WARDNER, MN — In 2010, Randy Becker decided to take his trucking background and add it to his newly established farming operation.
While shopping for a truck, he found a 1985 Mack Superliner.
“When we bought it, it had been sitting in the shed for almost 15 years,” says Randy Becker.
It was largely disassembled – no seats in the cab, no glass on the windshield, no lights – but he was able to drive it.
He bought it for more than $7,000, painted it from white to red, and was “happy to put the puzzle together.”
More than a decade later, Becker says, as Becker Transportation has grown into a regional freight company, 85 Mack is still hard at work moving goods such as agricultural machinery, construction equipment, gravel and grain across from its northern large operation. Upper Midwest. – Central Minnesota.
Becker Transport is now a full-time job for Randy’s wife, Jodi, handling office matters such as scheduling, permits, insurance and payroll.
The payroll has grown significantly as the company now has around 12 employees, most of them full-time, but also some part-time and seasonal help.
The company has up to seven trucks, in addition to a used car, a bulldozer and backhoe for dirt work and digging, a road grader and work on country roads, and even has its own gravel pit. .
But still running is the ’85 Mack.
“I’m pretty much the only one driving it. It’s the oldest in the fleet,” Becker said. “I kind of prefer it.”
Becker Transportation regularly ships to the Dakotas, down to Iowa, and east to Illinois, sometimes delivering farm machinery for dealers. Drivers are usually home every night, but don’t finish the job until the truck is washed.
Beckers often uses high school or college students to wash trucks so drivers can go home. Becker’s daughter, Lauren, 14, is on a car wash now, and their son Luke, 8, will help polish the truck.
Part of the initial motivation for buying a semi-tractor was to pull the grain yourself, Randy said. In 2010, the Beckers were transitioning from a farm in Wright County, west of the Twin Cities, into Wardner County. For a while, they farmed in both places, about 125 miles apart. Randy is still shipping for other companies in the Twin Cities area.
But 2010 was also the year tornadoes hit the town of Vardner. Also damaged are fertilizer plants. As part of the cleanup, Becker Transportation was hired to transport fertilizer between Vardner and another fertilizer plant at the nearby New York Mills.
“It’s the beginning of things,” said Randy Becker, hauling several loads a day.
At the end of his odd job hauling fertilizer in 2011, he got his first call from another farmer, Larry Rach of Verndale, who needed to haul oats.
“To this day, we’re still hauling his rations,” Randy Becker said, adding that he didn’t change his rate to Rach as a thank you for helping the business grow.
“Building a customer base takes time,” says Jodi Becker, who grew up in the Vardner area.
Rach, 75, describes himself as a small farmer and appreciates that Becker Transport will continue to drag on businesses that some may find too small to handle.
“He said, ‘I’ll keep shipping your stuff into town, so don’t worry,'” Rahle said of Randy. And Rah would not have it any other way.
“He keeps his truck spotless and I’m almost proud of having him haul my stuff around town because it looks so pretty,” Rach said.
Randy comes from a farm family in Wright County that has been delivering milk for decades. But as the dairy industry declined, he started driving trucks in the construction industry at the age of 18.
He said their business was modeled after the one he worked for, run by Dale and Marlene Scherber. The family ran a dairy farm and hauled sand and gravel with seven trucks.
“When you work for them, they treat you like your extended family,” Randy said.
“You’re not just a number,” Jody added.
“So I kind of like working for the family business,” Randy said.
“At the end of the day, I think you’re better off being smaller; you develop more personal relationships with the people who work with you and your family.”
Beckers does not engage in dairy farming, but owns approximately 900 acres of farmland. Rather than operating on the fringes of a booming metro area, Beckers operates in a very remote area. There are approximately 14,000 people in Wardner County.
Randy Becker said they still have the attitude of not being able to turn down a job.
Another motivation for building his own trucking business, Randy said, was based on the advice of a financial advisor who witnessed farm families struggling during the farm crisis of the 1980s.
“He said, ‘Diversification is the name of the game,'” Randy said, which also means it’s not just farming trucking, grain shipping is actually a small part of their business now.
He said they have 11 different trailers, but one goal is to grow and update the trailer fleet to give them more options to continue trucking.
“The motivation to get up every day to do it, it’s not hard at all. If you enjoy doing what you’re doing, it’s not a job,” Randy said. “I never intended to retire unless I stopped having fun, but I never saw that happen.”
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