Comments By Justin

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  • Justin
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Posted:  2 years, 8 months ago

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Knight Transportation (Squire Training) - Back to Phoenix I Go!

Once I moved BACK to Vegas and settled in at the Vegas office, getting behind the wheel started entering my mind again. It had always been in the back of my mind, but sitting in the (darker) office, seeing the trucks come and go outside in the yard on those bright sunny days, it started to increase the appeal again. Combined with the continued driver shortage and the chaos at the ports, my focus on driving continued to increase.

I've always been the "somebody's gotta do it" type and doing whatever is needed the most. It's why I worked 124 days in a row last year -- by choice. If something was broken and needed to be fixed or cleaned, there was no time to wait for somebody else; we had nobody else! Granted, I started working that streak in hopes of saving another job or two, but once I kept going, I didn't want to stop -- 25 days in a row, 50, 100(!), etc. Since I've always been attracted to where the biggest "need" was, right now that is clearly as a driver. When I've had something in the back of my mind, it would always be there and continue to pop up until I'd act on it.

(Once upon a time, that was completing a full marathon. After years of hating everything to do with running, a right knee surgery, and making fun of people who "wasted time" running, I realized I should put up or shut up and see if I could do it myself. I thought maybe I "feared" how big of a goal it was, so making fun of it was easier than actually doing it. In December 2009, at the now-defunct 501 Club in Minneapolis, I grabbed a napkin at the bar and wrote that I would complete a marathon within two years. Although I "quit" multiple times during those next two years and reverted back to thinking how stupid it was, I'd already told several friends and family members, so every time somebody would ask "how's training going?", I knew I couldn't quit and had to do it. In October 2011, I crossed the finish line of the 2011 Twin Cities Marathon in 5 hours and 30 minutes, goal accomplished.)

Anyway, back to trucking... I knew I had to do this. On one hand, it doesn't make much sense. I had a great position (and great salary and schedule) at the corporate office, but money and convenience aren't everything to me. Similar to the running thing, if I had the idea of driving in the back of my mind, I had to do it or I'd keep thinking and wondering if I actually could.

At the same time, it made more sense when I thought about it more. I already have the experience and perspective as an Account Manager and (briefly) a Driver Manager; I know everything about dealing with the ports -- appointments, demurrage, TMF holds, per diem, empty returns (or lack thereof) -- especially dealing directly with the drivers (on the logistics side of it). There's such a need on the port side right now that our DDM in Vegas said they waived the previous requirement of a year OTR driving earlier in 2021, so even though I want to get that experience under my belt, having options is always a good thing, and I'd be able to jump right into being a port driver -- which also has a nice schedule (being that the ports are closed on the weekends, although some might have a Saturday schedule once in awhile).

Even if I wanted to have an AM or DM position down the line, I feel like having that driving experience would be even more of an advantage. In the back of my mind, I just felt that being a Driver Manager that was actually a driver would be better than one who was not. It's certainly not a necessity, and many great DM's were never drivers, but it's just something I decided I wanted to do.

On top of that, pull up any job listing site and search the abundance of opportunities for good drivers that have their CDL. Like many of the veterans on this site have said, getting that first year of successful driving under your belt can open up even more opportunities for you, and many of them require (at least) one year of experience.

I called Emily, my previous Knight recruiter earlier this year. I kind of felt bad back in April taking the position at the corporate office at the last minute after everything she did for me -- answering every question I had and not pressuring me at all into deciding one way or another -- so it was nice to go back to "finish what I started" with her earlier this year, as I'm sure it benefits her as well. Fortunately, I'd already passed my CDL permit test earlier this year, completed my DOT physical, as well as many other requirements, so I didn't have to do everything over again from scratch. Just like before, she answered all of my questions and helped get me set up for the next steps.

Initially, I planned to start classes on the 20th, but yesterday after a cancellation, Emily asked if I could start on Monday the 13th. It kind of threw me for a loop, as there were a few things I wanted to finish up this week before I'm gone for three weeks, but surprises will pop up when I'm behind the wheel, so IT'S ON! On top of that, it means I'll finish up one week faster and be able to train at the Vegas terminal.

I'm finishing up packing today and figuring out what's going to be around me at the hotel I'm staying at. I'd be lying if I said I wasn't nervous, because even with my Knight experience, none of that is behind the wheel yet. I know I have several challenges to come, but I'm confident I'll figure them out and make it through, since I'm 100% so far making it through each day. ;)

Thank you for reading and sharing your experiences as well.

Posted:  2 years, 8 months ago

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Knight Transportation (Squire Training) - Back to Phoenix I Go!

(Test)

Just seeing if I can type the rest of my posts out, as I have two more (since it's so long) and they have to be approved first. Understandable, likely due to me being new, but I wondered if they got flagged because I was copying/pasting so fast after creating a post.

Posted:  2 years, 8 months ago

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Knight Transportation (Squire Training) - Back to Phoenix I Go!

I initially moved here to Vegas last September, finding a specific spot right downtown that I loved (and still do). Although I wanted to take a little bit of time off to rest and relax after working four months straight in 2020, I'm not good at NOT working, so I worked a couple of part-time positions to get out of the house and feel useful.

However, it was clear that the industry with the most positions available (by far) was trucking. Those three little letters (C, D, L) seemed to be the key to open an abundance of opportunity. Throughout my trucking research, although technically I could go through training school with any carrier, I liked that Knight Transportation had a terminal here in Las Vegas. I read, studied, asked questions (of drivers and employees alike) and decided I wanted to work for them.

Unfortunately, on the driving side, I ended up getting my first speeding ticket (in over 20 years!) on my drive down to Las Vegas -- 16 MPH over the speed limit (15+) when I was passing a car in the passing lane in Wyoming. While a fun little memory and story to tell, when I started applying to driving schools, Knight required six months with no speeding tickets to attend Squire, so even though it wasn't as reckless as "reckless driving", it was still out for now. Responsibility accepted, paid, and taken care of. Most of them had somewhat similar rules (with varying lengths of time), and I didn't want to choose a lackluster training program as a last resort, so I decided to wait.

I hadn't told anybody (friends or family) about my desire to get my CDL and go out on the road, mostly because I thought it would be a fun surprise to GET IT and then post that picture of me next to a big rig and say "SURPRISE!" However, earlier this year I had a conversation with a good friend of mine about my eventual plans. She used to be a Transportation Manager for Amazon and told me they used to work with Knight all the time on the logistics side. She had two contacts at Knight, and told me if I was interested in relocating to Phoenix, she was confident they could get me an Account Manager position. On one hand, I'd be moving to Phoenix and leaving Las Vegas after eight months. On the other hand, the more she told me about it, the benefits and opportunities to work at the corporate office outweighed the rest. Honestly, since I had no desire to (ever) go back into hospitality after 2020, I knew I wouldn't find a similar opportunity in Las Vegas at the time.

It moved fast (likely due to how fast it was growing), but in only five days from that first phone conversation with her, after two separate phone and Zoom interviews with management/leadership and a great offer, I'd accepted a position as Port Logistics Account Manager and it was off to Phoenix.

This was around the time when they were slowly planning to have everybody "back in the office" (full time). In the meantime, most people worked from home on Mondays and Fridays, and some had arrangements where they permanently worked from home (or elsewhere in the country). I'm not a fan of working from home, only because it's hard to separate "work" and "home", so I went to the office every day.

As time went on though, I figured if some people were working from elsewhere, why not see if I can do the same? I only moved to Phoenix for the opportunity in Port Logistics. There was one Account Manager I never even met (in person) from when I started until the point she left. As much as I enjoyed my time in Cave Creek/Scottsdale/Phoenix, I really missed Las Vegas. Just little things, from my favorite pizza joint, to Happy Hour spot, and other things I'd just gotten to enjoy when I decided to move.

I emailed our Port Logistics VP and our Account Management Lead, letting them know my intentions. Although I've always been fine with work taking up more of the "work/life balance", I told them I would just enjoy everything more if I was in Las Vegas to enjoy the "life" part when I wasn't working. With how fast Port Logistics was growing, and due to the chaotic supply chain situation at the ports (https://www.businessinsider.com/shipping-delays-china-supply-chain-record-ships-stuck-california-ports-2021-8), I was coming in on Saturdays and Sundays to stay caught up and not fall behind by Monday with the 24(!) accounts I had in my short time there -- due to three other AM's leaving to pursue other positions.

As a backup, I applied for a Driver Manager position at the Las Vegas terminal, and the Port Logistics VP asked if I'd be interested in being a Port Driver Manager for the Asset team in Vegas, so I'd be staying in Ports where I'd already learned a lot and could continue. I'd learn they're opening a new port yard/terminal in Vegas this fall, so while these opportunities weren't available earlier in the year when I moved, if it had been, I might have stayed the entire time.

But... BACK TO LAS VEGAS!!!

Posted:  2 years, 8 months ago

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Knight Transportation (Squire Training) - Back to Phoenix I Go!

Hello all, there are some tremendous training diaries in here, and I debated whether or not to add mine, but I figured it might be fun (even if only for myself) to look back on down the line as it's fun to wax nostalgic when it comes to a particular date (or song, location, memory, etc.), so... here goes.

Tomorrow I'll head out (or I should say head back) to Phoenix to start my training with Squire Training Academy (Knight Transportation). It's been a long time coming, and after already working for them in two other positions, I made the decision a few weeks ago to move forward as a Port Driver due to the shortage and the situation at the ports.

A little background about me before I get into my decision to start training...

I was born and raised in Minnesota and moved to Las Vegas last year. I live in (and absolutely love) Downtown Las Vegas. Vegas is exactly whatever you want it to be, for better, worse, or both. Although I'm actually not that big of a gambler, I love going out (restaurants, dive bars, etc.) and especially live music, having been to over 1,200 concerts in my lifetime. After Nashville and Austin, in my opinion, Las Vegas is #3. Whether it's a huge residency, arena show, or the many, many smaller club shows every night, nobody skips Las Vegas, and you can always find something to listen to of any genre, old or new. On top of all the "hidden gems" in America's Playground not on the "Top Things To Do" lists, there's never a shortage of things to do here. After dealing with everything in 2020 with the numerous shutdowns, not that I did before, but I told myself I would never take the chance of going out to a new restaurant, dive bar, or seeing a band play for granted ever again, and I haven't since.

I come from a hospitality background, working in hotel management. In 2020 at the hotel I worked at in the Twin Cities suburbs, I worked 124 consecutive days from March 15th through July 16th -- by choice. When things started shutting down earlier in the year, unfortunately that meant many jobs for hourly employees as well, so the only people left in our hotel were salaried management. While most hotels closed during the shutdowns, we were "half closed" -- closed to most of the public, but we had a few contracted groups that stayed with us every day, so there was a little bit of activity for us.

I'd have taken a huge pay cut if it meant saving even one of those (hourly) jobs for my coworkers, and that's why I started working every day in hope of that, but no dice. Everybody knows what happened in Minneapolis last year, and throughout the protests, riots, mass shooting in my Uptown neighborhood, and friends/family losing their jobs (many of them permanently), it just made sense to work through it. I told myself when I'm busy working every day, I have no time to "sit and think" about everything going on, which I should have taken the time to do. Other managers had family nearby (while mine is all in northern Minnesota), so during the May riots/protests, it made more sense for them to be home with family. I moved into the hotel during the worst of it, and while we fortunately didn't sustain damage/looting, everybody was obviously on edge during that period of time.

One thing I noticed during many of those quiet days/nights at the hotel was the abundance of trucks on the highway delivering much-needed medicine and supplies (remember people hoarding toilet paper?!?). Nobody really cared about hotels (and other businesses), but without drivers, the supply chain shuts down and nothing gets delivered. I'd always thought about driving in the back of my mind, having had memories of my uncle and maternal grandparents in a big rig when I was a child, but after 2020, I started taking it more seriously.

While there weren't many (training) opportunities or schools in the Upper Midwest, after the craziness of Summer 2020, once our hotel reopened in late July and I finally took time off, I decided I was moving to Las Vegas. It had always been my favorite city, and after having a summer of no ballgames, no live music, no State Fair, or any of the number of things we do to enjoy life in Minnesota between winters, I finally decided to take the break and bid winter farewell. (On a side note, although most people think the winters are awful in Minnesota -- and they are -- summertime was always worse to me with the high dewpoints. I never look at the temp anymore, only the dewpoint. I'll always take 105+ in the dry heat of the southwest than 90 degrees with 60-70+ dewpoints in Minnesota. No comparison if you've experienced and lived through a humid climate.)

Off to Vegas!

Posted:  3 years, 1 month ago

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Other people’s doubts

As I continue to research trucking and really consider what this life will be, I find myself getting really excited but also getting pushback from people in my life. My boyfriend is supportive for the most part but I think he has massive doubts and also doesn’t understand why I even find trucking appealing. My parents try to dissuade me or just bring up things that they think are major cons. Thankfully, I have a cousin who is a retired trucker and she’s a huge resource and mentor during this. But I struggle dealing with other people’s doubts. For the experienced drivers, did you ever run into this? For people like me who are still considering a career, have you faced any pushback or doubt? Ultimately of course, my decision is my own and no one else’s. I’m just curious what other people have experienced. Thanks as always, everyone!

Hello Clare, sorry to read about the lack of support from key people in your life. It seems most people that are against a decision like this will always bombard you with the negativity or "why" you shouldn't do it, rather than the level-headed discussion with various pros and cons about it. I think the reason a lot of people try to dissuade us from doing something we are passionate about is there's a deep-seated fear in some people -- or perhaps a failure on their part -- where there's acknowledgement that since THEY couldn't do it, then they'll convince you that you shouldn't do it either, and if you do, maybe that's where resentment could come into play on their parts since somebody else succeeded where they failed (or never even made an attempt). I hope that you do indeed go forward with this, because there would be fewer things worse than you looking back years from now and always wishing that you went into trucking and wondering what it "would have been like". Good luck to you!

Bon Jovi sang:

"It's my life, now or never. I ain't gonna live forever. I just wanna live while I'm alive! It's My Life!"

Love that song because of the great lyrics, which can be a lesson to actually live by, too.

Agreed! Great song and great lyrics.

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