initial success in his business, Rusty came back to Oakley. He discusses the challenges and responsibilities of being an owner-operator, the importance of a good maintenance strategy, the financial opportunities trucking offers, and more. 

Key topics in today’s conversation include:

  • Rusty’s background and journey in trucking (2:06)
  • Starting a Trash Rental Business (11:04)
  • Challenges of Being an Owner-Operator (13:58)
  • Misconceptions about Truck Drivers (20:46)
  • Financial benefits of trucking (21:58)
  • Family and personal life (22:24)
  • Final thoughts and takeaways (23:38)

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.


Rusty Wiley  00:12

I was able to do well enough in seven years here that I was able to step out and start my own company. That was been very my mind forever to have something I could pass to my kids. So we started Wiley’s containers. And we started reading dumpsters. It wasn’t as easy as you would think it is stepping out on your own, especially when you were comfortable making what she was making. And so we looked at it, and we stepped back and I said, You know what, let’s buy another truck. We’ll go back to Oakley and we’ll get ourselves back stable and we’ll keep renting trailers.

Jeremy Kellett  00:45

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. Hi, this is Jeremy kellett, director recruiting here at Oakley Trucking. I’m your host for this podcast. This is the Oakley podcast, trucking, business and family. And once again, we bring you some good content every week, every Wednesday we drop a new one. So for everybody out there, you can listen to us. Or watch us on Youtube or Spotify or Apple podcasts. There’s all kinds of platforms out there that you can get it and always encourage you to listen, comment, subscribe, do the old thumbs up, let us know what you think about this podcast that we put out every week. And of course, it’s you know, our goal has always been to make our owner operator successful. That’s kind of what it’s about is to communicate with them and, and try to help them you know, be a better owner operator, you know, whether it comes to talk in safety, whether it comes to talking to our owner operators themselves. I mean, we’ve had our cell Trucking Association president on here, just all kinds of different episodes, I encourage you to actually go back and listen to a bunch of we try to I mean, some of them may be outdated, but there’s just some good information back there. And you know, I talked to usually every week when we have new owner operators lease on with the company, I have a couple of them say man, I went back and watched every one of them. I learned so much by going back and listening to that to where now. I feel like I know Oakley before I’ve even get there. So it’s really good tool to do that with and I encourage you to go back and listen to some of it. So on today’s episode, I got Mr. Rusty while he’s sitting here with me and he’s an owner operator with Oakley trucking, and we’re gonna talk a little bit about his story, his life and trucking kind of how he got started and where he ended up today. And we’re gonna throw in a couple other little things. You know, roasties an owner operator that was with us for a long time. Then he went and tried his own business. I believed what it was we give them went to that rusty but and then came back to Oakley and you know, it’s just a good testimony from him and what he’s done as an owner operator I always like to hear. I like to hear our owner operator stories, and how they have come since day one.

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Jeremy Kellett  03:51

Run out we’re gonna crank it up and listen to Mr. Rusty Wiley. Rusty, how are you doing? I’m

Rusty Wiley  03:56

doing good. Jamie. How are you?

Jeremy Kellett  03:57

I’m doing good here from rain. Louisiana, Zahra

Rusty Wiley  03:59

Ryan, Louisiana for the past 16 years. So you’ve been there quite a while and you’re Courtois? We’re about before that I was born and raised in Monterrey, Louisiana. Okay, so always Louisiana, always Louisiana lived anywhere else. I haven’t lived anywhere else now cutting

Jeremy Kellett  04:16

one of them. LSU Tiger fans are a saint fan or

Rusty Wiley  04:20

now I’m a UL fan. Okay. And as far as major sports goes, I’m an Astros fan baseball. Oh,

Jeremy Kellett  04:27

you got that going on right now. hot and heavy.

Rusty Wiley  04:30

In the drivers lounge last night. I think I was the only Astros fan and today Oh, where are you? I believe so. What about family? Me and I have three amazing kids on in high school, one in middle school and an elementary, two boys and a girl. And I mean this the whole life revolves around that and that’s what about wife? Yeah, absolutely. Okay, forget about her. She takes care of everything for us. We’ve been married six 10 years. Oh, nice. Yeah. We started. Young I guess. I was 19 when we got married, and she was 60. No kid, still in 11th grade? Wow. Yeah, mitigate it for a little while, as it made the

Jeremy Kellett  05:17

parents might have brought. You know,

Rusty Wiley  05:19

it didn’t. It wasn’t as bad as you’d think. I guess. Yeah, it was bad. So how long have you been trucking? Got my CDL when I was 19

Jeremy Kellett  05:29

years old, is it? What made you do that? So

Rusty Wiley  05:33

being young, and you know, having just gotten married was definitely looking for more of a career option. And was working actually, in some refineries down in Louisiana, and seeing the trucks come in and out all the time, Grace, actually seeing the trucks coming in and out all the time. Like, you know what, I want to be a truck driver I grew up on and I love heavy equipment. And so went to school, got my CDL and been making a living with it ever since.

Jeremy Kellett  06:01

I’ll tell you what, it’s pretty good way to make a living. And

Rusty Wiley  06:03

it is, I would say it’s tough to get started. Just experience wise. A lot of insurance companies. Yeah, they don’t want to cover you when you’re young. And they don’t want to see you. You know, most companies don’t want to see somebody with less than two or three years of experience. So it’s definitely hard to get your foot in the door.

Jeremy Kellett  06:19

What was your family involved in trucking? Or was he the first first boy No, kid?

Rusty Wiley  06:22

First one.

Jeremy Kellett  06:24

What did you have a lot of naysayers or a lot of support?

Rusty Wiley  06:27

I had a lot of support. And the everybody kind of motivated me to keep going and you know, I was a company driver for years. So once I finally broke loose and and got away from that, I’d say that’s really where I started to turn it into more of a career. You know? Yeah.

Jeremy Kellett  06:43

So when you were a company driver, how long was that?

Rusty Wiley  06:46

Started? With Oakley in 2014. I was a company driver for seven years.

Jeremy Kellett  06:52

Oh, yeah. So what made you think about man, I’m gonna go out on a limb and buy me a truck.

Rusty Wiley  07:00

Well, you know what, it was easy because you don’t find many Oakley drivers that don’t have something good to say. And my neighbor was an Oakley driver. Oh, really? Yeah. And so it was at our in our in Bhutan? Yes, I remember. Yeah. And so he, he told me all about it. You know, he was pulling the tank at the time. He let me go and take a look at it. And he’s like, Man, if I can do it, you can do it. So I went out, bought my first truck. And I’ll say it I had to take two loans out to take to buy their first truck. Oh my god. Yeah, I took the truck loan and then the downpayment loans. Oh, and so it was definitely a hurdle. It was new. I was scared to death. But it’s definitely been worth it.

Jeremy Kellett  07:44

That is a big, scary situation going on. Hey, do you have to borrow your down payment to get what was the truck?

Rusty Wiley  07:51

It was a Freightliner Cascadia. Our script was was brand new. When it was used. I had 450,000 miles on it went about it in 2011 Worst truck I’ve ever had. I mean it literally the day about it in Dallas. The day I bought it it went in the shop for a week. Oh no. And so that that was that. I was like, Man, I should have been a company driver. You know, why

Jeremy Kellett  08:17

did I leave?

Rusty Wiley  08:19

What you know what it was a learning experience. And I think that that plays a big role in being an owner operator, like you got to learn how to maintain your equipment, and you can’t get lacks on it.

Jeremy Kellett  08:30

You know, it takes a man it takes a lot of courage to be able to make that step from a company driver where you’re comfortable. It does, you know, to become an owner operator out there and getting paid gross money. Figuring out all the expenses and all the tax deductions and all the stuff that come with it. It takes you know, you really, you can’t just be a truck driver, Kenny.

Rusty Wiley  08:54

Oh, no, you can’t just be a truck driver. I mean, you’ve got to be all involved. And you know, it’s you’re, you’re the maintenance guy, you’re the truck driver, you’re the tax person, you know, I mean, I work hand in hand with my wife and my CPA trying to you know, keep everything the way it needs to be.

Jeremy Kellett  09:10

It takes a team it really didn’t. And that’s you know, driving a truck, which is like bad, all you’ve done is coming out hundreds has basically been what is the big, you know, because I know, of course that we’re truck drivers for a long time and I mean, it’s just like they they once they start driving a truck these King dread doing anything else don’t want to do anything else, you know, I mean, yeah,

Rusty Wiley  09:33

and I think that’s how I feel.

Jeremy Kellett  09:35

What do you what draw Why is it so good?

Rusty Wiley  09:38

I mean, for me, honestly. For me, it’s just about the equipment. I just really enjoy running heavy equipment. That to me, that’s what it’s all about. I like a challenge. And now you see, drive a 389 P So you know some of the places we go it presents challenge is getting them in and out and to be able to say I can do that I can take that 80,000 pound truck and right down the highway safely. You know, have a lot of pride in that.

Jeremy Kellett  10:09

Yeah. What kind of trophies a trail now?

Rusty Wiley  10:12

It’s trading on its 2021 39 P. Last you buy it now? Or do you just know it’s used? Actually? I haven’t owned it for that long. I’ve only had it for about two months.

Jeremy Kellett  10:28

Okay. Yeah. So yeah. So that brings me to the you worked here for how long work here for seven years, seven years, then what do you do?

Rusty Wiley  10:38

So I left. I’ll say it like this, I was able to do well enough in seven year s here, that I was able to step out and start my own company. That was been a dream of mine forever to have something I could pass to my kids. So we sold my other truck. And we bought to roll off trucks and 1030 yard dumpsters and started while these containers. And we started reading dumpsters. Really? Yeah. So I got in the trash business, got in the trash cans as written dumpsters, yet written dumpsters? That was it. And I would say we did good. At first. After about six months of it, then big companies found out I was in the area and you start to get some pushback. And it kind of drives your rates down to stay competitive. But that was the direction we went.

Jeremy Kellett  11:31

So did. Finally you said no, no.

Rusty Wiley  11:35

Yeah, I mean, after they buy you out, or No, I still have my equipment. But after the first eight or nine months, we realized that it wasn’t as easy as you would think it is stepping out on your own, especially when you were comfortable making what she was making. And so we looked at it, and we stepped back and I said, You know what, let’s buy another truck or go back to Oakley, we still have some dumpsters and staff are to roll off trucks. And we’ll get ourselves back stable. And we’ll keep reading. So you got who’s taking care of that. So I have a few guys that are pages day by day that can go out and run and for me actually run now, pretty much I have to out but we kind of pause rules for a little while so I can get back in the saddle. Here we go. But the plan is to have them because we obviously have a lot of natural disasters in South Louisiana. So the plan is to have them for disasters, demolition, and things like

Jeremy Kellett  12:40

that. hung on to the equipment. Yeah, we gave some need for Yeah, that’s the

Rusty Wiley  12:44

plan is to try to keep it around. And if it don’t work out, we just liquidate everything.

Jeremy Kellett  12:50

So you you didn’t look at it going any other trucking company that I

Rusty Wiley  12:54

come back, I’ll definitely come back to Oakland when nobody else on the list. And this time you What were you doing a pneumatic before? Tank I started on tank. Okay, that’s all you doing

Jeremy Kellett  13:05

here? That’s all of them. Okay, so. So you came back pulling a tank with us now for a couple months now?

Rusty Wiley  13:10

Yep. About a month.

Jeremy Kellett  13:14

Okay, so get back in the groove. Getting back here anyway, getting your wife used to those checks, again, are consistent. Yeah,

Rusty Wiley  13:20

that’s the key that consistency, you know, is nice when you know you’re going to get paid on Friday. And, you know, it’s nice to know you can control with it. You can I tell people that all time. You can make as much money as you want, or as little money as you want.

Jeremy Kellett  13:35

It’s amazing how we see that, you know, stepping back, I can see that two guys can make a lot of money and other guys don’t either don’t need it or don’t want to make

Rusty Wiley  13:45

Yeah, it just depends on the driver, what type of position you’re in. I mean, there’s definitely weeks that I you know, I’m not gonna make as much as others because I have other poor humans and

Jeremy Kellett  13:54

what’s your biggest challenge as an owner operator, you think?

Rusty Wiley  13:58

Well, I’d say my biggest challenge would be protecting my CDL I really, I believe that’s what it is. You know, to be successful in this career, you got to have a clean record, you got to have a good license, and it’s harder and harder to do that on the road. You know, to avoid those accidents and to keep the D O T officer happy that pulls you over to check you out that day. Yeah, I think that’s the big biggest challenge for me. I worry about my CDL every day.

Jeremy Kellett  14:28

That’s a very good answer. I really wasn’t expecting that but because I mean, I was thinking driving, which was similar to that with driving out there on the interstate with a lot of these people. Yeah,

Rusty Wiley  14:38

it goes hand in hand with my record, you know, I know that somebody else’s mistake could cost me and so you know, I feel like I pretty much draw for everybody around

Jeremy Kellett  14:49

you got to be you got to be half looking at all sides don’t yet ya have to,

Rusty Wiley  14:53

even if you know, even if it’s going to be somebody else’s fault if it’s gonna put me out of work for a month this year. Yeah, if I can avoid it, I’m trying to avoid the front

Jeremy Kellett  15:02

we can we see it happen, you know, with your approach here too. It’s unfortunate as many miles as all our owner operators drive every week there’s gonna be accident. Absolutely.

Rusty Wiley  15:12

And, you know, I actually I had an accident with one of my roll off trucks wasn’t my fault guy was running down the shoulder of the road and ran ran on the front end of my truck. And my insurance paid for everything. His insurance refused to pay. They even paid for his vehicle. And he sued him for bodily injury. I mean, well, you know, he got paid so I you know, thankfully it didn’t go on my record because he was at fault. But, you know, nevertheless, it still hit me in the pocket with insurance

Jeremy Kellett  15:49

and go on to for the future. Yeah, absolutely. Oakley Trucking is 100% Owner Operator company. We specialize in Hopper, bottom and dump and pneumatic trailers. We provide the trailer free of charge and you provide the truck. We have a large customer base that reaches the whole United States as well as parts of Canada. Our owner operators live anywhere from Texas to North Carolina to Pennsylvania to Wisconsin and everywhere in between and we get them home weekend. We take it seriously when you join Oakley trucking because we need you to be successful. Oakley offers great benefits and competitive mileage base. So you know that when your wheels are turning, you’re generating money, no matter if you’re loaded or empty. We understand that you want to make a good living and that you make our living. We only take on independent contractors and to be honest with you, we are very particular on who we lease on. You must have a good driving record good work history and clean, dependable truck. So if you’re interested in Oakley trucking or just want some more information, you can go to Oakley trucking.com. Listen to our weekly podcast, the Oakley podcast and subscribe to our YouTube channel. Well, you were telling me course not to ask you this question, because you didn’t have answered and you gave me an answer on any memorable experiences that you had.

Rusty Wiley  17:03

Yeah, we can go over to games. I was in an Exxon Mobil in Beaumont, Texas in the middle of the night, then where you have to unload it’s, I mean, it’s a long back to get down there. And of course, they got things in the way. And so I whipped it around there. And I backed it in one shot and the operator that was out that 90 Come up there to me, he said, and he said, out of all the guys that deliver here, I think you’re the only one that has backed in on the first try, you know, my chest couldn’t swallow up, man, I stuck it out. And I was all proud. You know, I said, Yeah, man. And I’ve been driving for a long time. And he helped me hook up and we unloaded and a few hours later, I gotta go back around to the scale. And here he is still middle and Mike, you know, swung the truck around and get on the scale. And I missed the scale and drop the steer tower off the side of it. And so the same operator that had just complimented me as the guy that had to come up there and help me get the truck back, you know. And so it was a humbling experience. And I learned that I’ll take my compliments and I’ll keep my mouth shut. Yeah, don’t poke you just just sit back. And you know, thanks. Crikey.

Jeremy Kellett  18:19

That’s pretty good story, though. Yeah, you know, if you were if we had some other owner operators, or first time owner operators, listening to this, what do you think you would tell them to help them be successful? Some of the things they might need to concentrate on? Sounds like the number one thing is protecting your CPU.

Rusty Wiley  18:38

Yeah, I mean, your CDL is very important. But I think, to do this, and to do it, right, you really have to have a good maintenance strategy. Make sure you’re putting money aside. Because you can’t plan for these things. You know, your truck goes down and costs you $8,000 in the shop. You need a good savings. Oakley, what’s a good amount

Jeremy Kellett  19:03

for the tank to sit and reserve? No. Drip pro

Rusty Wiley  19:07

guy was telling me a guy once told me he said $20,000 to rebuild your motor. That’s where you need to start. And so what’s that was years ago, I don’t know if you can get there now. But yeah, I think 20,000 and a savings is a good place to start. And then just really be meticulous about your truck. When you buy go through it. If it’s broke, fix it right then. That way you don’t have 10 things on the list. You know, you have one thing go out, you stop and you fix it Montreux kids more than I get. If anything wrong on it, I change instantly. So I actually had a care bag leak in last week and starting ball to you know, just so you’ve been preparing, I figured it that and busted the other one design made and went ahead and replaced both. Yeah,

Jeremy Kellett  19:58

that’s nice. You’re that you’re able to do that to mean that you make enough money that you’re able to do. Yeah, don’t pre made. Yeah, you know, fixed up before it happened.

Rusty Wiley  20:10

Absolutely. And you know, the truck is what’s making the money. Hey, without that none of us gonna get paid. Yeah, so his truck first.

Jeremy Kellett  20:21

Yeah, that’s good man. Got more questions, we’ll wrap it up here. Something, you know, I put this on there? And I don’t know, but if you want to answer it or not, but what are some misconceptions that the general public have about truck drivers that you would like to clarify? You know, as well that do the general public out there doesn’t really have a clue about trucks and truck drivers and how difficult it can be.

Rusty Wiley  20:49

I think, though, that I guess the the most common misconception is that we’re all uneducated. You know, it’s people think that you went and started driving trucks because you couldn’t do nothing else when one times out of 10 That’s not the case. You know, I know a lot of very successful people college degrees, you know, they drive trucks, and most of them do it for the money. You know, I’ve got a lot of friends that are college graduates that I know I bank more than they do, being an owner operator. So it falls into that has just, you know, misconceptions that you’re uneducated and you don’t make no money. That’s a good one. But yeah, leave that would be what it

Jeremy Kellett  21:34

is. I believe that’s a real good one because that that is what a lot of the general public probably think you know, it’s weird that you that they think that because when or so somebody’s touched by truck driver all the time in any family just about know somebody that’s a truck truck driver. He’s got horribly so many. It’s a huge industry is a huge industry. So that’s good, man. It’s real good. And I was gonna ask you about trucking has been good to you financially, but I think we pretty much covered that he seemed he was able to start another business, you’re able to operate a 21 Peterbilt. I mean, I’m assuming the kids are taking care of

Rusty Wiley  22:18

you know what I say truck first, but I think he’s now the boys and girls and two boys and a girl in you know, of course they boys are baseball all day long every day and then a little girls competitive cheer so

Jeremy Kellett  22:33

they get Mama is busy woman. Bees and they’re all not graduated yet. I

Rusty Wiley  22:40

don’t know. My oldest was a sophomore.

Jeremy Kellett  22:43

Okay, so, yeah. Fixing the vehicle.

Rusty Wiley  22:47

Oh, he’s already got well, I say he’s got a vehicle. He’s actually got a 2004 z 71. But I find he drives a 21 king reach more than he does really though. For his

Jeremy Kellett  22:57

dad and not home. Yeah. See. That’s how it works.

Rusty Wiley  23:01

That’s how it works. But you know what I’m okay with. And I said, we’re at the end of the day and pay you for the truck. And it just says there. So let me let him drive it.

Jeremy Kellett  23:09

I appreciate you sitting down with me. Yes. You’d like to add?

Rusty Wiley  23:13

Yeah, no, I don’t think so.

Jeremy Kellett  23:16

You know, it’s, it’s just good to hear the story like you have started right out of high school. I think it’s unique to be in that team. And married and you are for 16 Yeah. Not mean that that you guys are gonna be one of those couples that have those long year anniversary, 60s and 70s. And

Rusty Wiley  23:41

absolutely 100% I couldn’t see that. That’s being without her. She takes care of

Jeremy Kellett  23:48

me, Elizabeth. We were 23 Maybe 25. So we still, you know, we might we might get oh, Mike pretty good. 28 years, Mike.

Rusty Wiley  24:00

Yeah. Actually, my trucking help put her through college. So she Oh, yeah. She

Jeremy Kellett  24:05

go to college? Yeah.

Rusty Wiley  24:06

She went to college at you. Yeah. And she’s up. She’s no are you? Oh, nice and working at it as a labor and delivery nurse for 10 years and

Jeremy Kellett  24:15

she’s a nurse and got those three kids. She’s handling all this?

Rusty Wiley  24:19

And she’s got me to say yes.

Jeremy Kellett  24:23

That’s what our wives. Yeah. Well, I appreciate you roasting. out this though. Hey, thanks, everybody, for listening to the quick podcast. I appreciate you guys every week. And once again, I will bring some new stuff. We appreciate it. Talk to you next week. Thanks for listening to this episode of the Oakley podcast: trucking, business, and family. If you enjoyed this episode, be sure to rate or review the show on the podcast platform of your choice and share it with a friend. We love hearing from our audience, so if you’ve got a question, comment, or just want to say hello, head over to our website, theoakleypodcast.com, and click the “leave a comment” button. We’ll get you a response soon and may even share some of the best ones here on the show. We’ll be back with a fresh episode very soon. Thanks for listening.