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Posted By:  Bud A.

Posted:  1 month, 2 weeks ago

View Topic:

Terminated after 3rd week of OTR Training

The Safety Manager said he'll put on the letter that I quit because no alternate Mentor has been available to finish my training (because I was told on Friday that I'd be with a new trainer next week).

How should I approach the next company? Would they see this as a negative?

Thanks in advance. This is quite a bummer and embarrassment.

It's a good thing that they'll report it as voluntary. As suggested above, you can tell prospective companies that you left because a mentor wasn't available for you to complete training.

I would leave out discussion of the trainer that you had unless you are asked directly. Tell the truth if you are asked. I think "personality conflict" would cover it and be understandable. I'm trying to think of a better way to say it. I'll post again if I think of a better phrase before someone else provides one.

And as stated earlier, backing a spread axle trailer is a little more difficult since they don't move in the nice arc you expect. It's still an arc, but it's slower than backing tandems -- or as I think of it now, tandems swing around weirdly fast.

Now please don't be upset when I say this, but I'd be really surprised if backing is what your trainer was really concerned about. I'd be less surprised if his concern was that you weren't paying enough attention to your surroundings, or that you weren't getting the securement down quickly enough in his opinion, or something else besides backing. And I'll also say that, having trained flatbed, it's not hard to imagine a scenario where learning to drive a big truck and learning securement at the same time is just a little too much to do all at once. There's no shame there. I have had my days where it was a little overwhelming.

Now that the company's decision has been made, and if he hasn't already spelled it out for you, I'd consider calling your trainer and saying something like, "Hey, it's over, I'm no longer with the company. I still want to drive a truck, and I really want your honest feedback. What was your single biggest concern about me doing that with this company?"

If you decide to ask him, and if he responds, don't argue with him or defend yourself, and don't judge yourself, just give him the chance to boil it down for you. It could be very valuable feedback for helping you determine how to proceed. On the other hand, he might be a jerk and it could be something that you decide to ignore. Either way, it's worth asking for that feedback, since he has a unique perspective on it as an experienced driver who has observed you closely for some time.

Please let me tell a story. (Boredom alert!) In my last management job before I started driving, I had a client who was known to be a real jerk. He once insulted me unnecessarily and unfairly in such a way that I stewed about it for a couple of days, inventing numerous responses that would have surely gotten me fired had I said them out loud to him.

This jerk had a saying that stuck with me, though. "All feedback is good feedback." I think it's true to some extent. I may not like the feedback, and I may not like the way it's delivered, but it is good feedback.

For example, the feedback he gave me when he insulted me was to question my command of the English language. It was good feedback.

He is from another country and English is not his first language. In fact, he speaks it with a noticeable accent. He questioned my understanding of English when I asked him to clarify a short, ambiguous sentence he had written in an email. I needed to know because the intent of the sentence could be read two different ways, and each way meant taking radically different action from the other possible meaning.

Now, I didn't ask him in order to insult his command of English, though I'm sure he took it that way. I asked him because both meanings could make sense and I honestly couldn't figure out which meaning he was trying to communicate with those seven words.

So, while his insult was ridiculous, it was good feedback, though not the way he intended it. The real feedback had nothing to do with my understanding of English. It had to do with my understanding of his insecurity about his abilities in English, and his leadership insecurities generally.

After I calmed down, I completely changed my approach with him and actually got him to help me do my job, though sometimes without him knowing he was helping me. Yes, i manipulated him. I was a manager after all. Part of the job.

Unfortunately, he later insulted my boss and a couple of his subordinates, which resulted in his reassignment to another position (and another city) within his company. I had to figure out how to manipulate an entirely new person to get things done for my people.

All this to say, what your trainer has to say now may still be valuable, even if you hate the guy. Don't get me wrong, there's a chance that it won't be useful, but if it is, it could be very valuable.

I understand that it's a bummer, but there's no need to be embarrassed. This is a tough business to break into, and you're not the first person this has happened to. I have no doubt that tens of thousands of people who didn't finish training at their first trucking job are out there driving trucks today. Apply to some other companies, learn what you can from this experience, and press on. It will be ok.

Posted By:  Old School

Posted:  1 month, 2 weeks ago

View Topic:

Got any fun snow stories ? Words of wisdom ?

Several years back I got caught in a blizzard in Indiana. The highways were in really bad shape and I was just moving slowly and trying to power my way through until I could get to a truck stop. It wasn't long before I managed to get to the Flying J I was planning on stopping at. It was crowded, but I managed to find a legitimate parking spot and got myself parked and settled in for the duration. Within about an hour the highway department closed the interstate and every one had to get off. We were literally stuck there at the truck stop for four days in extremely cold temperatures.

It got crazy! The trucks were piled in everywhere. People had to park in the parts of the lot where you would usually drive your truck in between the parked trucks as you try to find a spot. If you were like me and got there early enough to find a real parking spot, then there was someone parked perpendicular to your truck, right there in front of your truck! They were parked three or four across in between the rows of properly parked trucks. Most everyone was idling their trucks to keep the fuel from gelling. I can't remember the temps, but it was well below zero most of the four days. Some of the folks whose fuel was low when they parked were having to use five gallon fuel cans to walk over to the pumps and purchase five gallons at a time to walk it to their rigs to keep from running their tanks dry. The Denny's restaurant in the truck stop actually ran out of food on the second day because they couldn't get anything delivered in due to the interstate being shut down. The silly truck drivers who had no provisions with them were having to beg for food from those of us who were prepared. I ended up feeding three or four truck drivers parked close to me for a couple of days.

Here's the view I had from inside my truck for several days during that time...

truck driver's windshield covered in snow caught in a blizzard in Indiana

Once they finally opened up the roadways it was still chaos because no one could move their rigs. Some of us were just physically blocked in. Others had their brakes frozen up. Some of us had gelled fuel. Then some of the ones who had a clear path ahead of them couldn't get their rigs to move - all they could get to happen was their tires spinning on the ice! I remember watching one Swift driver just spinning and spinning his drives. I assume he was hoping to melt the ice and eventually get going, but it didn't turn out that way. What he accomplished was an eventual sideways movement which put him in a collision with the truck next to him! (Here's a good spot to insert a winter driving tip: When stopping in a heavy snow fall, once you get yourself in a parking spot pull your rig forward and back several times to pack down the snow that is in front and behind your tires. This will help make it a little easier to get that rig rolling when you do start again.) The Flying J had so many upset tuck drivers complaining to the manager (imagine that - a truck driver complaining!) that they were blocked in, that they called the highway patrol in to help try to organize a plan to get the trucks moving out of the parking lot.

After that big storm, they had plowed the roads and put down salt but it was still pretty treacherous on the roadways. There was such a thick layer of ice underneath the snow that the plow and the salt seemed to have little effect on it. Things looked like this for most of the next day, and I sat it out one more day just to make sure I didn't end up in the ditches.

snow covered road after blizzard in Indiana from truck driver's window

Things like this happen every once in a while, but you just have to take it all in stride and let the adventure your on help you build a bank of memories and good stories. Not all our memories as truck drivers are good ones, but most of them are. I actually kind of enjoyed the stay at that Flying J - It was amusing in a convoluted way. I didn't make much money that week, but it was still an interesting week, and one I will never forget.

Posted By:  Brett Aquila

Posted:  1 month, 3 weeks ago

View Topic:

Truck Accident in Cali

What can I do about this?

Well it depends what you mean by "this". Do you mean you'd like to fix:

  • Your sloppy driving?
  • Your crappy attitude?
  • The fact you're driving an 80,000 pound building on wheels and almost killed two people but don't even realize you should have prevented the whole thing?
  • The fact that your company is giving you an opportunity to fix your screw up but you're such a bonehead that you're here insulting them as if they're the idiots that almost killed someone and you're the one in a position to do something about it?

Folks, when you're trying to evaluate this industry and decide which company to work for you're going to find a lot of guys like this around the Web. They always have their "poor me" stories. The way they tell it they're always the victim of circumstances and they're always being mistreated by their "bad company", or in this case their "buffoon of a company".

But when you take a closer look at the full story you normally find that the one pointing fingers at everyone else is usually the one to blame. This is the type of person (and therefore the type of driver) that runs around bashing companies and criticizing their instructors and constantly pointing the finger at everyone but themselves. According to their side of the story it's always as if they're the only competent one and everyone around them is idiots.

Did the driver of the car make an aggressive move? Sounds like it. Is this something a professional driver sees 1,000 times a day and should be well prepared for? Absolutely it is. If you ask any top tier driver or any safety manager they'll tell you in this case the blame falls squarely on the truck driver. It makes no difference if the car made an aggressive move or not. It makes no difference who was given a ticket at the scene. You must know where all of the vehicles are around you at all times and you must know what they are doing at all times. You never make a move without knowing that the space you're moving into is clear.

This exact same scenario and many others like it literally happen every single day out there. No one drives a big rig 500+ miles in a day without having a number of people aggressively take space around them. They'll cut into the lane as you're changing lanes so they don't have to be behind you. They'll pull out in front of you from a stop so they don't have to be behind you. They'll pass you and then jump in front of you and hit the brakes to take the next exit because they didn't want to be behind you for another ten seconds. See a pattern here? Four wheelers will risk their lives on a regular basis just so they don't have to be behind a truck. This kind of stuff happens all day long out there. It's routine stuff that should be easily handled.

Unfortunately in this case Lionheart assumed he could move over into the newly formed lane without watching his mirrors because:

no one was behind me on my right. How could there be, the lane had just opened up!?

So you see? No one could possibly be there so no sense in looking, right? Geez.....you simply can't make assumptions when you're the captain of an 80,000 pound machine.

Either way, I have decided to dump this buffoon of a company. I can tell you folks MANY things about them but I realize that this site doesn't condone that talk.

....says the guy who just wrecked someone and doesn't even realize it's his own fault.

Ya know, it was bad enough that you came here as a professional driver to bash the driver of the other vehicle, not even realizing you should have prevented the entire thing in the first place. But then you had to take it up a notch and squash your own company against the barrier, too? Why would you do that??? They're letting you keep your job! They're allowing you to make amends for your mistake! You almost killed someone and you're going to come here bashing the company that not only invested the money and equipment and trainers up front to put you behind the wheel of a big rig in the first place, but then they stuck by you even after you screwed up in a big way?

booooooooo!

You made a huge mistake but this time luck was on your side. No one was injured, no one was killed, and you didn't even lose your job over it. You should thank Stevens profusely for allowing you to keep your job and immediately set out with the intent to make it up to them. They invested in you when you didn't know the first thing about trucking. They stuck by you when you screwed up. Heck, they'd probably even forgive you for coming here and bashing them publicly for no reason. Instead of causing even more damage by quitting your job you should wake up and realize you're lucky to have a job with a company like that.

Folks, I can tell you for a fact that Stevens is a very, very forgiving company. This is far from the first incident we've learned of from drivers at Stevens and each time Stevens has stuck by their drivers. That means a lot in this industry because as you can see by Lionheart's willingness to criticize his company and quit them altogether, loyalty is not something you find very often in this business.

Posted By:  Old School

Posted:  3 months, 3 weeks ago

View Topic:

A Critical Piece in The Puzzle of Success at Trucking

Hello Ernie, great to hear from you again! I know you are in here at times, but it is always nice to have you speak up every now and then.

I just want to say a few more things about this now that we've had some more feed back. Fatsquatch is right when he says there are more benefits than just good miles when you maintain a good relationship with dispatch. I've mentioned a lot of times in this forum about special treatment that I've gotten because my dispatcher knows that I will do whatever he needs. It is a sort of relationship where there is some give and take on both parties. I didn't tell you guys about it this latest time, but I had to be home for some more surgery recently. I've been dealing with some nagging issues with skin cancer. I've gotten all the time off that I need, and been able to take my truck home for extended periods of time without any mention of turning it in until I can return.

The reason dispatchers love a driver that they can always count on is simple. We always stress in here about how the pay in this business is performance based. I can't speak for every trucking company out there, but most of them pay their dispatchers a base salary with incentive bonuses for their levels of productivity in moving freight with their drivers. When a dispatcher has the type of driver that is always getting things done with little or no problems, that driver is not only valuable to that dispatcher for his peace of mind, but he is also valuable financially. My dispatcher recently said something to me about how his wallet would take a huge hit if I ever quit! It becomes in his best interest to keep that driver happy and busy. This becomes the drivers responsibility to make this all happen. The more dependable you are, the more you will be depended upon.

I had my latest surgery last week, and I had told my dispatcher that I would come back over to the plant in Delhi, Louisiana on Monday, but my plan was to get there and then take a ten hour break so that I could start on Tuesday with a full clock ahead of me. Typically we have better loads leaving that plant on Tuesdays anyway. As I was driving to the plant, my phone rang and it was my dispatcher. He was distressed because it was his first day back from a vacation he had taken while I was out, and he had just discovered that one of our new drivers had dropped the ball on a load that was supposed to leave the plant on Saturday. When the dispatcher got to work Monday morning the folks at the SAPA plant were giving him grief because the loaded trailer was still in their yard. He called me to see if I would take the load which was already going to be late and try to make up some time on it. This is a good example of how these guys will depend on you. I'm finishing that multi-state and multi stop load tomorrow, with the only drop that was late being the very first one. I somehow managed to get it done, but it wasn't easy. Total miles in in six days came to 3,038 plus I got about 235 dollars in accessory pay, and I have a pre-plan on me with a load that gets me back home so that I can get my stitches removed! What more could you ask for?

As far as having a bad dispatcher goes, I'll just share my experience in that area. Some of you old timers in here will remember when my dispatcher at Western Express quit. I was really frustrated because I had worked really hard to establish myself with him and then one day I got this message on the Qualcomm that said. "Hello, I am your new dispatcher. So and So quit, and you have been transferred to my board." That was it! I met the new guy a few days later while I was at the terminal for some service, and we did not click at all. He was a young punk in my opinion, and he looked down his arrogant nose at me like I was some kind of a dinosaur that he was sure would be useless to him! I was really feeling devastated. Fortunately a unique thing happened just the following week. Out of our approximately 4,000 drivers, I had met the requirements to be honored as "runner up driver of the month." Now, I didn't have to prove myself all over again. Immediately this new dispatcher who did'n't really seem to care about me a few days before was sending me messages saying how he hadn't realized "what kind of a runner" he got when he got me. From that point on I continued to keep him happy with my results, but he never was the kind of person I would ever want to be friends with or even to sit down with and share a cup of coffee.

If you can produce consistently good results you will be rewarded with all the best loads, and the favors you need at those times of special needs. It is a precarious position to be in at times, but it is well worth the efforts you will put in to maintain that kind of relationship.

Posted By:  Old School

Posted:  3 months, 3 weeks ago

View Topic:

A Critical Piece in The Puzzle of Success at Trucking

This is nothing new, I just wanted to reiterate something we've talked about plenty of times before. It never hurts to remind folks of how you make it to the top in this profession, and for those of you who are new in here, you may not have seen some of our older discussions on this subject.

We make a lot of choices and decisions as professional drivers. One of those decisions, or choices that we see new drivers literally loose sleep over, is "Which company is a good place to start out my career?" It seems that most of us think the most critical ingredient to our success is whose name is on the doors of our truck. I tell people all the time that it is not important whose name is on your truck, and I get a lot of blank stares as if I just made some moronic statement that had no basis in reality. After all, there are literally entire websites devoted to informing us which companies are good places to work and which ones will treat us like slaves. Where have I been all these years? Why haven't I noticed all the information on the web that is devoted to helping us make informed decisions when starting a career in trucking?

We've got some folks here in our forum that are very proud of the companies they work for, and rightfully so. Some of them are so proud that you would think they are on the payroll of the recruiting department! That is a good thing! It is great to take pride in your company, and in your work. I actually enjoy it immensely when I see a new driver being so thrilled with the company they have started out with. It is much more gratifying to see that, than to see someone so ignorantly bad mouthing their employer when that same employer happens to be a good solid source of contentment and consistently nice paychecks to a host of other drivers who simply cannot relate to the problems that the soured driver is enumerating.

Why is it that one driver passionately hates the trucking company that another driver is unequivocally devoted to? The answer to that question is so simple that most of us can't even recognize it when it is staring back at us in the mirror.

I very successfully started this career at Western Express, a trucking company that has been the subject of much online vilification. I had a great relationship with my dispatcher, and that one component is the subject of this discussion - the missing link to success as a professional truck driver. Your relationship with your dispatcher is key to your success. Now, let me explain this a little further...

Please note that I did not say I had a great dispatcher. What I said was that I had a great relationship with my dispatcher. So, what does a great relationship with your dispatcher look like? Remember this one all important thing about this business: all trucking companies are trying to do the same thing - they are all trying to move freight efficiently and profitably. There is precious little that differentiates one trucking company from the next one. They are all using basically the same trucks, running the same interstates, competing under the same regulations, and often times serving the same customers, while trying to make a profit. This all important relationship with your dispatcher is the one thing that can set you apart from the other drivers, it is the one thing that puts you at the head of the pack.

Here are some key ingredients to having a good relationship with your dispatcher:

1) You, the driver, are easy to get along with.

2) You, the driver, are willing to do whatever the dispatcher needs done.

3) You, the driver, understand that you don't always have "the big picture" of what your dispatcher is working on.

4) You, the driver, take responsibility for your own mistakes and shortcomings.

5) You, the driver, do whatever it takes to be efficient with your HOS (hours of service).

6) You, the driver, communicate effectively with your dispatcher.

I always put the onus on the driver, and not the dispatcher. Have you ever noticed how most of your disgruntled drivers are constantly complaining about their dispatchers? It usually takes them only a few short statements to make you realize that they could change the whole dynamics of their relationship with their dispatcher if they would simply put away their attitude, and be willing to cooperate with their dispatcher so that they could work as a team toward the company's goals. Instead they usually think they have got to badger their dispatcher into submission so that he gives in and does things the way the driver thinks it should be done. Whether we like it or not, drivers are at the bottom of the chain of command in this business, and once you recognize that you can make a lot more money by being cooperative. It is humbling being at the bottom, but recognizing that and embracing it will enable you to be much more productive. How so? Because a driver who is cooperative and easy to get along with, all while being super productive and efficient is the kind of driver that a dispatcher loves to have on his board, and he will do everything in his power to keep that driver busy.

Everybody wants to be turning a lot of miles, and they mistakenly think that is the responsibility of the company or the dispatcher. Top producing drivers have found the secret, the "holy grail" of trucking, and it is all in how you approach this all important relationship with your dispatcher. Make that relationship your priority, and you will find success.

Posted By:  Old School

Posted:  4 months, 1 week ago

View Topic:

Rookie not getting miles....should I lease?

Danny, welcome to the forum!

Leasing a truck is one of the topics that we try to avoid here. Mainly because it seems to be a decision that folks make with their emotions rather than with good solid thought and logic. It seems every time we try to dissuade a person from leasing it gets into an unnecessary argument.

Here are some things to consider...

Ask yourself what it is about leasing that makes you think you will get more miles. That is a serious question you must consider. You made this statement:

not getting the miles that the recruiter said I would

So who is is it that is making you think you will get more miles by leasing a truck? If it is a recruiter, or someone else at the company, why are you all of a sudden going to suspend your belief that they are not always accurate with their information? And if it is a lease operator, ask them to produce for you a copy of their last years tax forms, don't trust one of their settlement checks.

Are you aware that when you actually consider all the expenses and the averaging in of the unpaid empty miles that a lease operator runs that most of your really good lease operators make about the same amount of money as a really good company driver? The lease operator usually gets paid on a 1099 basis which means you will be having to make quarterly tax filings with the IRS. Yes, that is right, you will actually be a small business as a lease operator with all the liabilities and responsibilities of showing evidence of your profits and losses.

And consider this: What kind of business plan is it to create your own competitors? Why would any business go to great lengths to create their own competition? That is exactly what these large trucking companies do when they lease their trucks out. They are basically setting you up as another freight carrier. Now they control not only your freight volume, but also how much you get paid to haul it! And you are paying them dearly to have all this control over your business! Does that sound very smart to you? Realize that they can absolutely ruin you in a heart beat if you aren't working out the way they want you to. They have total control over your sales, your revenues, your profit margins - everything that is important to a business persons success is in their control.

So what do you have control over as a lease operator?

Well, consider this scenario...

You are trying really hard to make some money, so you allow yourself to run over your hours one week just to make a delivery on time (not an uncommon choice for many owner operators). You end up in an accident while driving on violated HOS and the person in the four wheeler that you hit gets hurt so badly that they are now disabled. Now that you are an independent contractor guess who's considered liable in this scenario? Yep they will gladly let you shoulder that responsibility while they control everything else.

Look Danny, I've been a long time business owner, and owned as many as six big rigs at one time. I am quite content as a company driver now days. This business is tough, and the profits are very small. I think you are way ahead by being a really good company driver. The way you get more miles is to consistently prove yourself as a reliable efficient driver who gets along with the people you are working with.

Sometimes freight will slow down a little and maybe that is what you are experiencing, I have no idea based on the limited information you've shared with us. When ever that scenario happens and a company has got good solid company drivers on board, you can bet they are not going to be giving that limited freight out to their lease operators knowing that their really good company drivers are going to start quitting on them.

Most of the time when we hear that a driver is complaining about miles it is simply that they don't understand the whole concept of how this business is a performance based competition. The top competitors get the big miles. It is not an arbitrary act of fairness where the company tries to make sure each driver is getting his equal share. No, it is far from that. The top producers reap the rewards. We have drivers who are working the same dedicated account that I do who quit each month because they are not getting the miles they think they deserve. And then we've got about three or four of the fifteen of us who can barely keep up with what they are giving us. Just this week my dispatcher called me to tell me that the terminal manager had told him to give a certain 2,600 mile run to one of our drivers who is a trainer. The load involved some mountain driving which he wanted for the trainee. I was going to be empty on the same day as the trainer. During our conversation he chose to disobey his manager and gave the load to me. Here is what he told me. "Look Dale, this trainer has an extra pair of hands with him all the time, and he still doesn't get as much done as you do. If you will take this load, I'd rather give it to you. I'll find something else with a few mountains in it for him."

That is the way this whole mileage thing works. You really haven't been out here very long, and it takes some time to establish yourself out here. My recommendation to you is to stay a company driver, but focus on proving yourself as a dependable hard driving champion who gets it done each and every time they call on you. That strategy pays off every time in this business.

Posted By:  Old School

Posted:  4 months, 2 weeks ago

View Topic:

Can someone tell me the pros and cons of being a flatbed driver?

Dan, I'm not sure you understood how that link works that I provided you. That link gives you an entire list of threads that focus on Flat-bedding. For example here is just one of those threads that it can take you to. You should at least check that one out, as it has some great information in it. They are listed in order of their popularity, or the frequency of visits to them. The top one is on Flat-bed Variety, and I think you must have thought that was the one I was referring you to. You really should take the time to go through some of them if you are interested in flat-bed - there is a lot of information in there.

Okay, back to your original query as to the pros and cons of flat-bedding.

I just think this choice of which type of driving you want to focus on is really a personal thing that will be determined best by your personality, or as we used to say... "What ever floats your boat!" You see, some of the things that people might list as a negative for flat-bed, such as it's a lot of work, and or that you are more likely to get injured, are things that I don't even consider. Maybe if I get to where I can't climb up on the load, or something like that I might feel differently, but I'm nearing 57 years old and I still love what I'm doing, and am able to do it well.

I have always been a man of action. All the years that I owned and operated my custom sign manufacturing business I was very much a hands on manager. I like to be in the middle of the action. I might have to put on a suit in the daytime to go see a banker about a big deal, but as soon as I get back to the shop, I'm much more comfortable in my working clothes, out there in the shop welding or fabricating. I always enjoyed taking what most people saw as a pile of raw materials, and transforming it into something beautiful. That takes work, and ingenuity, creativity, and a certain understanding of how to get things done. That is why I enjoy flat-bedding. It puts me in the middle of the action, and I get to be a part of the solution of how each and every load gets there safely and on time.

Look, I think all successful truck drivers need to be creative in their thinking. There is not a day that goes by that they don't have to deal with all kinds of things that might trip up your average person's day. We have got to be able to get along with absolute jerks at times, while keeping our cool, we've got to face the quickly changing elements of weather and traffic every day, and there are challenges of unrealistically tight schedules, and a host of other challenges that face drivers of all the different forms of trucking. And as difficult as all that can be, a professional driver has got to do it all with grace and professionalism all the while realizing he is at the bottom of the totem pole as far as the hierarchy of the trucking company structure goes. For me, my life has meaning to it when I am overcoming challenges and doing that well. I need a lot of challenges to overcome or I am bored stiff. My mind enjoys being creative, I like to resolve issues and check them off my list of things that are done - like an architect at the end of a construction project goes through his "punch list" of things that are complete and done.

So rather than thinking of it in terms of pros and cons, I like to think of it as if it is something that fits your personality. Do you like working with your hands? Do you like working outdoors? Do you enjoy getting physical with your work? If you can honestly answer yes to those three things, and you are like me, then I think you would not enjoy just getting to swing the doors open on the back of a reefer or dry van trailer once or twice a day. Do you like resolving problems? Do you enjoy calculations - as in how many tie down devices do I need to secure this load properly and legally? These are the kinds of things that give a flat-bedder purpose and enjoyment in his work. I know it sounds silly to some truck drivers, but I feel a sense of pride in what I do, my heart rate actually picks up and I get a real sense of satisfaction after laboring and sweating over my tarps, and they actually come out looking really nice, almost like a well wrapped Christmas present! I am amazed when I hear truck drivers talk about going to grocery warehouses and having to sit and wait for hours just to get backed into a dock, and then have to wait for hours to get unloaded. As a flat bed driver my customers are almost always glad I'm there and are willing to get me unloaded right away. It seems like they enjoy getting those big old wrapped up Christmas presents that I'm bringing them!

If you think you are interested in flat bedding I recommend that you take the time to read through these three threads where I shared my experiences while taking each of my three daughters along with me. You can get a good idea of what life is like on the road, and particularly what it is like for a flat bed driver.

First Trip

Second Trip

Third Trip

Posted By:  Rainy D.

Posted:  5 months, 3 weeks ago

View Topic:

2 truck driving job offers from TransAm and May Trucking?

I didn't read through every line of this, but as a new driver I think what any new driver needs to know are the following:

1.) Training is HELL. You have to be tough just to get through it. No one incident or one person can show you what the overall company can provide you with. It takes time to get to know the company just as they will get to know you. Training is the worst part of being at any company, so judging them at that point is useless. Another great reason to wait the year ... you have a much better idea of the company as a whole.

2.) Training times differ greatly. I was in training from Sept 19th to feb 14th. I went home 2 times in 5 months (and once was an emergency surgery my mom had). It took almost 2 weeks from getting my truck to get me hometime on Feb 28th I think it was. Being solo, that is not normal. I get home on time or early for each request now. Which is another example of how training does not depict realistic views of being solo.

3.) Your first company is the one who puts out the money to train you and is more willing to accept the responsibility and loss when you screw up... and you WILL screw up. You'll be late and hit things which can cause issues with the customers and costs money. If you hit something while still at Trans am, they are more likely to forgive you and keep you rolling than the next company you go to who will expect you to be more seasoned. This is one of the reasons rookies should stay with the first company for a year..not just to prove commitment but to protect yourself from possible termination from a company who expected you to be better than you are. Say you leave Trans am after 4 mos cause you don't like something... be it the pay.. a dispatcher.. etc. Then You go to May and back into a door at the customer but hit a pole and the door falls off the trailer. It hapoens. May could fire you... but trans am would have probably looked the other way. Now your 5 kids have no income.

4.) All those years of experience from your family is valuable in some ways and useless in others. For example, they ran on paper logs. Therefore they could be feeding you information that is unrealistic because you wont be driving 15 hours a day. Believe me when I tell you that ME, I have given advice to veteran drivers on time management when it comes to the elogs cause I love my 8/2 splits that they never had to use. DOT rules change all the time, so do company policies.

5.) Regardless of cpm, YOUR effort will determine your success. If you have a bad attitude, time management problem, or safety issues at any company. .. you will not be getting a lot of miles. So getting .50cpm at that company versus. 25cpm at a compnay where you have proven yourself and is giving you 3000 miles per week does not compare. Time management and safety are things you need to learn and perfect. That will get you paid.

6.) Perhaps you can go to court and get the child support reduced temporarily or sign an agreement with the ex. Once your miles normalize you could return. To the original amount.

7.) The fact you have speeding tickets that are so recent will eliminate you from many companies. The best way to prove yourself to a company is to drive safely. What if the recruiter at May told you what you wanted to hear and after a few months you left and went to may. You get to orientation and now they say "ooohh we didn't know you had speeding tickets. Your going home". Now you just burned. A bridge at TA, and have no job at May. Any other company will look at you as being a non committed irresponsible driver. They dont know you.. they know only what the paper shows. Now you won't get hired anywhere.

There are a lot of reasons why people on this thread said the things they did. And here's the kicker... Brett's numbers on people going to orientation is correct. In my class of 76 only 20 made it til Friday. The rest were sent home. Of those I think 12 got the CDL. Of those only 8 made it through training. So wrap your head around that. Just because you got two "offers" to orientation does NOT mean you are actually hired.

What everyone here is telling you is that competition is fierce. YOU have to be the best of the best. At prime we were told the entire orientation and training period before the cdl was an interview. I know 3 people sent home for "not being of Prime material" just because of attitude. They wouldn't listen to anyone. THAT is what the previous posters are trying to tell you and protect you from.

When I read the OP I got the impression you made the decision to go to May but just wanted others to confirm your decision is correct.

You have a $600 per month child support payment. I had a $1200 per month apartment lease I was never at. I survived. You will too. Once you get rolling with some great tips from this forum, you could be earning big $$$$

I do.

Posted By:  Brett Aquila

Posted:  5 months, 3 weeks ago

View Topic:

2 truck driving job offers from TransAm and May Trucking?

Actually quite a few companies are that way during the training period. Your hometime during training will be really unpredictable. You might get a trainer with a dedicated run that goes near where you live and you'll get home once in a while or you might be gone for two months at first. It's really impossible to say. Trucking companies often assign freight at the last moment because new freight is always coming in, drivers are breaking down or running out of hours, storms are hitting and shutting things down - everything is very fluid. So it's hard to commit to a home time for you when you haven't even gotten to orientation. They're assigning freight right now for tomorrow pickup. You're wondering when you'll get home like 5 weeks after you begin. They couldn't begin to imagine what is going to happen between now and then.

I know a lot of people used to say that they went a long time without getting home when they first started with Prime. Sometimes new students would be gone two or even three months during that initial training phase. I haven't been hearing that lately though so I don't know what's common there right now.

But trucking is really dynamic. You have to go with the flow and conditions are rarely ideal. Drivers are dealing with traffic, weather, road conditions, schedule changes, breakdowns, DOT checks, personal chores, eating, showering, fueling, and a hundred more. The company has to deal with hundreds or thousands of office workers, giant sales teams landing freight, complicated software running their infrastructure, economic slowdowns, holiday spikes, trucks getting wrecked, lawsuits all the time, and a hundred more.

As a driver you really have to learn to go with the flow and take the bad with the good. Over time things balance out. But sometimes you have to deal with a few lousy runs in a row or a truck that breaks down more than the average truck. You might be gone longer than you want to once or twice or a change in dispatchers might cost you some miles for a few weeks. You might not like your trainer at all. That kinda stuff happens to everyone.

The biggest red flag that makes me think you'll be gone in a month no matter where you work is that you said you'll, "give Trans Am a shot to make me happy". See, that's not how trucking works at all. As a driver you have to take responsibility for your own success and happiness out there. In the beginning you should be humble, listen closely, and focus on learning your trade. As you get better over the first few months you'll make fewer mistakes, you'll stop missing appointment times, you'll learn to run your logbook more efficiently, you'll stop backing into things, you'll learn to pick up and deliver loads ahead of schedule, and a million other little tricks the top pros know that allows them to consistently turn 3,000+ miles a week safely and reliably. When you get to that level of performance and you've been with a company for a year or so, that is when they're going to make sure you're very happy.

See, a lot of new people that come into this industry don't make it a month, many drivers are far from ever performing at a high level, and even experienced veterans often change companies once or twice a year. So until you demonstrate to a company that you're an awesome driver and you're going to stick around for a while they're not going to give you their best freight, their top miles, their best equipment, and the special favors the top drivers get. They're saving all of their best stuff for their proven, established top tier drivers. Those drivers take care of their most important customers and produce the best profits for the company. Those are the drivers that get access to divisions the rest of the fleet doesn't even know exists. The gravy jobs and all the goodies go to the top performers over time. Simple as that.

So when you say you'll "give Trans Am a shot to make me happy" I already know by default you're going to hate your experience and quit your job in no time because you don't understand that you're brand new to the company and you're brand new to driving. They're giving you a tryout to see how successful and committed you'll be. If you look at industry data, the odds are that you'll be gone within three months. You'll either quit the industry or go to another company because you think you're being treated poorly, when in fact they're waiting to see what you're made of and whether or not you're in it for the long haul with them.

Posted By:  Brett Aquila

Posted:  5 months, 3 weeks ago

View Topic:

2 truck driving job offers from TransAm and May Trucking?

You're talking like you're an NFL superstar playing the free agency game. You're talking about "giving Trans Am a shot". Trans Am is one of the most successful companies in the industry. They have nothing to prove to you. They're going to train you for a new career and put you in a beautiful piece of equipment. They're giving you a shot, not the other way around. Be clear about that.

And if you think a few hundred dollars a week in training and a few cents per mile is going to make any kind of difference then I can assure you it won't. You have no idea how many miles you're going to get at either company. You have no idea how the training will go at either company. It's not like an hourly wage where you know you're working 40 hours a week at most places. The amount of money you make will come down to how hard you work, how safe you are, how reliable you are, all of which is basically saying how committed you are to your company and learning your trade. You have to prove yourself no matter where you go before you're going to turn the big miles and get the best treatment that the proven veterans get.

The idea that you're going to give Trans Am a shot, or any company for that matter, as if they have something to prove to you when you haven't driven a truck professionally a single mile in your life is laughable. That's my point. So if you don't commit to whichever company you choose for a minimum of one year, learn your trade, and eventually prove yourself to be a safe, hard working, reliable professional you won't make good money no matter where you go.

And don't tell me I misread your posts. I quoted you directly:

"one slip by Trans Am and I will be making a phone call to May!"

Tell me how I misread that? See, if you let someone talk long enough eventually they'll give away their true nature. You talked a good game, talked about commitment and all that special stuff but then you accidentally slipped and made that statement I just quoted. That is who you are, not some super-committed guy who understands the opportunities he's being given and the risks others are taking to give him that.

I committed to go to Trans Am and give them a shot

You'll give them your very best for one full year. That is commitment. Anything less is simply a rookie overvaluing himself, underestimating the mountain of challenges that lie ahead, and underappreciating the risks his company is taking to bring you off the street and teaching you to be a professional driver.

If you think a few cents per mile or a little bit extra in training is going to determine which company is the better company then you're not getting how any of this works at all. I'm trying to make you understand the err of your ways before one of these companies do, that's all. When you show up to orientation on the first day have a good look around because by the end of the week 30% of those people will be on a bus back home. 80% of them will never wind up making it out of training. I'm trying to make sure you're not one of em.

Posted By:  Old School

Posted:  5 months, 3 weeks ago

View Topic:

Pay my own way or "free" company school? And which company has best starting pay?

By the way, I have never driven a truck with an APU in it, and I have never spent the night in a sweaty bed or been uncomfortable in any way or fashion while out here on the road. You can find evidence within these forum pages that I cook some really great meals on the road, and enjoy life in general out here, without having an APU. I hope you'll read these threads where I took my daughters out on the road with me, and you will see just how enjoyable this life can be for those who get started off with the right attitude. Here's three different threads where I spent some time with my girls - check them out, you will enjoy the read...

Trip One

Trip Two

Trip Three

I have been a top producer in this business and the companies that I have worked for treat me like royalty! They will you too, but only after you've proven your worth to them. That is the order of things - Get a Job... Prove yourself... Enjoy life out here on the road.

Get a job, it really isn't that important where you start. All these companies are doing the same thing for the same customers, and they are all doing it with the same equipment on the same interstates. It is a commodities business with very little, if any way to distinguish one's company above the rest of the competition.

Prove yourself, that is the most vital ingredient for your success. It is the most difficult part of the formula, and that is why you see all these whiners and complainers online - they are the ones who have never figured out the mystery - that is why they always seem to think there is a magical trucking company out there with all the right amenities, and just the right formula for success. The problem is they just haven't found it yet! This is where the individual driver can distinguish himself over his peers. This job is performance based, and therefore it is the top performers who enjoy the rewards of their efforts. Within any trucking company there is a core group of drivers who enjoy success, and they are rewarded with the best loads because they have proven time and again that they will not disappoint.

Enjoy life out here on the road, this is the easy part, but it is only easy if you get those first two steps accomplished. This is the part that I want you to lay hold of, the enjoyment of it all. That is why I have taken the time to try to shoot straight with you, why I have bothered to lay it all out for you. I know you want to be successful, and it is obvious that you are convinced that you can. Just take care how you go about things, and put a guard on any negative attitudes that are being formed from your online research before you even know the shift pattern of an Eaton ten speed transmission!

Posted By:  Old School

Posted:  5 months, 3 weeks ago

View Topic:

Pay my own way or "free" company school? And which company has best starting pay?

Welcome aboard Space Truckin, We're really glad to have you in here!

Forgive me for wanting to put the brakes on you just a little, but I have witnessed so many people come into this business with the wrong approach to it that I can almost spot them from a mile away now. There are so many of your remarks in your posts that indicate you have already picked up on the poor attitudes and postures that are prevalent among the on-line trucking community, or the group that I call the "whiners and complainers."

We do our best around here to help folks like you (total newbs), make a good start in this career so that they can enjoy success at it. Success in this business is always earned. It really has little or nothing to do with which company you start out with, or move on to work for, but by reading the conversations in most trucking forums you would never come to that conclusion.

Here's just one small example of how your reading has rubbed off on you and it shows when you say such things:

I don't really care about TV, haven't watched that garbage in years, much prefer reading (including getting on the internet, where you can learn dang near anything you might want to, it's a wonderful thing!). APU I do however care about, in fact IMO any company that doesn't provide one, well that to me says a lot how they think about providing some creature comforts for the people out here busting their hump to make them money. OTOH, I am getting into this to make money also myself, and as you say if it's a tradeoff, then maybe that's something I should reconsider. It's just that, in Florida where I live, I know you cannot get restful sleep in this very hot and humid environment without A/C. I'm sure the reverse is true "up north" in the cold, although I suppose you could just have more blankets, up to a point. Lack of restful sleep (when you are able to get it) seems to me like it would cause a lot of other problems with your attitude potentially as well as your ability to deal with situations, as well as your ability to focus, which affects everything and of course safety most of all. So therefore, yes, restful sleep and creature comforts are very important to me, not for selfish reasons but because it seems to me that they would be necessary for a safe and productive life on the road.

Within that one paragraph you have ripped the trucking companies as heartless SOB's, blamed them for making their drivers unsafe and miserable, and taken the attitude that they could care less about their drivers, all in the name of corporate greed. You did all that while taking the stance that you are just a hard working guy who is trying to make money for the company. Basically you are setting yourself up as the good guy versus the bad guys, and brother let me warn you, that is not the way you are going to be successful or happy at this career. I'm not trying to rip you a new one, I just want you to stop and think about this question: "Where did that type of sentiment come from?"

If the answer to that question is that it came about due to your research online, then you need to take a chill from some of the places you've been frequenting and spend a few good quality weeks with us. You will benefit greatly from your little sabbatical, trust me. If you think that the only companies who care about their drivers are the ones with an APU in each truck you are seriously going to limit your potential employers, and your potential to enjoy a rewarding career at this. Take some time and join in our conversations. Read some of our helpful blogs. Learn to navigate your way around in here - there are literally volumes of helpful materials tucked away within this web site. I'm glad you found us, because I think you have probably got a good head on your shoulders, but you've already got some bad influences working to thwart your path to success.

Just recently we started a little thread in here that I had hopes of developing into a growing list of new drivers and how they have found success as beginners. I want you to read it and see the different stories that are there, and the different companies represented. Take notes and see if you can figure out how many of them have APU's or not, and hopefully you'll start to get past some of that junk you've already swallowed and let sour your thinking. You are going to see companies represented in there that you probably have already been pre-disposed to stay away from due to the horror stories online about them. While you are reading about their success stories I want you to realize that I started my career at Western Express, and built a great foundation for success there. Have you ever heard of them? If not, do a search and see what you find about them. I promise you it won't be good, and I will also promise you that it is all a bunch of lies from a bunch of losers who couldn't find success in trucking if you handed it to them on a silver APU! Here's a link to This Is How We Roll!

Continued...

Posted By:  Brett Aquila

Posted:  5 months, 3 weeks ago

View Topic:

Pay my own way or "free" company school? And which company has best starting pay?

Welcome Space Truckin!

To start out with, the most important thing to get straight right off the bat is to get this junk out of your head:

...how much am I going to be taken advantage of by greedy corp...

...which seems like a bit of a scam...

First of all, what is there to take advantage of with a rookie driver fresh out of school? You will literally be the most dangerous and least productive driver on the American highways at the beginning of your career. You know nothing about being a top professional in this industry early on and you'll be nothing but a liability risk and a burden until they can teach you how things are done out there. So just having the idea in your head that you have something valuable to offer the largest, most successful companies in this industry as a rookie fresh out of school shows you're greatly underestimating the difficulties you're about to face and greatly overestimating the value you provide early on. That's an ominous approach to take in a career that's as difficult, dangerous, and complex as trucking.

One of the biggest mistakes people make when they're new to this industry is thinking that having a CDL means they've accomplished something and now they're valuable. Oh it feels like you've accomplished something, but the truth is only about 2% of what you'll need to know to be a top tier professional in this industry will be taught to you during your schooling. The next 18% you'll learn while you're on the road with a trainer. The remaining 80% will be learned the hard way, on your own after you go solo. And each step of the process is far more difficult than the last. School is cake, though people think it's tough at the time. Training on the road is far more difficult and many people never make it past this stage. But driving solo those first few months is a trial by fire and you're going to learn a lot of hard, embarrassing, and frustrating lessons during that time. This is when you'll find out whether or not you have what it takes to make it in this industry.

We lost count years ago of the number of people who have ruined their careers before they ever got off the ground by coming in with the wrong attitude. This whole "company scam" thing and "slave to a contract" attitude will ruin you. Not only will you be blindsided by how difficult it is to survive that first year on the road, but you're not going to understand the serious commitment it takes to learning your trade and how critical it is to prove yourself to your company before you're going to get the great miles, fancier trucks, better runs, access to higher divisions within the company, and special favors the proven top tier drivers get.

So please........do not overestimate your worth and do not underestimate the mountain you have to climb to become a truly valuable professional in this industry. You could almost literally teach a monkey the basic driving skills it takes to get their CDL. A top tier professional driver has years of street savvy behind them.

Am I going to end up having to do a lot of driving at low pay initially no matter who I go and work for?

You're going to have to learn a lot of hard lessons and prove yourself to your company before the better pay, better miles, better equipment, and special favors start coming your way. You're also going to have to adjust to life on the road. No one comes out of school with the mental and physical endurance it takes to turn 3,000 miles a week. You won't know how to work the logbook that well yet, you won't know how to work your way around cities and snowstorms and construction zones properly yet, you won't be savvy enough to wiggle your way in and out of customers as quickly as you need to, and you'll be too stressed out and overwhelmed to handle it all mentally. It takes time.

I hope that doesn't come off as being entitled or having a bad attitude

It does. At least it does relative to where you need to be. Prepare yourself for this first year on the road like it's boot camp. You're going to have a lot of ups and downs, spells of self-doubt, exhausting stretches where you can barely remember your own name, and emotional breakdowns you'll likely never tell anyone about.

And finally, keep something in mind about these large carriers. They are the best in class companies out there. They are the upper 1% in this industry. They would love to continue to grow but the thing that's holding them back is an utter lack of true professional drivers out there. The turnover in this industry is appalling. When you do choose a company, dedicate yourself to them for one full year. Give them everything you've got. Learn how the company works on the inside, learn how this industry works, master your trade, and get to know the right people in management. That is the secret to getting top pay, top equipment, and top miles in this industry. You prove yourself as a top tier driver to a great company, get to know the right people, and all of the accolades you're hoping for will be there. Most people never get that somehow. Even drivers who have been out there for years keep searching for this "diamond in the rough" company and never realize it's their own attitude, their own shortcomings that are keeping them from being as happy and successful as the top tier drivers they think they are.

Posted By:  G-Town

Posted:  5 months, 4 weeks ago

View Topic:

Do you have the right temperament for this job?

On the surface this may seem like a misplaced post, something more commonly discussed in a shrink's office not on a trucker's forum. Bear with me,...please read on.

My motivation for writing this is simple; "I have seen many, many drivers come and go from my terminal". Some within minutes of arriving. Yes, that quick; “bye”. It's troubling cause I genuinely love this business. Trucking has a reputation of chewing-up and spitting-out many an entry-level driver. If a driver can make it past 90 days, they may ultimately survive and thrive. The person who actually stops and thinks, “No, I am not going to be good at this”, actually has done themselves a huge favor with a quick and painless exit. We have seen several recent examples of this. Many drivers pass through this business thinking it’s going to be “easy”, steady work requiring little to no thought whatsoever. It’s to the point where I can almost predict those who will make it and those who won’t when I first meet them. But why? Why and how can I make this prediction and almost always be correct. I am not clairvoyant, clever, or particularly gifted at reading people, I just have developed a sense of what temperament works in this business, specifically the Walmart account where I work. In many cases it’s ridiculously obvious, almost comical. It’s not psycho-babble, or something relegated to mental health professionals, it’s something we should understand, be aware of and learn to manage.

As defined by Merriam Webster’s Dictionary temperament is:

the usual attitude, mood, or behavior of a person or animal

To me the qualifier, use of the word “Usual” is key; “it’s just how a person is”. How they typically respond, interact, react, and project to others without consciously thinking about it. "Be yourself", right? No more like; "Know yourself". Like it or not trucking is a people business. The “people” aspect is an important element of this job we have seemingly little control over. Or do we? How others perceive our attitude, behaviors and mood can have a major impact on how they respond to us; either positively or negatively. It can make the difference between getting things done, or not.

We see people come and go from this forum. As is usually the case, reading their post almost always indicates the root cause of their dilemma. It’s temperament, their attitude cannot and does not hide.

They have no clue how their temperament and their inability to manage it, has actually contributed to their downfall.

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When I see a new person approach the driver’s window, the first 30 seconds of their interaction with the DM basically sets the tone for how they will be treated at least for the next few days, usually longer. Most drivers, especially the newbies do not realize this. Almost instantly they are labeled to some degree; “professional”, “nice”, “intense”, “grumpy”, “nasty”. Don’t kid yourself, that’s what happens. Apply that same theory to our interactions with shipping clerks, receiving clerks, lumpers/dock workers, security guards and other motorists and it’s easy to see where some drivers are their own worst enemy and things tend to come off-the-rails rather quickly. Give an individual “in-power” a negative attitude and it’s likely to result in a negative encounter and outcome.

Our temperament and our ability to manage it, is absolutely critical to our success, happiness and yes, money.

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Is it possible to adjust our natural temperament to more positively effect a desired outcome or result? Yes, I believe it’s possible, but with work. At a minimum this requires an awareness. Consistent thought, thinking about a situation and refusing to give-in to the natural temperament that would cause an emotionally charged, angry approach or response. Think, think, think…always think about what you say and how you say it before actually doing it. If you know you are about to have a conversation requiring the other person to do something for you, realizing that they may not want to do it, approach it with professionalism, a calm demeanor, and gratitude. By doing that there is a much higher probability of influencing a more positive outcome. If what was just described is not part of your natural temperament, then I suggest a rehearsal of sorts to more positively approach a conflict or difficult situation in order to have a reasonable chance at the desired outcome. Managing this to our advantage is part of the job, an on-going process and not a one-time event. I believe it's a skill that we can all learn.

As it applies to our individual temperament; virtually every aspect of this job; driving, discussions with other people, everything is affected by our natural attitude, behavior and mood. Know yourself,…think about it. Learn how to adjust. Do you have the right temperament for this job?

Posted By:  Brett Aquila

Posted:  6 months, 1 week ago

View Topic:

An observation...

I have been accused of being a Swift "fanboy"

Yeah, well you know how it is. People who can't figure out how to find the same level of happiness and success you've found become bitter about it. For them it's easier to criticize you than it is to look in the mirror and figure out how to get better at what they do and that vicious cycle never ends for them.

I've had plenty of people call me a "company guy" because I say that people who know how to be successful can be successful at any company they choose to work for. Again, a lot of people just don't get how to make your way in this industry so when things don't go as they expect them to they figure it's the company's fault. When I won't blame the company for their troubles they figure I'm also part of the problem. Somehow with those people they never see the problem when they look in the mirror.

but there is definitely a large pay per mile discrepancy for drivers with experience.

That's very true. Different companies have different philosophies on how to pay people and who to recruit. Many companies are finding better luck recruiting new drivers and training them their way while avoiding the headaches that come with paying more money for experienced drivers. The natural tendency is to assume a company would want to pay more for drivers with more experience but it's not as simple as that.

New drivers take time to train and you don't often know if they'll succeed or not until they've been out on the road for a little while. But they often have better attitudes, they're more willing to be flexible, they're eager to prove themselves, and they're easier to get along with.

Experienced drivers often come with a whole different set of baggage. They often feel like they've put in their time in the industry doing the dirty work so they expect higher wages, fancier equipment, and preferential treatment. They don't want to run the Northeast, they don't want short runs, they want more home time - sometimes the headaches never end.

Put in your time with Stevens and fulfill that contract. Then decide if they're the company you want to stick with or if it's time to try something else. You can certainly find a higher rate per mile at other companies but you're giving up a lot by starting over again somewhere else. At Stevens you've proven yourself, you know how the company operates, and you've built up a lot of goodwill so they'll give you better treatment and some special favors now.

If you leave and start over somewhere else you're nobody to them until you prove otherwise. It won't matter that you have experience already. In fact that may cause the company more problems than you're worth. That will depend on your attitude and work ethic which they won't be able to gauge until you've proven it.

So they'll take a wait and see approach to you. If you go in there thinking they'll roll out the red carpet because you have experience you're going to be terribly disappointed with the results you get. You'll have to start again at the bottom, get to know a new dispatcher all over again, take the lousier runs at first to see if you're reliable or not with appointment times, and basically get the rookie treatment all over again until you earn a higher standing with the company.

That's one of the big misconceptions people have about this industry. They think you get your training at a "starter company" and then move on to a "better company" where you'll make more money and get treated better. That's not how it works at all. If you want the best treatment, the best equipment, the most miles, some extra home time, and some special favors thrown in along the way you have to put in quite a bit of time with your company to earn that. That stuff won't be handed to you because you have experience somewhere else. Being new to a company means you start over and work your way up from the bottom. That is a very hard lesson for a lot of drivers that leave their first company thinking they hold all the cards now.

In fact, just yesterday I was speaking with the owner's son at Wil-Trans and he said their second highest source of hiring is actually re-hires - drivers who leave the company thinking they'll have it made somewhere else because now they have experience. When they realize that was a false notion they come back to the place they know well and have already earned the special perks and fantastic treatment they thought they would get somewhere else simply because they have experience now.

So it's not about how much driving experience you have. It's about how much experience you have with the company you're with. That's the key concept that it takes most drivers a few years to figure out. That's why we teach people to stick with that first company for a minimum of one year. At that point you'll have the perks, the big miles, and the special favors the top tier drivers get and life will be good. You have to earn that first and that takes time.

Posted By:  Brett Aquila

Posted:  6 months, 3 weeks ago

View Topic:

Need a change to a get home

I agree with everyone above. Celadon does things the same way everyone does things when it comes to home time and holidays. You request your home time a week or two in advance and you'll get a day off for every week you were out there. Almost no one offers paid holidays or guarantees home time.

And what is this:

I have to stay out for 2 months in order to come home for a week. Every other driver I spoken with has told me how crazy that sounds to them and it is!

Every other driver of what.......taxi cabs? Because pretty much every OTR driver in America is under the same schedule - one day off for every week out. And there aren't any companies out there that will normally give anyone a full week off at one time. If you required a week off you'd have to turn in your truck so someone else can use it and they'd give you a truck when you got back. If you were at a company for a couple years or more and you had established yourself as a top tier driver you might be able to talk your company into giving you a week off. Maybe. But that's far from the norm.

See, here's the other thing that we see all the time......rookies hear things and start getting themselves all in a panic over nothing. The idea that "every other driver you spoke with told you how crazy this sounds" tells me you're either speaking to a bunch of clueless drivers or more likely you're speaking to drivers who will say anything just to have someone to talk with for a while, especially a woman. Trust me, there are a ton of lonely drivers out there. You want sympathy? You want a shoulder to cry on? You want someone to rally behind your cause? They'll be more than happy to oblige. They'll tell you whatever you want to hear just so you'll stick around and talk for a while. Because anyone who is telling you that your schedule is crazy is simply full of cr*p. They're doing nothing more than telling you what you want to hear. Your schedule is standard for OTR trucking. That would be like telling an office worker that their 9 to 5 schedule is crazy.

"I have to work 8 hours before I get to go home!"

"Oh that's just awful honey! You're at the wrong company. They're not treating you right.".....blah blah blah......whatever it takes to get a few more minutes of conversation out of you. Trust me, I watched guys do this constantly my entire career. Anytime a female driver walks into the room about 20% of the drivers instantly turn into buffoons and run over there hoping to get a few minutes of attention. If they have to agree with you when you say something is crazy, even though it's perfectly normal, they'll gladly do so. I guarantee you that if you told them you like leprechauns it would look like a St Patrick's Day parade in there in 10 minutes.

You mentioned your mom got sick and you don't feel they showed you enough concern and that's one of the reasons you want to quit. Well unfortunately being an OTR driver means you're going to miss a lot of things that most people are home for. Everyone isn't going to stop what they're doing to rush you home every time something happens. That's one of the tougher parts of the travelling lifestyle. You have to count on the people that are back home to handle things themselves. Now if she was gravely ill and it was life or death then that's different. But from the way you described it that wasn't at all the case. So unfortunately it was a matter of you not understanding the commitment and sacrifices it takes to be an OTR driver as Old School had mentioned.

Instead of trying to make it out like Celadon is the problem here, which they're not, why don't we find out what it is that you're looking for. Why aren't you happy out there? Are you homesick? Are you getting burned out from the intense schedule? Are there personal things going on in your life that are preventing you from enjoying your time on the road? These are all problems that pretty much every driver faces, especially in the beginning of their careers. The company you're at is a good company with great equipment and they're paying you a fair wage, especially considering they paid for your training up front. So Celadon is not the problem. If you jump ship you're going to find out that all OTR companies operate the same way. All that's going to accomplish is landing you back at the very bottom of the totem pole again with the same issues you already have.

As always, we highly recommend you stay where you're at until you finish up that first year. Then if you'd like to do something different a whole bunch of doors will open up and you'll have a nice selection of companies to choose from. But leaving the company because they don't have paid holidays or they won't stop their operations to run you home every time something happens isn't going to accomplish anything good for you. You have to get down to what's really bothering you and find a solution to those problems. Celadon is not the problem though.

Posted By:  Brett Aquila

Posted:  7 months, 4 weeks ago

View Topic:

No Driving school, but successfully tested & obtained Florida CDL Class A License - What are my options for jobs/companies?

Ok this is interesting. So Davor is trying to make it sound simple - just get your CDL any way you like and don't worry about what these idiots say at TruckingTruth cuz they're full of cr*p. Ok, let's review Davor's journey to see how he "got ahead the easy way" by skipping school:

About 9 1/2 months ago you said:

I've been on the road with my uncle [who is an owner operator] for about 5 months driving flatbeds and I must say that I enjoy it, learned a lot about the trucking business and about hauling with flatbeds..

Ok so 9 months ago you already had 5 months of training on the road with your permit. You didn't have your CDL yet.

Then 5 1/2 months ago you said:

I'm preparing to go to the DMV on Tuesday and take my drive/skills test...I've been driving with my uncle who is an owner/operator and learned a lot from him...since I didn't go to truck school to get my training I really don't know what to expect

So at that point you had been on the road as a trainee with your uncle for 8 1/2 months and you were getting ready to take your CDL exam. But then 1 1/2 months ago you came back and said:

Last time I was here I was supposed to go take my road test which I chose not to do because I didn't feel prepared...well , last month I was ready and went to go take it and passed everything on the first try so I was very happy about that...i was very fortunate enough to have my uncle who was willing to let me ride with him for a whole year with a CLP before I went to go take the road test with his truck...

So it ultimately took you a full year of driving as a trainee with your uncle before you felt comfortable enough to get your CDL. Are you aware of the fact that most CDL schools will have your training completed and have your CDL in your wallet within a month? Then, with one more month of training you'll be running solo at most of the major companies, only two months after you started CDL training. It took you a full year to get to the point that most people get to in two months.

So far I'm not seeing how you've gotten ahead of the game in any way.

Not only that, but the only way you were able to pull it off is because your uncle was willing to hire you on as cheap labor for a full year. How many people do you think have a relative that will hire them and train them for a full year?

See, if you're going to tell people you've found some alternative path to success you have to give them the entire plan and spell out the details. You're here implying it's easy to just skip school and go land a job but that's not what you did at all. You were brought in by a family member and trained for an entire year before you even took your CDL exam.

Does that really sound like the better plan, especially when you consider there are company-sponsored programs that will train you and then hire you with no money out of pocket? It doesn't sound any better to me.

So if at this point you were to apply to major companies your uncle would verify that you have a year of OTR driving which should eliminate the need for trucking school. Then again they'll look at your license and see that you just got it two months ago and might not consider your experience to be legit. That will vary from company to company.

You also said you're making $1,200/week. Well it's your second year of driving so that seems about average for a 3,000 mile week. Then again there are companies paying rookies even better than 40 cpm so there are people making that in their first year. And of course you famously leave out a lot of details in your stories so who knows how you're actually doing it - Are you Leasing? Do you own the truck? Are you working as a subcontractor with a 1099? We'd like to know more about this job and the miles you're turning to make that. And what is your mileage pay?

I'm hoping there's more to this than we understand at this point because it seems to me you came here acting like you have a better plan when clearly you didn't. You started throwing insults at drivers that could run circles around you in their sleep and strutting around here like a rooster as if you've accomplished something special when in fact you're almost a year behind everyone else's milestones.

Just because something has been done or can be done doesn't mean it should be done. Just because you did something doesn't mean it was a good idea, nor does it mean it's a good idea for anyone else. We're here giving people the safest, surest route to getting their career off to a great start. Can you say you're here doing the same? Are you looking out for new drivers and trying to give them solid advice they can count on to get a great start in trucking? Obviously not. You're here trying to make us look foolish, as if you've discovered a better way, when in reality I've yet to find one single way you've gotten ahead of people who take the traditional route that we suggest.

So please, guide us in our ignorance if you would. How are you better off than those who have gone through a company-sponsored program and taken the traditional route? All I see is a long list of ways in which you're behind everyone else.

Posted By:  Old School

Posted:  8 months ago

View Topic:

Truck driving for the ex-IT pro

There are strategies for success that each driver will develop on his own if he has the initiative, unfortunately most don't take those initiatives. Brett used to keep a list of where empty trailers were, and when he'd be sitting around at some distribution center with fifteen other drivers from his company, all of them waiting on empty trailers, he'd study that list and then head off to look at those nearby places where he might find an empty. If somebody hollered at him on the radio, "Hey Rolling Stone, where are you going?" He'd say "Ahhh, I'm going to go get me a sandwich, I'll be back in a few minutes." Next thing you know he was getting dispatched a load because he knew how to find an empty trailer. All those other guys were willing to just sit and wait. There is no money in sitting and waiting in this business. It is the guys who know how to keep their wheels turning who make the top pay. That is why I stated earlier that it is all on your shoulders. This is important: Few people understand what I'm sharing with you. That is why there is such disparity among truck drivers pay. Just this week I was at the Knight terminal in Gulfport, Mississippi having my truck serviced. Here we are midway into the calendar year, and a driver in the lounge tells me that he is quitting Knight. His reason was: "They just don't have the miles to keep us busy." He told me that he will only have made 15,000 dollars by the end of this month (June), and that he thought that was unacceptable. Well, I didn't tell him I had made more than half that. Then he stated his "real concern" as he put it. "This company has their favorites, and if you are one of those favorites then you are going to make all kinds of money - that is just not fair!"

Sambo, I hope your getting the picture. Favoritism is alive and well in the trucking business. It has absolutely nothing to do with "brown nosing" it is all based on performance. To the victors go the spoils. The top producers have earned their positions at the top, and if they expect to stay there they have to bring their "A" game every day, and every night. I'm relentless when it comes to out performing the others, but the thing is you never know what you are up against, so you do your damndest every chance you get out here to be the best their is.

That is how you make some money at this.

Posted By:  Old School

Posted:  8 months ago

View Topic:

Truck driving for the ex-IT pro

Appreciate the honesty. I'm sure I'm reaching when i say 50k. I'm just going off of what knight is telling me. They say that drivers start out on an average of $1100-$1200 a week. Is this just recruiter mumbo jumbo?

Okay, recruiters are really just saying what they've been told, plus they are trying like crazy to get you signed up - I mean who can blame them? That is how they get paid, and we all want to maximize our pay don't we. Can we really call it dishonesty if that is what their superior told them new drivers are making? Is it really dishonest when the potential is there to make that much money?

you say that you have to hustle to make the top pay. Is there a trick to that? Is it about being creative with your HOS , or finding the right loads? Or is it simply about taking every load they give you whenever it comes up, and just not any procrastinating, just turn and burn all the time?

Sambo, you ask some really thought provoking questions, and they are not easily answered with a yes or no answer. I'm just going to share with you some of my recent experiences from the past week, and hopefully you can see what goes into success out here. I want you to realize that the kind of things I'm about to share with you happen to me every week - all the time. I'm sharing these because they are fresh on my mind, but the answer to your question about hustling and making things happen is an acquired skill that is developed by savvy drivers who are always vigilant to keep themselves at the top of the food chain. Believe it or not this job is a very competitive environment. Sadly many drivers never grasp that concept and they are leaving a lot of money on the table because of that.

This week I ran a load from Louisiana up into Connecticut. I rearranged the order of the stops on the load because I could get it done quicker that way - that was all on my own initiative. Some drivers are scared to do things like this, afraid it is going to back fire on them - I'll take those risks and it almost always comes out on top for me. I actually had the personal cell phone numbers of the fork-lift drivers in my phone at three of the places I was going to. How many drivers do you think have that kind of info with them? I take steps like this because it keeps me ahead of the game. One of them agreed to meet me at 4 a.m. - that early start put me four hours ahead of schedule. Now let's fast forward to when I got empty on that load. It was about 9 a.m. My dispatcher didn't expect me to be empty until around 1:30. Once he got my email he called me with this conversation: "How did you get emptied so fast? Now you've put me in a predicament - we only have one load up their in the Northeast and there are two drivers up there that I need to get back. I already dispatched it to the other driver because by every indication he would be finished first. Now you are about an hour and a half ahead of him." This is where people don't understand the competitive nature of the job. I didn't even know what I was up against, but I know from all my past experiences that if I can push things ahead I will come out on top. My dispatcher took the load off of the other driver and put it on me because I got done first. Guess what? The other driver had to wait on a load - I got to keep my wheels turning. That load that I just picked up by hustling had 1,850 miles on it - the one I just finished in Connecticut had 1,480 on it. You can do the math - those are the kind of miles the slackers only dream about - for me they are common place. I'm not bragging, I'm hoping to illustrate the answers to your very good questions. Seeing how it works out here is far better than me telling you that the good drivers make 1,200 a week - that only leaves you wondering how does one become one of those good drivers.

The thing about this stuff is that you build a relationship of trust with your dispatcher, and he knows which drivers he can count on. Trust me on this, they have their favorites, and those favorites are the ones who are constantly surprising them with the outcomes they get. I promise you that you could ask 100 drivers if they have cell phone numbers of the fork lift operators at places they deliver too and you'd be lucky to find even one who had that kind of information. Who thinks like that? Only the top performers who realize how to get things done out here. Now, I just don't go around asking for these numbers - they'd look at me like I was nuts. I build a relationship with them first by always serving them extremely well, just like I do my dispatcher. Half the time a situation will arise where they end up needing me to show up early and they offer me their number so I can call them when I'm getting close - this happens without me ever asking. Brother, when that happens I am not losing that number!

Continued...

Posted By:  Gladhand

Posted:  8 months ago

View Topic:

I can't believe this.

I wake up everyday happy. I am living in the moment and enjoy each day as it comes. I think of the future, but at the same time I am focused on the task at hand.

I can't believe I am paid to drive a big vehicle around the country. I can't believe that I have already made life long friends from random encounters on the job. I can't believe people tried to keep me from doing this.

I feel awesome today. Yeah the wind has been following me everyday, but I say it's Wyoming training! The oil field guys basically ran me off the road yesterday, but I am alive right? Heck I basically daycabbed a little in Laredo, but now I got a nice little run to Oklahoma.

I can't believe this and to those on the fence, make a few calls look around some more. Forget about the negative reviews. I work for one of the most hated companies. So many horror stories and I have none to share. All I have to share is a better life and life free of my old crippling depression!

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TruckingTruth was founded by Brett Aquila (that's me!), a 15 year truck driving veteran, in January 2007. After 15 years on the road I wanted to help people understand the trucking industry and everything that came with the career and lifestyle of an over the road trucker. We'll help you make the right choices and prepare for a great start to your trucking career.

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