Expediter of the Year Finalist Spotlight: Frank & Stephanie Rebelo
Editor's Note: Expedite Expo 2019, which runs July 19 and 20 at the Allen County War Memorial Coliseum in Ft. Wayne, Indiana, is the only trade show in the world geared exclusively to the expedited trucking industry. And this year's show will feature the announcement of the winner of the Expediter of the Year award, which will be presented to one of these three finalists: Vanessa Schroeder, Lisa Morway, and Frank & Stephanie Rebelo.
The purpose of this award is to recognize those hard-working, professional and safety-conscious expediters on the road today who strive to make the expedite industry better and are deeply involved in serving and making a positive impact on their community.
So, who will win this year's award? Find out on Saturday, July 20, at 2:30 pm in the Expo hall.
Registration for the entire conference is free. Secure your spot today at https://www.expediteexpo.com/.
In the meantime, let's get to know each of the finalists. Today's spotlight is on Frank & Stephanie Rebelo.
One of Frank and Stephanie Rebelo's nominators is David Mayfield, owner of Mayfield Express LLC, who says, "Frank and Stephanie talk about the do's and don'ts of expediting [on their Youtube channel]. They do a lot of good for their community and the Girl Scouts of America. They are always trying to help drivers connect with owners. And they go out of their way to help owners find drivers for their trucks. I feel that Frank and Stephanie do an outstanding job representing the expedite community."
You know the Rebelos as "The Trucking Couple" on Youtube, where they're making a significant impact on the industry-by creating and sharing videos about all the real-world lessons they're learning about the expedite business and lifestyle out on the road.
Before getting into expediting in 2015, Frank was a long-time professional club DJ, and Stephanie was a bartender.
So, what led the Rebelos to make the switch to expedited trucking? And what advice do they have for other expediters?
EO recently caught up with Frank and Stephanie to learn more about their story. Here is an edited version of our conversation.
EO: Why did you leave the DJ business after nearly three decades?
Frank Rebelo: I started as a DJ in 1986 when I was 19, working night clubs in Vegas. And then I was 45 years old, and I started thinking, "Okay. There are all these young kids getting into the DJ game who have no responsibilities. They don't have any mortgages. They don't have rent. They don't have any real expenses. And they're getting into this game where the music is basically free, not like when we used to have to pay for it.
So, they were able to undercut me. And a lot of accountants and pencil pushers don't care about how a person can manipulate the room, or how they're able to make a 20-percent change in revenue in a room by what music they choose to play. All they see is, "Why are we paying this guy so much?"
I had gotten to a point in the business where I was making a really good income, but I could see that was going to be in jeopardy.
I started planning an exit strategy. I had a friend of mine that had his own authority hauling cars. So, I used my resources from DJ'ing to get a truck and trailer to run hotshot.
EO: How long did you run hotshot?
FR: I did that for a couple of years, until after Stephanie's son graduated.
At the time, Stephanie was still bartending in Las Vegas, which was a good income, but she'd been doing it a long time and was getting tired of it.
I asked her, "What do you think about coming to drive this-to do this stuff with me?" And she joined me.
EO: So, how did you and Stephanie go from hotshot to expedited trucking?
FR: When we were running hotshot, we were staying in hotels. And not only does that eat up your time to get out of the truck, get registered, get into the hotel, get ready, go to sleep, get up the next morning, and load the truck back up, but it also eats into your profitability a lot.
And I'm thinking, "Okay. This is not fitting me at all. We've got a successful business. We're doing close to half a million dollars a year in revenue. But it was a hard grind.
At the same time, we kept seeing these FedEx Custom Critical trucks on the road and were curious what these trucks were about.
So, I started researching. And you know how when you're trying to research something, you don't find it instantly? You've got to click on some links, which take you to other links and down the rabbit hole you go until you finally find what you're looking for.
Well, I ended up on ExpeditersOnline.
EO: What happened when you got to EO?
FR: We realized that although we had the resources to buy our own truck, there was a lot we didn't know about the expedite business. I didn't want to make that kind of investment in a truck without knowing what we were really getting into. I'd rather do it on somebody else's dime.
So, I made a post on ExpeditersOnline, saying, "Hi. My wife and I are Class A CDL holders with our air brake endorsement. Our son is graduated. We have a gypsy soul. We really don't need to go home. I can buy a truck and start this, but I don't think I should. I think that I should go to work for somebody."
EO: What was the response?
FR: The next morning, I woke up to about 200 emails.
One of those messages was from Patrick Lee [with Hyfield Trucking].
Patrick has a background in sound (as a former freelance sound and video production technician), and I was a former DJ. So, we had a lot in common, and it just seemed like a good fit.
During my conversation with Patrick, I kind of made a decision. I told Stephanie what was going on. We kept talking about it. And then we were at the Petro in West Memphis, Arkansas, where we saw a FedEx Custom Critical truck.
When I saw a couple getting into the truck, I talked to them, telling them about my wife and me. They invited Stephanie in to take a look at their truck.
And when she got in the truck and was able to stretch out her legs, and they were cooking a meal in a slow cooker in the sink, Stephanie is like, "I think I could do this. Let's see if we can get into it."
So, we applied [to drive for Hyfield Trucking].
Stephanie said, "I'll give it 90 days."
But about two weeks of driving that truck and being able to stretch out her legs and go to sleep in the truck, and all that other stuff, she goes, "You're never getting me out of this truck."
EO: What advice do you have for other expediters-whether they're considering getting into the industry, or perhaps they've been in the industry but are struggling right now?
FR: Because of the videos we put on Youtube, we get asked a lot of questions.
How you get into expediting? How much money can you expect to make? How do you talk to a dispatcher? What do you not say? How long do you have to stay out on the road? Just about every little nook and cranny about expediting we've been putting into these videos.
And the most common piece of advice I tell them is this: "FOMO (fear of missing out) is your worst enemy. Be patient. Wait. Let everybody else take all the other crap loads. And then the cream rises to the top when you take the good loads.
Let me give you an example. I'm sitting and waiting to pick up a load. It's a load that will pay really, really well, right? But when I get to the shipper, the load cancels. Now I've lost all those days that I was waiting, which could have been two to three days sometimes.
A lot of people would be like, "Well, let me make the best of it and take this $1,500 load when I just lost a $6,000 load."
But I'm not like that. I'm going to sit there and wait until the load that fits what I do comes along. I'm not going to change my game because I just got dealt a bad hand. Patience has paid off for us time and time again.