Profile For Gregg M.

Gregg M.'s Info

  • Location:
    Hilltown, PA

  • Driving Status:
    Considering A Career

  • Social Link:
    Gregg M. On The Web

  • Joined Us:
    3 months, 4 weeks ago

Gregg M.'s Bio

Hi all - late 50's "regular" guy (is there such a thing?) facing a career crisis. Seems to be a common thing around here . . . I live in south eastern PA, in Upper Bucks County. Currently employed as an automotive tech, doing OK, and hate everything about my job. Hate the product. Hate the parent company. Hate the customers. Pretty much just hate going to work. I also work part time as a tow driver for the same organization. Love the driving. Pays pretty good as a part time gig - would never cover the mortgage full time though. Also a volunteer firefighter - pretty much love everything about that, but especially love the driving.

Anyone see a pattern here . . . ?

Yeah - me too. So about 25 years ago during a prior career crisis I put myself through private CDL school. Learned to drive a tractor trailer, got my Class A with Hazmat, Tanker, and Multiple Trailer endorsements. And then stayed in the automotive field. (Moron). So now I'm back reconsidering a driving career. Reading, researching, super thankful for finding this resource. Maybe this time I'll make the leap.

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Posted:  1 week, 4 days ago

View Topic:

Do some truck drivers really only make $10/hr?

I hear this type of thing pretty often. The problem is people want to compare different jobs/careers in some standard way and assume that “hourly rate” is a fair comparison. It is not. There are also people (often those writing articles) who have an agenda and find that using artificial “hourly rates” somehow bolsters their viewpoint. The truth is many careers can’t be defined by the standard 9 to 5 get paid by the hour concept. I work as an automotive technician - working on the flat rate system, which is basically piecework. I have an hourly rate, but in truth it is almost meaningless because my ability to bill time is predicated on many variables, so my paycheck varies week to week. In addition some days I work 8 hours, sometimes I’ll stay late, and now and then I leave early or arrive late. So my “effective rate” is all over the place, but usually significantly more than my documented “hourly rate”. I also tow part time, again being paid based on what I bill. I’m on call overnight. But some nights I’m home at 5 for dinner, others I run til midnight (or later). How would you calculate an hourly rate for that - by the time I’m in the truck, or on duty, or just loaded . .? Truck driving as a career segment has so many variations in what you do and how you get paid it can be difficult to compare jobs. One thing for sure is you have to find the place that fits what you want to do as a driver, and what you need financially. You can make generalizations, but there are always exceptions, good and bad. Is OTR a good paycheck - yes. Is it a good hourly rate . . welllllll . . . probably not. But you don’t drive OTR to brag about your hourly rate, you drive OTR because you love the job, something an hourly rate can never quantify.

Gregg

Posted:  1 week, 5 days ago

View Topic:

Mack MR688 or terrapro cabover?

Seen plenty of those (or similar models) as semi tractors, the Postal Service used them almost exclusively for years. However they are/were all day cabs. I’m no expert, but given that most of the engine and a good bit of the intake and exhaust hardware is behind the cab fitting a sleeper would be problematic at best, and a huge maintenance nightmare if you managed to get it mounted. I suspect the cab lacks the structure to support an add on sleeper box, so you would probably have to mount the sleeper separately, which leaves a seal type connection to the cab which are prone to leaks.

I’m sure it could be done, but in the long run would the trade-offs be worth the benefits?

Gregg

Posted:  2 weeks, 4 days ago

View Topic:

Taking curves too slow?

I completely agree with the advice to stay in your comfort zone and not worry about everyone else. That being said there is one thing no one else has mentioned that you might find helpful. I’ve had lots of driver training - CDL school, Emergency Vehicle Operators Certification, work related training, etc. One thing they all discuss is proper vehicle control in curves, specifically the process where you brake BEFORE entering the curve, then accelerate gently through the curve. Why? If you brake before the curve you reduce your speed and therefore momentum before trying to change direction, and basic physics says that things tend to want to go in a straight line, so to reduce that effect you reduce your momentum. That will let your truck “turn in” easier and feel less out of control.

Now the important part - accelerating through the curve. No, not like a race car! Gently, but with some authority. What this does is change the dynamic of your vehicle. If you’re coasting through a curve your load is pushing you - the load is in control, not you. By gently accelerating you are putting the tractor in control and forcing the load to follow rather than push. Try it a few times and I think you will find it helps. With practice you will find the right combination of entry speed and acceleration that lets you feel in control the whole way through.

Another thing to mention is to try to avoid braking after you enter the curve, known as trail braking. It can be done, but in a big truck with a hinge in the middle it can be a very scary situation because you are putting extremely high side loads on your tractors drive axle which will make it feel pretty unstable.

Gregg

Posted:  2 weeks, 5 days ago

View Topic:

Unusual HOS questions . . .

Thanks guys - appreciate the feedback.

"It's why plow trucks can work 16 hour days when a snow storm hits." - My brother works for PennDOT and they are exempted from HOS regulations at all times, as well as other less significant exemptions. As you said they extend that courtesy to their contracted snow removal companies under storm conditions. It's good to be the Government . . .

I have an in-person interview with the facility manager tomorrow morning, if it goes well I plan to ask more than a few specific questions about their operational expectations. I will say I had the unexpected opportunity to talk at length with a couple of their drivers and they had only good things to say about the company and the job, so I'm hopeful it works out.

Gregg

Posted:  2 weeks, 5 days ago

View Topic:

Personal life details

That's very easy.

When the casual conversation leads into more personal aspects of your life simply share with your trainer that you are a very private person, and that you would prefer not to discuss certain/many/all aspects of your personal life.

There's nothing special about that issue in the trainer/trainee situation - it's no different than working in close proximity with any group of people. Some folks share every minutia of their personal life, others share nothing at all. Most of us fall somewhere in the middle, sharing what we feel comfortable with.

The question you should really have is "What if my trainer insists on prying into my personal life?"

In that case your trainer is creating what is known as a Hostile Work Environment - an actionable situation that you should report to HR.

Gregg

Posted:  2 weeks, 5 days ago

View Topic:

Unusual HOS questions . . .

As I investigate driving careers I am not limiting myself to OTR opportunities. While I have a Class A licence, most of my experience is in the towing industry, emergency road service in particular.

One of the opportunities I'm pursuing is with Copart, a national insurance salvor and auction company. They are currently moving most or all of their transport operations in-house, buying large numbers of new 2 and 4 car transporters and hiring many new drivers. As an experienced tow operator with a CDL-A I fit their somewhat unique qualification requirements. I find the job appealing because it potentially pays better than most OTR and many home every night jobs I see, yet offers a home time and hours of at work time situation that seems better than either of those options.

Another appealing factor to me is their requirement that you be available for "Disaster Response". Essentially, when an event occurs (like recent hurricane activity across the nation) that creates an overwhelming number of vehicles to be moved to Copart facilities, drivers and their equipment are sent to those areas to assist the local on-site crews until the available work returns to normal. Under these conditions drivers are provided housing, meals, per diem, and bonuses, in addition to their normal pay. As a first responder I find this kind of situation interesting and probably almost fun. (I know, wack job).

So my first question is this - as a tow operator we are exempt from HOS regulations within 150 miles of our base of operations for "emergency road service". However, Copart is doing vehicle transport, and therefor must comply with the HOS regulations. So like your typical home every day CDL driver they are basically limited to an 11 hour driving day under normal conditions, correct?

And my second question regards operation during "Disaster Response". During a phone interview I had a facility manager explain that once drivers arrive at the disaster area they operate exempt from HOS regulation because Copart has the ability to request that exemption as a disaster responder. Personally, if I'm going to be away from home I'd just as soon be working as much as I can to make the trip worthwhile, I'm just wondering if anyone here knows or has any experience with this?

Thanks in advance

Gregg

Posted:  1 month ago

View Topic:

Weird Question About Medical Cards

Thanks guys - that's pretty much what I expected.

Gregg

Posted:  1 month ago

View Topic:

Weird Question About Medical Cards

So I'm working on getting on with Prime, hopefully early next year. One of my hurdles is medical clearance. I currently have a medical card, which must be renewed annually, and have done so with no concerns for several years now. Unfortunately I know that Prime - like most companies - will require me to pass a physical given by THEIR doctor to be sure I meet their standards. I'm pretty confident I can do that, but if you read between the lines here you'll see I'm much more comfortable/confidant with the doctor currently doing my exams.

So my question is this - once I pass the onboarding exam, am I required to have my annual done by Prime, or can I go back to my current doc?

Hopefully one of the Prime drivers will jump in here with a specific answer . . .

Thanks

Gregg

Posted:  1 month, 1 week ago

View Topic:

Firearms?

I am not yet a driver nor a gun enthusiast, but from what I’ve read and conversations I’ve had with the gun enthusiasts I know I can say two things. First, most companies specifically prohibit firearms of any kind in their trucks unless called for by them for a particular purpose. And second, when you travel between states you are required to know the laws in every state you enter, and are expected to follow them. No exceptions or excuses. Sounds to me like you aren’t at all prepared from that standpoint, and you didn’t mention discussing this with your employer so I’m assuming you plan to carry without their knowledge. All in all a very bad idea.

Gregg

Posted:  1 month, 2 weeks ago

View Topic:

Prime Flatbed - Pay for securement equipment?

Thanks guys - your help and information is valuable and appreciated. I am especially thankful for the thoroughness of your answers.

Silly question for you both - did you get to pick the color of your assigned truck? Were you given a choice of say two or three, or does Prime just assign you the next available unit? I ask because I'm very jealous of the bright red truck you had Turtle . . .

At this point it looks like I'll be waiting til the new year so that we can go on my wife's health insurance - she's eligible January first. With any luck I'll be headed to orientation by the second or third week of January (fingers crossed).

BTW Chief Brody, I was also an EMT for a while, and am currently a volunteer firefighter. With any luck I'll also be another Prime flatbedder . . .

Gregg

Posted:  1 month, 2 weeks ago

View Topic:

Prime Flatbed - Pay for securement equipment?

First, I want to say "Thank You" for the responses - this was exactly the kind of information I was looking for.

Second, I want to say that this is definitely NOT a go/no go issue for me with Prime. As I said, I'm used to buying tools, and I appreciate all of the subtleties of the difference between My equipment and the Company's equipment.

The recruiter did not mention that Prime would "buy back" equipment if I left the company or flatbed division, but then again I wouldn't expect her to - her job is to get me in the door, not tell me about leaving the company :) In any case, that is a good thing to know - makes it more like text books in college, buy them, take care of them, sell them back. It's also good information that just buying from Prime makes the most sense - Thank you.

I did look over the health insurance pretty thoroughly and noted the elevated first year pricing. I've seen that before, and I'm neither surprised nor put off by it. It's simply a way to reward employees for staying, and have some of the in-and-out guys cover some of the costs they incur by being short term.

Chief Brody - I have to say that your generally positive descriptions of Prime are one of the many factors that put them on my short list.

If I can I'd like to ask you a couple of questions . . .

When you get home time are you expected to drop the truck (and/or trailer) at the terminal, or do you take the truck home?

Even though you've been strictly flatbed, do you have any sense of how easy or difficult it is to switch to a different fleet - say tanker, or a regional position?

What's your feeling about the equipment storage on the trucks and trailers? Is it enough? Related to that how often do you change trailers, and what does that entail?

What extra equipment did you add to the standard list, and why? I run rollback tow trucks as a second job, so I'm familiar with wanting the right tools for the job when on the road.

And last - any chance you're a trainer?

Gregg

Posted:  1 month, 3 weeks ago

View Topic:

Prime Flatbed - Pay for securement equipment?

I've been emailing with a Prime recruiter, and am very interested in their flatbed division. They have a terminal about 90 minutes from me, and will give me some consideration for already having a CDL-A even with no experience. I also like that they have some diversity in the company, and I can get some exposure to tanker, reefer, and regional work if I feel so inclined. Of course the mostly positive comments by other members here don't hurt either ;)

Anyway, during a phone conversation the recruiter mentioned that flatbed drivers are responsible to purchase their own straps, tarps, chains and accessories. They can be purchased through Prime, which gives you the option to pay them back over a year, or you can purchase from other vendors so long as the equipment meets their specifications. Of course I asked how much this would cost and the answer is about $4000.00.

Now as someone who has been an automotive tech for a long time I'm used to buying tools, and I completely get the idea that if the equipment belongs to you, you take better care of it. But 4K is a big hit, and even over a year is almost $100 a week. I was a bit taken aback by this.

Obviously I'm not going to change their policy, but I'm curious - is this S.O.P. in the flatbed industry? Or is this something Prime alone does?

And of course the follow up question - any suggestions on sources for the equipment if/when I get that far?

Thanks for any feedback/thoughts

Gregg

Posted:  3 months, 3 weeks ago

View Topic:

Getting Started

I know this won't be the case in every state, but a cautionary tale from here in PA.

When the Fed made the decision to allow local law enforcement to perform enforcement of D.O.T. regulations related to trucking, many municipalities here in PA saw an opportunity to make some much needed income. With a little training, and a minimum of equipment, local police began setting up check points and generating income from D.O.T. inspections. As part of this expanded enforcement, some departments began questioning the definitions of "commercial" trucks. As a result, the idea of what is and isn't commercial, and what does and doesn't require a CDL, has been broadly expanded here in the Keystone State.

For example:

Around here many landscapers have taken to using large enclosed trailers for mowers and equipment. Keeps everything together, secure, and out of the weather. Unfortunately many of the larger trailers have GVWs over 10,000lbs. So all of a sudden guys driving F350-550's need a CDL.

Hobby racers got it even worse. Those nice roomy car trailers with toolboxes and work space along with a car are almost always over 10,000lbs. To make matters worse, many hobby racers buy racing fuel at the track, and store it in the trailer. According to the interpretation of the commercial laws in PA, hobby racing is a for profit commercial enterprise. How? Well, if you win you get a check don't you? That's income derived from the activity, making it a commercial enterprise. There have been many cases of guys having trucks, trailers, and race cars impounded for not only not having a CDL, but not having a HazMat endorsement for hauling the fuel . . .

At one point I had a 22,000lb gooseneck equipment trailer I towed with an F350. After about a dozen phone calls and emails to a variety of people at PennDOT, it was determined that I needed a combination registration for the F350.

And there are others. My point is that with the capabilities of today's "light duty" trucks its very easy to surpass the weight requirements for CDL licencing. And depending on your location, the local law enforcement may be well aware of that fact, and more than happy to remind you of it.

Gregg

Posted:  3 months, 3 weeks ago

View Topic:

Mom died tonight

New to the forum, and sad this is my first post.

My heartfelt condolences. We all have to face this - it's the price we pay for the gift we give them of going before us.

Don't worry - while the pain may get less sharp over time, your memories and feelings of her will never fade. She will always be there.

Everyone here who has lost a parent is thinking of you, and sending you their support in one way or another.

Gregg

Posted:  3 months, 3 weeks ago

View Topic:

Reasonable expectations, or a misguided pipe dream?

Greetings to everyone - new member, new post, probably an old question.

Currently an automotive tech - hate my job. Been watching the Indeed job postings for CDL drivers for a while now, and I keep seeing "home every night" jobs hauling specialized loads in m y general area with incomes of $90k and up . . .

So I'm thinking maybe I should use the CDL I got 25 years ago. Finally.

Of course those jobs all require experience - 1 to 2 years minimum. And truthfully I haven't drive a tractor trailer since school. So I'm thinking maybe sign on with someone like England or Swift, get some refresher training, put a couple of years on the road (see the country and have the experience of the job), and then go after one of these local specialized jobs.

Is that a reasonable plan. A reasonable expectation? Or am I fooling myself - are those well paid local jobs so desirable I'll never get one? Or worse are they deceptive ads and no such jobs exist?

Thanks for any input you care to offer - about my nebulous plan, or anything in general. At this point any input, or even questions, will be appreciated.

Gregg

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