I Need To Pick My First Company

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Whitetail's Comment
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Thank you in advance to all who respond to this post. I have wanted to drive for a very long time, and I am ready to just jump in and do it. I have been in construction most of my life, and I'm ready for this change that I should have done years ago. My wife is understandably nervous with an occupation change, because my job is pretty stable. Because of what she means to me, I need to be able to reassure her that this move isn't a scary one. My dad has around 15 years of driving under his belt and works for a really good company. His pay is insane, and I know that I can get there but his experience is what is defining his income. I am 42, and have no trucking experience. I have owned 15 cars in my life, only 3 of which were automatic. If it isn't a stick, I hate it, wouldn't matter if it was a Ferrari. I have experience driving large box trucks, most of which are about the same size as a bobtail tractor. No air brake experience. I have driven trucks (pickup trucks) with trailers and do fairly well. I'm researching companies that offer CDL training, and I need to pick one that REAL truckers view as a good choice. I was looking at Celadon, but former driver reviews were awful. I understand that any company offering free training is going to be rough until the contract is completed but...I need my first dip into this pool to be the smartest decision I can make. The money needs to be as consistent as possible, and I need to make $40k. I work hard, I understand that I will have to earn my stripes. My driving record is perfect, pretty much. I haven't had a ticket since 1999. I am drug free and will happily test. I do not have anything at all on my criminal record, not even a jaywalking offense. All I want is a company that will treat me well, and therefore make this transition more comfortable. I have a few quesions. Please let me know if what I am looking for is realistic. And again, thanks in advance for your response(s). Hope to see you guys on the road soon!

1) How long can I truly expect to be in class? Websites and recruiters are sketchy at best 2) When do I actually start getting paid? 3) All companies offering training are helpful to anyone's career, but who has the best reputation for taking care of new drivers? 4) What company is know for low staff turnover rates (driver managers, etc)? 5) Bottom line, money. I'm not looking to get rich, I just need to replace my current pay. Where can I actually earn $40k my first year? I have no problem being gone from home for long periods, I just want to know that the money is there. I don't want to be sitting regularly waiting on loads while my bills are coming in.

CDL:

Commercial Driver's License (CDL)

A CDL is required to drive any of the following vehicles:

  • Any combination of vehicles with a gross combined weight rating (GCWR) of 26,001 or more pounds, providing the gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of the vehicle being towed is in excess of 10,000 pounds.
  • Any single vehicle with a GVWR of 26,001 or more pounds, or any such vehicle towing another not in excess of 10,000 pounds.
  • Any vehicle, regardless of size, designed to transport 16 or more persons, including the driver.
  • Any vehicle required by federal regulations to be placarded while transporting hazardous materials.

Bobtail:

"Bobtailing" means you are driving a tractor without a trailer attached.

Driver Manager:

Dispatcher, Fleet Manager, Driver Manager

The primary person a driver communicates with at his/her company. A dispatcher can play many roles, depending on the company's structure. Dispatchers may assign freight, file requests for home time, relay messages between the driver and management, inform customer service of any delays, change appointment times, and report information to the load planners.

EPU:

Electric Auxiliary Power Units

Electric APUs have started gaining acceptance. These electric APUs use battery packs instead of the diesel engine on traditional APUs as a source of power. The APU's battery pack is charged when the truck is in motion. When the truck is idle, the stored energy in the battery pack is then used to power an air conditioner, heater, and other devices

Tractor Man's Comment
member avatar

The first thing I would recommend is quit surfing for "Reviews". People will bash every Company. Usually people who couldn't cut it. I noticed you just joined this forum. Spend some time in the "archives". There is tons of "Truth " here. Also, take advantage of all of the FREE training materials available here.

Tractor Man's Comment
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Oops, almost forgot................ READ BRETT'S BOOK, available free on this site. It is full of answers to all of your questions.good-luck.gif

Errol V.'s Comment
member avatar

Tim, first, about those reviews you've read. People post reviews mostly because they couldn't handle the job and they want to tell the world it wasn't their fault. For fun, do a search on "BBQ sauce" to find a famously bad review and what we TT people do with them.

You can also search for "Celadon" to get a better idea about a fine company. Or switch to the diaries section and read diaries of how people dealt with the training.

You can read about many companies in Trucking Company Reviews.

Here's more information about truck driving.

The last one is a slam-bang study guide that will get you past your CDL test.

Come back for more!

CDL:

Commercial Driver's License (CDL)

A CDL is required to drive any of the following vehicles:

  • Any combination of vehicles with a gross combined weight rating (GCWR) of 26,001 or more pounds, providing the gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of the vehicle being towed is in excess of 10,000 pounds.
  • Any single vehicle with a GVWR of 26,001 or more pounds, or any such vehicle towing another not in excess of 10,000 pounds.
  • Any vehicle, regardless of size, designed to transport 16 or more persons, including the driver.
  • Any vehicle required by federal regulations to be placarded while transporting hazardous materials.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.
Butch S.'s Comment
member avatar

Holy cow Tim !!! That was a excellent post . After reading what you wrote id say we are in the exact boat with a few differences. Your question about how much should you expect to get paid is a questions I don't think I've asked yet but I'm going to follow this post to see what the other drivers have to say. Brett sent me some info on a post I did about " where Do I stand " and it was super helpful. I posted it a few days ago so it isn't hard to find. As for your CDL traing I am self taught and achieved my class a in the early 90's where I simply went to the DMV building picked up a free CDL book and read it about 20 times. ( only cause I'm a Dumas and can't retain anything I read unless I read it over and over and over ) Today the info is free online well at least in florida it is. I had did the same to achieve my Hazmat endorsement about 10 years ago but let it expire and just a few months ago I went to the DMV and took that test with little studying and passed and I also got the tanker and multiples endorsement. You may be able to do that where you live. Here you can take the test then you'll get a permit where you'll have to find a class A driver to let you ride/ drive with for the expectance then find a local company who will do the actual driving test ( like a Pepsi coma you or a beer company ). Once givin the ok you'll go back to the DMV with the signed papers and wala your new class A licenses. All together about 400 bucks other than the pratice driving. That might be tough. I then went to a TSA office and applied and got a TWIC card. I've been driving straight truck with a trailer weighing up to and over 80,000 lbs ( illegal of corse but had to be done get the job done) ( but since the crack down with DOT officers out there I haven ran over weight for a years now and thankfully I never been stopped or hurt any one and checked during those stupid runs ) off and on for the family company since the early 90's and on a few occasions drove a day cab with a lowboy weighing in around 80,000 total gross weight hauling a old POS excavator where from what you posted about your diving expectance I believe you will do better than ok. I have never done OTR but I want too soon. Some of the other drivers may want to smash my skull in when I say this but I personally feel that driving a big truck ( 10 wheeler or more ) is much easier than a car or " four wheeler " maybe it's the better view or the slower speeds or even could be that awesome feeling of being King of the Road while driving. The advice I can say is in a four wheeler I feel you are kinda stuck with having to go with the flow of traffic where in the truck you do what you need to do for safety. Shifting a truck is also easier I think than shifting a car. The trucks seem to work with you and you can float through the gears where as a car you have to clutch all the time. And a car is very jerky. I've floated the gears in a jeep one time but I think I was causing damage. Also in a big rig you have to plan your stopping ahead as much as possible and also a tip is to look way further down the road to see what might be coming up where as in a car due to the lack of sight you can't do that as easy. I'd like to help more but I think the experienced OTR drivers will have better answers for you. But don't worry to much about achieving you class A and the actual driving it will all come to you in time. Best of luck to you

CDL:

Commercial Driver's License (CDL)

A CDL is required to drive any of the following vehicles:

  • Any combination of vehicles with a gross combined weight rating (GCWR) of 26,001 or more pounds, providing the gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of the vehicle being towed is in excess of 10,000 pounds.
  • Any single vehicle with a GVWR of 26,001 or more pounds, or any such vehicle towing another not in excess of 10,000 pounds.
  • Any vehicle, regardless of size, designed to transport 16 or more persons, including the driver.
  • Any vehicle required by federal regulations to be placarded while transporting hazardous materials.

HAZMAT:

Hazardous Materials

Explosive, flammable, poisonous or otherwise potentially dangerous cargo. Large amounts of especially hazardous cargo are required to be placarded under HAZMAT regulations

OTR:

Over The Road

OTR driving normally means you'll be hauling freight to various customers throughout your company's hauling region. It often entails being gone from home for two to three weeks at a time.

Day Cab:

A tractor which does not have a sleeper berth attached to it. Normally used for local routes where drivers go home every night.

DOT:

Department Of Transportation

A department of the federal executive branch responsible for the national highways and for railroad and airline safety. It also manages Amtrak, the national railroad system, and the Coast Guard.

State and Federal DOT Officers are responsible for commercial vehicle enforcement. "The truck police" you could call them.

Dm:

Dispatcher, Fleet Manager, Driver Manager

The primary person a driver communicates with at his/her company. A dispatcher can play many roles, depending on the company's structure. Dispatchers may assign freight, file requests for home time, relay messages between the driver and management, inform customer service of any delays, change appointment times, and report information to the load planners.

DMV:

Department of Motor Vehicles, Bureau of Motor Vehicles

The state agency that handles everything related to your driver's licences, including testing, issuance, transfers, and revocation.

TWIC:

Transportation Worker Identification Credential

Truck drivers who regularly pick up from or deliver to the shipping ports will often be required to carry a TWIC card.

Your TWIC is a tamper-resistant biometric card which acts as both your identification in secure areas, as well as an indicator of you having passed the necessary security clearance. TWIC cards are valid for five years. The issuance of TWIC cards is overseen by the Transportation Security Administration and the Department of Homeland Security.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.
Chris K.'s Comment
member avatar

Although a lot of reviews are negative, I searched indeed.com reviews and found good reviews for Shaffer, Epes, and Crete.! The rest were so/so..

C. S.'s Comment
member avatar
I was looking at Celadon, but former driver reviews were awful.

How about a current driver's review? Worked for them since December and they're great. I think they require new students to team for six months, which I don't recommend unless you have a good reason to want to (like going in with someone you already know). However, you can avoid teaming by going into their reefer division. Most large carriers are just fine. The bad reviews are usually from people who wouldn't have cut it anywhere.

Reefer:

A refrigerated trailer.

Old School's Comment
member avatar

Hello Tim, and welcome to the forum!

After carefully reading everything you said, I would recommend you look seriously into Prime for a training company. They are going to have the highest pay for a rookie, and it sounds like the money is going to be a major sticking point to you. Forty grand is doable your first year, but it is a tall order for most newbies. You will be more likely to achieve it at Prime than other places. Their pay rate is very good for rookies and they have tons of freight available to them. Their training period is longer than anyone else's - some see that as a positive thing and others as a negative. It can be tough being stuck in a truck for that long a period of a time with a total stranger, but then again after that first week or so you really aren't strangers anymore (that could be positive or negative also).

One other thing that you need to realize is that almost all the companies are switching to automatic transmissions these days. They've done this before and then went back to the standard transmissions, but I'm afraid that this time it may be for good. The technology has finally developed so that these new automated manual transmissions are really working well. It is still a standard gear box just like the standard transmissions but the difference is that the computer system handles all the clutching and shifting for you.

One other advantage to going with Prime is that they have several different divisions that you could move into if you preferred a little something different. As a construction guy you may enjoy the work that a flat-bed driver does, and there will be times that you would be delivering to actual construction job sites. Prime has a flat-bed division in addition to several other options from which you could choose.

Remember, the pay in this job is performance based. The more you can get done the more money you will take home. Don't concentrate on what the company can do for you, but focus on how you can be a top performer and you will find that the top money comes to those who understand this mystery.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.

OOS:

When a violation by either a driver or company is confirmed, an out-of-service order removes either the driver or the vehicle from the roadway until the violation is corrected.

G-Town's Comment
member avatar

Although a lot of reviews are negative, I searched indeed.com reviews and found good reviews for Shaffer, Epes, and Crete.! The rest were so/so..

Careful where you are reading the reviews (or hearing)...take them with a grain of salt, consider the source, especially when the review begins with the words; "I heard". Many times when a disgruntled, former driver vents their anger, the truth of what actually happened to affect their demise is usually omitted and the focus is how the mega-carrier wronged them. Rarely is there any self evaluation, admission of multiple mistakes, and/or accepting responsibility.

Not sure if you have read TT's link: Trucking Company Reviews.

If in doubt, ask and if someone on here know of a company, they will provide honest feedback and almost always suggest that if you are a safe driver and a solid performer, you can be successful at almost any company.

Dm:

Dispatcher, Fleet Manager, Driver Manager

The primary person a driver communicates with at his/her company. A dispatcher can play many roles, depending on the company's structure. Dispatchers may assign freight, file requests for home time, relay messages between the driver and management, inform customer service of any delays, change appointment times, and report information to the load planners.
Whitetail's Comment
member avatar

Wow, I was hoping for responses, didn't expect to get that many so fast! Clearly, I have accidentally stumbled upon a great site :) @ C. S., reviews from current drivers is exactly what I'm looking for. I understand that these days the internet is full of people spewing venom and bashing former employers. It's hard to know what's legit and what isn't. I guess my biggest question for you would be how much experience did you have before you started with Celadon? I would have to guess that has a lot to do with it. All of the bad reviews were from brand new drivers. Based on everything my dad told me over the years, companies will starve people that they know deserve to be weeded out. I get it, and completely understand that. I have a good work ethic, so I'm not worried about that. I just want to make sure that whatever company I choose actually has the freight to move so that my bills are getting paid. Thanks for your responses guys, much appreciated.

OOS:

When a violation by either a driver or company is confirmed, an out-of-service order removes either the driver or the vehicle from the roadway until the violation is corrected.

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