Dry Van Owner Operators and How To Become One

Published on
June 22, 2022
min read

Within the trucking industry, there are several different freight niches that you can explore as an owner operator. One of the most popular options is hauling dry van freight commodities. Let’s go over some of the reasons this niche brings in new owner operators every day and if it might be a good fit for you.

What Does It Mean to be a Dry Van Owner Operator?

Being a dry van owner operator in the trucking industry simply means that you haul dry van commodities. A lot of the freight that dry van owner operators haul are products you might find at your local retail businesses. Things such as non-perishable foods, clothes, smaller building materials, furniture, household goods, and many other commodities.

Different Types of Dry Vans and Their Purpose

While all dry van owner operators will be classified by the type of freight they haul there are different types of equipment you can use to haul it. With 18 different freight classes that are numbered from 50 to 500 finding dry freight to haul gives you a broad range of opportunities.

If you’re curious about some of the different classes and how they vary the FedEx website has a great breakdown of how they classify the different types of dry freight. The main thing to remember is that the lower the number the less specific it is and the lower the rate it will be to haul.

Let’s talk about the equipment you need to be a day freight owner operator.

  • What most people picture when they think of dry freight haulers is a large semi pulling a full-size, 53-foot enclosed trailer. These are a staple on every highway. With the ability to get a lot of freight from one spot to the next it makes it a great option for large businesses to ship their products from warehouses to stores. These trailers can carry up to 45,000 pounds of freight.
  • A step down from the full-size option would be to pull a 48-foot trailer. These would help a bit with your fuel efficiency and can still carry around 43,000 pounds of freight.
  • Another step down is the 28-foot trailers that can carry up to 22,500 pounds of freight. These are often known as “wiggle-wagons” as many carriers will pull two of these at a time behind a large tractor.
  • In some large cities, dry freight owner operators prefer to buy a box truck to make their deliveries. These work better to maneuver in tight spaces that might not have designated unloading/loading areas. This equipment option would also come with lower fuel costs and you would work with more small businesses that you could build strong relationships with.
  • Drop and Hook trailers are another option an owner operator could take advantage of when hauling dry freight goods. This would save you time and money as instead of sitting and waiting to be loaded or unloaded you would simply come in and pick up a trailer that is already loaded with goods and ready to be taken to the next spot.

The one common denominator between all of the different types of dry freight equipment is that they must be enclosed. As the name states, no matter what products you might be hauling they need to arrive at their destination safe and “dry”. Having an enclosed trailer keeps products out of any kind of weather perils they might incur from point A to point B.

What are the Advantages of Operating a Dry Van?

Dry Van Owner Operators have a lot of advantages over some of the other niches in the trucking industry.

  • An Endless Supply of Products - No matter where you go you can look around and see dry freight commodities. This means you won’t have to just take a load because it’s the only one available. There are always dry freight products that need to be transported.
  • Lower Insurance Rates - Since dry van freight is not as specialized as say flatbed or refrigerated goods if you have taken care of your business and have a solid CSA score when you haul dry freight you can get great insurance rates. Many companies prefer to write businesses that haul dry freight since there are fewer things that can go wrong with loads and the driver isn’t typically in charge of any loading or unloading. This reduces claims and provides a great win for dry van owner operators.
  • Can Work Anywhere - Even though there are some regions that might have better pay or dry freight that maybe you prefer to haul more than others, you can haul dry freight anywhere in the country. It isn’t limited to one area which gives you more freedom of where you might want to live and work.

How Much Does a Dry Van Owner Operator Make?

Dry Van Owner Operators have the ability to make really good money in the trucking industry. With a constant supply of freight, lower insurance rates, and less overall risk it really puts you in the driver’s seat of what you can make.

With a very large average annual salary going from $134,550-$353,600 the end numbers will completely rely on you. The more days you spend in the truck and how efficiently you use your time while you’re out there will determine where you can fall in this range.

The West and the Midwest are some of the best-paying regions. These are also areas where the cost of living and fuel prices are typically lower so you are able to stretch your dollars further. Some of the top states for hauling dry freight are South Carolina, Ohio, Kentucky, Kansas, and Missouri.

As in any branch of the trucking industry in order to make the best rates, you need to make sure you keep your business in good standing with the FMCSA, pass any DOT inspections, and keep your equipment in good shape with regular maintenance and proper care.

No matter where you are in your Owner-Operator journey, using tools to make your life easier isn’t just practical, it reduces stress and enables you to spend time where it matters most. Truckbase has built a lightweight system that can help you by reducing your office time up to 5 hours each week. Schedule a demo today and find out why so many truckers are moving to Truckbase.

Schedule your demo today to understand how Truckbase can help.

Get a free demo

You’re ready to take the next step to growing your fleet. Transform your back office today.

Schedule a demo today to see how Truckbase can help you run your back office, so that you can expand your company.