Comments By Space Truckin

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Posted:  7 years, 8 months ago

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A Week In The Life Of A Flatbed Driver

Great thread Old School! I just wanted to let you know I reached the end. And to bump it for any who may not have read it yet.

You are a good story teller and sound like a great guy, your daughter should be proud of you! It's people like you who made America great once upon a time.

Having said that, the cynic in me can't help but feel right now that modern corporate America shares with you exactly zero of the values you rightfully hold so highly in esteem. But I will stop there as I don't want to pollute your nice thread with any more of my cynicism. I see that you guys are trying to keep a nice place around here. I will save my negativity for back over in my own thread.

Maybe you were right when you said to me that I should get away from such cynical websites and negativity (for my own sanity). There is certainly a lot of wisdom in those words. Although that doesn't mean that my analysis isn't spot on, difficult as it may be to say. But like I said, enough of that for now. I hope you are having a great Labor Day weekend man, wherever you are, and whatever you are doing!

smile.gifgood-luck.gif

Posted:  7 years, 8 months ago

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Pay my own way or "free" company school? And which company has best starting pay?

Yes I have read those numbers everywhere, they are somewhat discouraging (to me at least).

OTOH, I plan on being one of those exceptions, because I am exceptional! Not in a special snowflake kind of way, but in a scarily competent, bad arse kind of way. :)

Thanks for the feedback on the mythical Wally World driving jobs I keep hearing about. My understanding is that FedEx (or was it UPS?) are also like that. That's what I might be shooting for longer term as well, but we will see.

Which is why I want to try and make sure I get in with the right company, I don't want to be bamboozled by a recruiter only to find out it was all Bee Ess and then have to change companies because they lied. Because that makes me look bad (instability). And my understanding is that like Army recruiters, they all lie. lol This is another argument in favor of paying my own way through school, btw, although the jury is still out on that one overall...

Sorry guys if I remain negative / cynical in spite of your best efforts, but it's a cold hard world out there and I have no illusions. The interests of corporations, by their inherent nature, are diametrically opposed to my own interests. They want to reduce expenses by paying me as little as they can get away with, and I want to make as much as I can. At the end of the day. nothing else really matters.

In my view, bigger company might give you more opportunity to move laterally, that's a good point, but smaller company might pay you better, especially if the first generation owner is still around and calling the shots, perhaps even driving still. Because they still know what it means to work and they appreciate it and they appreciate what you do and therefore value it / pay you accordingly. I have seen far too many businesses (not in trucking, talking in general / other industries here) where they have gone to the kids, or some investors, or whatever, and they have totally lost sight of the things that got them to where they were in the first place. Just become greedy at some point, it all just becomes about the company making a profit no matter what, and drivers be damned. That's what I'm worried about. I care about these companies exactly as much as they "care" about me, which is to say, exactly zero. How much are you going to pay me? Put all the Bee Ess aside, and that tells me everything I need to know. It's the only thing that matters to me (I don't care about home time).

I suppose I need to start researching some companies, and see what their actual pay rates are...

Some guesstimates on earning potential in Trucking. Year 1 $32,000 - $40,000. Year 2 $40,000 - $50,000 Year 3 $50,000- $60,000. There are exceptions to this, but they have proven to be pretty reliable numbers. For example. Walmart Company Fleet Drivers can make around $80,000 +or- in their first year. But........... You need 30 months of Recent OTR experience and a squeaky clean driving record. Also, I'm sure a good record of longevity with your current Company, great references, etc. Those are coveted jobs in this industry. They can be VERY SELECTIVE with the wages and benefits packages they offer. In many cases it requires moving and taking up residence within 20-30 miles of your assigned DC or Terminal. This can be difficult for many people with families, etc. It is Definitely on my radar a couple of years down the road, as I am currently one of those "Homeless" drivers. All of my worldly possessions are stored with Family in my Hometown. I have no ties to a particular location, so relocating to "Where Ever" would be quite easy for me. I hope this helps!

good-luck.gif

Posted:  7 years, 8 months ago

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Pay my own way or "free" company school? And which company has best starting pay?

In fact if I could do that in reefer or dry van I think I'd be happy as a clam. Maybe I change my mind later if I start withering away from lack of physical activity just sitting and driving all the time. :) We'll see I suppose...

Posted:  7 years, 8 months ago

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Pay my own way or "free" company school? And which company has best starting pay?

Just wanted to jump on here a sec to say a few things. Pay or com when you 1st get out here doesn't matter until you figure out how to run your truck properly. Once you've proven yourself the miles and money will come in. I started out with short runs and low miles a few months ago. I'm with Maverick, running flatbed. I've only been here 4 months and my milage has improved dramatically. Here we start at 38 cpm with an automatic 2 cent bonus bringing you to 40. At 6 months we go to 44 and can earn 6 more cpm for performance. I'll be at 50 in November. It's hard work out here, but very rewarding if you do what you're supposed to. I believe Prime is similar but I'm not sure.

Thanks CT for your input. It's posts like these that give me hope.

I think 50 cpm sounds pretty good actually, especially if you eventually can start getting 2000+ miles per week. If it takes 6 mos to a year to get there (which seems to be the case) then so be it I suppose. But that's grossing $1k per week which is where I am shooting at minimum (in time, of course). The closer you get to 3k miles per week, even better, although I wouldn't necessarily expect that all the time. And again, all after several months of learning and putting in the time. Sounds reasonable to me.

Posted:  7 years, 8 months ago

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Pay my own way or "free" company school? And which company has best starting pay?

Great discussion Old School, (and others)!

Yes you are right, my focus right now is making money. Perhaps that will change at some point in the future. You made a really good point about joining a bigger company with many divisions, one where I could move laterally without needing to start all over again and become known at a new outfit. I think you can tell I am highly suspicious of big companies, lol, but I have to give that one to you, it's is a legitimate point.

As far as flatbed vs dry box vs reefer, which are the most common? Or are the differences in numbers not that much to worry about? My sense is to start out in something that is more/most common (dry box?), so that the most potential loads might be available. Until I settle into some niche I might enjoy (which, as you correctly point out, I don't even know what that is yet). Unless those "more common" loads pay less than others, but it seems that you are saying this is not the case.

Same philosophy why I want to obtain all endorsements, TWIC, passport, and any other credential I can get my hands on. Because it opens up the possibilities of more different types of loads being available. It's just numbers, really. So I can keep busy, loaded, and making money as much as possible.

Posted:  7 years, 8 months ago

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Pay my own way or "free" company school? And which company has best starting pay?

See, now there I understand the APU thing. Thanks for taking the time to explain. In truth, I think that blog post I read was a bit dated. And as I said, I think I'm starting to come around to understanding how this industry actually works, thanks largely to posts by people like you and Brett and others around this site.

And here's the thing about me: I apply reason and critical thinking, including being aware of and even questioning my own logical biases. I suspect that you will agree with me that the vast vast majority of people out there in this world today do not do this (and in fact are likely completely unfamiliar with the concept of a logical bias in the first place). As you said in one of your posts, you could give someone a mountain of facts, truth, information but if their biases do not allow them to see the truth then there is nothing you can do about it. Lead a horse to water and all that...

And like you said yes there is a lot of information on the internet - almost too much in fact!. That doesn't mean I value it all equally. You can find "evidence" to support almost any belief you care to hold, no matter how extreme, no matter how dis-provable it is by applying simple logic and rationality. Unfortunately critical thinking skills are not taught in our schools any more these days (and maybe they never were).

I also fully understand that "a little knowledge is dangerous" and believe in the 10,000 hours to competency thing. Heck, remember I was the one to post a link to Dunning-Kreuger principle for Chrissakes (btw, have you had a chance to read that yet?)! LOL!

Having said all of that, what I want to know is if I put in all that time and effort, if I cancel my current life and adopt this new one, learn, eat humble pie, gain enough experience to reduce mistakes to the minimum possible, and do all the things one needs to do to be successful, will the pay materialize in the end? It would seem that the answer is yes, based on some of the things I have been reading around this site. Well, at least for the time being, as I see some disturbing trends on the horizon that may affect the industry for better (globalization(?)) or worse (globalization(?), ever growing corporate power, consolidation, etc.). In short, it's starting to appear to me that I can get in still at this time and make the money I expect / need to, over the course of the next few years. After that point, well, I dunno, and it won't matter because I will have the capital to do what I ultimately want to do anyway and drop out of the system altogether.

Finally, I just wanted to say that I am enjoying reading the posts you linked me to. I just finished the one with your story about going over George Washington bridge into NYC with a wide load. Entertaining story, I smiled at a few points. And it was cool that you brought your daughter along for the ride! :) But here is an illustration of exactly what I am talking about: For all your trouble on that run, how much did you get paid? Because I am pretty sure that the company charged the customer a pretty penny on that load, what with all the parameters, wide load, through NYC, closing a bridge, and all the rest. And marked that all up to the customer. So, for your part in it, all your care in securing the load and transporting it, your responsibility, the ticket you received and presumably had to pay out of pocket (only $50 but easily could have been much worse by the sounds of it), how much was your share of the take? Recognizing of course the company owns the equipment, pays the fuel, and must pay the dispatcher, mechanic, and everything else and then make a profit of course. But how much profit did they make out of that load, vs how much did you make, and is that split fair, given the fact that you bore a much greater portion of the responsibility in delivering it safely and undamaged? And therein sort of lie the crux of my argument. Yes you made a rookie mistake not knowing some specifics about the bridge. But these things are bound to happen. And we as drivers are expected to have to roll with the punches. But how often is the company expected to roll with the punches? Not often is what I'm imagining, although I could be wrong.

Maybe this does not apply to the trucking industry at all, but my experience in working for some of these corporations the last couple years, since I shuttered my own business of 20 years, has been a real eye opener for me. When I had my business I tried to take as good of care of my employees as I could afford to (and sometimes more than I could afford to) because to me as a small business owner they were my most valuable asset. But that mentality has seemed to go out the window nowadays, with everything just becoming a race to the bottom. This is what unfettered capitalism is, by design. The companies keep making more and more, and we the workers (because we are just another expense that needs to be reduced) keep making less and less, while bearing none the less of the workload nor responsibility, and in some cases our share of the load and responsibility has actually increased. But again, these are general trends applying to the economy and workplace in general, and not to trucking companies specifically, necessarily, although I cannot imagine that they have remained untouched by these larger trends.

Posted:  7 years, 8 months ago

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Pay my own way or "free" company school? And which company has best starting pay?

Old School,

I actually did read that This is How We Roll thread you started, it's a great thread! And some other threads and logs that you and others have filled out have been very helpful to me! It's those kind of threads (along with hearing the kind of money people can start making once they stick around a while) that have given me hope and excitement about a potential future in trucking!

Also see the case I laid out in my last post directed at Brett, which I think addresses some of your same points.

I am going to check out the other threads you linked, and keep reading around here, but let me ask you this: what am I missing on the APU thing? I mean, I suppose it's fine if companies let you idle, same difference (just less efficient) and so I suppose my disdain is reserved for companies who might disallow idling and also don't have an APU (and/or, an inverter at least, or let you at least bring your own). To me that might suck, but what am I missing? Maybe such companies don't really exist? Or maybe (it's starting to dawn on me, from reading you guys' posts/threads) maybe it's more a matter of: if you are a safe, professional producer then they kind of let you do what you want, take good care of you, and if you are a slug they might be on your case a little more about idling, etc. to the point of driving you to quit, because they know you aren't going to make it anyway?

See I owned a business for 20 years, so I see the owner's perspective. I understand business, and I take care of equipment and customers just like they were my own (i.e., I have more of an "owner" than an "employee" attitude). So again, my perspective is very different from most. Certainly willing to admit I honestly know very little about trucking industry at this point, but that is why I am here, doing my due diligence, and trying to learn.

Posted:  7 years, 8 months ago

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Pay my own way or "free" company school? And which company has best starting pay?

Wise words Brett, and taken to heart. As I said I am not necessarily disagreeing with you. I am also smart enough to understand that you hear this all day, every day, for years and I can imagine you are tired of hearing it by now. I am also self aware enough to realize that I am not 99% of people. All due respect (and you are due a lot, by virtue of you taking the time to provide this valuable resource, take the time to respond to people's questions, etc. which I appreciate) but I AM going to be in that 1%. Which means by definition that people like me don't come along every day.

You are right in that I will not be providing a lot of value to a company in the beginning. There is a lot I need to learn. I'll give you that. But like I said I'm a quick study.

However to ignore the fact that there are corporations out there today that advantage of people is naive IMO. In fact it's one of the biggest problems facing our country today. In the last 30 years, productivity, CEO compensation, and corporate profits have all skyrocketed, while wages have remained almost stagnant. Median wage in the US today is $24k per year, making $60k puts you in the top 10% of wage earners right now! Home prices are 5x median income, the highest they have ever been. Yes that is a political/economic problem (a function of the Fed printing money) but who lobbies the Congress to make laws in their favor? These corporations do. Grocery costs are rising, while healthcare and post-secondary education costs have skyrocketed. These are the facts, and this is why an ever growing number of people are getting angry, and that's why we are seeing the popularity of "alternative" political candidates this time around (not that I want to get into a political discussion, but it's germane to the point I am making).

Now, all of that does not necessarily apply to the trucking industry. Not every company, not every owner, and it may or may not apply to some of the companies, especially the bigger ones. It's a criticism of some of the more obvious failings of the system of capitalism itself, and of corporations more generally. But I don't know yet for sure, that's just the sense I get, and so I am going to have to defer to your experience for the time being, and make a leap of faith. And besides, to the extent the companies are making tight margins themselves (if this is indeed true, I just don't know yet) then the trucking companies are not really the problem, and in fact they are just getting caught between the price lowering effects of competition, while trying to maintain expensive fleets, and insurance, and pay the drivers enough to make it worth their while. Truth is, I don't really know exactly where the truth lie right now, as I am somewhat new to this still.

Trucking is actually one of the very few jobs left where a non college degree holder can make some decent (high 5 figure) salaries it seems. Again, recognizing that not everyone will have what it takes to "make it."

Another thing. Do you guys see all the consolidation happening in the industry? Do you know where that ends up once there are only a handful of huge companies left? Look at any of the other industries where this consolidation has happened over the last 30-40 years. It has led us to where we are today, economically, as a country (see figures I have cited above). Although, oddly enough, globalization may have actually benefited the industry, as all these things made overseas still need to be physically transported to American markets, and my understanding is that 80% of that transport still happens by truck.

I suppose your point could be "yes all of that is true, there are underlying trends, but an individuals own attitude is still the most important factor" in which case, while not trying to speak for you nor put words in your mouth, I would agree to split the difference with you and settle on that.

Again, all due respect, great conversation, and thanks for taking the time!

Welcome Space Truckin!

To start out with, the most important thing to get straight right off the bat is to get this junk out of your head:

double-quotes-start.png

...how much am I going to be taken advantage of by greedy corp...

...which seems like a bit of a scam...

double-quotes-end.png

First of all, what is there to take advantage of with a rookie driver fresh out of school? You will literally be the most dangerous and least productive driver on the American highways at the beginning of your career. You know nothing about being a top professional in this industry early on and you'll be nothing but a liability risk and a burden until they can teach you how things are done out there. So just having the idea in your head that you have something valuable to offer the largest, most successful companies in this industry as a rookie fresh out of school shows you're greatly underestimating the difficulties you're about to face and greatly overestimating the value you provide early on. That's an ominous approach to take in a career that's as difficult, dangerous, and complex as trucking.

Posted:  7 years, 8 months ago

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Pay my own way or "free" company school? And which company has best starting pay?

I've really taken it to heart though by whats been said by the more experienced drivers especially Brett the founder of the site is that no matter who you start out with you should stick with them for at least a year hopefully longer. Given this fact I've really tried to pin down who I want to drive for right out of the gate and what I want to haul. For me it's going to be flatbed freight.

BJ Moose

I agree completely with listening to those more experienced. And this website is a wonderful resource! Thanks again to all you more experienced guys (and gals!) who take the time to share your hard won knowledge with us noobs. Because, as noobs, we don't even know what we don't know yet! There is actually a term for this, it's called Dunning-Kruger effect:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dunning%E2%80%93Kruger_effect

:)

I wanted to ask you (or anyone else, feel free to chime in) about flatbed actually. It seems that a lot of people don't want to mess with it. Maybe they are not physically fit enough to do it, or just don't like to get their hands dirty, or be out in the rain, or sweat, or whatever. None of those issues apply to me.

But what that also tells me is that there should be opportunity there. Does flatbed generally pay better, for those of us who are willing to do that kind of work (which I am)? How much more, and is the increase in pay (if any) worth it?

In my estimation, if they pay barely any more, or the same, why bother? You could just stay in your nice comfy truck hauling boxes of dry freight around and not getting your hands (and clothes) dirty, sweating, etc...

Or is it a matter of having extra job security / loads available because no one wants to do it? lol

Or is it a matter of just wanting to stay physically fit, instead of withering away sitting on your duff 10 hrs a day?

Posted:  7 years, 8 months ago

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Pay my own way or "free" company school? And which company has best starting pay?

(cont'd)

At the end of the day, I suppose my cynical analysis comes down to: should I even bother spending 5 weeks going to my own school, if I am going to have to spend some months of mandatory "training" no matter which company I go work for? If that's how it works at every company anyway, then maybe I should just go to one of the companies that run their own school? I suppose several here have made that same determination, and followed that path. It seems it might be the shortest path to making the best possible money, the soonest.

Although I feel pretty confident that I would get a top notch education at PTEC. I'm quite conservative and old school and believe in really knowing the material and being competent and so I might go to their school anyway. I am a big believer in fundamentals, and knowing my stuff. In my experience in life, this is what separates the pros from the wannabees, in any field. Although I am old enough and worldly enough to realize that the majority of companies out there probably don't give a fig where you went to school or what you did, they just want to get you working for them so they can get to know you and see what you are capable of first hand. And if you are a whiner, etc.

I suppose I need to just start digging into the policies of the companies that hire newbs. I am also going to look into job placement from PTEC, and see what companies they work with. Make a list of all of them, start looking on their websites / talking to them, compile a big spreadsheet of data (yes I'm a nerd like that, lol) and then make my decision based on the factors that are important to me. Namely: PAY RATE (first and foremost), how long until raise, what kind / how big cab, what creature comforts are allowed, etc. (as I intend to be a full time OTR driver with no other life for the next 2 years at least).

Oh, speaking of that. I might as well share my dream. :) Yes right now it would seem that it is to become a trucker. Which it is. But I have a yet bigger dream. I want to buy some land out in the country somewhere and start a sustainable, organic farm, for my own sustenance, and to have plenty of room to do all my tinkering, while reducing my cost of living. It's very expensive to live around here, and very crowded. I am tired of the hamster wheel of work work work just to pay rent (or mortgage / car note), taxes, groceries, and then have so little to show for all your effort it at the end of the day / week / year. I'm a student of history and economics and I only see these trends getting worse in my lifetime here in our once great nation, I am very sorry to say.

So my plan is to go on the road full time the next couple years and just bank all that money, and then pay cash for some land, "retire" and then start building a barn, get some livestock, start farming the land, and eventually build my dream house. I've been running some numbers and it's going to cost me some bucks. But right now I don't have any family, so I am not worried about going on the road full time. In fact, it's a plus for me as I will be cutting out my monthly housing expenses. Soon I plan on starting to sell off almost all of my possessions as truthfully we don't own these things but rather they own us. To me right now they are a liability (costing storage, etc.) but this is something I learned only recently (in the last few years). I am really looking forward to a truly free life on the road, with no attachments...

But then I suppose I'm preaching to the choir in that regard, at least around these parts. :) Amirite?

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