ROEHL, TMC, AND NEW TO THE GIG!

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Trucker41's Comment
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Hello everyone,

First off, I want to say thank you to anyone and everyone that has made this site a success. I am brand spanking new to even the IDEA of Trucking. This site has been a Godsend. I've been lurking on here for quite a while gathering information...while considering the Open Road. I've made the plunge and accepted a "Get Your CDL" position with Roehl Transport. I'm excited. I'm a little apprehensive. I'm a little sad....two kids and their Dad's gonna be gone a while each month. That's hard. I'll never get used to that and I hope they don't hate me for making this decision.

It's late and I'm tired, but I wanted to say "Hello" and "Thank you". I'll write more about my experience of deciding which company to start with and why, soon. Hopefully it will give a few other Newbies some information to ponder as they make their own decisions. Again, thanks for this site. It's just awesome.

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.
Brett Aquila's Comment
member avatar

Hey we're glad to have you Trucker41. Make sure you stay in touch and keep us updated as things progress. You'll have a lot of questions along the way no doubt and we'll be happy to help out.

Best of luck!

Trucker41's Comment
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I appreciate it, Brett. Thank you.

Trucker41's Comment
member avatar

Okay, I said I would give a little information about myself and why I decided on Trucking and also how I chose my first company to go with. So, here we go!

Well, I'm 41 years young (hence the Trucker41 forum name). My life, like many people has been full of it's ups and downs. I grew up in a family that was very status-oriented...you weren't educated unless you had a degree, white collar jobs are better than blue collar jobs, the perception you put out to the public was more important than how you really were, etc. I grew up in a family that didn't really camp, I never hunted until I was an adult, I wasn't allowed to go out for football in high school, and on and on. Maybe that upbringing works for some, but it didn't for me. I was very different than my parents.

I didn't have dreams of college right after high school, I had dreams of joining the military, which I did. As a kid, I was always drawn toward action oriented stuff, big rigs, fire trucks, the military, stuff like that. After high school I joined the Army and spent three years on Active Duty and three years in the National Guard. I still serve today in the Reserves. After that, I went to college basically because everyone told me I should. Then I had a white collar job as a financial advisor, because everyone told me I should. Even through my marriage, I feel like I have made most of my decisions based on what others expected of me and less on what I felt was important. That was a problem that led to many, many different jobs. I've worked in finance, sales, the restaurant industry, and even as a banker. But, of everything I've done, the military and firefighting have been my loves....and the idea of Trucking.

I've been through some very rough times in the last few years personally, professionally, and financially. For the last four years I've owned my own business working as an independant agent in Merchant Services, advising business owners on the ins and outs of electronic payement processing. The problem is that about a year and a half into it, I began to realize I hated it. But, I stuck with it because I had invested so much time, effort and money into it. Well, within the last year this business has begun to crumble and if I'm honest with myself, it's my fault. I'm just not driven about it anymore. Ever so often I would look at these big rigs and talk with some truckers on the fire department I was a member of and kept thinking about it. The more trouble I had with the business, the more often I found my mind wondering about it. So then I found this site about two months ago and started lurking, reading everything I could. Three weeks ago, I knew without a doubt that I wanted to do this. Will I like it? I don't know, I've never tried it. Will my kids miss me and I them? Absolutely. But, I just knew I needed to do this. I'm excited about it. So I began researching companies and talking with recruiters. I went to truck stops and bought Truckers a cup of coffee and asked if I could pick their brain about the profession. After all of that, I narrowed it down to two companies, TMC and Roehl Transport. I chose Roehl. Here's how and why I came to that decision:

Being brand new to trucking, I had a lot to figure out and still have a ton to learn. But, I did learn a couple things through my research. (1) I needed to start with a company that will hire me to go through their CDL program and pay me for it, and (2) that I want to do Flatbed Trucking. I'm an adult with kids and bills and all that stuff. So, plopping down $7,000 to go to trucking school and basically be unemployed for that timeframe, is a NO-GO. I also began to notice that I was completly interested in the big rigs hauling the other big rigs, the lumber, and the steel that keep this Country going. Then I found out about how physical being a Flatbedder is and that made me like it even more. I've always liked physicall work and am not a sit at the desk type person. Also, I learned I have no interest in bumping up to docks day in and day out. I feel like being a Flatbedder will keep my mind more engaged and hopefully my body in decent shape due to the physical part of the job. I'm sure there is good and bad about all types of trucking, but this is what I chose for myself.

I received offers from both TMC and Roehl (and a bunch of others that I discarded). Both seem like solid starter companies. Like anything, depending on who you talk to, what time of day it is, whether or not it's raining, etc. people have great and terrible things to say about both companies. But for me, I felt Roehl was a better fit. I've been in the military and even with just talking to the recruiters there, I felt uneasy and had a sense or rigidity that I didn't care for. The first thing the recruiter did was begin to badmouth other companies and it just left a bad taste in my mouth. Roehl, on the other hand, was fantastic, easy to communicate with, and seemed more family oriented. I fact-checked what they were offering and it was all on the up and up. They also have a great program for new drivers to get their CDL and begin right away in Flatbed. So, next Monday, November 6th, I begin training in Marshfield, Wisconsin, and will be assigned to their Flatbed and Specialized Fleet. I'm pretty excited about it.

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.

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.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.
Brett Aquila's Comment
member avatar
But for me, I felt Roehl was a better fit. I've been in the military and even with just talking to the recruiters there, I felt uneasy and had a sense or rigidity that I didn't care for. The first thing the recruiter did was begin to badmouth other companies and it just left a bad taste in my mouth. Roehl, on the other hand, was fantastic, easy to communicate with, and seemed more family oriented.

Oh no! The dreaded "I chose my career path based on a random conversation with a random recruiter" syndrome.

Listen, you can't go wrong with either company so you're going to be fine either way. But you can't allow yourself to be swayed by a conversation with a recruiter.

In our Truck Driver's Career Guide we cover how to choose a trucking company. Nowhere do we ever say, "Pay attention to the tone of the recruiter" or "look for a family-oriented company" or any of that nonsense.

Recruiters are salespeople, and that's not a bad thing. Their job is to sell you on their company and they're a great source of information about the good qualities a company has and all of those little extra perks. But ultimately you should be making your decision based on the tangible and quantifiable qualities of the trucking company:

  • Pay & Benefits
  • Home time
  • Type of freight you'd like to haul
  • Regions of the country you'd like to run
  • Opportunities they may offer in specialized divisions or other types of freight
  • Small perks they may offer

Here's a couple of articles I've written on the subject:

The Biggest Mistake New Drivers Make When Speaking With Recruiters

Choosing A Truck Driving Job Part VIII: Talking With The Right People

Like I said, you'll be fine. They're both excellent companies. But you have to stay focused on what matters. The tone of the recruiter doesn't matter. Badmouthing other companies doesn't matter. Having a family atmosphere - what does that even mean in trucking? You're one person driving a truck all by yourself and you spend 95% of your time communicating with one person - your dispatcher.

Quantifiable and tangible qualities - that's where the focus needs to be when choosing a company.

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.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.

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.

Trucker41's Comment
member avatar

Thanks for the reply, Brett. I guess I should have elaborated a little more. Here's how I made my decision.

1. Home Time - Roehl has several different options for home time. 14/7, 7/7, 14/3, stay out as long as you want, etc. The first year I'll be on the 14/3 schedule, with the option to stay out longer when I want to. I like that I have some options that I can switch to down the road if need be. With TMC, they work a mostly regional fleet being home most every weekend. Of course you do have the option to stay out longer. I spoke with TMC drivers (3) about this and very rarely to they have a true weekend under this set up.

2. Freight - My interest is in Flatbed. That being said, I have never been a Trucker and everything is new to me. So, what if I get into flatbed and then realize I don't want to do it? With TMC all they do is flatbed. If I'm with them and go through their CDL program, I owe them one year before I could go to another company without monotary penalties. So I'd be stuck flatbedding for that whole time regardless of whether I enjoy it or not. With Roehl they do a variety of freight: Dry van , Reefer , Flatbed/Specialized. I just like the fact that they're are more options for frieght depending on what my interests truly are after I've actually started driving. I owe Roehl 15 months/120,000 miles before I could go to another company without monotary penalties...so option within the company freight-wise is a nice thing.

3. Region of the Country - With TMC being mostly regional, most of my work would be within a 1200 mile radious of my home in Wisconsin. I'm sure you can go further if you stay out longer, but regional is the norm there. I want to see the whole Country. I know for sure I can do this with Roehl. They go everywhere all the time.

4. Goals with a small local company - There is a small local company close to my home that does a ton of specialized loads and the drivers make awesome money$80K-$100K or more per year. They only hire experienced Flatbedders and mostly hire drivers from only two companies: Melton and Roehl. I know a few of their drivers and office personnel. So I'm getting good info. from people that are not recruiters.

Intangeble reasons I chose Roehl:

1. Roehl is a Wisconsin based company - I am from and live in Wisconsin. I'm a "Packers all the Way" guy and love the Badgers. I like the fact that money generated by this company in many ways goes back to the state and the community of Marshfield, WI. It's just a pride of where I live thing. TMC is headquartered in Iowa, right across the state line from me. Go Hawkeyes? Um, no. Like I said, it sounds dumb and it's just my own opinion. But, I like that I will be working for a Wisconsin company.

2. Rigidity - Whether considered fact ot not, it is true that TMC runs a bit like the military, culturally. The information I received about this is directly from employs there, not recruiters. And I'm gonna say it - not allowed to walk on the grass! Okay, I know that has been beaten to death, but couldn't resist it. I've got 7 years of service now. I love the military, but I don't want to deal with little things like that everyday. That's why I'm in the Reserves now and not active duty. All I could think was, okay, I get back to the terminal after a long haul and maybe I'm there for a while for whatever reason. It's a beautiful day and maybe I just want to sit in the grass and eat a sandwich...Get off the Grass! Lol, no thanks. I'm well aware that Roehl will have things that seem rediculous, too. And that's okay. This is just what I felt most comfortable with.

Good stuff about both:

1. Money - They both have good options for pay. I like that TMC offers performance-based pay based on the % load on the truck. And with Roehl, starting out at 0.41 per mile in Flatbed isn't bad either. For either company it comes down to miles or the load. Both offer good additional pay. Tarping, detention, layover, and a bunch of others. TMC and Roehl are both great for someone such as myself that is brand new to trucking with zero experience.

2. Paid Training - Both offer paid training and the training at both is excellent from what I've heard from other students. TMC has it's own CDL school, which is three weeks. Then up to five weeks of OTR driving with an instructor. The three week CDL course IS NOT PAID. You earn no money during that. The OTR training is paid at $500 per week. Roehl offers paid training and it is paid from Day 1. 4 weeks CDL/Flatbed at $500 per week and then $90 a day during OTR training. You owe TMC one year of driving if they train you and you owe Roehl 120,000 miles, roughly 15 months if they train you. I think both are reasonable.

3. Decent equipment - TMC's trucks are beautiful. I think they look fantastic. Roehl's trucks are decent, but nothing special. But, let's face it. I'm a NEWBIE to this stuff! I don't really care how shiny a truck is right now. As long as it gets me down the road safely so I can do my job and make money, that's all I care about at this point.

4. Veteran friendly - Both companies hire Vets and have some perks for them as well as the option to use your GI Bill for the first two years.

Final Decision....in the end, as a new trucker, it comes down to "What company do I feel most comfortable with. For me that is Roehl. I'll let you know if I made the right decision as I get on further down the road!

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.

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.

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.

Dry Van:

A trailer or truck that that requires no special attention, such as refrigeration, that hauls regular palletted, boxed, or floor-loaded freight. The most common type of trailer in trucking.

Reefer:

A refrigerated trailer.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.

DWI:

Driving While Intoxicated

Patrick C.'s Comment
member avatar

The company I work for is based in Wisconsin. Just down the road from Marshfield in Amherst. smile.gif

Big Scott's Comment
member avatar

It seems to me you are making a sound decision. It's important that your wife is on board with this. It will be alot for her doing everything at home. I don't know much about either company. I see both company's trucks on the road. Rohel also does tanker.

On a side note my dad worked in merchant services for over 20 years, It's a tough business and takes years to get a good following. Good luck in your driving future. We are here to help.

OWI:

Operating While Intoxicated

Trucker41's Comment
member avatar

It seems to me you are making a sound decision. It's important that your wife is on board with this. It will be alot for her doing everything at home. I don't know much about either company. I see both company's trucks on the road. Rohel also does tanker.

On a side note my dad worked in merchant services for over 20 years, It's a tough business and takes years to get a good following. Good luck in your driving future. We are here to help.

Thanks, Big Scott. I am divorced, but we are both amicable and very involved with our kids together. It's going to be a lot for her, but financially, I feel like this is the best thing to do in this moment. As I mentioned, I am having extreme financial difficulties due to my business falling apart. To put it in perspective, I have been hit with expenses so badly, that it has taken almost everything from me. To the point where I will not be able to recover or even pay household bills within two months. It is possible that I could end up homeless if I do not take radical steps to improve my situation. I haven't made the best business decisions and as I mentioned in my second post, I know it's my fault. It's my responsibility to right this ship and get financially stable for my kids. I have two: my son, who is 9 and my daughter who is 5. We are extremely close and this is going to be so difficult for us all. I'm used to being with them every week. Going to school to have lunch with them....we are just really close. I know it's going to rip my heart out.

I'm trying to keep a realistic perspective on this, though. I plan on being a "Homeless Trucker" for a while. Staying in hotels or with my Ex during hometime with the kids and living on the road the rest of the time. I'm getting rid of my apartment and my vehicle. It's going to be radically different, but all that money I will be able to save in the first year will be enough to make me stable again. After the 120,000 miles I will owe to Roehl, I'll re-evaluate whether or not I want to stay in Trucking or move on. From the posts I've read about living on the road, homeless, it seems that it is definitely doable. I need to simplify my life and I don't mind being more minimalist minded.

My posts are mostly upbeat about getting to plunge into this career. And I AM excited for lots of reasons! I'm excited to try something new. I'm excited to experience a boyhood dream. I'm excited to not have the hassles that come with owning a business. I'm excited about knowing that even though I won't see my children much this first year, I will know without a doubt that I can financially support them. But, I'd be lying to you if I said I wasn't a little terrified about being away from them for so long. This is TruckingTruth, right? So I'm just speaking the truth. I'm a very involved Dad. This is going to be so different. It's my responsibility to be able to take care of them as a parent should. The burden has been on my Ex do to my failures in business. It's my job to suck up the temporary pain of OTR and focus on what this next 15 months will provide for my family. Then, maybe I can switch to a better home schedule. It's all new to me. So time will tell. I'll have lots of time by myself to evaluate all of that on the road.

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.

OWI:

Operating While Intoxicated

Brett Aquila's Comment
member avatar
Thanks for the reply, Brett. I guess I should have elaborated a little more.

Yeah, I guess so!

rofl-3.gif

That explanation offered a whole lot more than just "the recruiter bad talked other companies and Roehl has a family atmosphere". I'm glad to hear it. We look forward to following along as you go through your rookie year.

OWI:

Operating While Intoxicated

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