Food Grade Tanker Advice

Topic 21332 | Page 1

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Justin C.'s Comment
member avatar

I've been checking some old posts and I seem to notice there are not a lot of tanker drivers here. Just wondering for those that are, what do you think about it? I just started it and like it so far. I drove reefer and dry van for 6 months with a small company ( about 125 trucks) hauling produce mainly. I just started with a really small tanker company in NY (about 25 trucks) food grade. I have driven in the winter with my last company but I'm really worried about it with the tanker as the products surge sometimes viscously. I see Brett you have driven food grade tankers for a year, what made you only do it for a year if you liked it so much, if you don't mind me asking? Any good advice anyone has would be greatly appreciated, thanks.

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.
Patrick C.'s Comment
member avatar

If I remember right, Brett was leaned on because he drove hard. When he decided to take home time the owner wanted to cut it short. Brett said No and the owner fired him. I think that is also why Brett has a bad taste in his mouth about smaller trucking companies.

I am sure he will chime in, in the morning. Probably correct me too, lol.

icecold24k's Comment
member avatar

I am a food grade tanker driver for Prime Inc. Honestly I absolutely love it and never plan on doing anything other than tanker. There is plenty of freight and I stay running really hard with very minimal downtime. I usually don’t have to pump very much either as most customers with my company is either drop and hook or we back in and they do everything. I do however go through spells where it seems I am pumping every load but I don’t mind it all. As far as being safe just always remember In tanker do everything slow and methodical. Slow and steady always wins the race.

Drop And Hook:

Drop and hook means the driver will drop one trailer and hook to another one.

In order to speed up the pickup and delivery process a driver may be instructed to drop their empty trailer and hook to one that is already loaded, or drop their loaded trailer and hook to one that is already empty. That way the driver will not have to wait for a trailer to be loaded or unloaded.

Brett Aquila's Comment
member avatar
Brett, what made you only do it for a year if you liked it so much, if you don't mind me asking?

First let me talk about driving a food grade tanker and then I'll get into some other stuff.

I loved pulling a food grade tanker but I was ready to change from OTR to more of a regional job where I could be home on weekends. I wanted to get on with a company that had a huge variety of opportunities with different types of freight and different divisions so I went to US Xpress and pulled a dry van after leaving the tanker company.

Pulling a tanker in the winter isn't really much worse than in the summer. You're always loaded heavy so you're going to get a decent grip most of the time and that round tank lets the crosswinds go right on by without too much trouble. So there are some advantages to pulling a tanker in the winter.

Your obvious concern is the sloshing liquid on slick roads. I would argue that the sloshing liquid is equally dangerous on dry pavement, especially when you're on an offramp or going around a tight curve, which is where most people get into trouble. You just have to make sure you have that liquid settled and your speed is steady before you get to the tight curves.

Now the other stuff:

The tanker company I drove for only had 11 trucks and the owner was going broke. In fact he went bankrupt 3 months after I left. I had averaged 4,500 miles per week for the entire year I drove for him. That was back in the day of paper logs so you could get away with running multiple logbooks and the company just made it look good to the DOT.

I ran my brains out for that company, and after a 6 week stretch without a break I finally got a chance to go home. I was home for two days and the owner called me and said he had a load for me the next day. I told him he was a lunatic. I just drove 27,000 miles in 6 weeks without a break and I only get two days off? I told him I slept most of those first two days just to try to recover from all of that and I needed a few more days off before doing it again.

But when you're almost bankrupt you become desperate. He told me either pick up the load or turn in the truck, so I turned in the truck. So I wasn't actually fired, it was my choice. The writing was on the wall. We all knew it was only a matter of time before he went belly-up anyhow.

I think that is also why Brett has a bad taste in his mouth about smaller trucking companies.

I don't have a bad taste for smaller companies. I just know the reality of it. I've worked for a few small companies over the years and most of them are hanging on by a thread. Let's face it, as a business owner in trucking you almost never choose to stay small. You're small because you can't manage yourself well enough to grow. Trucking is a commodity business where each unit only makes a very tiny amount of money. The average profit margin in the industry is 3%. If you don't have a huge number of trucks you're never going to make much money no matter how well you run your business.

It's the same in other commodity businesses like farming, gasoline, and the airlines. When the only thing that matters is price your profits are going to be very slim. The only way to make a worthwhile profit is with scale. You need a huge number of units because each of them is only making a tiny profit.

That's why the family farm, the owner operator , the family-owned gas stations, and tiny airlines are disappearing quickly. They might be able to make enough to stay in business, but that's about all they're doing. A tiny entity can't compete for long with large companies that have scale behind them.

Logbook:

A written or electronic record of a driver's duty status which must be maintained at all times. The driver records the amount of time spent driving, on-duty not driving, in the sleeper berth, or off duty. The enforcement of the Hours Of Service Rules (HOS) are based upon the entries put in a driver's logbook.

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.

Owner Operator:

An owner-operator is a driver who either owns or leases the truck they are driving. A self-employed driver.

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.

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.

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.

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