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Posted By:  Turtle

Posted:  4 days, 8 hours ago

View Topic:

Prime Inc. CDL training. Springfield, Missouri

03/19/2017 1902hrs Cleveland, OH

Yeah I know it's been a little bit since I last posted. I can't say its because I haven't had the time, since I did. Truth is I just got lazy I guess.

I survived my first week solo. The thrill of running my own show was counterbalanced by the fear of... well... running my own show.

One load in particular almost got me screwed up.

I was to pick up four metal coils, totalling 47k pounds. When I got there, the loader operator dude asked me how I wanted them loaded onto my trailer. I answered him as honestly as I could:

"Umm I'm not sure, this is my first time."

As embarrassing as it was to say that, it was the truth, and I sought his advice on what was standard. Now don't get me wrong, during training I did haul steel coils twice. But each time they were just put on our truck and we secured them. I don't recall ever being given the option of loading them suicide, shotgun, or eye to the sky. Didn't occur to me that we would have the option how they are loaded. I was basically just following my trainers lead.

Now it's on me. No room for error. I know how to secure coils, but I just didn't know which way would be best to load them.

So after I showed him my ignorance, he kinda smiled as if this wasn't the first time a newbie showed up to his warehouse. He showed great patience explaining the different ways he could load them, and what most drivers normally do.

In the end I got em loaded and secured like a pro, and learned a valuable lesson: Never be afraid to ask for help. You probably won't be the first to ask. When it comes to securing a load safely, I won't take chances.

After dropping off this load, I was sent home for home time. Spent a few well earned days at home relaxing and setting up my truck. I planned to ship out on Tuesday morning, but that big storm that hit the Northeast had other ideas. Once I figured out I couldn't get out ahead of the storm, I messaged my FM to request a couple extra days to sit it out. He said no problem, good call. It made me feel good to know he agreed with my desire for safety.

The load I'm on now was scheduled to deliver Friday, but delays at the shipper put me just enough behind that I couldn't make it by close of business Friday. Therefore I'm now babysitting this load until Monday. So now I'm just sitting at my 90, waiting till they open up tomorrow morning. I could have sat at our terminal, or a truck stop for the weekend. But by waiting here, I'll get in a 34, and be unloaded and dispatched on a new load before ever starting my clock.

Oh yeah, the best part of being on my own truck now? My wife is with me! We are finally living out our dream together. It's been a long road to get here. But the rewards are oh so sweet. I don't know what the future holds, but at the moment we're loving life. That's worth something.

Peace

Posted By:  Older Newbie

Posted:  1 month ago

View Topic:

Frustrations training with Prime on the road

Oh does all this sound familiar. It is! To just about everyone here I suspect. Having just gone through my training and getting my own truck I really do understand your frustration. My trainer and training was with Werner, doing the Dollar General account. It was intense, hard work, extremely frustrating at times but in the end just as satisfying.

Just like you were saying, there were times when I wondered if in had made the wrong decision...I couldn't seem to do anything right it seemed. Especially backing !

And needless to say that's about 75% of what that account is about...backing in tight spaces, at all hours in crazy traffic. It was as though my brain had been erased from the time I was in school to then. As everyone has already told you, this will pass. This industry is very different from anything many of us have ever done before and there is a HUGE learning curve.

I have been in my own truck just a little over 2 months. It's exciting, scary, intimidating and when things go well, one of the best feelings I've ever felt. Yes there are days when it takes 10 or 15 mins to back properly...but then there are days when you get it right, it slides in perfectly and you climb out of the cab feeling like a million bucks.

As others have said, keep something in mind before you make a decision to either quit or beat up on yourself...

The next time you're at a truck stop, or at a loading dock or just tooling down the superslab, keep something in mind...every driver you see,every one, has been a rookie too. You aren't alone!

Any driver that says they didn't struggle with some aspect of this career is not telling you the whole story.... that's polite for saying they are not telling you the truth. The honest ones will tell you that every day they learn something, even after years of driving. And they will also tell you that they have bad days backing too.

This is an industry that quite literally is always moving, changing, evolving. There is so much to learn in such a short period of time that it does weed out the faint of heart. It should frankly. There is a lot at stake when you drive a 73 ft, 80,000 lbs vehicle loaded with who knows what around people, little cars, buildings...the world. Too many things can go wrong for the wrong person to be behind the wheel. But, and I suspect the others will agree, if you are willing to do your time, be patient, be tenacious, not give up and don't expect to be handed a free ride...you will make it.

It isn't easy...but nothing worth doing and doing well ever is.

Good luck,

Tony

Posted By:  Old School

Posted:  1 month, 1 week ago

View Topic:

Frustrations training with Prime on the road

Adam. I'm thinking it sounds like you are going through all the familiar frustrations of any newbie at this career. There were times when each of us felt like we were not going to be able to make it through our training. You are exhausted at times from lack of sleep due to the new experience of sleeping in a moving truck. You are running on adrenaline half the time because of the excitement of the whole experience of commandeering a big rig across the country. You are probably not eating right, nor sleeping enough. You're having to meet some crazy dead lines. You are wanting to hear your trainer tell you that you are doing good, and all you ever hear is what you are doing wrong. It is an all out stressful time - that is the only way I know how to describe training for this career.

There is actually a good reason why training is soooo hard. It tends to separate out those who can't dig deep enough to make it through. We tell people all the time to look at it like "Boot Camp." That is what it is at times, It can be demoralizing, or it can be something that makes you dig deep and find out what it is that you are made of. Breaking into trucking is not easy, if it were we would have a lot of folks out here wanting these jobs. You are embarking on a really difficult journey that only gets better the longer you hang in there and practice doing the things that make for success out here. Some days it can be like forcing yourself to get in that seat and keep going, while other days you will be quite content to roll on down the highway clocking off the miles.

Driving on the interstate isn't all that trying, it is all the little stuff like maneuvering in and out at the shippers/receivers, backing into docks, or parking at truck stops that can take all the joy away from a rookie's experience. I was just speaking to a person the other day who quit trucking while in training, and here's the reasons he gave me for why he decided against it.

- It is too difficult trying to find parking at night when I am exhausted.

- I can never seem to get my truck backed in once I do find a parking spot, and I am too tired to put any effort in at that point.

- I'm stressed out all the time when I get to a new place to pick up or deliver, because I don't even know where to go when I get there.

- I'm never comfortable because everything is totally new to me, I can't deal with all this stress.

Absolutely all of his reasons were things that every rookie faces, and somehow he thought they were special to him, and he was beating himself up over all of this as if he were a loser with no skills to be able to do this job! Heck, we all went through all of that, and occasionally still do! If you need a different trainer, Prime will accommodate you, but I say your focus needs to be on developing as a driver, and putting your will into this whole exercise in tenacity. It will pay off, but you have got to have something in you that pushes you to succeed at it.

Take the time and listen to this Very Informative and Inspirational Podcast, I think it will help you understand what you are facing. Right now you are focusing on your trainer's shortcomings, and there may very well be some, but I think the source of your stress is just a regular experience that all of us faced.

By the way, all trainers are not equal, and I had one who never pre-tripped his truck either. Heck I had to show him where his brake shoes were and that they were getting thin! You can still be a successful driver when you have a less than stellar trainer - I am living proof of that. In fact I wrote a little article about my training. I don't know if you'll find it helpful or not, but Click Here and you can read it.

Posted By:  Brett Aquila

Posted:  2 months, 1 week ago

View Topic:

**TruckingTruth's 10 Year Anniversary!!!**

Today Is Our 10 Year Anniversary!!!!

The Story Of TruckingTruth

In late 2006, on a whim, I looked around the Web to see what was available for those considering a career in trucking. To say I was horrified by what I found would not be an exaggeration.

No one was giving honest, legitimate advice purely intended for the benefit of those seeking it. It was your typical company-bashing, face-saving, finger-pointing, simple-minded baloney that would drive people away from the industry or sabotage their careers almost immediately.

I knew these types well. I knew why they were complaining, I knew why they were failing. I had 1.5 million miles under my belt. None of this was a mystery to me. So I decided to set the record straight and bring a different perspective. I immediately began writing a short book on the subject and picked up the domain TruckingTruth.com to share how I felt about trucking.

You see, I loved my years on the road. It was the most grand adventure imaginable! Getting paid to drive a beautiful American Big Rig coast to coast at 21 years old was so exciting I don't think I slept the first two months!

Even in school I was bouncing off the walls with excitement. Every evening I would walk down to the Interstate to watch the trucks pass while Bob Seger screamed "Roll Me Away" in my headphones. I'd sit there night after night dreaming of the day, just around the corner, when it would be my turn to live it instead of just dreaming it.

After graduation I landed my first job and was overjoyed! I vividly remember many details of my first day. I remember conversations word for word, the scenery we passed, and even the meals we ate that day in early September, 1993.

I remember meeting my trainer in the gravel lot at Gainey Transportation. Great guy! We got along splendidly. I remember walking up to his window, reaching up to shake his hand, and running to the passenger door after he said with a smile, "Come around the other side and climb in".

Climb in???? Did he say climb in??? This is IT! I've made it! I'm finally doing this for real!!!

I remember he let me take over at the first rest area. I drove to South Carolina and we hit my first real truck stop where I had a roast beef sandwich and french fries for dinner. I drove a while longer and we spent the night in a rest area in Virginia before finishing our run to Maryland in the morning. By lunchtime the next day we were on our way to Sacramento, and I had never even been as far west as Ohio! OMG we're going to California! I thought I was going to come unglued I was so excited! I don't know how I avoided going into cardiac arrest.

That was over 23 years ago and I still remember it all like yesterday. Over the years driving only got better. I piloted everything imaginable across all 48 lower states and throughout much of Canada. After 15 years I decided to retire because I felt I had exhausted every idea I had for finding fun and adventure as a truck driver. It was time for new adventures.

From my experience I learned trucking was an amazing career for the right person, but an utter nightmare for the rest. I wanted to be perfectly honest with people so they knew the hardships and sacrifices involved, but also understood the adventure of it all. For those ready to take their shot I wanted to give them a solid, actionable strategy and the right perspective for surviving that first year on the road.

My hope was to build a strong community of like-minded people who felt the same way I did about their career and mentoring new drivers. The amazing community we have here today is the best part of TruckingTruth. It is the lifeblood, the personality, the heart of who we are.

I can't begin to express my respect and appreciation for those who have shared their time, their stories, their feelings, their lives with us so we could learn and grow from it all together. I'm torn because I want so badly to thank a bunch of special people individually, but I'm too cowardly to do it. I'm afraid I'll leave someone out!

But from the bottom of my heart I thank you for all you've done to help so many get their careers underway and to promote a lifestyle of pride, humility, and professionalism. In our first ten years we established ourselves as the most trustworthy and professional community in the trucking industry. The next ten we're going to have an even bigger impact on the the industry and I'm more excited than ever for the opportunities that lie ahead!

smile.gif

Our first 10 years:

Total Visits: 15,056,697

Unique Individuals: 9,153,137

Pageviews: 53,966,419

Registered Users: 67,468

truckingtruth 10 year anniversary logo

Posted By:  Bud A.

Posted:  2 months, 1 week 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:  2 months, 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:  2 months, 2 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:  Brett Aquila

Posted:  2 months, 2 weeks ago

View Topic:

Socializing at the truck stop

For me it depended upon my mood also. I've always been a loner by nature so most of the time I grabbed a newspaper (a collection of thin sheets of wood pulp with text printed on them in ink containing the day's news which could be bought for 50 cents from a metal box outside) and went to a booth in the restaurant and had me a nice, quiet dinner.

But sometimes I was just in the mood to chat. That's when you go to the counter at the truck stop restaurant and join in on the neverending roundtable discussions.

Warning: sitting at the restaurant counter instead of a booth can be hazardous if you're not prepared. If you sit at the counter:

  • You should not expect to sit quietly and eat in peace. You are now in the discussion, like it or not
  • If you say the name of any President, past or present, you have less than 45 seconds before a fight ensues
  • If you say the name "John Wayne" out loud you will make at least two new friends and one may even want to hug you. But you better know your John Wayne movies
  • If you say "NASCAR" without mentioning "Earnhardt Sr" you will be given one chance to correct your error or no one will talk to your "Jimmy Johnson Pretty Boy Lovin *ss"
  • If you're in the South, just say real slowly, "The South's Gonna Do It Again!!!!" and you might get free pancakes and you'll definitely get some redneck solutes, which come in many different flavors
  • If you're in the North just talk real fast and call the person next to you some horribly insulting names for no reason and they'll assume you're from there and you'll make friends easily

Hope this helps!

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Posted By:  Old School

Posted:  3 months, 3 weeks ago

View Topic:

Anybody left a higher paying job in corporate America for trucking? How did it work out for you?

Here is why we stress taking an Over The Road job first. Learning to drive and safely maneuver one of these gentle giants in all kinds of situations just takes time. No one goes to truck driving school and gets a certificate for proficiency. The only certificate you will receive is that you have had a measly 160 hours of training. Even after a year of doing this on a daily basis, you are still just barely scratching the surface of being proficient at this trade. By getting on with a major carrier who hires rookies as OTR drivers you are allowing yourself to ease into what can be a really demanding career. It's not all wonderful sunsets and adventure - in fact that first three months can be more like terror and stress on a daily basis. This also reminds me of why I like the Company-Sponsored Training Programs. By taking that route the company actually has a considerable investment in you and are more likely to cut you a little slack if needed to get you to the point of being a professional. At the same time, the major carriers will allow you some mistakes just because of their sheer need of drivers to move freight, and their understanding of just how difficult it is to get this down so that you can manage all the many facets of becoming proficient at this. The local jobs can be much more picky about their recruits simply because there are plenty of experienced drivers who would like to move to a local job. They have a pool of less risky candidates to choose from, and can save considerably on their insurance rates this way. There is a reason why it is less expensive to insure a driver with a good safety record and that reinforces the argument why it is difficult to start as a local driver.

You can also take a look at the numbers of successful attempts at starting this career and get an idea of how difficult it is to make a start in this career. The first company I was working for was generally hiring around 150 new inexperienced drivers each week that I was there. When I inquired what was happening to all these new drivers I found out that only about ten percent of those new drivers ever made it to the 90 days mark. That is an incredible testament to the problems associated with making a decent start at this, and that is pretty much an industry wide statistic among the OTR companies who give rookies a chance at proving themselves.

I do not recommend starting out as a local driver. There are those who have had success by taking this route, but they usually don't realize just how fortunate they were. Another thing to consider is that when you take a job with a major carrier as an OTR driver you can often times move over into a division of that some company that will give you better opportunities at being home more often. Paul W, G-Town, and Errol are great examples of this unique opportunity within these large companies. If you can prove yourself, even for about three or four months, they will usually be willing to move you into something that is regional or dedicated that will often allow you to be home for weekends or maybe three or four days each two weeks, which should make it more agreeable to putting in a good solid year with that first employer. There is ample opportunity out here if you make a good start, but the difficulties of accomplishing that good start are multiplied exponentially by starting out as a local driver.

It is much smarter to establish yourself in a way that will allow you a few mistakes, than to cripple your future career by trying to circumvent the well established path to success.

Posted By:  Old School

Posted:  3 months, 3 weeks ago

View Topic:

Anybody left a higher paying job in corporate America for trucking? How did it work out for you?

Point is, local can be harder initially but I would think most companies ease you into it before they go full-throttle into making you do pickup and delivery into Joe's Dairy Farm :)

At the risk of sounding like I am disagreeable I want to point something out. I understand completely, the desire to start off with a local driving job. I do not think it is a good way to start this career. I don't begrudge any one who manages to get started this way, but the fact is that precious few are successful when dong it this way. I know very well that we have a few drivers in our forum who've done this, and if I'm not mistaken, "Auggie69" is one of them. We also have a few who were OTR for year, switched to a really great local job, then realized the reality of the difficulties that we stress so often in here, and very quickly switched back. I remember "Heavy C" as an example of this. There are others, I'm just naming a few to make my point. I just don't see the point being made here about how most companies will ease you into making more difficult deliveries, that sounds good and logical, but it is completely impractical for the shipping companies.

I am sure that "Mountain Girl" could tell us why this isn't so. She really needed to start with a local driving job. She's a single parent with kids still at home who need their Momma around. She found one, and it wasn't long before they were canning her over some little petty stuff. Then it got really tough, she couldn't find work. She's finally got it back together now, and we are all thankful, but man she had some trials due to the way she got started. She basically is running something like a line-haul gig now that isn't really local, but it does allow her to be home enough that she and her family can manage it.

Here's the biggest problem with starting out local. They are going to be quick to let you go for some minor stuff. That is what happened to "Heavy C." He had some really good experience, and was a great driver, but because of the difficulties of that local position he still managed to have a few little minor incidents and they said "Okay that's it, we can't take this risk with you - in essence "goodbye pal." He himself stated later that he just wasn't ready for that level of driving yet. It was more demanding than he had ever dreamed.

Continued...

Posted By:  Old School

Posted:  4 months, 2 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:  4 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:  5 months 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:  5 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:  6 months, 2 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:  6 months, 2 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:  6 months, 2 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:  6 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:  6 months, 3 weeks ago

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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:  6 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.

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