Jim Palmer CDL Training

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Corey's Comment
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Finally!! After a month long application process I’ve been accepted to Jim Palmer’s training program in Missoula. I originally considered going with Swift or CR England but was enticed by JP’s high starting pay and closer proximity to my home in NW Washington. Also during my application process I was informed that due to a recent acquisition of Haney Trucking of Washington State, I’ll have the opportunity for more frequent home time once I go solo. I have to say it has been a pleasure working with their recruiting department. I could tell from the first call it would be a different experience here than it would have been with the other companies I considered. Unlike the recruiters at other companies, Logan at JP made sure that my husband and I understood the pressures of OTR trucking on the family and even took the time to call him personally for a brief interview to make sure he was ready for the responsibility of running the house alone while I’m gone. Also every claim he made about the company and training program was backed up by facts and in writing, whereas the recruiters from other companies made promises about miles and home time that they couldn’t necessarily keep. Needless to say I am really impressed with the company and can’t wait to get started. I hop on a bus to Missoula Sunday morning and class begins 0700 Monday!

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.

RealDiehl's Comment
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Hey, Corey. First of all, good luck! I too am looking to get on board with JP. I spoke with a recruiter (ryan) 3 days ago and let him know I'd like to move forward with the application process. Unfortunately he didn't tell me when I could expect to hear from him (and I forgot to ask). Do you have any idea when I might expect to hear from him again? Also, how did your interviews go? What type of questions were asked? Any info would be greatly appreciated. I'll be looking forward to reading your future entries. Thanks in advance, Mike (Woodstown, NJ)

Corey's Comment
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Hey, Corey. First of all, good luck! I too am looking to get on board with JP. I spoke with a recruiter (ryan) 3 days ago and let him know I'd like to move forward with the application process. Unfortunately he didn't tell me when I could expect to hear from him (and I forgot to ask). Do you have any idea when I might expect to hear from him again? Also, how did your interviews go? What type of questions were asked? Any info would be greatly appreciated. I'll be looking forward to reading your future entries. Thanks in advance, Mike (Woodstown, NJ)

Hey Mike. Sorry I didn’t get back to you I have been so busy training I haven’t returned to update my training diary.... oops. To answer your questions, in my experience the recruiting department was really quick to return calls and emails. My recruiter, Logan, even returned a call on his day off. The interview questions from Logan and his supervisors were generally about my ability to perform the job duties, whether my home situation would be conducive to the OTR lifestyle, as well as questions about previous work, criminal, and driving history. From what I understand this is all pretty standard from company to company. As far as I know my interviews went well because I am now in the final stages of training and about to get on my own truck. Stay tuned, I’m preparing to post an entry to detail my whole training period. -Corey

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.

Corey's Comment
member avatar

BIG Update!

My apologies for not returning sooner to update my training diary. I was disappointed before to find little information about other students’ experiences at Jim Palmer so I really should have kept ya’ll up to date.

First week: Arrived at the Missoula greyhound station late Sunday night, shuttle ride to the hotel, and checked in. I shared a room with another student from Washington. Go Hawks!

Monday Morning was spent going over contract paperwork as well as training expectations. The training is free if you stay for a year, leave in the first siz months you owe $3500, leave in the second six months you owe $1500, stay for the year and you are debt free! Marc drove myself and the other trainee to the drug test and physical, we both passed! Then we returned to the terminal to finish preparations for the permit test the next day.

Tuesday The other trainee and I surrendered our Washington driver licenses, applied for Montana licenses and CDL permits (paid for by Jim Palmer) We both passed our permit tests on the first try and we returned to the terminal to celebrate by taking our first attempts at driving a big rig! Woo hoo! We started by driving around the company yard, perfecting our double clutch technique, after which we took a drive around town to fill the rest of the day.

Wednesday- Trailer day! We spent the morning going over what we learned about shifting ranges for the 10-speed the previous day then learned how to hook to a trailer and drove around the yard and then the trainer, Marc, had us drive the DOT road test route that we would return to test on after our permit driving period over the road.

Thursday-

Morning was spent practicing backing techniques and shifting some more. Then my OTR trainer showed up!

“D Seat” This is the first part of OTR training when I drove with a CDL permit and my trainer rode in the passenger seat all the hours I drove. This part of training is unpaid but I took advantage of the $200/week advances to feed myself andavoid pulling money out of savings. We spent about 3 weeks on the road traversing the country before we were routed back to Missoula for my skills test. We perfected my double clutching technique (required for Montana CDL test), worked on backing techniques, as well as how to run the Qualcomm , deal with shippers and receivers, and do a proper pre-trip. I’m happy to report I passed my skills test on the first try with almost perfect scores! My 90-degree back was a hole in one— no pull-ups! Many thanks to Shannon and Marc for all their tips and tricks I couldn’t have done it without them!

“C Seat” 10,000 miles Finally, a paycheck! My trainer from the d-Seat period returned to the terminal to pick me up and we set out for 10,000 miles on the road. We spent the first few days of just me driving with the trainer watching from the passenger seat to be sure that he could trust me to drive while he slept. After that we were dispatched as a team and the miles flew by quick. We each took home time during this period, his in Missouri and mine in Washington. We parked the truck at the Wil-Trans terminal in Missouri (sister company of Jim Palmer) during his home time and I was still paid the guaranteed minimum pay to sit on the truck while he was home. The satellite tv and apu kept me comfortable and entertained while I waited for him to return. After his home time was up, we set out for NW Washington for me to take my first home time in over a month. Just in time for thanksgiving with the family! :-)

“B2 Seat” 10,000 miles This training period was also spent team driving, cross crossing the country with the goal of hitting all of the lower 48 before the end of training so I can experience all possible traffic and weather situations. We saw some really nasty mountain passes during this time, which while they were stressful, really helped my confidence with inclement weather and prepared me to tackle those situations on my own. We went through Pendleton at one point when the chain up law was in effect and my trainer opted to shut down in the chain up area and wait for the restriction to be lifted instead of taking the opportunity to teach me how to chain up a big truck- which I would have preferred.

“B1 Seat” Final 10,000 miles BTW the miles required for each training period are all of the dispatched miles for the truck, not just what the student drives so it goes by quicker than you’d think. The first 7500 miles of this training period continue on the trainers truck driving teams, but the final 2500 miles are spent on your own doing a “solo” week before the upgrade to “A Seat” and full fledged truck driver status. As of now I have the miles completed to start my solo week so as soon as we make our delivery this coming Tuesday, we’ll be routed to Missoula for me to pickup a truck to start my solo week. And that’ll be goodbye to my OTR driving trainer.

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.

Shipper:

The customer who is shipping the freight. This is where the driver will pick up a load and then deliver it to the receiver or consignee.

Terminal:

A facility where trucking companies operate out of, or their "home base" if you will. A lot of major companies have multiple terminals around the country which usually consist of the main office building, a drop lot for trailers, and sometimes a repair shop and wash facilities.

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.

Over The Road:

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.

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.

DOT:

Department Of Transportation

A department of the federal executive branch responsible for the national highways and for railroad and airline safety. It also manages Amtrak, the national railroad system, and the Coast Guard.

State and Federal DOT Officers are responsible for commercial vehicle enforcement. "The truck police" you could call them.

Double Clutch:

To engage and then disengage the clutch twice for every gear change.

When double clutching you will push in the clutch, take the gearshift out of gear, release the clutch, press the clutch in again, shift the gearshift into the next gear, then release the clutch.

This is done on standard transmissions which do not have synchronizers in them, like those found in almost all Class A trucks.

Double Clutching:

To engage and then disengage the clutch twice for every gear change.

When double clutching you will push in the clutch, take the gearshift out of gear, release the clutch, press the clutch in again, shift the gearshift into the next gear, then release the clutch.

This is done on standard transmissions which do not have synchronizers in them, like those found in almost all Class A trucks.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.

Wil-Trans:

Darrel Wilson bought his first tractor in 1980 at age 20, but, being too young to meet OTR age requirements, he leased the truck out and hired a driver.

Through growth and acquisition, Wil-Trans now employs over 200 drivers, and has a long-standing partnership with Prime, Inc. to haul their refrigerated freight. The family of businesses also includes Jim Palmer Trucking and O & S Trucking.

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.

PackRat's Comment
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Sounds like you've done very well!good-luck.gif

Corey's Comment
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Additional thoughts—

Although the recruiting process was fairly straightforward and clear I believe they made the deal seem a little sweeter than it actually is. I was told that because of where I live I would be able to work on the company’s regional fleet which would mean going no further east than Denver and going home once a week for a restart. They said I could even stop at home for a half hour break a few times a week because they have customers in my hometown. They neglected to mention that while the regional fleet is a possibility for me, there’s no guarantee when that’ll happen. Upon checking with my fleet manager it turns out I have to stay OTR “for a while” which means being out 3-5+ weeks between home times. This wasn’t what I signed up for and now I’m kind of stuck with riding out the contract and toeing the line or buying myself out and going to work local. Im not one to job-hop and I feel some loyalty to the company for taking the risk putting me thru training but I’m not thrilled about being stuck in a position that I didn’t sign up for. At this point I’m determined to tough it out and go with the flow but if the company doesn’t follow thru on their promise to me it’ll determine whether I stick with the company after the year contract is up. In hindsight it was pretty naive of me to believe everything I was told... though I hoped this company was a cut above when it comes to caring about the drivers it doesn’t seem that is so.

About 6 weeks after returning from my first home time during training my fleet manager was supposed to get me home for a specific date to make it to a family event. When I realized that this wasn’t going to happen based on where we were being dispatched I called up Joe the fleet manager and he said he thought the home time date I requested was more of a flexible thing, when I made it clear before and he understood I was trying to make it for a specific event and gave him several weeks notice that I’d like to be home for that. Maybe this was an isolated incident but it sure didn’t seem to matter to him whether I ever made it home!

Overall my experience in training has been positive, the equipment is well maintained, the training is very thorough and time consuming to be sure that I’m ready to go it alone. But I think the company oversells itself to draw in recruits. And as I understand now, this is not unique in the industry.

Regional:

Regional Route

Usually refers to a driver hauling freight within one particular region of the country. You might be in the "Southeast Regional Division" or "Midwest Regional". Regional route drivers often get home on the weekends which is one of the main appeals for this type of route.

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.

Fleet Manager:

Dispatcher, Fleet Manager, Driver Manager

The primary person a driver communicates with at his/her company. A dispatcher can play many roles, depending on the company's structure. Dispatchers may assign freight, file requests for home time, relay messages between the driver and management, inform customer service of any delays, change appointment times, and report information to the load planners.
G-Town's Comment
member avatar

Corey wrote about Jim Palmer...

But I think the company oversells itself to draw in recruits.

You almost completed training and came to the above conclusion? Good grief...you barely know them.

Jim Palmer is one of the most selective companies when it comes to prequalifying entry level drivers. Many folks have tried and failed to get an invitation to their orientation. You're "in" and accuse them of over-selling?

The expectation of being placed on a regional account before proving yourself anything more than a graduate of their program is lofty and highly unrealistic. Accounts like the one you described are typically highly sought after, move very profitable freight with tight schedules and many times have a wait list. They're not just going to "hand it to you" straight off your trainer's truck with no experience. Sure it's a possibility at this point, but nothing more. You'll need to earn your stripes first.

Good luck, be safe, and congratulations for making it this far.

Regional:

Regional Route

Usually refers to a driver hauling freight within one particular region of the country. You might be in the "Southeast Regional Division" or "Midwest Regional". Regional route drivers often get home on the weekends which is one of the main appeals for this type of route.

Corey's Comment
member avatar

Hi G-town thank you for the reply. I’ll admit that I might’ve been overly harsh with how I worded that but the fact is they recruited me with the promise of working on their regional fleet once I finish training. When they called my spouse for an interview they said I would be home weekly, leaving me to be the bearer of bad news that this would not be happening anytime soon. Also their Facebook page advertises training new drivers directly into the regional fleet.

Regional:

Regional Route

Usually refers to a driver hauling freight within one particular region of the country. You might be in the "Southeast Regional Division" or "Midwest Regional". Regional route drivers often get home on the weekends which is one of the main appeals for this type of route.

Dm:

Dispatcher, Fleet Manager, Driver Manager

The primary person a driver communicates with at his/her company. A dispatcher can play many roles, depending on the company's structure. Dispatchers may assign freight, file requests for home time, relay messages between the driver and management, inform customer service of any delays, change appointment times, and report information to the load planners.
G-Town's Comment
member avatar

Here is my suggestion Corey...

What the recruiter said or didn't say is in the past. Your perception of that is irrelevant. What Facebook said although perhaps true, is not a promise.

There are no promises. Jim Palmer is a fantastic company. Get some experience, after 3 months of safe driving and on-time performance inquire about the regional job. Then you will have something to offer them.

In all fairness, many regional accounts require above average skills that most rookies have yet to master. I committed to a Walmart Dedicated Account after 3 months of OTR. Even with some experience, I struggled at times.

Might be a blessing in disguise.

Good luck!

Regional:

Regional Route

Usually refers to a driver hauling freight within one particular region of the country. You might be in the "Southeast Regional Division" or "Midwest Regional". Regional route drivers often get home on the weekends which is one of the main appeals for this type of route.

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.

Corey's Comment
member avatar

Well I finished up the last load with my trainer and am now sitting in my very own truck on my way to deliver the first load of my solo week. Skip, the owners son, ended up deciding to assign me to the western regional fleet after all, I was surprised to find out. I was issued a trailer lock, air brake cuffs, and after a clean dot inspection on truck# 10004 they set me loose on a load from great falls to union city, ca. My new fleet manager gave me his cell number to call anytime in case I need anything and has been a huge help with figuring out the issues that have come up this far. After this I’ll probably have time to do one more before heading back to Missoula for onboarding, which I hear mostly consists of watching safety videos and hr paperwork. I’m really enjoying the peace that comes with driving solo and working independently. Aside from checking in occasionally, my fleet manager is taking a hands off approach to how I run the truck. He says as long as I’m on time, don’t incur unnecessary tolls, and be safe he is happy. I’m loving this!

Regional:

Regional Route

Usually refers to a driver hauling freight within one particular region of the country. You might be in the "Southeast Regional Division" or "Midwest Regional". Regional route drivers often get home on the weekends which is one of the main appeals for this type of route.

DOT:

Department Of Transportation

A department of the federal executive branch responsible for the national highways and for railroad and airline safety. It also manages Amtrak, the national railroad system, and the Coast Guard.

State and Federal DOT Officers are responsible for commercial vehicle enforcement. "The truck police" you could call them.

Fleet Manager:

Dispatcher, Fleet Manager, Driver Manager

The primary person a driver communicates with at his/her company. A dispatcher can play many roles, depending on the company's structure. Dispatchers may assign freight, file requests for home time, relay messages between the driver and management, inform customer service of any delays, change appointment times, and report information to the load planners.

OOS:

When a violation by either a driver or company is confirmed, an out-of-service order removes either the driver or the vehicle from the roadway until the violation is corrected.

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