From 2 Trucks to 60: This Bulk Trucking Company is Buying Out The Competition

(Click the PLAY button to begin listening)

(subscribe to our Spotify or Apple Podcasts channel now and receive notifications to hear our weekly podcast on your phone)

Listen in Spotify    Listen in Apple Podcasts
Jared Flinn [00:00:18]: You're listening to the bulk load podcast. Your number one resource for everything bold freight trucking. Jared Flinn [00:00:28]: Hey, guys. Jared Flynn with the Bulk Loads podcast. Got Tyler in here. Tyler Allison [00:00:32]: What's going on? Jared Flinn [00:00:33]: Gonna be a good podcast. This is one that, I'm sure our audience is like, man, Jared says that all the time. Tyler Allison [00:00:40]: Hey. This one is 10 x. This is an example of a trucking company going 10 x. Yeah. Jared Flinn [00:00:44]: I don't see why someone would not wanna listen to this. Like, I was intrigued just to know, because I knew that they'd been making these acquisitions, Michael Tillman. And but how did they do that? And you just it's not very common in our industry to see companies going out and making purchases of other comp you know? You see, sometimes with the mega fleets maybe, you know, buying, you know, another big outfit, but you don't see it in the bulk space. So Yeah. I think this is gonna be a really cool one for you all to listen in too close and kinda see how this happened and why they did it. But before we get started, we always want to feature a truck photo, this week. Man, this is gonna be a is that a spring photo? Tyler Allison [00:01:27]: Yeah. It it looks really cool. Like, it's, Michael Tilmon [00:01:29]: I guess, Tyler Allison [00:01:29]: in the morning. Jared Flinn [00:01:30]: Yeah. Where you all are, but, man, it's it's warm here in Missouri, and it looks like it's gonna be warm. But, yeah, this is a a photo from Grover Farms Trucking, which if you'd saw some of our our previous podcast, I had Rob Grover on. But this is a photo that they'd sent to us that, man, just a really cool one shows the sunset or maybe sunrise. Tyler Allison [00:01:50]: Yeah. Either or, it's really cool. It's really pretty sky too in the background. Jared Flinn [00:01:54]: Yeah. So thank you, Rob, for letting us share this 1 on our podcast. If you have a photo, simply email it to podcast at Just click right on your phone and send it over to us, man. We would love to feature that on the show, even potentially put it in our upcoming calendar for 2025. Yep. Tyler Allison [00:02:10]: If you if you send it to us, we will definitely feature it on the show. We'll just, put it in the lineup, and we'll feature it on our episode. And we will let you know whenever we share on the episode so you can go watch it and see your truck. Jared Flinn [00:02:21]: Yeah. Last thing before we get started with Michael Tillman, I was just, 2 weeks ago at the farm show, the National Farm Machinery Show in Louisville, Kentucky. Like, I found my new favorite place on Earth. Like, this place was a Disney World for farmers. Tyler Allison [00:02:38]: I know. I could tell you were texting me the whole time. Like, dude, this place is awesome. Jared Flinn [00:02:42]: Yeah. And, I'm sure maybe if you all have been there before, obviously, we have a a a lot of farmers that are also members on bulk loads. I ran into several of them out there, a lot of trailer manufacturers. But, man, dude, if you ever get a chance, it just happened, but next year, we're gonna look into actually getting a booth set up Michael Tilmon [00:02:59]: out there. Tyler Allison [00:03:00]: We wanna be there. Jared Flinn [00:03:00]: And maybe even swoop or, swapping with bats and doing the farm show. We just man, it was, cool showing. Man, I I was like a kid in a candy store, man. I had all this equipment out there, lot of technology. My boys, I took them along with me, and they loved it. They actually we were there, Thursday, Friday, and they asked if we could stay Saturday as well. But it was awesome. But I wanted to say that. Jared Flinn [00:03:22]: But, actually, they used to be members on our side. Actually, I think one of the family members still is, the Logan Bell family. But they were there giving out these energy drinks, Coltrane Energy, and they have, several different brands. This is the biodiesel, which is the sugar free one that I like. But I don't know if you've ever checked these out, but you drank 1 Yeah. Tyler Allison [00:03:41]: Yeah. We I drank 1 yesterday. I think they're Michael Tilmon [00:03:43]: pretty good. Tyler Allison [00:03:45]: Yeah. I do. I'm I like energy drinks probably a little bit too much. I probably need to slow down on them. But, yeah, I think they're really good, and it's cool just to know that you're supporting, a trucking family. That's what I love about it. That's Jared Flinn [00:04:06]: though. So I know a lot of our truckers again, I'm not you know, drink responsibly when it comes to energy drinks. You know, make sure that you're healthy enough to do that. But, this one, it's, like, become my new favorite drink. So you'll probably see this on the podcast more Yeah. In upcoming shows. And, maybe I'll try to get them on the show as well just to talk about this. Tyler Allison [00:04:23]: Really cool. Jared Flinn [00:04:23]: But, yeah, what better way to support, actually, other people in the trucking industry that have come out with this? But, yeah, check out. It's called Coltrane Energy. This is the biodiesel one, but they have, I think, 3 different flavors. And they're all kinda cool. They have one. I think it's red diesel. I think can't think of Yeah. Tyler Allison [00:04:39]: They're all kinda named, like, agriculture truckers. Jared Flinn [00:04:41]: So Yeah. I wanna just kinda mention Tyler Allison [00:04:43]: And we don't we don't get paid for any of this, but we're gonna go ahead and drop the link down in the show notes just so you can go click on their website. And if you would like to make a purchase there, again, we don't get any money or commission or anything. But, just so you can check it out, we're gonna go ahead and drop the link in the notes. Yep. Absolutely. Jared Flinn [00:04:58]: So cool. With that said, here is my conversation with Michael Tillman of Tillman Brothers Logistics. Michael, thanks for coming on. Michael Tilmon [00:05:08]: Thanks for having me. Jared Flinn [00:05:09]: Thanks for actually making the drive 3 and a half hours over here to Springfield. Michael Tilmon [00:05:12]: Yeah. Jared Flinn [00:05:12]: I appreciate. So well, I wanna get started, and we I always like to set the stage first, but just to get a little bit of history about your all's company. You had you guys have a lot going on, and, hopefully, we can unpack most of that. I mean, just your growth, and I think that's where we really wanna talk about the growth of Tillman Brothers Logistics, bulk logistics. But take us back to Tillman and talk about the beginnings. And you guys still farm. Right? Michael Tilmon [00:05:40]: Yeah. We, if you'd call it that, we've got a, we farm, I guess, call it our family farm, you know, right there where our where our shop is. We got about 60 acres that we still farm, more of a hobby, I guess. Jared Flinn [00:05:55]: And you guys are in Southeast Missouri, Boerne, Missouri. Yeah. So kinda down there in the in the boot heel Michael Tilmon [00:06:01]: a little bit. Right? Jared Flinn [00:06:02]: Yeah. Awesome. Well, talk about kind of getting into trucking. How did that start? Michael Tilmon [00:06:09]: Well, back in the early nineties, I guess, my dad actually got into the truck, and he he would had a repair shop and had a friend of his talking into buying a truck and was doing van and reefer stuff. And done that through the till the late nineties. Fuel hit a dollar 50 and made made times tough and decided to get out. And, so then later early 2000, we started he started and my grandpa started farming a little more. I mean, not a lot, but it's had 200, 300 acres. It's still just kind of more my grandpa have something to do. And we kept having an issue of never being able to get trucks when harvest time, especially with rice. We had we grew a little rice, and you could not get rice hauled, during harvest. Michael Tilmon [00:07:10]: So we, decided we was gonna try to get our own truck just mostly to haul our own grain. And so that was in 2008, I believe. It was right before I graduated. High school. We bought a truck and a trailer and with the intentions of just hauling for ourself. Well, I was actually working. We still had a repair shop working on semis, and I was working on out of high school, school, I started working on cars and trucks. And wintertime, things kinda got slow, so I started asking around. Michael Tilmon [00:07:54]: We we just kinda end with MFA. We got a big MFA there in Boerne. And they had some grain to haul. And I said, well, hey, you know, could I haul grain through the winter to help, kinda make ends of having this truck? You know? Yeah. So we started it helped. We were slowing the shop, so I would haul haul grain through the winter. And, it's kinda how it got started, and it just kept getting busier. You know, they would give me a little more grain. Michael Tilmon [00:08:22]: Well, then they started, hey. You wanna haul some fertilizer? So, we started hauling their fertilizer, and just kinda grew from there. We bought a second truck. And then it was just me and my dad driving. And, 2 trucks led to 4 and 4 led to 8. Just kinda kept snowballing. Jared Flinn [00:08:45]: And then as of today and we're gonna go back and dissect this. But, I mean, today, you've you guys have acquired several other trucking companies through the years. How many trucks do you all have on the road? Michael Tilmon [00:08:55]: Right now, we've got, I think, we've got 62 trucks licensed. Jared Flinn [00:08:59]: Yeah. And all of those bulk hauling trucks? Michael Tilmon [00:09:03]: No. No. We've got roughly, probably 15 hoppers, about 25 in dumps. Jared Flinn [00:09:10]: Okay. Michael Tilmon [00:09:11]: And then we got 10 just tandem dump trucks, just freight trucks. And then we've got 10 I think 10 trucks that are dedicated on a local reefer run. Jared Flinn [00:09:23]: Okay. Haul and Michael Tilmon [00:09:24]: ice cream, actually, from plant to plant. Jared Flinn [00:09:27]: Very cool. Michael Tilmon [00:09:28]: So Do Jared Flinn [00:09:28]: you do you all still have the shop as as of today? Michael Tilmon [00:09:31]: No. Well, we do. But it's internal, not a core. It's all we can do to keep up with our own stuff so we don't do any outside work anymore. Jared Flinn [00:09:39]: Nice. Talk about Michael because, I mean, that's explosive growth, and, like, that just doesn't happen naturally. What talk about, like, what led to seeing these opportunities to where you could add more trucks? I know you you did more with MFA, but then even looking at, hey. We can keep scaling this thing up, because, I mean, that's almost that's pretty scary too to do Right. In any market. Michael Tilmon [00:10:03]: I mean, Jared Flinn [00:10:04]: you can you look at today's truck market and the freight market, which in some senses is a little depressed. You know, we have a little bit of recession, and now you're like, man, you don't wanna you you gotta be careful where you're at. But talk about the mindset. Was a lot of that through you or through your dad or together? Michael Tilmon [00:10:22]: Together. He's probably got more of the jump in headfirst. Jared Flinn [00:10:30]: Visionary. Yeah. Michael Tilmon [00:10:32]: I mean, I we can both kinda see the see the big picture, but I guess he's more gutsy when it comes to just pulling the trigger. But it just come with, you know, supply and demand, I guess. You know, you see customers, Hey. We need more trucks. You know, see other customers asking, hey. Can you get us trucks? You know, he hates to say no. So it's like, when the works there, it makes it easy. I mean, there's times where when when the work slows down, it makes it a little more difficult. Michael Tilmon [00:11:06]: But biggest thing is, you know, getting a a name for yourself, you know, a reputation. Yeah. And that helps make the growth easier, I guess. You know? Just like I said, we started out with MFA and then just moved on. We got a we got a a local rice mill just there right outside of town that, there again the relationship started. We worked on their trucks in the shop. Well, they when we started getting a couple of trucks, they said, hey, you know, you ever wanna haul any of this rice or the byproducts, you know, we can try to throw your name out to some of our buyers, and that kinda went from there. Now I think we haul probably 90 percent of the commodity loads that come out of that mill, you know. Michael Tilmon [00:11:57]: Wow. So and there's, you know, there's 1 1 main guy that takes care of that buys all of his brand and, brewer's rice, mostly what we haul. Primarily 1 or 2 guys that buy most of that and got in pretty good with them and make good relationships and just and you get in with that guy. Well, I am also moving freight over here. You know? Yeah. So just snowball effect, I guess. Jared Flinn [00:12:26]: Yeah. Yeah. You perform a good service or you build those relationships, and people keep wanting to use you Michael Tilmon [00:12:31]: Yeah. Jared Flinn [00:12:32]: And and expand that. Hey, guys. I hope you're enjoying this podcast with Michael Tillman. I know it was one of my favorites that I really enjoyed. He's made a lot of acquisitions over the past couple years. And one thing, you have to have cash flow. We've talked about it on our podcast with Jesse Runyonz. And pod and cash flow is key, especially in these times and in this economy. Jared Flinn [00:12:56]: If you are struggling with cash flow, give us a call at Smart Freight Funding. There's a link on our website that says quick pay or go to It's a sister company of ours, but we can help you with all your cash flow needs. You can take that worry off your lap knowing that all your tickets, everything's getting processed and paid the next day. We handle all the back end work. Again, You can contact us at podcast at We'll get you in contact with them. Jared Flinn [00:13:22]: But man, wanna extend that service out to you. We know it's been a blessing for the thousands of users that have been using it for over 10 years, and we want it to be a blessing for you to use as well. Check out God bless. Talk about, the organization. You're talking about your dad and yourself. Are there other family members still involved? And kinda what's your role versus your your dad's role in the business? Michael Tilmon [00:13:47]: Yeah. It's a it's definitely a family affair. So me and my dad kinda split up the management, I guess, you'd say. He takes care of the, the reefer trucks. That's I don't have much to do with that. He takes care of that. And then he we kinda split up the rest of it. I take care of all the hopper and dump, all the dispatch, finding loads, you know, organizing all that's on me. Michael Tilmon [00:14:16]: Then my wife and mother both work in the office, you know, take take care of the billing and all that. So, then I've got, 3 of my uncles, my dad's brothers that drive for us. Jared Flinn [00:14:30]: Oh, wow. It is a family affair. Yeah. Yeah. Michael Tilmon [00:14:34]: So which is nice. I still I like having that Jared Flinn [00:14:38]: Yeah. Michael Tilmon [00:14:38]: The family aspects still, you know. And we have gotten larger, but still kind of got the small Feel? Small feel. Yeah. Yeah. Jared Flinn [00:14:49]: That's so cool. You guys, through your growth, started using bulk EMS, our program? Just kinda high level. Just kinda curious how that experience has been, getting set up with that and using that to to manage your freight. Michael Tilmon [00:15:03]: Definitely not using it to its potential. As of today. Yeah. Yeah. Probably, to be honest, more what I use it for is the using it for the organizing the loads that I broke her out. So it makes it easy to, you know, all once you put a load in, you know, it's there, and the next load is just at the click of a button, you know, and easy to put it in there, put it on a on the board if need to or to send out a dispatch to to another carrier. It's made that very, very simplified for for me. But like I said, the, I'm definitely not using it to to its potential. Jared Flinn [00:15:48]: Yeah. Well, I think too we'll, even after this discussion, you're gonna be with the guys and just look at maybe questions that you had, and, that's awesome. You did also you mentioned this. I wanna kinda throw that in there. You also have a brokerage as well. So you got the the assets, but then you have the brokerage. Kinda how does that all work together? Michael Tilmon [00:16:06]: So we started out. It's, Tillman Trucking, and then we was getting a lot of guys that we were, hey, you know, you got some extra loads or you got, you know, and especially on our dump trucks, you know, we, you know, we get a big job. I may have a job for 30, 40000 ton of rock. Well, we've only we've got 10 trucks, and we may be working 20 trucks today. And so I got concerned on that whether, hey, you know, should we be doing this? Should we be running it through a brokerage to cover us or how we should be doing it? So and the hopper freight too. We was getting to where I was getting a lot of extra loads that, had several local guys that I was working, you know, and just felt like the moving to having a brokerage was the, safest way to cover the, I guess, the liability of it. You know? Well, yeah, it reminds me Jared Flinn [00:17:06]: of, Dan Redding was in our Right. In our studio just couple months ago, and and it was almost the same thing. You get to a certain size. You have customers that are they're wanting you to do more volumes. Michael Tilmon [00:17:16]: Right. Jared Flinn [00:17:17]: You don't wanna turn those volumes away, not even for the money. I mean, it's for the money, but, like, you wanna provide that service. Right. Michael Tilmon [00:17:22]: Keep Jared Flinn [00:17:22]: servicing that account, and it like, the next evolution is really having that brokerage. Cover that. And that way, you can run some through your assets and then other ones that you run through other assets Right. And broke them out. Michael Tilmon [00:17:33]: And I'm sure they probably it makes me more comfortable in kind of a way to sell your services. Hey. You know, I'm not just a brokerage. You know? Yeah. We've got trucks. Jared Flinn [00:17:44]: You know, it's Michael Tilmon [00:17:44]: not I'm not just a broker that's gonna take the load and then be like, oh, well, hey. I can't find a truck. Yeah. You know? Jared Flinn [00:17:50]: They're gonna get it done no matter what. Michael Tilmon [00:17:51]: Right. You know, if it comes down to a load that I'm trying to broker and I can't find a truck or can't get it covered, it's like, well, send one of my trucks over to grab it. You know, it's one way or another, it gets covered. And, feel like that's a kinda gives you a little upper hand on Yeah. On, covering the freight for the customer. Jared Flinn [00:18:10]: Well, I've yeah. I remember when I worked in Bartlett, if just a a nonasset broker would call, hey. Can we haul this? Like, there was just a a subtle feeling of like, hey. He doesn't own anything, but this thing doesn't get covered. So I was always even more inclined as a shipper. Like, hey. I know this guy at least has the trucks to cover. Michael Tilmon [00:18:27]: It's you Jared Flinn [00:18:28]: know, he's got the hard assets, and that was a peace of mind for me as a shipper knowing that that it it covered. And, that's, yeah, that's awesome. You guys have made several acquisitions, the past few years. Yeah. I think even one just recently. I've actually I read on your Facebook page even just kind of explaining it all, which is really cool. Like, you kind of explained the reason behind it all. But talk about, like, how that happened, if you don't mind, because you don't see that, I guess, in my mind, very often in this business. Jared Flinn [00:18:59]: You don't see, you know, hopper trucking business or bull buying other businesses or buying other assets and stuff. So it it kinda struck me as a little unique, but kind of if you don't mind sharing how that happened. Michael Tilmon [00:19:13]: Well, actually, in we so we've bought out 3 companies in the last 4 years, I believe. And every one of them approached us. You know, it was it it was kind of a odd deal. Like you said, it wasn't a normal thing. The one of them the the first one that we actually had our eyes set on was the the reefer, company. Jared Flinn [00:19:36]: Mhmm. Michael Tilmon [00:19:37]: He's a good friend of ours. Been worked together for years, well, since back in the early nineties. Him and my dad worked side by side. And he got to the point, he said, hey, you know, I'm I'm gonna be ready to retire in the next few years. You know, do y'all have any interest of buying this buying my business out and kinda taken over? And we talked about it and said, yeah, you know, we'd we'd we'd love to. And we started getting the ball kinda rolling and they he said, well, he said, I think I'm gonna wait, you know, wait a little while. I'm not ready just yet. He said, but, you know, when the time comes, we'll do it. Michael Tilmon [00:20:18]: So kinda put it on the back burner. Didn't really think much about it. I guess it was right at the end of I'm probably gonna get my dates wrong. But right at the end of 19, a guy out of Dexter approached us. He he he was originally a Bernie guy, but he had 10 dump trucks and 3 in dumps. And he said, hey, I'm looking to downsize, retire. Just tired of messing with the hassle of it. Mhmm. Michael Tilmon [00:20:50]: Would you be interested in buying buying my business? And I said, well, hadn't really gave it much thought, but but, yeah, let me think about it. It's definitely not a no. And so couple months went by, you know, talking back and forth. And on, I guess, January 1st 20, we made a deal and, purchased all of his trucks and, got the drivers and, his customers, which the customers was a big big, Jared Flinn [00:21:27]: selling point. Michael Tilmon [00:21:28]: Selling point. Yeah. Yes. Because it was right alongside a lot of work we was doing already, just kind of adding to expanding the customer base. We didn't we only had 1 dump truck, that we was hauling asphalt and aggregate with, but it was kind of a easy step into growth. You know? And so we did that. Unfortunately, it was kind of a business deal business side of it later down few months down the road didn't go as the handshake agreement. You know? Typically, it doesn't. Michael Tilmon [00:22:10]: Dude opened back he opened back up and hired a couple of drivers back. And Oh. So Jared Flinn [00:22:17]: Ouch. Okay. Michael Tilmon [00:22:19]: Then just, we did it on a handshake and just, trust him for his word. And wasn't the best to deal, but it it's all worked out. And, you know, it's I don't get too excited about stuff like that. It's just it'll things will work itself out. Jared Flinn [00:22:39]: In in those conversations and, again, I I like that they they saw the value originally that, hey. You all are a great company, trustworthy. We wanna hand our business off to you. Right. We wanna hand the torch off. Have you guys continued take care of our drivers? I mean, I know some of that didn't shake out. But, Michael Tilmon [00:22:59]: were a Jared Flinn [00:22:59]: lot of those conversations with you and your dad or just your dad was Michael Tilmon [00:23:04]: Yeah. Mostly between us. I mean, we kinda talk talk together. I mean, he is I guess, he is the the main guy when it comes to the the in say so, but we we always we we talk things over and kinda see how each other feels about it. And we've kinda got the same same outlook. Yeah. Like I said, he's probably the more wanna jump on it and run with it. I'm gonna try to think about it a little while. Michael Tilmon [00:23:40]: Even if I wanna do it, I still feel like I gotta I gotta justify it. But You Jared Flinn [00:23:45]: guys balance each other out? Michael Tilmon [00:23:46]: Yes. Yeah. Jared Flinn [00:23:48]: On the, and so that was 1. And we don't get need to get in the weeds on the other 2. But were the other 2, you said, were similar situations, they reached out to you all? Michael Tilmon [00:23:56]: Or So, you know, I said the the I the reefer company that we the buddy of ours, we was gonna buy out. He he told us he wanted to wait a little while, and so we the dump truck opportunity approached us. We bought that business out. And about 3 months later, he's like, hey, I think I'm ready to I think I'm ready to hang it up in the next couple of months. Like, well, crap. So so here within 6 well, I guess, about 4 months 4 to 6 months, we done 2 2 buyouts. And, which it it ended up it were it was kinda that was kinda nerve wracking. My mom was about ready to kill us because she she gets really stressed out over it. Jared Flinn [00:24:43]: Yeah. Sounds like my wife. Michael Tilmon [00:24:44]: We we keep her on edge. But so I think in April, we done that January 1st. I think the the reefer company buyout was in April of 20 and, which it was we had already worked with the, the company that their primary freight was for. We worked with them ourselves too, and so that made it a lot easier to transition over. Then so after we done that, then last, I guess, last spring, got out of Dexter, Gibson Trucking. Had about he had about 15 in dogs. And there again, we we work together a lot of the same jobs for a couple, bigger companies there around us then. He was talking to 1 of my he was running with 1 of the owner was driving and running with 1 of my drivers one day and which to him, hey. Michael Tilmon [00:25:53]: He's I'm thinking about retiring. Do you think they would wanna, you know, be interested in buying me out? And, so the driver that day comes in and is like, hey. You got a second? I was like, yeah. He talked to me today and he's wanting to know if y'all wanna I said, man, I I don't know. Yeah. He's I said, but tell him to give me a call. So, it was a couple weeks. We run into each other in a gas station and he said, hey. Michael Tilmon [00:26:26]: I talked to your driver the other day. He said, did he say anything to you? I said, yeah. He did. And, so we got to talking, and he, kinda proposed what he wanted to do. And we went down, over the next few weeks, kinda went over equipment, everything, and worked out to be another, you know, another good deal. It probably wouldn't it was it was a lot better deal than the dump truck. Jared Flinn [00:26:55]: The first one? Michael Tilmon [00:26:55]: Yeah. Yeah. It was it was a lot better transaction, I guess. But, and, that was a lot of his trucks were doing the same work we was. There again had a little misfortune that ride I mean, the week we bought them out. He had about 4 trucks, and we had 3 trucks working on a job, hauling fracking sand. And so 4 like I said, 4 of his 15 trucks, I think he was running 12 and had 3 spares. They was on that job. Michael Tilmon [00:27:35]: Well, the week after, they cut us out. I said, we're going to all company trucks. We're, you know, we're just gonna go to our our trucks only, cutting out all contractors. Well, that's unfortunate. But, anyways, it's, everything works out. Everything you know, the big picture, everything works out. And, so we've been most of what they do is haul rock and sand, aggregate stuff, asphalt, a lot of asphalt material. But when Jared Flinn [00:28:06]: you're looking at buying these companies out, I mean, obviously, a big cost is assets alone. Michael Tilmon [00:28:12]: Right. I Jared Flinn [00:28:12]: mean, the trucks and trailers and all that. Know, if you get the a perk would be if you get the the book of business of the customers on that. But I guess my mind too, you know, you're buying a 15 truck operation, and I probably you can talk about the numbers and all that. But, like, like and you go to your banker and be like, hey. We wanna buy this. Like Yeah. Like, you gotta have a pretty trustworthy banker that that, like, really believes in your company. Michael Tilmon [00:28:35]: I Jared Flinn [00:28:35]: mean, yeah, you can show them the numbers and all that. But, hey, can you talk a little bit about, you know, not talking about the numbers, but just really a situation. I'm just thinking if somebody's out there and there's opportunities, like and how do you approach the how do you how do you get the capital? Michael Tilmon [00:28:49]: You definitely wanna have a good relationship with your bank. Because if if you ain't got them on board, it's it's gonna be tough. But, yeah, I mean, we've definitely we've we've got a good bank that, we've had a good relationship for several years now, you know, and it just, Jared Flinn [00:29:07]: When you laid it out to them, they were pretty pretty open and Michael Tilmon [00:29:11]: pretty willing? Yeah. Well and it helps we're in a small area. So, you know, if, you know, they kinda see what these companies have done or have been have serviced the you know, service them their self. You know? Jared Flinn [00:29:25]: See a little bit of the track record. Michael Tilmon [00:29:26]: Right. Right. So they can kinda see what they'd already know what you're getting into, you know, the financials of it. They they can see the the benefit for it. That that helps a lot, but still, you know, it takes a pretty gutsy banker. Because I mean, a lot of a lot of banks don't wanna mess with trucks. The bank we used to be with, they they cut they didn't want that much. The only way we was with them before was because of our farm. Michael Tilmon [00:29:59]: They wouldn't they wouldn't loan for trucks. Mhmm. That hardly at all, but running it through when we started out, we was running everything under our farm name. Yep. And so they they would loan money on trucks if it was for a farm. But then later years, they got bought out by another bank, and that bank didn't want anything to do with farm, and which is really odd for our part of the country, but they didn't want to do with farm operating loans. So that was when we moved to the bank we're at now, and I was like, yeah. Come on. Michael Tilmon [00:30:36]: And, so it's and then, of course, then we only had probably 7 or 8 trucks when we made that change. So they've they've kinda stuck with us and been, very valuable to our growth. Jared Flinn [00:30:49]: Yeah. You guys have been on bulk loads, since 2016. You know? So you 8 8 years ago. What just what's been your experience using bulk loads and and using it to find customers? I know you said a lot of the customers have grown organically. Michael Tilmon [00:31:05]: Right. Jared Flinn [00:31:05]: They've kinda found you some of these businesses that you bought. But how has bulk loads been an asset to Tillman Trucking? Michael Tilmon [00:31:13]: Well, what started the reason I originally signed up for the service was, the rice mill there in town was he was asking me about haul and load, and I got in with one of the brokers that was buying his buying the rice and brand from him and was getting regular lanes to, Nebraska. And at that time, I didn't know. I this is probably 2010 or well, no. I guess it'd have been 14, 15 when I first started. Was constantly having trucks go up there well. I didn't pay good enough to come back empty. Mhmm. But I didn't. Michael Tilmon [00:31:59]: I was green to it. Didn't have no idea about how to how to find backhauls or anything, and so I started looking around was as we started getting more and more of that freight, it was, you know, hard to find. And then I stumbled. I don't even remember how I stumbled upon it, but I signed up to try to find loads to get us back out of Nebraska, back into this air or back to southeast Missouri. And, you know, I I I use the to this day, I use it every day. I feel like I'm on there looking for loads, seeing if anything's posted that might be good for us or put loads on there. But even if you don't use it every day, it has got me the contacts over the last 8 years that, you know, well, I found this load for ex customer and hold a few loads for them off the board. Well, now they're calling me, hey. Michael Tilmon [00:33:02]: You got trucks in this area, you know. So it's you're building a relationship with customers off of that, what you're getting off a load board. Maybe not be pulling loads off there every day anymore, but it's because of it that I've got the contacts I do. Jared Flinn [00:33:19]: Yeah. I was actually meditating. It was just yeah. It was yesterday morning, whatever, talking about, like, you know, some people may think this is an awful business plan, but, like, I truly well, I I love when people find contacts and even work with those contacts directly outside of our board. Like, we've done our job. Right. I mean, our goal is that continue. There's always new contacts, always new business, and always new lanes. Jared Flinn [00:33:41]: But, actually, I I love when I hear people like, hey. I established this relationship. Michael Tilmon [00:33:46]: Yeah. Jared Flinn [00:33:46]: I work with that person or that company directly for 3, 4, 5 years, and, you know, it's like, man, that that's paid off tremendously Yes. For the use of the service. So, yeah, we think, we think that's awesome. Michael, I wanna turn the conversation, maybe a little bit on a personal note. I I'd heard that you all foster kids. Yes. And I just I'd man, god bless your heart. I think that's awesome. Jared Flinn [00:34:09]: A lot of our audience knows I've been involved in an organization called Man Up and Go. Yeah. And so we help foster families and single moms in the Springfield area. And what that looks like for us, you know, we're helping, you know, fix a dryer or clean up a yard or a fence, and just those those things that, you know, just to lend a hand. And, honestly, in the foster community, especially here in Springfield, majority are single moms that are fostering. It's there's not a lot of dads in the picture. So, man, we just love to hear your story. If you can just share a little bit of how you and your wife got into that, because that's not that's not an easy lift. Jared Flinn [00:34:47]: That that takes a lot of prayer and Right. And just, like, should I do this? And, and, again, buying companies, running, you know, 40 plus or 60 trucks, and, I mean, it's that's a lot to do to throw into the mix of deal. And, again, I don't wanna compare children, god's gift to work. But, like, again, when you're managing your day, like, that's another thing. You talked about your wife working in the business. How do you do it all? Michael Tilmon [00:35:13]: Some days, it's a challenge. But, so me and my wife, we got married in 2013. Hope that's right. But we we tried for a couple years and weren't just wasn't able to have children. And we knew it was a possibility, but we had talked several times about adopting and just it was more of a conversation. Never really done anything going towards it. So one day, we got a phone call from my mother-in-law, and she said, hey. Late in our church has got got this girl out of their foster care, and the girl has got 4 brothers that are in foster care with another lady. Michael Tilmon [00:36:12]: I might get some of the details wrong. But, anyways, they the lady the mother was trying to get the lady to take guardianship element. She's like, no. I don't. That's not what I signed up for. Well, finding somebody to take 4 kids at once is difficult. Jared Flinn [00:36:28]: Very difficult. I mean, odds of that. Michael Tilmon [00:36:30]: Yeah. So mother-in-law told us, like, hey. They're they're to the point. They can't find anybody. Take them. They're fixing to split them up, and that broke our hearts. Jared Flinn [00:36:41]: Yeah. Michael Tilmon [00:36:42]: It breaks my heart thinking Jared Flinn [00:36:42]: about it right now. Michael Tilmon [00:36:44]: And so it's like, this is a big, big decision. And my wife asked me. She's like, what do you think? And I was like, I don't I don't know. Jared Flinn [00:36:58]: What what was this? This was how long ago? Michael Tilmon [00:37:01]: Oh, man. I'm not good with dates. I guess this would have been 2016. Okay. Jared Flinn [00:37:12]: So about 3 or 4 years after you're married? Yeah. Okay. Michael Tilmon [00:37:15]: So because there again, I'm I'm a terrible terrible dad. I I do terrible remembering dates, but the baby was he was 3 months old. And he so we've had him 77 now. So, but so it's like there her she told us that they was fixing to split them up. You know? So we talked about it. It's like they're wanting to do something in the next few days, and it's like that just makes it a whole lot harder. No time to think about it. So, I told her I said, if it's meant to be, it'll be. Michael Tilmon [00:38:02]: You know? I said that all we can do is if you wanna give it a whirl, we'll do our best and, you know, see what happens if they place them with us, you know? Because at this point, it was just Foster, you know? Right. And it we had the discussion too. It's like, you know, will we be able to handle it if we take these boys down, Have them for a week or a year, they just had to take them back. That was my biggest fear. And, so that was a big discussion point, but, you know, that's I I'm kind of the if it's meant to be, it'll be. If, you know, if it's God's plan, it'll Jared Flinn [00:38:45]: That's right. Michael Tilmon [00:38:46]: He'll work it out. And so we told him, yes. We'll we'll go ahead and start doing what we've gotta do to get it as set up as foster parents. Well, they was like, we'll push that through. You go get a background check. We'll make we'll make all the paperwork happen. Mhmm. And I think from the day we found out about the boys to the day they was in the house was 3 days. Jared Flinn [00:39:16]: And That's a lot to prepare. Michael Tilmon [00:39:17]: It was a big change. I mean, to go from, you know, just just the 2 of us to 4 kids, 3 in diapers overnight. You know, they're, they were, well, 3 months old, 1, 2, and 4 had Jared Flinn [00:39:35]: just turned 5 when we got them. So So as of today, we're in 2024. You have a Michael Tilmon [00:39:41]: what are the ages? 8, 9, and 12. Jared Flinn [00:39:43]: All boys? All boys. Yeah. Explain to explain how that is today. Michael Tilmon [00:39:49]: Very stressful. No. It's it's good. I mean, there's days we wanna pull our hair out, but I wouldn't. Jared Flinn [00:39:57]: And you've adopted them? Michael Tilmon [00:39:58]: Yes. Yes. So we had to go we had to start off with foster care. Yep. The mother made no attempt to do any better. None of the they all 4 had different fathers. They none of them were in the pictures. She made no attempt to make things better. Michael Tilmon [00:40:22]: You know, she would say that she wanted to, but, there was no attempt. And the lawyers told us upfront kind of the like, her her track record is is because we we asked is like, hey. You know, we don't wanna do this if a month down the road, you're just gonna pull them out and give them back. Right? So I and the the lady told us, like, well, you know, the the goal of the foster system is to put to get the family back together. Jared Flinn [00:40:58]: Yep. Yeah. I've learned that through even our organization that it's, like, as as horrible as it is. I mean, I actually just had this conversation. Like, this lady told me that runs the foster care. Like, it's still better to bring them back to the parents even if there's abuse in her house. And I'm like, are you kidding Michael Tilmon [00:41:14]: me? Yeah. Jared Flinn [00:41:15]: But they're like, still that yeah. It's still something, a goal, that they've shown that it still, benefits the child if that's Michael Tilmon [00:41:23]: Yeah. It's, I can't wrap my head around it. I mean, it's, I don't know how many times that our boys have been pulled from her home. You know? It was the oldest one, especially, because, I mean, he was, like I said, he was, he was almost 5 years old when we got him, and he had been in several, I think, a few different foster homes. And then then Jay is the youngest one. He he had never he left from the hospital in the foster care. Jared Flinn [00:41:57]: I think some people, you don't realize the trauma that's still all those Right. Boys even years down the road, that they affect. But, and I didn't wanna I I just knew that you all did that, and I heard. And, man, just bless your hearts, the servant's heart. But, I just I couldn't imagine if fostering 4 boys and then growing, you know, a a trucking company Yeah. In the mix of it all and talking about your wife even still working in the office and trying to manage all of that Yeah. Just sounds Michael Tilmon [00:42:33]: It's a Sounds like a lot. Get hectic a lot of days. Yeah. But it's it's, it wouldn't have it any other way, I don't guess. Jared Flinn [00:42:41]: What would you just say? We know that it's not for everyone fostering or even adopting kids. Right. And, but what would you say to people out there that are maybe thinking about that? Michael Tilmon [00:43:01]: Best thing I could say is don't don't write it off too early. You know? I mean, it's it would be so easy to, and I was I had the same I was that way. I was like, I don't know. That's you know? Just a lot a lot to take in and scary. I mean, it really is, but and as terrible as this sounds, I was scared that what if it's not the same as it was my own kids. And that fear was at the back of my mind. I was like, what? You know, that's not fair to and just the whole process you have to go through of the foster care, then, you know, we went through foster care then guardianship and then adoption. And it's it's scary to think of it. Michael Tilmon [00:43:54]: It's stressful, but definitely don't just write it off. It's it's worth it. I mean, if you've if you've got the the heart for kids, it's just it's it's worth it. Jared Flinn [00:44:07]: Yeah. Yeah. So cool. I'll ask you 1 last question, Michael. With Tillman Brothers, Bulk Logistics, what's the next 5 years look like? Where are you gonna focus your time? Michael Tilmon [00:44:23]: Well, I would love to say that no major growth is inside, but I don't know. Jared Flinn [00:44:30]: It's funny when you say never know, Michael Tilmon [00:44:32]: how it is happening. We we've said, oh, we're done. You know? When we started out, I said, we had 2 or 3 trucks. I was like, man, if I if I could grow this to 10 trucks someday, that would be awesome. We got there. So, well, if I could grow this to 20 trucks, that'd be awesome. And now we're close to 60 trucks, and it's like it's scary to think of growing anymore. Definitely without any more help managing, but I've also gotta look at it as a standpoint of something for, hopefully, for my 4 boys. Michael Tilmon [00:45:11]: If next generation want anything to do with it, I want there to be enough to, you know, be something big enough that they can Jared Flinn [00:45:19]: Join. Michael Tilmon [00:45:19]: That they can join and have their their own role, whatever it be, you know, and something to support them and their families. And that was you know, like I said, we started off you know, it's Tillman Trucking is our trucking business, and I just started the brokerage last year, which is the the Tillman Brothers Bulk Logistics, and I started that kind of as something. Well, the Tillman Brothers is for the 4 brothers. You know? Yeah. When me and my wife talked about it, I just thought, well, this will be something that can be set up for them to maybe one of them to take over one of these days. So, like I said, I think, you know, every parent wants their kids to do what they do, but I hope that they do. But if not, that's that's fine too. Hopefully, at least 1 of them will. Jared Flinn [00:46:12]: Yeah. But you're you're already generationally thinking, which is super noble of you. And then, for those listening to our podcast, we do have 1 truck guys that are looking to maybe get into 5. The 5 truck guys looking to get to 10 to 20. 20 truck guys looking to get to, you know, 40, 40 truck guys looking to get to 60, whatever. You've walked the walk. Any advice for those companies out there that are just looking, you know, maybe grow to that next level of business? Michael Tilmon [00:46:45]: Don't give up. I mean, it's, there there will be hard, hard times, But if you've got the the mindset and the the passion, I mean, it can be done. I mean, it's you if if you got a good customer base, and you gotta, yes, know your worth, you know, don't sell yourself too cheap. Yeah. But just keep grinding. I mean, it's if you put in the work, you'll get the results. Yeah. I said it takes takes time. Michael Tilmon [00:47:23]: It don't happen overnight, and it can be, it'd be stressful at times. There's there's times now, you know, it's slow and with this many trucks. You know, it it's even more stressful when you've got you've got 20, 30 trucks set with nothing to do. Yeah. Tyler Allison [00:47:45]: But Michael Tilmon [00:47:48]: that's best thing I can say is just work hard. You know? Yeah. Work ethic goes a long way. Yeah. Jared Flinn [00:47:55]: Control what you can control. Right. And, yeah, keep grinding it out. Michael, thank you again for, taking time to come onto the show, and we're so thankful that you're a member of Bulk Loads and have been a supporter of us and even with our TMS as well. And, you came to our conference last year, which was awesome. I didn't get to meet you. I think I was running around you there, but, that's coming up around the corner. Hopefully, you'll be there again this year. Jared Flinn [00:48:22]: It's gonna be bigger and better. And, Tyler, on our end, has been really working his tail off, I'm making just making sure that we are planning out there. But, anyways, thank you so much for coming on the show. God bless you and your family and your so thank you. Michael Tilmon [00:48:38]: Thanks for having me. Jared Flinn [00:48:39]: Yep. Appreciate it. Kyle, there's a little bit or a lot that I wanna unpack here, but I'm gonna let you start 1st. Tyler Allison [00:48:46]: I think, first off, the the thing that stood out to me most is how in the world I mean, do you just work with that much family and have an efficient operation? It's actually it's really a beautiful thing just because, I mean, you get to see your family every single day and work on the business together. Michael kinda went into how they operate, and it's cool that, you know, his dad still kinda runs the the ice cream side, the reefer side, and Michael's doing all the bulk side. But, man, I just can't I mean, they start off as a 1 truck, then it went to 2, then to 8, and then it just snowballed into this massive operation where now they have 62 trucks on the road. And I think I don't think there's any stopping for Michael. I think he's here to grow their business, and and I think he's done a a great job, and it's cool to see. Jared Flinn [00:49:33]: Yeah. It's scary and cool at the same time. But, I've said this before. The and this just shows I think, you know, you can either play the victim card and think that, hey, everybody else has got it better, and, you know, they've just, had a a windfall. Or you can think, hey. We all have the same opportunity to grow our businesses, and that's not everybody's boat about there. You may be sitting there and be like, hey. I'm happy to have 1 truck. Jared Flinn [00:49:57]: I'm happy to have 5 trucks or 20 trucks, whatever that is. But, man, if you're in a growth mindset, the opportunity is out there. We've seen it done. We have these there's a specific reason why we have these companies on here. We wanna show other people and encourage others in our community that, man, if you wanna grow, and provide more and and more importantly, serve more in this industry, the opportunities are endless. Tyler Allison [00:50:17]: Yeah. What I think shows a lot about their company's integrity and service is that all these companies that they've bought out have actually approached them and said, hey. You know, I'm ready to retire, go out of business or whatever. You know, would you guys like to purchase our operation? Jared Flinn [00:50:30]: Yeah. They're almost handed the baton to this company because they know that they they trust them that they're gonna, take over the business, but really serve those customers that the previous business had. Exactly. Yeah. So what else? Tyler Allison [00:50:43]: Michael Tillman was at our conference last year. He is going to be going to it this year. You can meet Michael Tillman there. Speaking of, if you have not got your tickets yet, go to bulk freight You can reserve your tickets there. We are getting close. I think it's 2 months away now. So it's gonna be exciting. Tyler Allison [00:51:01]: This podcast is all about growing your business. If you really are serious about growing your business, you wanna be at our conference. There's just gonna be so much education and knowledge that's presented there that can you can actually take home to your trucking business and, actually put those tactics into place to grow your business to become more profitable, and more streamline your operations? Jared Flinn [00:51:22]: Yeah. If you hadn't heard, Michael Timlin did our Super Bowl commercial. Michael Tilmon [00:51:26]: He did. We had Jared Flinn [00:51:27]: a Super Bowl commercial that we put online. He was actually that was him that did that with his kids, that's what I wanna talk about as well. I think all work aside, I love Michael's and his wife's servant heart Tyler Allison [00:51:39]: Yep. Jared Flinn [00:51:40]: To adopt kids and just I wanted to I know that's not a business, but, man, in our life, business, our faith, family, it's all been 1. Tyler Allison [00:51:49]: It's all 1. Jared Flinn [00:51:50]: It's not separated, and we realize that it's all part 1. I love just that story of how all that came together. And if you are out there who have foster adopted kids, we have not. We've I mean, we're actually in the process of of looking at it, but it is not for the faint of heart. Yeah. And, man, just, god bless Michael and his wife for, doing that, and it's just it's incredible. Tyler Allison [00:52:13]: Yeah. Jared Flinn [00:52:14]: I agree. So before we close out of here, just a segue off of that, man, if you have prayer requests, we wanna be praying for you. We don't take that lightly. We say that all the time on this podcast, but we know that there are a lot of troubles out there and, a lot of situations, some that just, we can't even fathom out there. And, so we wanna be praying for you. We would love for you to send a prayer request to prayer at, and, man, we would, gladly pray for those. We have a group here that prays for them. It's completely anonymous. Jared Flinn [00:52:51]: We don't share with other people. It's done in our office. But, man, we know that there are diseases and cancers and divorces and neglect and abuse and, financial situations. I mean, you can go down the list, and, it's all in our community. And we wanna be lifting you up to the Lord and be praying for you. So I just encourage you to do that. And, I'll ask Tyler if you wanna close this out on this trip. Tyler Allison [00:53:16]: Lord, we just come to you today just to thank you, and praise you, Lord. We just thank you for all your many blessings that you've given to us. Lord, we ask that you just give us the strength, and and just the compassion to move on to the week. Lord, we know these are some trying times, and we know that, there's a lot of people out there who are going through some hurt right now, with their business, with their family, or either even, their their faith might be shaking right now. Lord. We know that you are a big god, and you can do all things, almighty things, lord. So we just ask that you just, reach down and just lay your hand upon all of us, lord, as we're going through these times, lord. And, everyone who's traveling and is out on the road, lord, we just ask that you just give them safely and help that, all those people make it back home to their families, lord. Tyler Allison [00:54:03]: We love you, and in your name, amen. Jared Flinn [00:54:06]: Thank you as always for listening to the Bulk Loads podcast. If you haven't yet, hit the subscribe button. We know that actually, a very small percentage of our listeners actually hit, subscribe. So you can actually hit the subscribe button. You go down this way in the lower corner, and we'd love for you to subscribe. Also, if you know other companies Yep. That would value from this business or individuals that are looking at expanding their business, we would love for you to share this, with that community and get this out there so we can help others out there and grow their business. So thank you as always for listening to the Bulk Michael Tilmon [00:54:47]: Loads