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My promised update about American Furniture Warehouse

Topic 20692 | Page 1

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Pianoman's Comment
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I just finished my first week on the road with AFW!

My first week with AFW was typical orientation--watching a bunch of videos and being shown around. The first three days were spent inside going over paperwork and watching videos. The next day I went out with a local driver for the day so he could show me around the different stores and where certain things are at. Then I was off for a 34 and went out with a trainer on Saturday and just got back yesterday. So far I'm enjoying it!

So, a little info about how this place operates. This job is super "chill"--not sure how else to put it. We only go out for a week at a time and then come back for a 34 at home. We are based in Colorado, so we take various freight out East to get us out to our furniture vendors and then bring our own freight (furniture) back. Some of the freight we take East is brokered and other loads are our own cardboard or freight from companies we have a contract with directly, like Coors. So, in essence, we're taking loads out East to pay for our fuel and trucking costs, then bringing our own freight back.

We have Qualcomms in the trucks, but we don't use them for messaging or dispatch, just E-logs. We get our load info in an envelope that's waiting for us in a mailbox the day we go out--dispatch texts us some summary info the day before so we know what we'll be doing for the week. When we get back home, we just call dispatch to let them know we're back so they can plan us for the next week. What's cool about this is that they plan the week out in advance, so they just give the next available week's worth to the first driver who gets back. Some of the loads take all week but many of them can be completed early, so if you like to hustle you can make some good money here by getting out and back quickly and starting the next week a day early (similar to the way Old School's dedicated account works at Knight hauling SAPA loads). My trainer likes to run hard like this and says he ran over 160,000 miles last year.

This past week was a really good example of how nice it can work out miles-wise. We started out on Saturday with a pick-up at RMMC in Golden, CO, hauling empty cans down to Albany, GA--something like 1500 miles. We got there Monday but had to wait til Tuesday because of Labor Day. Got unloaded and headed right over to our furniture vendor in Tupelo, MS. We ran into delays there as well (I'm guessing they were behind because of Labor Day) and left on Wednesday and got back to Denver on Thursday, so we're still on track to leave again on Saturday this week. Both these delays were out of the ordinary, so if even one of them had been able to take us more quickly, we actually could have been back on Wednesday and left out again on Friday instead.

I love the equipment here. They use a variety of Freightliner Cascadias, Kenworth T680s, and International Prostar +. I was hoping to get one of the T680s but I got an International. Turns out the Internationals are newer though and mine had only 98k miles when I started last week. All their trucks have built-in fridges and all the T680s and Internationals have APUs (not sure about the Freightliners). If your truck doesn't have an APU or inverter installed, you can buy an inverter and their shop will install it for you. I don't know if the APU on mine is technically an APU or a glorified built-in inverter. It has an extra battery pack under the bunk specifically for the APU, but if the batteries get too low, I have to idle the truck for a while to rebuild the charge. My truck does have auto stop/start, so I don't have to manually start it if the batteries do start running low. I have no-idle AC and heat too, which both work really well. I actually froze myself out the other night by accident with the AC and had to use the heater for a few minutes to warm it back up in there! Some other things about our trucks--they include Sirius XM and they are governed at 75/80 mph. The faster speed is nice out there on 70 rolling through KS with little traffic around.

Anyways, I think I'm gonna enjoy working for these guys. Everyone I've talked to so far in dispatch and operations used to drive and most/all of them keep their CDL current in case they need/want to get out there again for whatever reason. Even the managers in the warehouse worked their way up, so they're big on promoting from within. The nice thing about working for a company like this is that I could find just about any other position if I ever wanted to get off the road. Their warehouses are HUGE. The one I'm based out of in Englewood, CO, is almost the size of a Walmart DC, so lots of options there.

As a sidenote, it's so weird being on the other side of the fence now. I've gotten teased a ton about being a former Swiftie, but whenever I challenge people on it, they rarely have anything legitimate to tease me about. In fact, they usually end up agreeing with me on a lot of things and even commending me for having a great attitude about them! I've told people repeatedly that if Swift had had a better paying opportunity available to me without the daily commute I was making, I would still be with them today. I had a great experience with them and am grateful for the opportunity they gave me to get my CDL and get on the road making some money!

Phew, that was long! Sorry for the book guys!

smile.gif

CDL:

Commercial Driver's License (CDL)

A CDL is required to drive any of the following vehicles:

  • Any combination of vehicles with a gross combined weight rating (GCWR) of 26,001 or more pounds, providing the gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of the vehicle being towed is in excess of 10,000 pounds.
  • Any single vehicle with a GVWR of 26,001 or more pounds, or any such vehicle towing another not in excess of 10,000 pounds.
  • Any vehicle, regardless of size, designed to transport 16 or more persons, including the driver.
  • Any vehicle required by federal regulations to be placarded while transporting hazardous materials.

Qualcomm:

Omnitracs (a.k.a. Qualcomm) is a satellite-based messaging system with built-in GPS capabilities built by Qualcomm. It has a small computer screen and keyboard and is tied into the truck’s computer. It allows trucking companies to track where the driver is at, monitor the truck, and send and receive messages with the driver – similar to email.

SAP:

Substance Abuse Professional

The Substance Abuse Professional (SAP) is a person who evaluates employees who have violated a DOT drug and alcohol program regulation and makes recommendations concerning education, treatment, follow-up testing, and aftercare.

APU:

Auxiliary Power Unit

On tractor trailers, and APU is a small diesel engine that powers a heat and air conditioning unit while charging the truck's main batteries at the same time. This allows the driver to remain comfortable in the cab and have access to electric power without running the main truck engine.

Having an APU helps save money in fuel costs and saves wear and tear on the main engine, though they tend to be expensive to install and maintain. Therefore only a very small percentage of the trucks on the road today come equipped with an APU.

APUs:

Auxiliary Power Unit

On tractor trailers, and APU is a small diesel engine that powers a heat and air conditioning unit while charging the truck's main batteries at the same time. This allows the driver to remain comfortable in the cab and have access to electric power without running the main truck engine.

Having an APU helps save money in fuel costs and saves wear and tear on the main engine, though they tend to be expensive to install and maintain. Therefore only a very small percentage of the trucks on the road today come equipped with an APU.

G-Town's Comment
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Awesome! Really happy for you.

Old School's Comment
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Congratulations Pianoman, that sounds Awesome!

Lucky Life's Comment
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Glad to hear this is working out well for you, figured AFW would be a great place to work. Best part are all the other opportunities they offer, good luck on a long career with Mr. Jabs and Co.

Big Scott's Comment
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That was a great update. Glad to hear your doing well. How about a truck pic?

Pianoman's Comment
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Awesome! Really happy for you.

Congratulations Pianoman, that sounds Awesome!

Thank you both!!

Glad to hear this is working out well for you, figured AFW would be a great place to work. Best part are all the other opportunities they offer, good luck on a long career with Mr. Jabs and Co.

Thanks Lucky Life! Yes, absolutely. I'm not a fan of going anywhere without a backup plan. Of course my plans often don't work out but it never hurts to be prepared. If for some reason I had to get off the road at some point, there are plenty of other positions here.

Pianoman's Comment
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That was a great update. Glad to hear your doing well. How about a truck pic?

Thanks Big Scott! I will upload a few photos soon. I want to get a few of the interior as well since it has the inverter and I fit my bike in here.

Pianoman's Comment
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Just got my first real paycheck! The grand total is... (Drumroll)...

$1540.68 (gross)

My mileage pay for the week was $1270.68 (3343 miles*), plus $120 stop pay**, $100 holiday pay for Labor Day, and $50 layover pay (we were delayed picking up our furniture backhaul).

*We are paid practical miles. We're given a sheet, called a "prophecy," with our official route giving the exact miles from the initial starting point all the way to the very last stop. For me, it always starts and ends with the store in Englewood, CO.

**We're paid $20/stop. These stops aren't what you would typically think of as a stop on an OTR route. For us, a "stop" is every pickup or delivery point throughout the week. They just started including the first and last stop (Englewood) as well. So this week I started in Englewood, CO (#1), picked up cans at RMMC in Golden, CO (#2), delivered to XPO in Albany, GA (#3), picked up furniture at United Furniture in Tupelo, MS (#4), delivered to our store in Firestone, CO (#5), and parked again in Englewood (#6).

So take out the extra fluff for the delay and the holiday and I would have made about $1400 gross that week. Not bad!!

All of that, and I still made it back in six days, in time for a 34 so I could leave again on the same day I did before. If I hadn't run into those delays I could have made it back in five days, and either had two days off or taken my 34 and headed out again a day early.

I'm liking this more and more!

OTR:

Over The Road

OTR driving normally means you'll be hauling freight to various customers throughout your company's hauling region. It often entails being gone from home for two to three weeks at a time.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.
G-Town's Comment
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Pianoman telling it like it is...

I'm liking this more and more!

I can see why...good for you! dancing.gif

Big Scott's Comment
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Great job. Keep up the good work. A good work ethic really pays. dancing.gifdancing-dog.gifdancing-banana.gif

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