Cory Molzahn – The Beauty Of Chance
Along the east side of the Mississippi River is a city known for historical architecture throughout its downtown area and the wondrous sights of the river, courtesy of their Riverside Park -La Crosse, Wisconsin.
With the early advantage of transportation lanes being the Mississippi River and the connecting railroads between neighboring states, La Crosse expanded development through the lumber and brewing industry and continues its growth as one of the state’s largest cities. As tourists crowd the business district yearround, their popular specialty shops offer a deep glimpse into the city’s culture.
Cory Molzahn is all too familiar with the busy city scene, as he was born and raised in La Crosse, though his upbringing paints a more casual and relaxed surrounding. A few of his earliest childhood memories involve a shade tree to keep cool and several hand tools; just he and his father working together to repair their latest Chevy. Stating, “I had to be as young as four, I remember kneeling down in the dirt, as my dad pointed at a wrench and I’d hand it to him. The two of us would carry on like that for hours, underneath a shade tree.”
His father worked full-time as a letter carrier, but it was his mechanical work that impacted Cory’s future. While shadowing his mentor, growing up turning wrenches on bikes, and then on cars, as an adult Cory leveraged those skills to establish a long-term career. Adding, “I have always thought about driving a truck for a living, way before I ventured into the business. I’m a self-starter, plus I figured the lifestyle would be aperfect fit for me, because of the independence the job offers. So, the idea of a life on the road intrigued me, even back then as a kid, but it never seemed like the right time to go for it. You can’t just jump into this type of work, you have to commit! When the opportunity presented itself, I went all in.”
An entrepreneur by heart with a background in sales, as a prior business owner the career change into the seat of a big rig -traveling from state to state- Cory anticipated the training, as well as the challenges. Considering the ideal perception, he had envisioned since he was a young boy, truck drivers are the warriors of the road; the knights at night; our heroes protecting the highways. With that given respect for truckers, he pursued trucking with a sense of passion and purpose. His thoughts were: to maneuver such an immense amount of weight in
a truck pulling a loaded trailer had to be at the hands of a highly-trained individual. He, himself was ready to invest both the time and money to earn his place among those
Cory initially started with a trucking company as a lease purchase driver. The experience immediately surprised him with mixed judgement. He says, “The whole beginning process opened my eyes to situations that I wasn’t quite expecting, as far as the training and how quick trucking companies are to allow drivers access on the public roads in these 80,000-pound trucks. Three months in and the writing on the wall became clear. I decided to switch to running as a company driver and realized that I was able to make more money that way. But coming into this industry as a business owner, I knew that I wouldn’t be satisfied until I reached my personal goal of owning my own rig.” The following year and a half, Cory studied the business while building his investment that he needed to move forward.
The early learning curves ultimately improved his performance, in good faith he wishes to share with our readers a few tips in hopes that another driver may avoid any dilemmas that he faced.
-Do your research on the company. Read reviews, social media statements, then judge for yourself. Is there more positive or negative feedback?
-Speak with truck drivers that do business with that company. Why did they choose them? How are they treated?
-Check out their equipment. Are their trucks in good shape?
-Go to the company! Talk to the staff. Do they treat people with respect, including office personnel? What kind of environment are they providing for their drivers? Discuss their driver turnover.
This past April, Cory celebrated his 7th year as a contractor with CRST Malone; a major flatbed carrier based out of Birmingham, Alabama. The weekend before his orientation
in 2011, he purchased a 1997 Peterbilt 379 and joined their nationwide fleet of 1,400 owner operators. Drawing upon his areas of expertise in mechanics, over the years he continues to modify the truck to his liking. With painted royal blue and white exterior, the option to switch from running his mandatory lights to matching blue and white lights add to the truck’s creative design and night-time appeal. Not labeling his truck a show truck, the attention it receives is very similar to the adoration and great respect Cory experiences from his office staff.
“I consider myself a very average person. I’m punctual for work, I pick up freight and deliver on time, and put in the work. The amount of attention thrown at me lately isn’t something I’m accustomed to. I’ve always flown under the radar. But my truck is an older truck, I’ve built it over time and I take pride in it. I wouldn’t trade it for a new truck if someone offered me one. The way I see it, as truck drivers we live on the road and the truck is our home. Don’t you want a nice home to live in?”
During Driver Appreciation Days, Cory has been asked to showcase his truck for the events and attend various truck shows with his truck on display. Representing CRST Malone in his truck is validation as an owner operator; when a professional truck driver works hard, they can look forward to his level of success. CRST Malone not only acknowledge Cory’s truck, in speaking with Chris Gonzalez, Director of Capacity Development, he adds,
“Cory understands his business and how that business fits into the Malone model. He does not ask what is being done for him, but instead produces and makes his earnings. He takes great care of his equipment and truly represents himself through his appearance and that of his equipment. Every contractor at Malone holds a place in my heart as they are part of our work family. If it isn’t about the conversations about freight lanes, equipment modifications or which freight is preferred to run, we can discuss anything under the sun. We are here to support our contractors run their business and in turn, we make some great friends along the way.
Cory is the image of the ideal contractor. He is hard working, old school and business-minded.”
Six years ago, Cory relocated to Indiana from Wisconsin. As most of his immediate family moved out of state, as well, except in a separate direction; venturing down south to enjoy retired life in the sunny state of Florida. Until it is his turn to join them, Cory runs a dedicated route from Iowa to Chicago transporting steel coils and other heavy loads.
With experience predominantly in flatbedding and refrigerated freight, Cory adheres to three simple rules that he says has made success attainable. Get up early, go to work, and keep the left door shut. – “Then dedicate yourself to those standards and your trucking business will thrive. It all requires a strong work ethic and dedication is key.” The life of a truck driver is not for the weary. Starting a business within an industry unyielding with change, notorious for the amount of pressure on relationships, and seemingly loosing respect as generations evolve -running as an owner operator is a reward in itself.
Cory states that CRST Malone is unlike most companies for several reasons, which is why he enjoys working with his staff at-hand. “The freight is good, and the people are great! Here at Malone, we’re all either lease purchase drivers or owner operators. So, we’re basically our own boss, but it’s the platform they provide for us to excel that sets them apart from other companies. My team, from dispatch to management, they understand how I do things and are willing to adjust to my way. That doesn’t happen just anywhere, and it definitely doesn’t go unnoticed. I appreciate them! It’s a mutual respect. That alone makes our job less stressful as drivers. When I call Ron Maynard, my Director of Operations out of Eldridge, Iowa, he is extremely helpful in every way possible. Everyone here is on the same page, they know that we’re in this together.”
Cory’s innate sense of awareness and ability to continuously improve has given him an advantage, as a truck driver and business owner. One can never receive enough knowledge or advice. Aside from truck driving school and additional training, there is an entirely separate level of preparation that few discuss about life on the road. The regulatory standards have become expected while many embrace the long hours of solitude, it’s the pure experience of physically living on the road that produce the learning lessons that cannot be taught.
He says that the biggest influence to-date, as for his career has been received indirectly through an XM radio channel that aired segments speaking to and with professional truck drivers to help them better understand the business side of trucking: financial planning, fuel mileage and discount programs, taxes, etc. “There are topics overlooked in orientation that you simply have to learn on your own and you must be willing to pay attention to those moments. The one thing that has impacted my journey the most has been the learning process. Remember, you never know enough. In doing this job almost every day, I continue to grow from what I see and who I talk to… every day. Keep learning,
keep growing,” he said.
Maggie, Cory’s 11-year old Border Collie started the adventure of riding with him from day one. They have checked their map and she has officially visited every state. Though he doesn’t travel out west anymore, the scenic views throughout the different seasons always caught his eye. He also enjoys the opportunity to meet new people and building relationships with other truck drivers.
Cory took a chance and went out on a limb from what started as a mere interest fueled by years of curiosity, ultimately proving that risks are often worth taking. CRST Malone choose to highlight great drivers, such as Cory, as a reminder that there are several men and women in trucking that continue to uphold the core values our industry represents: respect, honesty, and being of service to others. Cory’s mission is to help keep the strong brotherhood among our trucking community alive.
“Growing up I always admired truck drivers for their toughness, to be unafraid. They embodied poise and professionalism for the job. The sheer image of a truck driver meant you were looking at someone who was a hard worker, a friend, and a person that would lend a hand… and most of the time they were a complete
stranger. That was the beauty of it.”