Stevens Transport Pros And Cons

Topic 21048 | Page 1

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Ryan B.'s Comment
member avatar

I just started CDL school (NTTS in Liverpool, NY). We have had a couple of recruiters come in and talk to the students about their companies. Stevens Transport out of Dallas, TX has been our most recent. I know there is a thread somewhere on this already, but I want current information about them. I guess I’m looking for pros and cons about working for them. I was always told that if it sounds to good to be true, it probably is. I’m not unrealistic about home time. I understand you get one day off for every week you work and I’m totally prepared for that. Also I’m not unrealistic about pay, anything over .30 a mile is good for your first year on the road. What is the likelihood of a dedicated route near where I live (Syracuse) after I’ve done my time on the road and proven my worth? What smoke and mirrors did they throw at you before you went and then what was the truth about it? I don’t need information on their driver training program as I’m already obtaining my CDL prior to going to any company. I just want to know what people liked/loved about them and the things you didn’t like about them. I also understand each person is going to have their own likes and dislikes. Just trying to get a feel for them before I make too big of a choice to find out if I’m going to be unhappy later on. All information is good information. Thanks in advance.

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.

Dedicated Route:

A driver or carrier who transports cargo between regular, prescribed routes. Normally it means a driver will be dedicated to working for one particular customer like Walmart or Home Depot and they will only haul freight for that customer. You'll often hear drivers say something like, "I'm on the Walmart dedicated account."

Brett Aquila's Comment
member avatar

Welcome Ryan.

Let's take this approach from the opposite direction. Our approach goes like this:

1) You first determine what you're looking for in a company, the primary ones being:

  • Home time
  • Type of freight you'd like to haul

2) Find all of the companies that hire from your area that meet your criteria

3) Apply to all of those companies and see who offers you an opportunity

4) Choose the company you're most comfortable with from those who have offered you an opportunity based on other factors like:

  • Pay & Benefits
  • Future opportunities they may offer with other types of freight
  • Dedicated divisions you can work your way into
  • Any other small perks they may offer

So the first thing we're trying to help you avoid is spending all sorts of time researching companies that may not even offer you an opportunity. People always assume they're going to have a list of 50 companies to choose from, but that won't be the case. After narrowing down your choices and applying to everyone you qualify for you'll probably have between 2 and 5 choices.

The second thing we're trying to do is to make sure you focus on the tangible qualities of a company, not the subjective reviews you'll get from people. See, you can be happy and successful at any of these major carriers if they fit your criteria pretty well. I know we live in what I call an "Amazon Review World" where everyone is obsessed with getting as many reviews as possible from the crowd.

I feel very strongly that this whole "getting reviews from the peanut gallery" thing is almost a complete waste of time in trucking. The level of happiness and success you'll achieve in trucking is almost entirely up to the individual driver. How hard you run, how well you get along with people, how well you manage your time, how ambitious you are, and other factors like that are going to determine how things work out for you.

Every company out there has a list of drivers who are thrilled, a huge list of drivers somewhere in the middle, and quite a few miserable drivers. Every single major company there is. So the reviews you get aren't really going to be reviews about the company. They're more like reviews of the driver giving the review. They're a reflection of the driver's performance far more than they are the quality of the company.

So focus on the company itself and what they offer. Don't worry about opinions from the peanut gallery. They're not going to help. Find the companies that suit you best, apply to them all, see who gives you an opportunity, speak with their recruiters to get a better understanding of the company, and choose the one you feel sounds best.

That's the approach we take. Now I'm not saying you should never talk to any drivers from the company. I'm just saying you're getting a very tiny sample size and it's a very subjective opinion that will probably not be the experience you have with the company at all.

Once you've been in the industry for a year or so you'll have a better understanding of how everything works and what type of trucking you'd like to do. At that point you'll be able to find your niche a lot more accurately. But for now, find a company that suits you well, stick with them for a year, and learn your trade. Then you'll know where you want to go from there.

Hope this helps.

Here is our "starter package" that we always recommend to new drivers. You're already attending a school so you can skip the parts that pertain to that, but the rest is going to help you a lot:

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.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.

OWI:

Operating While Intoxicated

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.

Old School's Comment
member avatar
What is the likelihood of a dedicated route near where I live (Syracuse) after I’ve done my time on the road and proven my worth?

Ryan, I can't really answer anything specific about Stevens Transportation. But that phrase above that I quoted from your post tells me that you need to look into some different companies. If serving a dedicated account near your home is your ultimate goal then I think you need to take a little different approach to your selection process. I honestly don't know if Stevens offers that type of thing or not, but if they do then you could certainly try to verify it with both a recruiter and maybe a few drivers. Hers's the approach I would take if I were trying to accomplish your goal.

I would look into the companies that are delivering to the Wal-Mart stores in that area. You would probably need to see if you can find a nearby Wal-Mart distribution center (Google Maps is your friend here) and go by and take notes on which are the major carriers that have trailers parked there. The more trailers you see of one carrier, the more likely that particular carrier will have opportunities available. You are probably going to see companies like Swift, Werner, and Crete - probably some others also. Those would be the companies that I would focus on getting into. Forget about having done your time on the road, that really means nothing, (see footnote "*" about this) and focus on that part that you mentioned about proving that you are worth something - that counts for everything. That Wal-Mart dedicated gig is a really good one where you can make some real money and get home regularly. To be considered for that account you will have to be good, they don't put average drivers on that account.

I don't know how you feel about doing flat-bed work, but that would be another angle you could take on your approach to getting home more regularly. Many of the flat-bed companies have broken the country down into regions so that they can get their drivers home on weekends. Companies like TMC, Maverick, and McElroy all take this approach and they pretty much have it down to a science so that it works well. It isn't necessarily a dedicated gig, but a regional one. Once a driver gets an understanding of how it works and takes the necessary steps to get himself to the delivery locations and unloaded in a timely way then he will usually be home most weekends. These are not typically true weekends per say - you might get home Saturday morning and have enough time to take a 34 hour break and then be back rolling by late Sunday afternoon. There will be times when you get more time than that, but it will vary depending on how efficient you are at your job. You will almost always go home with a load on your trailer that is to be delivered first thing Monday morning.

Sometimes these classifications of "regional" and "dedicated" are confusing, and mean different things to different people. For instance I serve a dedicated flat-bed account. My friend Daniel B. thinks that I just go back and forth to the same places continually. That is not true. What I do is only haul freight for "SAPA," the customer that I am dedicated to. I am still basically running "over the road," and have been as far west as California and Oregon recently, and as far East as Vermont, Rhode Island, and down south into Miami, Florida. I deliver SAPA's products to the customers who order it from them - I am a dedicated driver for SAPA. They have about 25 manufacturing plants all across the country, so it is usually easy for me to get a back-haul load from one of their other plants to get me back down south, near to the particular plant in Delhi, Louisiana that I am a dedicated driver for. What I'm trying to point out is that "dedicated" doesn't necessarily mean that you stay close to home. Regional usually means that you will run in just a certain area of the country, maybe just a handful of states. As a regional driver you will be hauling all types of freight that are being delivered in that region. As a "dedicated" driver you will usually be hauling freight for one particular customer, but not necessarily always nearby your home.

* I just thought I should clarify what I meant about saying that your time on the road means nothing. Some people take this approach that says I am going to have to "pay my dues," or put in my time "over the road" before I can land a desirable job in trucking. I just don't think that is the proper approach to this. First off, for some of us being "over the road" is a very rewarding experience. I've never considered it as having to pay my dues, but it is the fulfillment of everything I was looking for in this career. It is adventurous, rewarding, and challenging - all things that I desired in my career. Secondly it is one of the finest ways to prepare yourself for the challenges of a dedicated or regional job. It isn't really a way that the companies force you to pay your dues, but it is some really valuable on the job training for stepping up your career to the next level. The more you break this business down into regions or jobs that are closer to home, or maybe closer to getting you home on weekends or even daily, then the more challenging those jobs become with each tighter region that you are working in. The folks who get these more difficult jobs are the ones who have proven to be worthy of them by being efficient, productive, and safe.

Dedicated Route:

A driver or carrier who transports cargo between regular, prescribed routes. Normally it means a driver will be dedicated to working for one particular customer like Walmart or Home Depot and they will only haul freight for that customer. You'll often hear drivers say something like, "I'm on the Walmart dedicated account."

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.

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.

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.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.
G-Town's Comment
member avatar

Welcome Ryan,...100% spot-on advice from Old School and Brett.

The point about Steven's not being one of the top "Dedicated Account" companies is totally true. Schneider, Werner, Prime and Swift have numerous dedicated opportunities that might fit your needs and you can actually move in and out of as "surge" to test before you totally commit. I run on a Walmart Dedicated account for Swift, based in the north-central part of Pennsylvania, roughly a 250 mile radius. I am in my 5th year of service and have enjoyed a very positive experience. Swift is the Walmart Transportation partner also Dedicated to a the Johnstown NY Grocery DC. Might be in your neck of the woods (literally).

Typically you can expect a 5.5-6 day work week on this account delivering to Stores and Sam's Club. Minimum 1 day of home time each week. Many of the drivers assigned to my DC in PA take their home time on their 34 hour reset, shutting down at a Walmart store near their residence. In your case for instance, if you live 100 miles or so away from Johnstown NY, your run on day 6 could be a store near you residence, allowing you to take your day-off without returning to the DC.

If you want to read more about Walmart Dedicated use the search facility on "topics". Let us know if you have any more questions.

Good luck!

OWI:

Operating While Intoxicated

TommyGun's Comment
member avatar

I work for Stevens Transport. January, 2017 was my start date with them. They recruited me out of Roadmasters.

I was out 42 days with a trainer, put in graduation fleet as a solo driver for 90 days, and have been driving as a solo company driver ever since.

I'll get this out of the way now; I am not a recruiter. I'm also a no BS guy.

I chose Stevens because I liked their reputation as being safety oriented, and having a good finishing school.

They are big on doing things the right way, at least in terms of safety. So much so that there is an instant termination policy in any driver caught making a U-Turn. No exceptions.

Orientation is typically three full days. My first day lasted from 0800 to 2300, mostly sitting in a classroom listening about company policy and safety procedures. We did drug testing and a DOT physical.

Did my backing and road test that night. Was in a two star hotel to sleep in a shared room with another guy who was on medical hold for an apnea test at around midnight.

The next two days were less hectic, lol.

After your orientation, you'll be assigned to a trainer for OTR work. My very first load was from Chicago to Hunts Point, NY. I drove through snow for the first time in my life on I-80] through Penn.

When I was out with a trainer, when I wasn't driving, I had to do online modules as part of my OJT requirements. The trainer was generally a nice guy, but sharing a sleeper berth with another man for 42 days cured me of any thoughts of wanting to team drive.

While I was out, got paid $400 a week and the trainer got my pay in miles.

When I was in grad fleet, dispatchers are usually more chirpy because you're in graduation fleet and making sure that you're doing okay and keeping on task.

Now in my experience, the loads I got in grad fleet starting out were not great loads. A lot of them were already late. A lot of them were produce loads that were already on the brink.

Thats the nature of our industry. The new guys dont get the prime loads. Remember, trucking is a trade, and in trades, guys get paid for their quality of work and experience.

Also, Stevens runs 85% reefer loads. Keep that in mind.

Equipment: First truck I got was a Freightliner Cascadia with 400k. The interior was well worn, the engine had a nasty habit of sometimes not wanting to crank. But other than that, it was a good truck.

On my third month of grad fleet, they recalled me back to the yard because they sold my truck. I learned not to like going back to the yard because you'll be back for at least a week while you catch of on paperwork, continuing education/lectures, waiting on a new truck.

My second truck was a Kenworth T680. Great truck, and aside from discovering a leak in the marker lights when I put it through the wash, no problems. Started getting better loads during the last month on graduation fleet, and one cool day in Dodge City, Kansas as I was getting fuel at the Loves, the message came through that I had graduated and became a fleet driver.

The company, in general, I would say has been fair to me. I think being proactive with your dispatcher and safety removes a lot of headaches you will have in any company. I will keep working for them for another year until I have two years experience, then move onto greener pastures.

Keep in mind, a lot of the gripes I've stated you'll see in a lot of companies. And most companies do have good training programs.

The short version:

Pros: Safety first company, decent miles/loads (eventually), decent dispatch, good equipment (eventually), freight in all 48 states and Canada.

They do have dedicated regions as well as railyard and tanker work.

They also reimburse you if you paid for your own training. They'll also reimburse you for a passport, as well as your Hazmat/Tanker endorsement.

Cons: Yard time is a chore, getting into and out of new equipment can be a pain in the ass, typically because they like to do a bunch of trucks at one time when they do. You don't get to take your truck home. Occassionally, they are a little late in getting you home, but not more than a couple of days.

Conclusion: Stevens is not one big happy family. It's straight to the point about gaining experience and getting the loads in. I'm still learning in fact.

Is it an awesome company? No.

Is it a horrible compant? No.

Is it a good starter company? I think so.

Also, wait on leasing on truck from them. I've heard goid things about Alliance, I've heard bad things. But as a new driver, the last thing you want is a truck payment saddled with all the other things you need to do.

HAZMAT:

Hazardous Materials

Explosive, flammable, poisonous or otherwise potentially dangerous cargo. Large amounts of especially hazardous cargo are required to be placarded under HAZMAT regulations

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.

Sleeper Berth:

The portion of the tractor behind the seats which acts as the "living space" for the driver. It generally contains a bed (or bunk beds), cabinets, lights, temperature control knobs, and 12 volt plugs for power.

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.

Dispatcher:

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.

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.

Reefer:

A refrigerated trailer.

DAC:

Drive-A-Check Report

A truck drivers DAC report will contain detailed information about their job history of the last 10 years as a CDL driver (as required by the DOT).

It may also contain your criminal history, drug test results, DOT infractions and accident history. The program is strictly voluntary from a company standpoint, but most of the medium-to-large carriers will participate.

Most trucking companies use DAC reports as part of their hiring and background check process. It is extremely important that drivers verify that the information contained in it is correct, and have it fixed if it's not.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.

EPU:

Electric Auxiliary Power Units

Electric APUs have started gaining acceptance. These electric APUs use battery packs instead of the diesel engine on traditional APUs as a source of power. The APU's battery pack is charged when the truck is in motion. When the truck is idle, the stored energy in the battery pack is then used to power an air conditioner, heater, and other devices

millionmiler24's Comment
member avatar
But as a new driver, the last thing you want is a truck payment saddled with all the other things you need to do.

THIS goes true for ANY DRIVER, NEW or not.

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