Loaded up and truckin: Collier, Lee businesses busy hauling cars north

Young’s Transport, Inc. driver, Michael Caputo makes sure his cargo is secure before leaving Naples to deliver the vehicles to Ohio and Michigan.

Jean Amodea

Young’s Transport, Inc. driver, Michael Caputo makes sure his cargo is secure before leaving Naples to deliver the vehicles to Ohio and Michigan.

Auto carrier driver, Michael Caputo of Young’s Transport, Inc., in Naples makes sure his cargo is properly strapped before leaving for Ohio and Michigan.

Jean Amodea

Auto carrier driver, Michael Caputo of Young’s Transport, Inc., in Naples makes sure his cargo is properly strapped before leaving for Ohio and Michigan.

Some part-time Southwest Floridians head north in a plane but their wheels stay behind a little longer.

The annual migration of seasonal residents this time of year keeps vehicle transport companies busy. And, residents have found it more expensive to send their cars north, compared to a year ago.

A rise in fuel costs in recent months is to blame, said Dana Miller, owner of Young’s Transport Inc. in Naples, in business for 14 years.

Last April, Miller said, she paid $2.80 to $2.90 per gallon to fuel her three auto carriers that get 4 to 41⁄2 miles per gallon. Today, she pays $4.20 per gallon. Truck insurance rates and costs for tires also have increased.

And she said, with rising costs for everyone, the public still wants to pay less for shipping vehicles. When she quotes a fee of $875 to $925 to ship from Naples to Detroit, which reflects about $200 in fuel surcharges over the last year, customers are shocked. They then call local or online brokers, who often quote lower costs.

The cars are then posted to a national car carrier board online with the hope that a trucker will “pick up” the call. Some complain that vehicles sit for weeks until a trucker picks them up and returns them to their northern home.

Co-owner Mari Pollard of ATS Auto Transport Services in Fort Myers said her clients in a higher income bracket have the money to ship their cars north so business is steady.

One local broker, Bob Brotzman of Dealer to Dealer Auto Transport, Inc. also known as Southwest Florida Auto Transport, has been in business for 10 years on Marco Island. He and his wife oversee a staff of five dispatchers.

Brotzman is also a co-owner of a Pennsylvania auto transport company, Bob & Joe’s Towing LLC (which does business as Dealer to Dealer Auto Transport), which owns 10 auto carriers.

His Marco Island office is busy and he said business has been great. Brotzman defended himself and other brokers.

“I broker all customer calls to my Pennsylvania company’s trucks and use outside trucking companies only during the peak spring rush,” he said.

Auto transport makes up about 75 percent of his business, which includes shipping motorcycles and new cars for dealers. His top costs are labor, fuel and tires.

Brotzman said he paid $3.19 per gallon of fuel in May and now pays more than $1.50 per gallon more.

“Some brokers quote low prices to make the sale, then they have to find a truck that will take the call,” Brotzman said.

“While I can’t promise a specific delivery day, I tell my customers they will get their car within a week’s time.”

© 2011 marconews.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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