Comments By Tracy W.

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  • Tracy W.
  • Joined:
  • 10 years, 10 months ago
  • Comments:
  • 261

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Posted:  9 years, 2 months ago

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Swift Pays Minimum Wage During Training With Trainer

The way the company I work for (Watkins Shepard) does it is rare in the Industry, but is one of the main reasons I went with them. If you get your CDL from a third party, like Sage, as I did, you do a ten day orientation with Watkins Shepard during which they provide transportation, pay you eating money and provide accommodations (usually a hotel). After the orientation, you are solo on the road, even if you are a brand new CDL holder. Experienced drivers have a three day orientation.

The learning curve is steep, and you've got to pass the driving part of the orientation, which includes taking a truck through city driving, highway driving and mountain driving. They are very helpful and very much want you to pass, giving you support, practice and time to pass the driving.

I joined the company because I have no interest in being in a truck with someone else for training or team driving. This type of system probably isn't for everyone, if you are unsure of yourself or do a lot better when you receive a lot of hands on training, this probably isn't for you. I felt confident that I could pick things up quickly and do well on the road. I've been pretty successful over the nearly 20 months with this company and am very happy I did it this way.

The good thing is I received full pay as soon I was in the truck by myself, and didn't have to put up with minimum wage, sharing the space, or having a trainer keep me in the truck to milk me for increased pay for them.

If you are interested in this system, send me an email, I would be glad to respond and talk to you about my experience. Watkins Shepard does primary dry van (they do have a flatbed division), we drive 48 states and Canada (if you want to drive there). The company treats us very well, they pay actual miles driven, not zip code to zip code, benefits, have new trucks and 20 terminals in strategic places around the nation. There are some additional pay benefits based on the load you have, and we are about 90% drop and hook. We do some but not a lot of food service which is nice because food service pick up and delivery often has really horrible delays.

Tracy

Posted:  9 years, 2 months ago

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Forced Dispatch

Even with forced dispatch, your relationship with your dispatcher is everything. If you have a good relationship, your dispatcher will know what you really don't like to do and will help you out. I agree with Daniel that it doesn't really matter. What matters is how you handle yourself.

I agree 100% ... the relationship with dispatch is everything. In 18 months I've turned down one load. I didn't accept it because I couldn't make it in the time allotted due to weather. I was 90 miles south of Denver, the load was in Denver and had to be picked up in less than three hours. Normally not a problem, but it was snowing hard, the roads were slick and traffic was moving at 30 miles per hour. No way I could get it done.

My company is forced dispatch, but we always have the option to turn something down if we can't get it done. As a rule I am always on time or ahead of time (if that is permissible with the load, some are firm delivery times).

I occasionally get loads that are 'hot' and require serious pushing to get done. It's because I always get them done that I get offered those. I had one a couple weeks ago and they gave me an extra 60 bucks for doing it. It did not require me to abuse DoT law, I still did it within legal limits, I just had to do time management and no screwing around on the road.

Other times I've delivered really difficult loads, meaning the roads to the delivery point were narrow, difficult, and would have been dangerous if you didn't watch above, around, in front and behind the truck at all times. They required very difficult backups, sometimes blind side, and around obstacles. For those I again was paid extra.

If your company cares, they will make it worth your while. You have to be one of the drivers who cares too. Customer service is a big deal also. Treat the shipper and receivers like gold, even if they are complete jerks. I've had them call my company and tell them they appreciated me. When that happens a few times, your reputation will be great....and a lot of truckers just don't have the capacity to be nice, so you will stand out.

Tracy

Posted:  9 years, 2 months ago

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I am to old to become a truck driver.

I driving at 57...turned 58 a month later. If you are in good shape, have the wisdom you generally get for that many years, focus on driving and pay attention to what you see other truckers do, you will be a great driver.

Tracy

Posted:  9 years, 2 months ago

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Speed and money

Our trucks at Watkins-Shepard are governed at 65. As has been mentioned before, it isn't the speed of the truck, but the time management skills. I've never missed a pickup or delivery appointment due to the speed of the truck. Some pickup and drops I have are in a 24 window....the faster I pickup and deliver the quicker I can get on the road, but I've noticed that because I don't stop at every rest stop and truck stop that I am often ahead of those driving faster than me. I notice big trucks and cars pass me two or three times a day on long roads, like I5 in California. If you do 10+ hours a day at near the top speed of your truck (or the speed limit in CA, OR and WA) you'll do fine. Make 10,000 miles a month and you'll be a success.

Tracy

Posted:  9 years, 2 months ago

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

Ta Da!! Sent home with that CDL!! Holy mackerel what a ride!! Could use some phone numbers! (support dont ya know) still shell shocked. Met the greatest old geezer, no disrespect, he drove for forty years some with his wife. Said he wished he could drive with me,lol. Loves his job because of people like me. Yes there was a few more tears. Thanks so much Brett and all the fantastic people here! All in all great experience. I know, I know ,don't hit anything!smile.gif

Shameless recruiting response:

Here's a phone number...we are recruiting new drivers in Phoenix. 800-392-2470. You would attend a 10 day orientation in Missoula, Montana. Tell them Tracy Walters in tractor 2533 sent you...in the interest of full disclosure....I get a recruiting bonus.

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Posted:  9 years, 2 months ago

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Age discrimination in trucking?

After being laid off as a teacher 4 years ago I decided to go into retail sales and get my CDL on the side. I noticed many laid off (and retired) teachers go off to be flight attendants, start their own businesses, and some become truck drivers.

I'm guessing this is because of lack of age discrimination in the transportation industry?

I've been in retail sales for 1.5 years and plan on staying 6 more months so I don't look like a job hopper. (full two years) It seems like when I hit 50 I will less marketable.

When August comes around I have to jump ship--if higher paying sales jobs aren't opening up---then full time trucking might be my only option. It would be nice if sales companies would hire me in a NYC minute but they wont because of my age. But trucking will!

Any ideas on part-time trucking jobs for now?

I was a computer security guy. At 55 my company decided to outsource and I was out of work. Two years of part time work and no permanent work left me cold. At 57 I went to school and got my CDL. I was hired immediately by Watkins Shepard and have been doing well. First full year got a W2 for 45k....not bad for new career.

Posted:  9 years, 2 months ago

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Wanting to know if a certain tool would be allowed in a truck.

Thanks for your reply, I have a large pocket knife that I'll have to leave at home because it's legal in oregon but would be illegal in other states, I just wasn't sure about the gerber.

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I keep a 4 lb baby sledge and a set of small pry bars on my truck, and nobody's ever given me any grief over them. Nor have they hassled me about the folding razor knife I've carried in my pocket for the last 10 years, and use frequently where God and anybody could see it. You should be fine.

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I carry a pretty large hunting knife in a sheath on my belt ... Never been questioned about it by any official. Also carry large crowbar and tire bat in more door. I doubt you will ever be asked about it unless you have to use it self defense.

Posted:  9 years, 2 months ago

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A new tool for a trucker

A must have for your truck.....

trucker tablet

That looks nice! I sure wish Rand would update their maps though. That being said...I will probably buy one after the initial run...let it get tested a bit before I jump...I like leading edge but not bleeding edge stuff. :)

Posted:  9 years, 2 months ago

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Any current Watkins Shepard drivers on here

Finishing up CDL school in 2 weeks and after all the recruiters I've talked to Watkins Shepard seems to be the best fit for me. Just trying to get some input from current or former drivers as to how the liked working there or didn't like it. What should I expect at orientation? How do they treat their drivers? Or should I run away from them as fast as I can? Any and all input is greatly appreciated. Thanks

I've been driving for them for almost two years....love the company. Email me and we'll set up a chat. I think they treat drivers as good or better than anyone out there.

Tracy

Posted:  9 years, 2 months ago

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Purchasing small appliances for in truck use???

I have a 1500 watt inverter, it powers a microwave, dorm size refrigerator, tv and chargers for my leaf blower and cutoff tool. I use instant coffee and nuke it in my microwave, I've gotten good at mixing it right for flavor. I run the truck when using the microwave and always run the truck a bit to recharge the batteries after watching a movie.

Tracy

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