Profile For Robert H.

Robert H.'s Info

  • Location:
    Milton, FL

  • Driving Status:
    In CDL School

  • Social Link:

  • Joined Us:
    4 years, 3 months ago

Robert H.'s Bio

Former firefighter, wrecker driver, deputy sheriff, and currently a truck driver in the US Army Reserve. Been deployed to Afghanistan, Kandahar and Bagram airfields. Started Truck Driver Institute on January 19 2015 with a graduation date of February 6, 2015.

Hoping to land a driver/trainee position with a major trucking company.

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Posted:  4 years, 2 months ago

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Schneider Orientation Next Week

Good to hear Steve. Small world! I live in Milton and used to work at the Sheriff's Office across the road from TDI. Had a great time at TDI, and looking forward to working for Schneider!

Any advice aside from the instructions is welcome. Thanks!!

Posted:  4 years, 2 months ago

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Last Day!!!! Sent home early! Why?

Congrats!! Good luck wherever you wind up!!

Posted:  4 years, 2 months ago

View Topic:

Schneider Orientation Next Week

While at TDI in Milton, Florida, they gave us a stack of applications. From that stack I applied with over a dozen trucking companies; some that I have never heard of to the more common carriers. There was one carrier that I had to complete the application online: Schneider. I completed the Schneider application on Day 2 of the School, and on Day 3 I got a call from them. The recruiter gave a good amount of information, and I was hooked. Basically, there would be a sign on bonus, Tuition Reimbursement even though the GI Bill paid for my school, and the VA approved apprenticeship program. What’s nice about that is receiving up to $1,100 (probably BAH) a month, tax free and a few other goodies. That day I emailed her my DD-214 and some other paperwork and completed an online background request. Then I was told to call her back when I graduated to set up the orientation. Initially she told me that the position I applied for meant “slip seating.” I can say from experience that when I was a deputy sheriff, I had my own patrol car and seldom had to share it with another deputy. The times when I was on vacation or off 7 days for rotation week, a deputy on the other rotation would have his car breakdown and I would let him use mine. Of course, when I got my car, the brakes were messed up, interior smelling like stale farts and cigarettes and it was dirtier than sewer rat. Also, every time some knucklehead borrowed my car, I would get called into the Lt’s office for speeding, running red lights, etc. So slip seating wasn’t something I wanted to do. Fortunately, the recruiter at Schneider graciously took me off of that job and put on a regional run. In the meantime, I did talk to a few other companies. One even scheduled me for orientation when at no time did I ever speak to them to even arrange for it. I also applied for some local driving jobs too. It is tough to find a local job without having OTR experience. It does help, however, to have some military driving, especially with the line haul trucks. While still in School, I also applied with Sysco as a Shuttle Driver. It was a job announcement I found on Indeed.com. All I had to do was to get a doubles/triples endorsement. The day I finished TDI and got my Class A CDL, I took the Tanker and Double/Triples Endorsement. Why not? In Florida it’s only 7.00 each for the two endorsements, and the exams were too easy. Plus, it made the HR lady at Sysco very happy!

After all of research I’ve done, Sysco seemed to be a good paying job for a company that seems to take care of their employees. Most reviews seemed very positive, and average pay is 21.00-27.00 an hour. The highest pay I ever got was just under 20.00 an hour after working 12.5 years at the same place. To make it a sweeter deal, it is local, and me having a 16 week old daughter, plus my love for jogging and going to the gym, so staying local was a plus. Yesterday I went to their DC in Geneva, Alabama and interviewed. It was probably the best interview I’ve ever had, and probably one that I could not have been better prepared for. After about 35-45 minutes, they gave me some paperwork to complete while I was there “in case” I was hired. Then they said that they were impressed, liked what they saw and I would hear back in a day or so. Unfortunately I got edged out by another driver but that was ok. I still had Schneider and perhaps I need to the OTR training and experience anyways. But even better, Sysco called me and said that they were so impressed with my interview and background that they placed me at the top of the list. Therefore the next opening would be mine if I wanted it. So Starting Tuesday, I’ll begin orientation with Schneider. Guess I need to pay my dues over the road anyways, so I’m still looking forward to Schneider. I have 99% of everything ready to go. Maybe in a week or so I’ll be getting ready to take the wheel and hit the highway. Sorry for the rambling. Thanks,

Posted:  4 years, 2 months ago

View Topic:

Late Bloomer Part One

*NOTE- I apologize, I should have started this series in another category.

Continued

Still on Day One.

The class instructor, "G," is a long time veteran trucker, in fact, he had been driving since before the old Peterbilts used in movie "Dual." Also, he also was in the military, In fact, in my class, there are three of us that are/were Army, one was Navy, one was an Army senior NCO who got a commission and went to the Air Force, one military spouse and one child of someone in the military. There was an eighth student, but he was dropped for reasons unknown to us. Overall, I really liked the staff and my fellow students. We jumped into the study guides and took some practice exams. I liked the open book because it worked well with my learning style. No doubt, just in the second half of day one, I learned more than I though I would. But it helped that despite being an old salt, "G" is a great instructor and not some crusty old guy saying "hey big man lemme hold a dollar."

Finally, at the end of the day, "G" gave us a stack of applications for over a dozen companies. I already had one company in mind, and they didn't have a paper application. These apps had to be completed and turned in by Wednesday. Well, my handwriting sucks. Had it not been for typing my reports, my career in law enforcement would have ended much sooner. So my wife graciously volunteered to completed them. However, the one application I completed was online that night.

Day Two was pretty much spent on the CDL permit test: General Knowledge, Airbrakes and Combinations. We studied, did quizzes, discussion, "G" gave us even more insight, and we were given more practice tests for the permit exam on Thursday.

For some reason, Day Three was spent on logbooks and trip planning. Again, as mentioned in prior posts, this is why brand new candidates need this type of training. I caught onto logging quickly as well as the monthly summaries. I'm not a rocket scientist, but I didn't realize how easy logging is. I heard that time management over the road it tough, but keeping your logs updated will be a must. Having been a law enforcement officer in the past, I know the importance of documenting, and if you didn't document, it didn't happen. In trucking, it could land you in deep doo-doo. (BTW, when I was a deputy, the only semi I stopped in 12.5 years was a stolen rig.)

Also on Day Three, I received a phone call from the one company that I wanted to work for, and it was the first company to even call since I got home from deployment, Of all of the research on the different companies, this one company had by far the best incentives for me and my family Sure, some of you guys out there may say "Hey Rob, so and so is better." Sure, it may be better for them, but the company I want is what I feel is best for me. During my phone call, it made me even more confident that I was likely going to be getting on with them.

All of the other applications were submitted, except for one. I will not mention that company's name, but I heard their employee relations pay stink. Besides, I still had my mind set on the company I originally wanted.

Tune in next time for Day Four: Big Surprise at the DMV and the phone call I've been waiting for.

Posted:  4 years, 2 months ago

View Topic:

Late Bloomer Part One

David you do NOT have to call me sir..I'm a Sergeant I work for a living lol....about the school:

I started on the 19th of Jan, and so far it has been very easy. Mainly 100's on the written tests and everything is going well. the truth is, a lot of the stuff I'm learning is something I would have never known from the Army. For example, shifting. Yes I've driven manual transmissions since I was a teenager, and started driving on an old Ford F700 with a New Process Transmission and a two speed rear end. When I was a wrecker driver for six years, none of the trucks were automatic. All of the Army's tactical vehicles are automatic. Quiet convenient but tactically smart. You don't have to worry about shifting if you are shooting. Plus, automatics are darn near idiot proof. Some of the "modern" soldiers would have burnt a clutch or two.

But when I got to school, one of the first thing we were all told was to forget what we knew and start out with an empty sponge. What little did I know: the fact that semi's rely on RPM's to shift and the RPM range; the positions of the clutch, when to depress it to the floor and why and when not to; and not to mention HOW to shift aside from the obvious "H" pattern. Had I just obtained my CDL via Waiver form and written test, how would I have known? Google?

In the Motor Transport Operator's Course at Ft Leonard Wood, MO, we only had to qualify on three nomenclatures in the Army's inventory. The Five ton MTV, The M915 (Semi with tri-axle trailer) and the M1074 PLS. We spent two weeks on just the five ton, five on the 915 and four days for the PLS. A little bass ackwards because we spent more time in the simulators and on the range with the most basic straight truck in the Army other than it's little single axle brother, the 2.5 ton LMTV; and only a total of none days for two complex/combination vehicles. Furthermore, the skills tests were less than the standard of the DOT Skills tests. Not to mention, weight is not an issue as long as the vehicle is not in gross overload. the course did train me how to properly couple and un-couple the M915's (which is identical to the way I'm currently being trained) and I actually scored higher on the skills test than the other trucks and scored a 100 on the driving.

By no means am I knocking the Army's way of training soldiers. I think it did give me the credentials to drive Army trucks which would be a help when I finally decided to become a civilian trucker. However, no matter how much training I did receive, plus the years of steady driving, as well as having professional truck drivers in my unit has been invaluable. The fact is, the Army may help you get a ahead of the game, but I totally recommend going to truck driving school.

Day 1 at TDI) Reported at 7am and met with the director of training. He gave us an overview of the course, what is to be expected of us and we had to complete a ton of paperwork less than an hour. The physician administering the DOT physicals was to be there at 8am. The training director pulled no punches and didn't sugar coat anything. I liked him from the start. He mentioned to us that he was a prior Marine, landed at Somalia in 1992 and returned in 1993 while the Battle of Mogadishu, aka the Blackhawk Down incident was occurring. What little did he know, another Blackhawk Down Vet worked across the street and was a fellow deputy: Todd Blackburn. Some of you may remember him being portrayed by Orlando Bloom in Blackhawk Down and was the soldier that fell 70 feet while fast roping. The training director then told me that he was in the National Guard and his job description is the same as mine.

We all went up to the front offices, and went into a room. The vision test, pee in a cup, blood pressure and some questions and answers. Then into the room where the Dr conducted his exam. It was painless, and I was in and out in less than five minutes.

We watched videos, received our drivers handbooks and other assorted materials. at 12pm it was lunch time, and since it was only 30 minute lunch, I brought mine from home. Since I run and work out, I try to eat healthy and drink a ton of water Truth be known, I had the stomach bug that started Saturday and I was still feeling the dehdration effects of it. I drank over a gallon and a half of water that day, at least an entire gallon before lunch. Bladder was constantly at full capacity.

After lunch, we met with out classroom instructor who told us that we were going to give urine to test for drugs. We had already peed earlier but I didn't care. I had to pee so bad from all of the water, I peed in the bathroom and 30 minutes later, gave a sample that was darn near clear. He jokingly looked at my funny as is I slipped some tapwater in it, but there is a tell-tell indicator on the side of the cup.

The rest of the day was spent going over what the next few says would entail. The CDL Permit Test...THAT is another story!

Posted:  4 years, 2 months ago

View Topic:

Late Bloomer Part One

*Note: Thanks for the feedback. This was a series of events that have already occurred. It took a bit to get the second post in the thread. I've already completed Week One.

Now the gears are really turning and I'm starting to feel like this may be what I should have done a long time ago. Without hesitation I looked up TDI in Milton, Florida and sent in a request for more information. Almost immediately I received a call from Johnny Meads(former linebacker with the Houston Oilers and Washington Redskins). Mr. Meads gave me some very good information about the school along with the ins and outs. I told him that I was unemployed with limited funds but then he said not to worry about the financing aspects, companies that offer tuition reimbursement, and the high number of folks who complete the course and leave with a job. Plus, he said the Post 911 GI Bill would also cover it if I qualify. Given the fact that the GI does take time, Mr. Meads said that the tuition can be bridged by using the available student loan. When the bill kicks in, it will be taken care of and no worries.

Mr. Meads emailed me information of the school, plus the forms I needed to submit He told me that from now on, there were going to be background checks for school and every time I changed companies. No problem. I have a Secret Security Clearance and cannot screw that up.

Immediately I sent m the link with the school information on it. Almost immediately, she said "GO FOR IT!" Normally she would "interrogate" me for more information and that information would lead to her asking about THAT information and so on...and she is a Paramedic and a 911 dispatcher. I was the cop..lol I then went to the VA website, completed the online application and the school application. After printing it off, I had a packet prepared for the school.

The following Monday I went to the school and noted that the staff there is very friendly. The lady I spoke with was extremely helpful. She gave me some paperwork to complete for the financial assistance and I paid the $25.00 fee for the background check. That same day, all of the required documents were completed and I went back the next day and turned it all in. The admissions lady took me on a little tour of the facility as well as introducing me to the staff. Later that day, I got a call that my start day was January 2015. I think I was more excited about that than when I went to the law enforcement academy in 1999. I was enrolled in truck driving school.

My new career is on it's way.

Posted:  4 years, 2 months ago

View Topic:

Late Bloomer Part One

Here it is, in just over a month I'll 43 and in my new career in trucking. I've driven trucks and other large vehicle for a long time, and drive and operate them in the Army Reserve. I started when I was 18, driving fire trucks for a local volunteer fire dept. I drive light and medium duty wreckers, charter bus size motorhomes and other straight trucks. in 2009 (at the age of 37) I enlisted in the Army Reserve as a Motor Transport Operator and was trained to drive very large trucks in the Army Inventory as well as the Army version of the semi known as the M915. However, even though both units had a couple of them, I seldom ever got drive them. Instead, my current unit has the M1074 and 75 Palletized Load System 10X10 truck and the M1076 trailer. In Afghanistan, my truck was a MAXPRO DASH MRAP. Yep, we line haulers became Convoy Escort Teams.

After informing my previous employment that I was being deployed, they started to target me, despite my years with an impeccable record. I was burned out after 12.5 years anyway, so I resigned Not that I really wanted to but I'll leave it at that. However, I thought that I would find a job when I came back. After deployment, I had a rough time trying to find a job. 42 years old, high school graduate with some college, a Veteran of Operation Enduring Freedom, never been fired, never been arrested, never even had a traffic citation, 12.5 years serving my community as a deputy sheriff, in good physical shape (I jog and workout) and I couldn't find work if it fell on me. I submitted no less than 40 job applications. I either got "thank you for your interest but" or nothing. I would call to follow up just to be given some hippity hooblah as to why they had to advertise a position but then decided not to hire anyone. Some places advertise "entry level" but want you have experience. So I repeatedly fixed and rebuilt my resume, had it looked over, applied a lot of so-called "Veteran Friendly" places. Disappointed after being turned down one after the other. I took a step back. My wife said not to take it personal. There were, in fact, a lot of jobs I probably don't qualify for because I didn't have a CDL. Really...that got my gears turning.

One day, I was sitting at the house watching my baby daughter while my wife was at work when I saw "Talloby Trucker" videos on Youtube. The video, from 2013 (about the time my career was winding down), was at a local truck driving school known as TDI or Truck Driving Institute. Ironically, the school is across the street from my old employer and I used to see those trucks on the road all of the time when I worked there. During the series of videos, Tallyboy sort of produced a video diary about the school and what he did on a daily basis. One of the videos even showed him performing an alley dock. Then I saw other videos of him getting his own truck and getting out on his own. Those videos helped me make up my mind.

Then I spoke with a longtime friend, an owner/operator who I went to school with and have known since elementary school. I sent him a text and told him that I was ready to start a new career. He gave me a plethora of advice and provided a rough sketch of the big picture of the trucking industry.

Time to get into professional truck driving. Although I was a professional driver over the years and I drove trucks for nearly 25 years, I really wasn't even a professional truck driver. Given the fact that I'm in the Army Reserve and have driven trucks with a GCVWR of over 137,000 pounds, I could have easily obtained a waiver from my commander, take the General Knowledge, Combination and Airbrake exam, and walked out with a Class A CDL without taking the skills test. That is by far the easiest least expensive way to obtain a CDL. But I carefully evaluated the pros and cons and realized that if I went down the easy road, it would be highly unlikely to ever obtain gainful employment with my CDL The only thing is I would save a few bucks and walk out with a useless driver's license. Several guys in my unit told me to take the easy..but you get what you pay for. Besides, even if I used the Army, the only experience I had was driving automatics and not the Fuller Road Ranger Transmissions. I can drive a stick, but that's only in non-semi vehicles. Plus, my experience with combination vehicles were limited to the PLS truck, which does not use a fifth wheel; only a pentile hitch. I needed training and to start, I needed to go to Truck Driving School and I got a green light from my wife.

My next question is: do I have the resources to do this? After all $5900.00l is hard to cough up, especially when one is unemployed.

More to follow...

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