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    8 years, 10 months ago

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Posted:  8 years, 8 months ago

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Prime Training 101, Part 7

Overall, I enjoyed the experience and have nothing to regret so far. Classes, staff, students, seasoned drivers, hotel staff were, and are, very well geared to make this transition into a new lifestyle easy, comfortable and understandable. Questions are always welcomed and encouraged and they say that there are NO DUMB questions, but take it from me, I heard a few and some were from me. Lol.

My best advice is this. Listen to your instructors. Ask questions. DO NOT be late. If you make a mistake, own up to it. STUDY! STUDY! STUDY! Pair up with someone and go thru SIM class together after your normal class is over. There is always so free space at night. Just ask one of the instructors if you can come in to practice. In fact, they will actually tell you that the SIM class is available if you want to come in. I would recommend that you practice backing maneuvers. You WILL need it when you get out on the road.

Prime is a great company. This has been proven over and over again in several ways through Internet searches, reviews online, company drivers, and even non-company drivers. Robert Low, the founder and owner of Prime goes far beyond any average efforts of other companies in making his employees safe and comfortable. In my view, Mr. Low obviously considers each employee as an equally important part of the Prime family. Each and every employee that I have met has been extremely friendly and helpful. Employees that exude this confidence and attitude are a fitting example of what Prime stands for.

So for all of you that are considering a career in the trucking industry, in my opinion, Prime is one of the best. The company based training has been said to be one of the very best in the country and from what I have learned so far, that is an understatement. I honestly cannot compare Prime training with other companies simply because I have not trained at other companies, but word of mouth can give you an idea of the differences. I actually have a friend who trained with another company a few months earlier and he said it was horrific. I won’t mention the name of the company, but do your research and I’m sure you will see differences blatantly appear. As soon as his required 6 months with that company is completed, he is coming to Prime.

Thanks for listening to my little rant about becoming part of the Prime family. I’m happy I chose Prime and I am happy that Prime has chosen me. Looking forward to more highway adventures.

If you remember nothing else from your last 5 days, at least remember these 3 things:

1. Shift Points. 1100rpm’s and 1300rpm’s. You will definitely need to know this when you are actually out on the road. 2. Following Distance. 3. Trailer Tracking

Now that I have begun my PSD required 75 hours on the road, I’ll let you know how that is going soon. Remember each of you can do this.

Stay safe and as my roommate Brandon at Prime said, “Keep your eye on the Prize”.

End Part 7 & Final

Posted:  8 years, 8 months ago

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Prime Training 101, Part 6

Once you finish your 5 days at Campus, you are going to be out on the road in a live load environment to get your 75 hours of drive time and then back to Springfield to get your CDL.

Just as in the classes at the campus, ask questions. Help out on the truck. Get out every time your trainer gets out. If he has to hook up a trailer, you get out with him/her. Even if you are not required to do any hands on work, observe what is being done. You will have to do this in your TNT phase and most certainly when you get your own truck and are out alone on the road.

Shoot for the goal of the Trifecta. What is the Trifecta? This is when you return back to Springfield to take the testing required to get your CDL. If you pass all 3 tests at the same time, you win the Trifecta. In doing this you will pocket $250.00. And your trainer will benefit as well. I believe his take will be in the range of $850.00 for you successfully passing all 3 tests.

Study the PTI portion in the binder you were given on Friday. Learn it. Each time you stop to load or unload or stop for the night at a truck stop, get out and do a PTI on the truck and trailer. Take the handout with you. Learn each and every step. Study some more.

I took this a step further and after I received my binder, I read through the PTI section. I then purchased a mini digital voice recorder and recorded each step. I then had an audio version of the PTI handout. I could plug in the headphones, walk through the process of doing the PTI while listening to each section. To me this helped immensely with memorization. After many trips around the truck and trailer, I stopped using the audio version and took the written version with me. I would do the PTI, point out the part and recite the verbiage for that piece, then check the written version to make sure I had it right.

This may not work for everyone, but it certainly helped me. After a few days of doing this, my trainer started walking through this with me giving me the OTR testing that I needed. I haven’t returned to Springfield yet to “test out”, but feel much better about winning that Trifecta for myself and my trainer.

Posted:  8 years, 8 months ago

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Prime Training 101, Part 5

Now let me tell you what I learned about SIM class. The staff in SIM class are AWESOME. Brett, Steven, Sean, Richard, Andrew & Wally are just the ones that I remember. They will explain to you in detail about each and every step of the class and what to expect, why you made a mistake, (if you do)(and you will), and how to correct that mistake. They encourage you to ask questions. Remember earlier I said there were no dumb questions, well this is where my questions came in.

SIM class consist of 9 truck driving simulators. They ARE NOT video games. Again, here is another area that if you want to get noticed in a negative sense, call them video games. There is, so I am told, $1.5 million dollars’ worth of equipment in this room. They can be forgiving when you make a mistake, and in a general term, they WILL give you a “feel” for driving. You have to understand though, that they do not factor in many aspects of driving a real truck, including the torque produced from the engine of the real thing, so even if you think you have “mastered” the art of upshifting, downshifting, skip shifting and the various backing maneuvers, trust me, you have not. Real world is much different, but the simulators do give you a greater jump on getting behind the wheel of an 80,000 missile and somewhat knowing what’s going on.

When you are operating the SIMS, you will most likely have at least one other on the same simulator, sometimes more if you have a large class. My class was small so we had two to a simulator most days.

Partner up with one of your SIM mates. Help each other with the course. Point out what is being done wrong AND right by the other. Some tips for the classes. ALWAYS KEEP BOTH HANDS ON THE WHEEL. DO NOT RIDE THE CLUTCH. Sit down at the simulator just as if you were getting in your car. Seatbelt should ALWAYS be the first move you make after sitting down.

It is very important that you remember that SIM Class is an important part of the training. The staff will stress to you over and over again, that no matter what other issues you are working on, (permitting, interview, etc.), you should NOT miss SIM Class. The only exception that I found was on Friday if you happen to be one of the last ones not to get all your testing requirements completed by the end of training.

Wednesday, Thursday and Friday are pretty much the same – finish what you need to get done. Friday is your Final Meeting. Everyone must be in attendance. You will have your final SIM class and evaluation on those classes. Remember, SIM classroom is open almost 24/7 while you are there. If you feel that you need to practice, then go practice. Just ask the Instructor on duty if he has an available slot that you can use. They are very accommodating. You will also receive instruction from Sean about PTI, or Pre-Trip Inspection. Please ask as many questions as you can. This is an important part of passing your testing when you test for the CDL with the DOT Examiner.

So that pretty much goes over day 1 through day 5, Monday through Friday. I am sure I left many things out, but if you follow your schedule, ask questions and don’t be late, then you will be fine through this training.

On Friday you will receive your Binder, Safety Vest and your Hard PSD ID card. You can now visit the Millennium building.

Throughout the week you will see seasoned drivers and some of them may just be onsite at the Campus Inn looking for PSD and/or TNT students that will complete their training on Friday. You may be approached by some of them. Some will tell you why they are there, other will just simply engage you in conversation. Don’t forget that this is leading into the next phase of your training.

Here’s a hint for new students. For instance, say you are from Florida as I am, you are 900 miles from home and you hope to get home to see family soon, so you are hoping to be approached by a trainer driver that may also be from Florida. But how does he, or you know the other is from Florida? Advertise! What did I do without being blatantly obvious? I wore a very bright ORANGE Florida Gators hat. Everyone from Florida knows the team and it drew trainers from Florida to me. I got what I was looking for, a trainer from Florida. So it worked.

Posted:  8 years, 8 months ago

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Prime Training 101, Part 4

A note about DMV downtown. Several things must happen before you can go to the DMV. You have to have your DOT Card and Letter of Residency, you must either have all your testing completed, or complete the testing at DMV, but you MUST have the DOT Card and Letter of Residency above all else before you can do the transfer. Plan on a minimum of 2-3 hours at the DMV depending on the amount of civilians needing help too. Testing is located on the ground floor just inside the lobby entrance and to the left. If you are just transferring your license and permit, then you will need to go to the 2nd floor.

You can take the Prime Campus Shuttle or you can catch the #2 city bus. The staff will tell you that the bus picks up “in front” of WalMart, which is somewhat incorrect. The bus stop is actually on the far side of the parking lot, past the entrance doors of WalMart as you are walking in a direction from the campus to the store. You will see the bus shelter as you get closer to it.

If you chose to take the bus, (*) it is $1.25 each way. Going TO DMV, get off at the main terminal. When you get off the bus, head across the street to the “town square” and the DMV is the large 6 ± story building to your left and almost in front of you.

(*) - If you take the bus over and decide to catch the Prime Shuttle back, don’t look for the shuttle in “front” of the DMV building. They drop off and pick up to the “rear” of the DMV building. So when you come out of the DMV building, go left around the building and you should be able to see the shuttle if it is there, if it’s not there, just hang around the parking lot at the back of the DMV building.

Testing for permit and endorsements is SELF STUDY! YOU have to study before taking these tests. Course material is NOT taught in the classes during your time here.

Brooke Mosley is in the orientation office. She has a sure fire way for you to make the best effort in passing these tests. She says the best way to do this is to answer all the questions that you are 100% sure of the answers and then go back to the questions that you are unsure about. She also says that you shouldn’t take all three tests, (General Knowledge, Combinations, Air Brakes) one right after the other. You should study for one test, take it, then study for the next, then take that test, and so on.

Once you have received your permit from the DMV, take it to the Orientation office so they can make a copy for your file.

Information on CBT’s. CBT’s or Computer Based Training, consists of 9 videos that you MUST watch and have completed by Wednesday. The CBT room (*) is almost always open so getting this done should not be an issue. Some of these are not the most up to date videos, so pay particular attention to the video about Pre-Trip Inspections (PTI). It does not completely agree with the printed material in your binder that you will receive on Friday. If you have questions, ask Sean or Silvia, they can set you straight. You will have plenty of time to cover this in Sean’s presentation about PTI on Friday.

(*) - DO NOT take food or drinks into the CBT’s room (C4). Bottled drinks are acceptable if they have a screw on cap and is only placed on the floor. NEVER sit any drink on the work area where the computers and keyboards are. These are very expensive and one simple spill can wreak havoc on the entire system. Again, this is something that will get you noticed, and again, NOT in a good way.

Posted:  8 years, 8 months ago

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Prime Training 101, Part 3

All throughout the day you will meander back and forth to get all the things done that need to be done. You will wait in line for hours at some places. For instance, when you go to the Doc’s office for the drug test and physical, you WILL wait in line. Don’t get out of line once you are in it, unless of course you have SIM class. Get it done. This is your first test of time management on your part. There are many things to get accomplished in this first day and they MUST be done TODAY! Drug test, physical and APEX Screening are the primary things that have to be completed on the first day!

Don’t be fooled by walking down the hall and seeing a short line outside the Doc’s office. I know what you will be thinking – short line for the drug test and physical, this won’t take long. Yep, that’s what I thought, then I looked inside the door, and found that the line continued. I am guessing that there were an additional 25 seats inside the office. So if there are 6 waiting outside, then there is probably a full house on the inside.

A word about DOT physicals. So you got your physical in another state and you have your DOT Medical Card. Awesome! You just saved yourself some time right? Wrong. You can kiss that physical goodbye and the DOT card too. You MUST get your physical and DOT card from Prime in Missouri. There is no way around this. Just chalk it up to experience.

At about 1:00PM groups will begin training in the SIM lab. DO NOT MISS SIM LAB. Plan your other activities around SIM Lab time. As an example, if your group has SIM lab scheduled for 3:30PM – 6PM and you get in the line for the physical or drug test at 2pm, you need to rethink this plan. Chances are you will NOT complete the medical part in time for SIM lab. Plan accordingly. All areas are important to complete, but stress is given on not missing SIM lab.

So now after a very long day waiting in line after line, you are nearing the end of the day. By now you should have received your “meal card” for the cafeteria. Oh, the cafeteria is located in the main hotel building on the east side near the Drivers lounge. Outside of the cafeteria, on the patio area, is probably the only real “non-smoking” area, of course with the exception of inside the building.

The food is pretty good. I have had better, and I have had worse. You can eat in the cafeteria or you can get your food to go. And yes, your meal card WILL work at the Millennium cafeteria as well even though you probably not be going there until Friday.

Tomorrow, Tuesday, follow your schedule, remember DO NOT BE LATE! Some will continue on the CBT’s, others will be completing interviews (file review), others will be working on permit testing. Interviews are conducted in the Orientation Office.

A word about permits. CDL Learners permits are a different story than DOT Medical cards. If you received your permit from another state, you DID get ahead of the game, but you will be required to have your State issued Drivers License AND your state issued permit transferred to Missouri. But don’t worry if you didn’t go through the process of testing in your home state. Missouri Highway Patrol will be coming to the Campus on two consecutive days (Tuesday and Wednesday) during your 1st week. (They are only on Campus until 2:30PM on those 2 days ONLY). You will have ample time to STUDY and take the required testing to get your CDL learners permit. You must take the General Knowledge, Air Brakes, Combination Vehicle tests AND you MUST get the tanker endorsement. Yes, even if you will not be going in the tanker division. The staff will explain all of this to you. For those that do not complete the testing while MHP is onsite, you will have to go to the DMV downtown. And believe me, you WANT TO DO IT AT CAMPUS.

While the Highway Patrol is at the campus, you can take each test twice a day until you pass it. There is no charge for testing. You only pay for the permit, license transfer and tanker endorsement when you actually go to the DMV to complete this process.

Posted:  8 years, 8 months ago

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Prime Training 101, Part 2

If you arrive on Saturday or Sunday, the cafeteria will most likely be closed. They close at 2pm on those days. But if you arrive early, they do accept cash. There will be boxed lunches in the hotel lobby for arriving PSD students, but I chose to go across the street to the Bob Evans restaurant. After 31.5 hours on a bus, I needed a good dinner). The food is moderately priced and was actually quite good. The Campus cafeteria is usually open from 6am until 645pm. When you get your meal card, someone will tell you the exact hours that breakfast, lunch and dinner are served. Lunch and dinner times overlap.

Note 1: When you check in, you will be given a schedule of what will occur during the next week. DON’T BE LATE!!!!!! They have a saying at Campus – “Early is on time, On time is Late”! Learn it and live by it. Being late is a sure fire way to be noticed and not in a good way.

Note 2: Your room key is “cel phone sensitive”. DO NOT put your room key close to your phone, not even for a split second. It will cause failure to your room key almost immediately, and if you are unlucky enough to be in the very back building, it is a long walk back up to the front lobby to have it recharged. Your room key also gains you access to the hotel front lobby, the doors to the hotel hallways, the entrance gate to the parking area, and the room buildings around the campus.

So day 1, Monday, you will start by gathering in the Computer Based Training room, C4 at 7:00AM. You should have a map that was in the paperwork from the front desk and it’s very easy to find. There will be a roll call and then you will go over some basic information such as your immediate scheduling, physical, drug test, interviews, APEX screening, permit testing, DOT medical cards, etc. You will have a few introductions to various staff personnel, go over more basic information about school, training, food, security, shuttle, etc. Pay special attention to Stan Kasterke, he has some interesting stories to tell.

Your class will be divided into groups before you set out for the day. Remember your group! You will be in this group for the duration of your PSD training at the campus for the next 5 days and your schedule will revolve around group assignments. This is particularly important relating to SIM class.

The basic rundown is: 7:00AM, Room C4. (Every Day starts with Roll Call in C4) Times Vary. LOOK at your schedule.

Roll Call & Welcome to Prime Application Packet Review Physical Review Health & Fitness Simulator Groups Organized

I want to stress a VERY important part of all this “basic” information you will receive.

Since you are now at the Campus, you have undoubtedly completed your online application and supplied various bits of the required information. One of the persons that will give you a little lesson is one of the security officers at Prime. He will stress to you, and you should listen to this very carefully, that if you tried to hide something in your past, or you “forgot” to mention something on your application, you need to come clean and make it known to him. You DO NOT have to do this in front of the class, you can see him privately and discuss whatever issue you have. This IS VERY IMPORTANT! DO NOT try to hide something that you think no one can find out about. He is like the all-knowing, all-seeing guru of Prime security. If it is in your past, and he finds it, (and he will), and you didn’t mention it, then your days at Prime are over. End of story.

Around 9:00AM you will be sent out to start working on your checklist.

So now that all the basic information has been covered by the staff, it’s time for everyone to head off and start getting your drug test completed. Some will start with the physical and drug testing, others, the APEX assessment (*), (agility testing)(easy peasy), some will go headlong into the CBT’s (Computer Based Training) and then move throughout the building doing the other functions. The CBT’s are just a series of 9 video’s that MUST be completed by Wednesday! Don’t try to do all the CBT’s the first day thinking it will be the easiest thing to do. It may actually be, but you MUST get your drug test, APEX screening and physical done on Monday.

(*) – APEX Assessment. This is a simple mini testing of your ability to move about freely without strain, such as bending, lifting various amounts of weights to about neck high, climbing a mounted ladder 3 steps up, then 3 down, with about 6 repetitions. (This simulates getting in and out of your truck).

Posted:  8 years, 8 months ago

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Prime Training 101, Part 1

Well I’m a little late in getting this started, but I have been busy getting started on this new adventure so I will start with just a basic blurb about arrival on your fabulous Big Dog bus, arrival at the Prime Campus Inn and your eventual completion of the PSD classroom portion of your training.

This is only my experience and each of you will have a different view of things. Some things have been forgotten already and if I missed anything, I apologize. And now that I have read what I have written I realize that maybe it’s a good thing that I forgot some stuff, this blurb goes on for days. Lol. So here we go, and remember this is from MY experience, so the content, scheduling and requirements may change.

Arrival at Springfield Greyhound Bus Terminal

Before you get off the bus in Springfield, you should have already saved the Prime shuttle number into your phone. You should have gotten this number in one of the many emails from your recruiter. If you haven’t, do it now because you will most likely need it later on, although the Prime Campus shuttle schedule is very regular to the basic places that you will NEED to go during your stay at the campus. In case you didn’t make any friends along your LONG trip on the big dog, you will soon find out that a lot of the people that were on your bus will also be attending the Prime training. I actually found out that the guy that got on my bus in Nashville, sat his happy ass down next to me and then fell fast asleep, was going to Prime. Little did I know it at the time.

Anyway, the shuttle will pick you up in front of the bus station. You hump your own bags. Even if you didn’t call the shuttle, someone else probably did.

Your next stop after catching the shuttle will be the Campus Inn in Springfield, Missouri, not far from the Prime Millennium building. The shuttle can only transport about 12 people when you take into consideration that you must carry your bag on the bus as well. The hotel is owned by Prime and caters to the trucking employees whether you are a first day student getting ready to begin your PSD (Prime Student Driver) training for the next 5 days, or in your TNT (Train the Trainer) phase after you come back from obtaining your 75 hours of actual driving after completing your PSD classroom work, or a prospective “Driver Trainer” looking for a PSD and/or TNT student, or maybe your just a driver looking for some rest while you are having repairs done to your truck, this is the place for a lot of us at some point in our Prime driving career.

So once you’re checked in, you get your room assignment and try to unpack, you begin looking around the “campus” trying to find all the places that you will eventually end up looking for again and again until you get the lay of the land. All of the classes are held in the main building of the hotel campus.

Speaking of your room assignment, upon arrival with your group that just got off the bus, the folks at the front desk will probably ask you as a group, if there is anyone you want to be roommates with. Maybe someone you met on the bus and have gotten to know, maybe not. If you don’t tell them at that time, you will be randomly assigned to a room. You may already have a roommate living there, or you may not. I was fortunate to have a really awesome guy already in the room. Someone who was there for “testing out” and he gladly gave me some tips on the routine. But be forewarned, not all information that you receive from other “students” will be completely correct and you will most likely never get an unbiased opinion about the training, facilities or staff. Just take it all with a grain of salt and go with the flow when you get started. And I said “fortunate” in my description of my roommate because he told it like it actually was and there were no surprises. Like starting any new job, you will always run across someone who has seen, said and done it all. This blog is not about that. I am just giving my perspective on the program and a basic outline of what to probably expect. Things change so don’t take this as a 100% full on definitive way that your 5 days will go.

Posted:  8 years, 9 months ago

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On line classes with Swift


I thought I was crazy.

I have been going through the Swift Online Training over the past week and found the same thing, testing before training. Kinda messed up. Especially for me, I have never driven, but I limped through it for the most part.

Posted:  8 years, 9 months ago

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How I got a leg up at school - Swift Richmond, VA


Thanks for the info. I am tentatively leaving for Swift training in Memphis for the class starting on September 14, 2015. Looking forward to getting started.

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