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Small Fleet recap: Can owner-operators make more money giving up big rigs?

Transitioning from Class 8 trucks to smaller vehicles like sprinter vans can be the right move for some drivers, says uShip CEO

uShip CEO Kris Lamb, right, with FreightWaves CTO Daniel Pickett.

This fireside chat recap is from FreightWaves’ Small Fleet & Owner-Operator Summit on Wednesday.

FIRESIDE CHAT TOPIC: Should owner-operators downsize in this market?

DETAILS: With the spot rates falling as fuel costs soar in recent months, many independent owner-operators are under pressure. One industry executive thinks they should consider swapping their Class 8 trucks for something smaller. 

SPEAKERS: Kris Lamb, uShip’s CEO, and Daniel Pickett, FreightWaves’ chief technology officer. 

BIO: Lamb has been uShip’s CEO since 2019. He joined the online freight marketplace as chief technology officer in 2017. For more than 20 years, Lamb has held leadership roles in engineering, product management, enterprise software, security and mobility at public and private companies focused on disruptive technology.

Watch uShip’s CEO make his case for downsizing from Class 8 trucks


“It means getting rid of your big rig and going into sprinter vans, box trucks or pickups with enclosed trailers. You can cut your expenses and your sunk costs by about half once you do the equipment transition, and you reduce your exposure as the market is shifting.” 

“Moving to a Ford Transit van, is it as sexy and as interesting as driving a Class 8 big rig? Maybe not for some people, but I can tell you, what is sexy is taking your expenses from $1.50 a mile on average … and dropping that to 75 cents per mile, sleeping in your own bed, not having to deal with parking and having more flexibility with how you schedule and when you’re on the road and when you’re off the road.”

“In some cases, some of our really highly engaged and operationalized carriers that have made the transition, they’re actually making more than when they worked truckload.”

Nate Tabak

Nate Tabak is a Toronto-based journalist and producer who covers cybersecurity and cross-border trucking and logistics for FreightWaves. He spent seven years reporting stories in the Balkans and Eastern Europe as a reporter, producer and editor based in Kosovo. He previously worked at newspapers in the San Francisco Bay Area, including the San Jose Mercury News. He graduated from UC Berkeley, where he studied the history of American policing. Contact Nate at [email protected]