Profile For James S.

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    11 months, 1 week ago

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Posted:  8 months, 2 weeks ago

View Topic:

Possible to be an online student while a full time OTR trucker?

I'm going with a mail forwarding company that RVers use and swear by. They can get an address that works for DMV purposes, etc. So I wouldn't really need them to get me "home" there since I'd live in the truck. Would the DM care if I just say that I don't care where I lay my head and wake up every morning? Even if I get "home time" as in "time off" I'd spend it in a national park or a library or something which does not need to be in Florida.

Gotcha, James. Make it work.

A thought about basing yourself in Florida: most freight travels through the "body" if the USA, and Florida has no "through" highways south of I-10. Some companies would find it hard to get you home for your home time (regardless of your promises to not ask for Florida for your time).

This is based on you're address of record. So, you might want to find a different address to get your mail at.

Posted:  8 months, 2 weeks ago

View Topic:

Possible to be an online student while a full time OTR trucker?

Should also clarify, and I hope Brett doesn't think this is promotion of any kind. But I'm going with Western Governors University to finish. It's probably one of the most unique colleges in existence since you're not loading up on a fixed number of credits every semester. You are going through a "competency" instead of a class. As fast as you study and pass a test you pass what would be considered a class. The program isn't perfect by any means and I'd encourage all to do their homework like I have through Reddit, etc before committing to it. It does take out all the deadlines of traditional coursework whereas the only deadline you answer to is the term end date. Each term is 6 months. While WGU truck drivers aren't much of a thing I'd think the two lifestyles can be complimentary due to how accommodating the program appears to non-traditional students.

But I don't want to make this too much about the college. Back to trucking. Yeah, definitely aware it would take me nationwide and am completely open to wherever it takes me really. My homebase would just be in Florida. Was just wondering if anyone else tried something similar and made it work. My situation is not needing a lot of home time. I plan to live as a "homeless" trucker for awhile while doing this which I understand others here gave a go and tolerated it: https://www.truckingtruth.com/truckers-forum/Topic-11178/Page-1/any-homeless-truckers-out-there

10 hours driving + 10 hours sleeping. What about the remaining 4 hours? I'd hope to make that work. I should clarify that if I'm able to study full time I'd be able to finish in about a year with my existing college credits. I wanted to get trucking experience while getting the degree and seeing where that takes me and how it compares after a year running OTR.

Posted:  8 months, 2 weeks ago

View Topic:

Possible to be an online student while a full time OTR trucker?

10 hours driving + 10 hours sleeping. What about the remaining 4 hours? I'd hope to make that work. I should clarify that if I'm able to study full time I'd be able to finish in about a year with my existing college credits. I wanted to get trucking experience while getting the degree and seeing where that takes me and how it compares after a year running OTR.

Posted:  8 months, 2 weeks ago

View Topic:

Possible to be an online student while a full time OTR trucker?

This forum has convinced me to go OTR through a company-sponsored CDL school. So thanks all for that. I'm going to probably get my start down in Florida if anyone has any company-specific suggestions down that way. I'm thinking of volunteering myself to do team-driving and was wondering if it's possible to be able to study online through a Mifi Verizon Jetpack while I'm lounging. Outside of sleep, I'd hope to be able to get at least 5 hours per day of free time if possible. Does anyone see that as a possibility? Or anyone attempt something similar to it? I was hoping to work and finish an online Bachelors program simultaneously. What do people think?

Posted:  8 months, 2 weeks ago

View Topic:

Sysco or Performance Food Group?

Thank you very much for chiming in. I actually ended up reading the entirety of your diary during the course of a few days. I'm now 100% against driving food delivery....Or "touch freight" for that matter. I'm going OTR. Many thanks for writing and 'saving' another one of us. Sometimes you wish Craigslist had a comments section on ads just to post something like this.

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Is there a lot of ways to run into incidents?

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there are a ton of ways to be involved in an incident. At PFG I used a 28' PUP trailer due to being 150 miles from our terminal. We had drivers that run a set of doubles to bring the product to us and take the empties back. Sysco has warehouse in town here so I'd say 90%of the trailers they used in my market were anywhere from 36' - 53'. Martin Brothers distribution ran 48' to 53'. Sysco being the giant in food service has many big stops (casinos, event venues, etc.) that may just use a pallet jack to take it off but starting out you will be hand unloading that entire truck using a 2 wheel dolly whether theres rain, snow, sleet or even hail. The senior guys scoop up the easy routes because their bodies have been beat to hell from the years of unloading MILLIONS of pounds of product. We were told if lightning is striking nearby to wait it out but realistically you dont have the time to do that. I spent quite a bit of time in downtown Des Moines and that was difficult even with my 28' trailer. I was able to maneuver it alot easier than a 53' but when you're trying to back into narrow alleyways something is bound to happen. Even in our "little big city" (as our tourism market calls us due to population of only 600,000 in the metro) I had several close calls with backing. If I hadn't gotten out to look I would have hit stuff, and if I allowed cars crowding me and honking at me to lose my focus I'd have likely had even more. I had a few stops that required me to back off the main drags into downtown at 730am as rush hour was starting to peak. Nothing seems to annoy those commuting Downtown more than you making them wait a minute. They WILL do very stupid crap. Next time you're driving around town with every restaurant you see imagine trying to get even a 48' in there. Then go downtown and visualize trying to get a semi into the alleyways. Reinhart Foods in my area delivers to every Burger King and Taco Johns. Those look even more of a PITA when you factor in not being able to block the driveway or drive thru and remember EVERY task you're doing is being timed (especially at Sysco). If you have to walk farther due to where customers are parked you're going to need to move faster. I'm not going to either confirm or deny what I did, but most guys doing that line of work will log out for their lunch break but they're in the back of the truck working during it just so they can stay on schedule. I consider myself pretty easy going but if you read that diary you'll be able to sense my frustration and how I was on my way to turning j to a terminal rat.

Most accidents we hear about with rookies involve backing up. On average you'd probably back up 3 to 4 times in a day OTR (twice at truck stops for 30 min and 10 hr breaks, and twice at shipper and receivers). As a foodservice driver you're likely backing ATLEAST 15 times in much tighter areas than these large distribution centers that an OTR driver is more likely to see. Even OTR you will have some real difficult docks but overall you're much better starting that way. When I started at PFG we had 4 drivers that delivered. 1 had been doing it over 40 years and had back surgery. His knee got even worse and work comp wouldn't clear him to come back. Another lifted a case of meat and screwed up his back, out for 4 months I believe. 1 guy had just gotten back from tearing his ACL after he fell out the back end and missed 6-9 months. The other guy tore his rotator cuff and other muscles and will be drawing a work comp check the rest of his life due to the extensive damage done. It's a decision you need to make, just please think what best long term in this industry but most importantly the toll that kind of work takes on a body. I'd been told when I started "it's not a question of IF you'll get hurt, but a matter of WHEN and HOW SEVERE". Other than waking up sore I was fortunate to not have any significant injuries. When I left, the guy with the repaired ACL followed me to my current job because he was fed up with it after 5 years.

Posted:  9 months, 1 week ago

View Topic:

Sysco or Performance Food Group?

James this would be your first job out of CDL School, correct?

I ended up getting my CDL through Performance Foods. Take a look at my Diary of my first year. It's a brutal and very risky way to enter the industry. I put in a year and half doing that and kept a clean record (which is difficult especially as a rookie) and now make more on a mainly 4 day work week than I did 2 wheeling groceries. If you're involved in numerous incidents it will severely limit you if you decide you dont want to do that kind of work long term. I highly suggest you do OTR for 1 year and develop your skills before diving into foodservice.

Yeah, it would my first gig out of CDL school. I'm probably going to go with the Paid CDL School option like everyone here has been recommending. Good to know this though. Is there a lot of ways to run into incidents? These wide turns at intersections look pretty intimidating by 18 wheelers and I'm always seeing debris from them at truck stops. The money quoted from some of these food delivery gigs just seems to jump considerably from where OTR first years are advertised as making realistically ~$50,000 and capping out at $70,000 if lucky? The food service ones quote $80,000+ with 0-1 years experience. Thoughts?

Posted:  9 months, 2 weeks ago

View Topic:

Sysco or Performance Food Group?

Adding to this old thread. I see them offering a pretty high base for basically no experience drivers they're advertising across the US. Making a decision this Spring about how I start out after my current work contract expires where I'm at (not trucking related).

Anyone else have good or bad experience with Sysco?

Posted:  10 months, 3 weeks ago

View Topic:

Most cheapest/smartest way to obtain CDL A?

Thanks for the responses all, especially Brett, Old School, Errol, PJ, and G-Town. I guess I'm mostly too paranoid to sign on the dotted line just yet for a one year commitment. At least we can all agree based on G-Town's link he posted is that the web is full of misinformation. Us newbies come here trying to be objective and making sense of it. I used to be much more trusting and optimistic, but then life has its ways of taking advantage of that. Nothing on you fine people, I believe you all mean well.

(not solicitation, genuinely curious) Has anyone seen something like this? This is from R.E. West that claims their Paid CDL Training has "No Contract." https://cookeville.craigslist.org/trp/d/cookeville-paid-cdl-training-no-contract/7007729751.html I'd be very keen to see their contract cause because at first glance it's baffling. If one decided to quit the day after the training and go to the next company down the street offering a higher CPM, it doesn't do well for this company. I'd imagine there'd have to be some non-compete clause or some minimum commitment.

Another thread here referenced Celadon offering a 6 month contract and CRST offering a 10 month contract. I'll probably end up going the paid route and this R.E. West post has definitely piqued my interest.

Posted:  11 months ago

View Topic:

Most cheapest/smartest way to obtain CDL A?

All good feedback. Thank you.

Brett, I read your article on the advantages of Paid CDL Training. I can respect a lot of what was written there. Some of what I read elsewhere was contradictory to the part where if you screw up, the company is incentived to keep you on because of their investment. I've actually read Indeed.com reviews for one of these companies where they can and do sack you for this or that and they can and do still demand what sticker price they quoted in the contract for the value of their CDL School and expect to collect. They've clearly had an army of lawyers help protect against any downside.

Here's some from: https://www.indeed.com/cmp/Swift-Transportation/reviews?start=20

I have been driving for Swift for 4 months. I only made a $1000 two times. I have made $12 in a week. I was making more as a student. They have me sitting on the weekends, and can't get me home in time. I averaged $1800 a month after taxes.
By far the most unprofessional company I have ever encountered. Poor management and no regard for safety. 5,000 miles was 500 bucks lol. You would expect more from the largest trucking company
I made 500 a week while I was with my driver trainer. When I got my own truck ii averaged 173 a week. Boy they came up with some doozes. My last settlement I grossed 1495 for the week but my take home was 468 lol I lost my mind. Some weeks I wouldn't even get a check. Fair is fair I don't put no lies on nobody. If you need to get your cdl they will pay for it but you have to work a year so you Dont have to pay it back

Sure, two sides to every story. These are the "horror stories" I'm referring to though.

I'm just being objective here. There is slightly less suck in life when you've done your research. In this industry, it's full of contradictory information I find fueled by agendas and what we can only hope are good intentions. Life is finite and we must assess opportunity costs to ensure best outcomes. If you've got alimony, child support for 3 kids, debt, and you approximate you need 40k-50k net outside of taxes and expenses to keep your head above water, these "Make 70K your first year!" ads really need to live up to being more than just ads.

If you can't afford to work for pennies, then these sponsored CDL gigs start to get very expensive very quickly if you can't get out. I guess a lot of this is situational if you want the home time on weekends but in my case, I'm still young, can OTR anywhere, can work 7 days a week and don't care about home time as much. Just as I can work anywhere, I can go for CDL Training anywhere.

I'll see what Vocational Rehab says and consider some of the Paid CDL options. Are they all pretty much "one year minimum or pay us thousands of dollars"? Or is there anything more lax?

Posted:  11 months, 1 week ago

View Topic:

Most cheapest/smartest way to obtain CDL A?

Why worry about tuition reimbursement if you're not willing to commit to a year at a company?

If the program is cheap then it fits your need. The cheapest smartest way to obtain your cdl will always be company sponsored training for multiple reasons.

1. You are guaranteed a job if you pass.

2. They have a vested interest in you.

3. Their programs tend to be more legit compared to the $1500 schools. (Avg cost of cdl school is around $6k. How are they able to offer it for 1/3 of the cost? )

As a mentor I listen to horror stories from students that went with cheap. Very little instruction, crappy equipment, and even less practice than the company schools. Half of them still ended up going through company school.

Best of luck to you.

I figured they cast a very wide net focusing on filling up their classes. Interestingly, their FAQ references this website and makes it sound legitimate: https://cdlschooltexas.com/cdl-san-antonio-training-faq/

If you go to any legitimate CDL school and get the license I understand it's not difficult to get a gig, no?

Ultimately, I hope Vocational Rehab lets me go through CC for it and would think this is the best option for anyone if they can get it.

Posted:  11 months, 1 week ago

View Topic:

Most cheapest/smartest way to obtain CDL A?

I'll preface this saying that I'm completely aware no trucking companies will touch anyone without CDL School because of their insurance. Thus, doing away with thinking I'll do this self-taught which is clearly not an option.

I also don't want to go with a company sponsored CDL school as they all want you for a year or more minimum from what I'm seeing. The horror stories don't seem to stop with this arrangement as you're basically entrapping yourself it seems as they dangle "Make ***up to*** $70,000 your first year!" in front of you and the reality ends up being guys slaving away for $300-$800 per week and want out only to be hit with a $7000+ bill with interest.

Some people say one year and you have a lot more options, but I'm seeing decent looking indeed.com posts stating 6 months experience is all that's required. 6 months I could commit to anything not utter garbage if I was able to get a cheap or free CDL A I've come to terms with.

I've decided to go hit up the Vocational Rehabilitation center in my state to see if they'd front a community college CDL A program or something. If that doesn't work, I've even came across schools in Texas and Arizona (not soliciting them, more so interested in feedback) offering $1500 CDL A Training that I imagine I could negotiate tuition reimbursement with with just about anyone (if this is indeed a legitimate enough program). https://cdlschooltexas.com/ & https://cdlphoenix.com/

Thoughts anyone? All feedback appreciated and looking to act on it. Thanks.

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