Profile For Asher H.

Asher H.'s Info

  • Location:
    Yorktown, VA

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  • Joined Us:
    2 years, 1 month ago

Asher H.'s Bio

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Posted:  1 year, 8 months ago

View Topic:

TMC Apprentice Orientation experience

This is mostly a 'for posterity' post about my experience at Apprentice orientation for TMC. That is to say, I'm not looking for input but will be happy to answer any questions. Spoiler alert: I dropped out.

So TMC was one of few companies that sent recruiters to my school. A family friend worked for them for about two years before switching to a local (home every day) job but held them in high regard, so I was kind of biased towards them from the beginning. Additionally I let myself get 'sold' by the field recruiter and his photos of loads consisting of heavy equipment. It wasn't until after I scheduled orientation that I spoke to a former driver and learned what was really in store for me. Basically, drivers generally deliver and pick up loads each day. The week ends with the pick up of the load to be delivered first thing the next week.

Additionally, the majority of loads require tarping, which was the sticking point for me. I chose this field because I want to be OTR for long periods of time, and I just couldn't see that working for me with the circumstances involved with daily delivery and pick-up.

TMC does have specialty departments which is presumably what the recruiter's photos depicted, but they require experience: eight months for boats, two years for heavy equipment. Additionally these departments require one to live in the midwest (they specify particular states, but I don't recall which).

That being said, I think TMC would be a great company for anyone who was prepared for the realities of the job. Everyone I interacted with at the Columbia, SC facility was awesome. The head of the facility gave a talk on the first day, and was always available to students. When I decided to bow out, I went to talk to him (as he requested) and left on good terms.

The one criticism I have is that they don't really spell out the nature of the orientation until you get there. You generally have to be on site from 0700 to 1600. The first week is mostly classroom stuff, including several computerized tests. A word of warning: there's a basic math test, and some questions require you to type the answer (as opposed to multiple choice). Failing to put a dollar sign or comma (thousands separator) as appropriate will result in the answer being considered wrong even if it's "mathematically correct." So pay close attention to the example answer in those cases and format your input appropriately. The weekend is load securement training with another computerized test before leaving Sunday afternoon. The second week is driving and backing (45 degree). On the first week there's one late night for straight backing, on the second week there's one late night for extra backing or driving. On Tuesday of the second week you're put in touch with your Trainer Coordinator.

Another thing they don't point out prior to orientation is that you're pretty much expected to get with your trainer the Sunday after orientation is complete. Considering they don't guarantee any home time during training (it's based on the trainer's operational preferences) I was caught off guard by this. Myself and a few other students asked for a week before doing so, and were told by our Coordinators 'you have to work for the company for a year before requesting vacation'. That coupled with my doubts about daily pick-up/delivery prompted me to make the decision to bow out.

Another student had a baby on the way, with an inducement date and everything. He had informed his recruiter that he intended to be present for the birth and was told that wouldn't be an issue. His Coordinator had a different perspective apparently. Of the students that stuck around to that point, I heard more complaints re: Coordinators than anything else during orientation. They weren't located in the Columbia facility, though, which is why I say everyone *there* was great.

One other thing to keep in mind. The Columbia facility recently moved to a new hotel for lodging. My 'class' was actually the first in the new hotel, and it's nice. TMC's "standard" is double occupancy, but myself and some others were put in individual rooms upon arrival. We were later told not to get used to it, which is all fine and well. But when rooms freed up they had the *hotel staff* move our stuff to our new rooms without forewarning. Despite the fact my new room was across the hall from the old, I had some stuff damaged, some stuff lost, and some food from the fridge left out on the counter. The hotel took responsibility for the damage, but IMO they never should have been put in the position in the first place. Luckily I wasn't moved until the second or third day and had overheard - and I stress *overheard*, we were not explicitly told to expect that our stuff would be moved by others - what was likely to happen, so I had the opportunity to repack (it was all food and vitamins that I didn't repack that were damaged/lost). So unless they've reevaluated this policy, anyone who ever finds himself without a roommate should consider himself warned.

AFAIK I'm not on the hook for anything, though I didn't get any pay, either for the first full week I attended or the promised stipend* for driving my own vehicle. Not that I'm complaining of course, as I didn't exactly make any money for them.

* Which is pitiful, but if you go with the rental you'll probably be carpooling with other students which is why I drove my own.

Posted:  1 year, 8 months ago

View Topic:

New driver choosing starter company

The 12 weeks at Prime is just their estimate. You'd likely be sent out with a trainer to run team for 60,000 truck miles. I believe You'd earn $600 a week, or 17 CPM whichever is higher. Kearsey or Real Deihl would be able to give you the specifics as both are current trainers there.

Rob T,

Running team doesn't really seem very conducive to training, what with the trainer and trainee having opposite schedules, though it would definitely rack up those truck miles. I'm scheduled to talk to the Prime recruiter again today, will have to get more details.

Werner’s pet policy is fairly liberal and their training period is around 150 driving hour minimum if I remember correctly. I think they are always hiring otr drivers with the chance to move to something dedicated like beer runs or home depot when they become available.

Papa Pig,

Thanks, I filled out the Werner pre-application and am looking more into them. Though I'm planning to stick to OTR for the conceivable future, so dedicated opportunities aren't really that compelling to me.

Gotcha;

That's probably why they 'held' your last check.. every company does it different, but at least you won't be 'sidelined' like some companies do, with contracts if that may have been the case. Sux they didn't communicate that with you, however. Sorry.

The guys above have given you super sage advice. Did you fill out the 'one and done' app on this site? Sent you the link.

CFI would also be a company to look into, IMHO. Big Scott's diary is in here:

Big Scott's CFI journey

West Side Transport, another one that comes to mind. Susan D. had a bit of experience (well, quite a bit..lol!) but still had to go through a 'training' phase with WST. Here's that:

Susan D, at WST (rhymes!)

Prime is PRIMO don't get me wrong.. at all. The training is lengthy. The math isn't, haha! I've just done it.. and it'd take 3.33 months at 600 miles a day. Just saying, not dissuading you, at all! Jim Palmer and Wil Trans, come to mind as well.. they are on this site, for application purposes as well.

Sure wish you luck.. thanks for the reply!

(PS: As long as you didn't 'step on the grass...' @TMC!! LoL!)

~ Anne ~

Anne,

I did complete the 'one and done' app. Probably confused the folks at TMC a bit...

Will look into these training diaries, thanks.

I guess running team during training for Prime would whittle those miles down pretty quick, but it's still a big commitment. At TMC, they would potentially switch trainer/trainees to team after two weeks if the trainee was on top of things. But I know for a fact that some trainers used that as an opportunity to run their trainees ragged in order to pretty much double their paychecks...

Posted:  1 year, 8 months ago

View Topic:

New driver choosing starter company

Anne,

AFAIK I don't owe TMC anything. I didn't get the pay for the week and a half I attended training, but I kind of expected that. I could have stuck around for the last 2 days of orientation, but I was fair sure I didn't want to drive for them and felt that doing so would be dishonest.

Based on my conversation with the recruiter at Prime, I'm pretty sure they are prepared to hire me. But she (the recruiter) said 12 weeks with driver trainer. I'm all about a company that takes training seriously, but 3 months is a *long* time. I chose this field in no small part because I prefer my own company.

Posted:  1 year, 8 months ago

View Topic:

New driver choosing starter company

Hello forum,

I got my CDL A from a private company via my local community college. Initially I planned to go to work for TMC. Long story short, I decided during TMC's orientation that the company isn't for me. Load securement isn't an issue, but tarping and untarping *every day* isn't something I was prepared to deal with. It didn't help that there were no driver trainers in my area. So I'm now looking into alternatives.

Aside from TMC, only Schneider and McElroy recruiters visited my school. Since leaving TMC orientation, I have been in touch with recruiters from Schneider, Prime and CRST.

One of my instructors at CDL school worked for Schneider and highly recommended them. I got my tanker endorsement but with the shaving requirement i decided that's not for me either. That left dry van. Home time isn't an issue for me (single, no children, no mortgage, comfortable with solitude) and the Schneider recruiter indicated that the option exists to stay out longer than the 2 weeks in the job description. The recruiter also indicated they will work with drivers who wish to transfer to other 'positions' as appropriate.

Prime appeals mostly because of their pet policy. I don't currently have a pet, but it's something I had *very* seriously considered after getting settled into the OTR life. Otherwise I imagined spending any free time reading, listening to music/podcasts or pursuing other such activities.

Any suggestions/advice will be greatly appreciated.

Regards, Asher Higgs

Posted:  2 years, 1 month ago

View Topic:

Knowledge test questions

Thanks for the responses everyone. I passed the tests without a problem, missing only 3 questions.

Wish I had realized they were gonna take a new picture though, the stupid mask f'd up muh beard!

Posted:  2 years, 1 month ago

View Topic:

Knowledge test questions

Here's some more confusion:

How can you start moving without rolling backward? A. Engage the clutch before removing your foot from the brake. B. Apply the trailer brake hand valve. C. Set the parking brake whenever necessary. D. All of the above

Two things here. First, it's my understanding the the trailer brake hand valve (trolley valve/Johnson bar) should only be used to test the trailer service brakes. At least that's what the manual says. And in addition to that, on another site (cdl.com) with a similar question and answers, the correct answer was only to use the parking brake.

-----

Two sites (cdl.com and cristcdl.com) I did tests on had a question such as:

Under-loaded front axles can cause the following: A. Poor traction B. Too much play in the steering wheel is not a problem. C. Damage to the tires. D. All of the above.

Here, I assumed the bit in italics was a typo. My initial thought was A. But one site (cdl.com, without the typo) said the answer was D and another (cristcdl.com, with the typo) said it was A. I don't know about damage to tires, but poor traction on steering tires wouldn't cause what I think of as 'play'. Unresponsive steering, sure. But to me steering 'play' is when you turn the steering wheel or shaft and the wheels don't turn, in other words something you check for during PTI.

-----

Here's a fun one:

The basic two reasons to cover your cargo are 1. to protect the cargo from the weather and 2. A. Protect people from spilled cargo. B. Protect the roadway from spilled cargo. C. Protect vehicle following you from spilled cargo. D. All answers are correct.

Apparently the correct answer is D, even though the "explanation" says, and I quote, "The are two basic reasons for covering cargo: to protect people from spilled cargo, and to protect the cargo from weather." So is "protect people from spilled cargo" the right answer or not???

Posted:  2 years, 1 month ago

View Topic:

Knowledge test questions

I've been preparing for my knowledge test (computer test before entering driving school) for a while, but today I found that the only available testing time within the next month is tomorrow so I'm "cramming" a bit. I have a few questions about some, err, questions I hadn't encountered before:

What is the most important reason for doing a vehicle inspection? A. Safety for yourself and others. B. Federal and State regulations require you to inspect your vehicle. C. A vehicle defect found during inspection can save you problems later. D. All of these answers are correct.

So the most important reason is all the reasons? Safety isn't more important than complying with regulations or avoiding "problems"? Is this really the correct answer to the question???

-----

For an average commercial vehicle being driven at 55mph on dry pavement it will take about ___ to bring the vehicle to a stop. A. The length of a football field. B. Twice the length of the vehilce. C. Half the length of a football field.

The reason I ask about this is because a different testing source asked a similar question but indicated the braking distance as the correct answer rather than the total stopping distance. I just want to make sure that any questions not specifically mentioning the different distances (perception/reaction/braking) are actually looking for the total.

-----

Which of these is important to check before driving in the winter? A. Steering. B. Exhaust. C. Tires.

I don't remember reading anything like this in the CDL manual. I only know the answer because I already encountered the question. Why is exhaust the most important in the winter specifically?

-----

Some of the "general knowledge" questions I've seen are related to buses, tankers, etc. The school I'm planning to attend didn't indicate I needed to cover those topics. Will the real test have questions about them?

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