Profile For Blair

Blair's Info

  • Location:
    Phoenix, AZ

  • Driving Status:
    In CDL School

  • Social Link:

  • Joined Us:
    2 years, 10 months ago

Blair's Bio

43-year old husband and father looking for change. I have been lurking on TT for many years and will be entering the CDL lifestyle very soon. I love quality conversation and supporting people in different walks of life.

Blair's Photo Gallery

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Posted:  3 months ago

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Is there a top 5 or top 10 list of the best trucking companies “to start” with?

Nick, there are many wise members on this forum. I surfed for years before making a CDL commitment and am positive TT set my expectations for success.

"Starter" companies can easily be a career stay if you invest in learning the trade and develop relationships. I started with Swift 3 months ago, 2 months solo and have zero complaints. I am always pre-planned and have a great support network. On the "big picture" side, inquire about benefits beyond simple CPM (cents per mile). Swift offers an opportunity to earn free bachelor's degree from SNHU after 6 months full-time driving online. Free education that can open doors of opportunity is more valuable than an extra $.04 each mile.

As stated above, paid CDL is the way to go. Turnover is crazy high, especially in the first few months. Invest in a company that will invest in you. Take your time to gather info and pull the trigger. Good luck!

Posted:  3 months ago

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Views From the Office Window (Post Yours Please!)

Take 2

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Posted:  3 months ago

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Views From the Office Window (Post Yours Please!)

I70 in Salina, Utah.

Posted:  3 months ago

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Kearny NJ trip time

Lessons learned this week...

When delivering to either coast, consider waiting until just before dawn to roll out. This will help basic navigation in unfamiliar settings. I ended up rolling around 330 am, got lost getting out of Jersey, but did see the butt side of the Statue of Liberty!

rofl-2.gif

One of Old School's 5 keys to success is relationship building. Admitting this was my first trip into Jersey, some of the dock workers were very helpful directing traffic as I parked. I ended up with a run to Vegas afterward and that was an awesome carrot for a metro run. Stay safe everyone!

Posted:  3 months, 1 week ago

View Topic:

Is Your Rig Safe At A Truck Stop?

In my short career I have not experienced issues leaving my truck at a walmart or truck stop for a few hours.

I try to get in early, never park on the end, and keep my nose further behind people on either side. If I can park with only 1 space on my side, even better. I have only had to honk once. I find pulling sleeper curtains minimizes anxiety watching other people park next to me. I know my skills are very green and there are drivers of all capabilities out here.

Get yourself an attack Chihuahua for protection if necessary rofl-2.gif

Posted:  3 months, 1 week ago

View Topic:

Kearny NJ trip time

Hi Packrat. My training diary got away from me but I did survive. We pulled Wal-Mart DC loads between Corrine, UT and Vegas to finish my hours.

Thus far, what sticks out in my mind are some essential techniques TT has echoed for years... YOU have to make the wheels of progress (and earnings) turn. No one is going to give you anything. Time mgmt is the set up for success. Drive within a few miles of your pickup or drop off. Especially in congested areas like L.A., a few miles. Be humble... Admit right up front you are new and this is a first time for nearly every adventure. I have been the recipient of some very kind gestures simply by acknowledging I am green. Lastly, 500 backs of all angles are a starting point to understand the process... smile.gif

Posted:  3 months, 1 week ago

View Topic:

Kearny NJ trip time

Afternoon everyone! I have survived 6 weeks solo with Swift, made rookie errors in abundance, and am enjoying the steep learning curve. All that being said I am enjoying the OTR life thus far. Here is my question...

I am slated for a drop in Kearny, New Jersey 8am local time Monday morning. My goal is to leave from the TA in Bloomsbury, NJ. I am not sure what time to allow. The drive is I78 to I95, with my drop less than 2 miles from the Hudson Correctional exit which is approximately 54 miles. Is 2 hours adequate? Is 3 more realistic?

Blair

Posted:  5 months, 2 weeks ago

View Topic:

Bullitt's New Journey

Bullit,

I just finished the PHX Swift academy 4 weeks ago and am in the mentoring phase. I'd be happy to share any knowledge if you end up out this way.

-Blair

Posted:  5 months, 3 weeks ago

View Topic:

Week one swift student

Mike, Thank you for the encouragement. I live in PHX where many terminals and logistics offices are. I had been lurking here for years, and have two friends that successfully drive for CR england. My homework really clarified most "starter" companies are very very very similar in pay and overall benefit packages.

Criteria for me was fairly straight forward: Swift offers an evening traininf program in PHX, so you can continue to work if necessary. Swift offers free undergrad programs, and has a ton of opportunities along with various incentives. I wanted to look beyond just CPM for overall compensation. In my opinion, CPM doesnt tell the whole story. I would gladly take a few less CPM for a degree with unlimited earning potential. Each person will have different priorities.

Overall Swift has current equipment, good trainers, and wants people to be safe. At least those are the rose-coloroed glasses I have on right now. Ask me again after pulling Walmart DC freight for the rest of my mentor training. rofl-2.gif

-Blair

Posted:  5 months, 3 weeks ago

View Topic:

Week one swift student

Greetings TT! My first 70 hours after over and I am on my 34. Days 1, 2, and 3 were quite a shock having to attack cabbage hill, chain up in snow, and generally adjust to a new lifestyle. Here's some general stats and observations...

Solo miles driven 3179. Yeah, nearly 3200 solo miles. 61.59 hours of driving in my 70. Showers taken 4. States visited Nevada, Utah, Wyoming, Colorado, Washington. Truck accidents 1. We passed by after a truck had gone around a corner to fast. Backing skills experience 8, mostly alley dock. Now we are going to team and run Walmart dedicated until my hours stre finished. Wish me luck!

- Blair

Posted:  5 months, 3 weeks ago

View Topic:

What a difference 24 hours make

Greetings TT!

I found a mentor this week the day before Thanksgiving. He has 23 years, about 3.3 million miles, and is a highly rated driver in the Swift world. We left on Friday at 11 from PHX to Henderson, Nevada, delivering a live unload to Costco. All told about 8.5 hours between on duty, scaling out, drive tine, and unload. Not bad for a first trip! Weather was mixed, offering fairly gusty winds, rain, and some blowing snow.

Trip 2, Vegas to Lacey, Washington. My mentor said he would like to get as much winter mountain driving in as possible over the next few weeks. Day 1 of trip 2, we pulled out around 12 noon north on 93 through eastern Nevada. We stopped in Ely to try and get more day driving the next day.

Day 2, trip 2. Trial by fire! I drove through snow, had to chain going west on 84 in Oregon, and capped a fabulous first leg with a trip down "Cabbage Hill." Thankfully no snow, dry conditions. Significant fog was present, i could only see 3 dashed white lines ahead. Jake set to full, truck in 8th gear, and a ride down at 27 mph in the dark about 6pm. Honestly it wasn't as bad as i anticipated. Loaded we're 64k, so things could have been much more interesting. I fully expected to shart, but managed to pull through. Tomorrow we deliver with a pre plan to Cali.

Night TT!

- Blair

Posted:  6 months ago

View Topic:

What a difference 24 hours make

I just contacted my mentor. As I suspected, everyone needs to get past the holiday and will start fresh. Our home locations are in the greater PHX area and we are starting Friday afternoon. This gentleman appears to be more organized with specific markers laid out during our tentative 5-ish weeks on the road. I remain cautiously optimistic this will be a better fit to begin my OTR training. Happy holidays everyone!

-Blair

Posted:  6 months ago

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What a difference 24 hours make

Greetings TT, Here is an tale of how 24 hours can significantly alter the timing of getting started. My training partner graduated with his CDL November 7th around 9:30 PM. He went to MVD early Nov 8th, upgraded, and was assigned a mentor within 30 minutes. They coordinated and left Saturday Nov 9th for the wide open road.

I graduated with my CDL November 8th, just one day after my partner. We were part of the evening class, so I finished about 9:00 Friday night. Our MVD was closed for Veteran's Day Nov 11th, so I would have to wait until Tuesday the 12th to finish my paperwork. I also chose to wait 1 more week before leaving my job, delaying my upgrade until Nov 20th. First potential mentor is on home time beginning the 26th so they passed; second mentor did not want a student at this time; third mentor accepted me and then cancelled 12 hours before launch to also take home time (lease ops from what he said.) The company is very focused on coordinating me with someone at my local terminal so we can take home time simultaneously. I can appreciate the effort to make family time during the holidays a priority.

Here is where things get funny! The fourth mentor was arriving at the terminal Sunday morning and was ready to go, but she is also taking home time this week. She had a load to Colorado and a pre-load back to Phoenix where we could be home Thursday or Friday. Great! Let's roll! We pack up, and her truck won't start, throwing error codes for maintenance. We drove over to the trailer drop off area, crawled to the maintenance shed, and now we are back to square one. Realistically we won't be rolling until Friday or Saturday after the holiday. I like this mentor and I know we will get along fine, just a lot of Murphy's Law this month delaying my start. I have the feeling once Thanksgiving is over we will run without too many hiccups. Until then, all I can do is roll with the punches.

Dumb as it may sound this lesson in patience, even before I start out of the gate, is a good reminder to impact change when you can and go with the flow otherwise. Even if my partner and I upgraded the same day I still may have encountered similar challenges getting started with me waiting until closer to the holidays to begin. My mind keeps going back to that 24 hour separation between CDL's, and how just a few hours can dramatically change life's schedule. Stay safe this week everyone!

-Blair

Posted:  6 months, 2 weeks ago

View Topic:

Swift PHX part-time academy

Thanks, everyone, for the support!

One of my main priorities remains realistic expectations for the first year. Resources here at TT and corporate trainers have allowed me to plan for the CDL phase pretty much without incident. My partner already has a mentor and is on the road to Ohio! Have a safe weekend everyone.

Blair

Posted:  6 months, 2 weeks ago

View Topic:

Swift PHX part-time academy

Greetings TT!

I am pleased to report I passed my CDL exam Friday evening!

good-luck-2.gifdancing-banana.gif

My class mate passed the day before with no issues and I finished out the week. The exam consisted of pre trip, straight back, offset, and parallel backing skills along with a road test. I pulled off the best parallel yet! Traffic was heavy but manageable and lasted 45 minutes. I report back on Tuesday after upgrading my license. Mentor training awaits!

Blair

Posted:  6 months, 3 weeks ago

View Topic:

Swift PHX part-time academy

G-town,

Thank you for the input. My whole post appears foggy, but what I think I was trying to say is that CDL school teaches knowledge to pass the CDL exam, not the daily "pro tips" of learning a new industry. Paperwork, dispatch, Qualcomm, time mgmt, HOS navigation, all are taught on the road after graduation. Swift's approach has been excellent in my perception, and I am due to test out either Thursday or Friday of this coming week. Everything we have been taught is an asset and I feel confident on passing the first time. Perhaps that is short-sighted, but a goal I have for myself none-the-less. Have a good weekend!

-Blair

Posted:  6 months, 4 weeks ago

View Topic:

Swift PHX part-time academy

Greetings Everyone! Today we near the end of week 5 in training. Week 4 saw a turn in skills, and I finally feel comfortable parking with straight line, offset, and parallel. There comes a point when you have to "feel" a maneuver rather than analyze, and I believe my classmate and I have reached that threshold. Let's also be realistic and acknowledge these are skills to pass the CDL exam, which don't always translate to real-world applications as smoothly. This week has been range and road, with a pretrip thrown in here and there as we work toward test day next week. I have missed a couple days with a sinus infection so I am probably going to test early in week 7. Our academy here in PHX is very accommodating to students and is willing to continue to invest time and resources if you are showing progress. That is about it for now. Have a safe Halloween!

-Blairdancing-dog.gifdancing-dog.gif

Posted:  7 months ago

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Swift PHX part-time academy

Greetings everyone, Week 4, and our first two days were split between road and range. I am struggling to locate various markers when backing. School is at night, in a very average parking lot with very average lighting. Our parallel backing has standard cones. Here in PHX we had a dust storm, leaving little light from the overheads, no stars, no moon to guide me into cones I cannot see. I appreciate this is "real world" conditions, but everyone in class was frustrated and unable to locate our markers. We even asked instructors to demonstrate this, and they agreed, reluctantly, they were unable to complete this maneuver as well due within MVD CDL test guidelines ( 2 GOAL, 2 pull ups before points).

Here are my major concerns which I am still tweaking -

1. I need to move my seat back. Although I cannot move my mirrors during backing procedures, I can still move my body around to see what I need to. When we do road skills tonight I will play with these settings.

2. I also need to stop completely between directional changes in backing maneuvers. When I continue to roll between corrections my reference points become null and void.

3. I might be night blind and not know it? Our straight-back and off-set cones are reflective. I can see these better (duh) when our 4-ways are flashing off them and can still pick out terrain and changes. Our parallel boxes are set up so the truck is between the light source and non-reflective cones, diminishing vision further. I don't believe I am night blind, based on my research and recent eye-exam. I think last night was just a rough experience.

I still feel very confident in my ability to pass. Last night was just one of those nights where everything was skewed, much like days or weeks I will encounter out on the road.

Posted:  7 months, 1 week ago

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Swift PHX part-time academy

Week 3, the first week of road and range skills is complete. I missed Friday but some things are just unavoidable. My classmate and I are forming a solid bond during training, feeding off each other to improve each day. I aced my pre-trip drill on Wednesday and am drilling this weekend to stay fresh. Thursday was our first road day, 4 right turns, 4 left turns, and "figure 8" for a 3 mile loop. I am shocked how much torque an empty combination vehicle has considering inertia and mass. We both received nice compliments from our instructor about driving safety and spatial awareness. Almost immediately the awareness during city driving was present. I thought my head was on a swivel during back ups! This seemed to pale in comparison to working through intersections, commentary driving, and getting a feeling for acceleration and braking. Our training truck was almost side-swiped by a Fed Ex pulling doubles and a few 4-wheelers with no patience. What an eye-opening experience sprinkled with some great fun and excitement! Stay safe this weekend everyone.

-Blair

Posted:  7 months, 1 week ago

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CDL in hand; waiting for OTR trainer

Congratulations! Full speed ahead!

dancing-dog.gifdancing-dog.gif

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