School Or Pick A Company? And How Do I Choose Between Company Driver Or Owner Operator?

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Bill S.'s Comment
member avatar

I have my CDL temps and passed my physical/drug screen through Great Lakes Truck Driving School in Columbia Station Ohio. My dilemma is that school doesn't start until Nov 21 and ends Dec 21. I was hoping to be on the road before that. I know most of the company sponsored programs start weekly or so I have read. Trucking is something I have wanted to get into for 6 years now. It's perfect for me. I am a loner, love to travel, don't like having my boss looking over my shoulder, etc.

Companies I am looking at are Prime Inc. and Swift. Any others I should consider? If I end up going to school, I would also consider Drive This Truck. They give you a truck if you stay with them for 4 years. Currently they offer a 2016 Cascadia Evolution. Basically you get the truck new when you start with the company and after 4 years it is yours. So you know the maintenance history and everything. However, you do start at a lower pay scale.

Thank you for any feedback.

Bill

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.
Sambo's Comment
member avatar

Most of the advice you'll get here is to take advantage of company training, which has will likely have around a 1 year commitment to that company attached to it.

Also, they say that it is generally better to be a company driver as opposed to owner operator or lease operator because for the amount of headache you incur compared to the money you'll make is not worth it. In most cases, you'll make about the same as a company driver as opposed to owner, at least not enough difference to warrant the extra headache.

Prime and Swift are both good companies. I'd like to add to that list, knight, Werner, and trans am.

There are a lot of great companies out there, and most of them are pretty good, just research for the things you want, like pay, home time, truck amenities.

And..good luck

smile.gif

Owner Operator:

An owner-operator is a driver who either owns or leases the truck they are driving. A self-employed driver.

DAC:

Drive-A-Check Report

A truck drivers DAC report will contain detailed information about their job history of the last 10 years as a CDL driver (as required by the DOT).

It may also contain your criminal history, drug test results, DOT infractions and accident history. The program is strictly voluntary from a company standpoint, but most of the medium-to-large carriers will participate.

Most trucking companies use DAC reports as part of their hiring and background check process. It is extremely important that drivers verify that the information contained in it is correct, and have it fixed if it's not.

Patrick C.'s Comment
member avatar

What works for each individual is just that. An individual decision. It would be more important to ask what do YOU want.

First off: what type of freight do you want to haul. Do you want what fits in a box. Do you want to haul temperature sensitive loads, do you want to haul anything and everything you an strap to a top of a skateboard. Once you figure out what you want to haul; it will bring to the front a list of companies.

Next do you want to work for a small, medium, or large outfit. Each have their own unique advantages and disadvantages. In a smaller outfit you get to know everybody. Everybody gets to know you. Your accomplishments are easily remembered. Your failures will become the talk of the break room. You will be relied upon to perform. In larger outfits you are anonymous. Another faceless employee in a crowd. Your successes and failures are easily forgotten. But, if you fell off the planet, no one would bat an eyelash. How you want to be known is a personal choice.

Company training vs private. A lot of the large trucking companies run their own school. Little upfront expenses, but a lengthy contract to fulfill. Most companies that hire people straight out of school will do tuition reimbursement. Just remember, that reimbursement with either be paid out is small parcels over just a long a time as a contract person would have to stay, or a paid out in larger chunks after certain minimum time requirements. Usually just as long as a contract person would be obligated to a company for. Pure and simple. If you want to have your schooling paid for; you will have to give your company a year. Whether you shoulder the upfront costs or not is your decision to make.

Company Driver vs L/O or O/O. As all the experienced people say, reserve being an L/O or O/O until after you get a few years in the business. You have more than enough to deal with and learn without the additional headaches of insurance, authority, permits, maintenance, fuel, load brokering, etc... Learn the business before you learn to run a business.

Sorry for the small novel.

DAC:

Drive-A-Check Report

A truck drivers DAC report will contain detailed information about their job history of the last 10 years as a CDL driver (as required by the DOT).

It may also contain your criminal history, drug test results, DOT infractions and accident history. The program is strictly voluntary from a company standpoint, but most of the medium-to-large carriers will participate.

Most trucking companies use DAC reports as part of their hiring and background check process. It is extremely important that drivers verify that the information contained in it is correct, and have it fixed if it's not.

Steve L.'s Comment
member avatar

Schneider has a dedicated Walmart operation in Washington Court House and an Operating Center just south of Columbus.

Orientation is only 17 days. And tuition reimbursement, plus signon bonus for most positions. They might be able to get you rolling at the beginning of the year. That's what I did two years ago.

G-Town's Comment
member avatar

Patrick wrote:

In larger outfits you are anonymous. Another faceless employee in a crowd. Your successes and failures are easily forgotten. But, if you fell off the planet, no one would bat an eyelash. How you want to be known is a personal choice.

I disagree. Patrick I have never felt this way at Swift. Not even in the beginning when I had no experience. I could work anywhere right now. For many, many reasons I chose to stay with Swift.

You work for a smaller outfit, for what a month? So not sure what you are basing this on other than here say.

It goes back to something we constantly discuss and debate, it all boils down to the relationship with the DM or dispatcher. It takes time to build this and a whole lot of effort. It's also something they do not teach,... Kinda need to learn as you go.

At any company large or small every new driver must prove them self a consistent performer, then and only then will they be recognized and not considered just a number.

Dispatcher:

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.

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.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

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

You've been a member here for over a year Bill - so you've had the opportunity to do a bunch of reading and follow quite a few people in their journey from one career, into OTR driving.

As the board (and previous posters) advises - DON'T EVEN THINK ABOUT LEASING right out of the gate. And that's a two-fold statement. 1 - DON'T DO IT - and 2 - don't worry about it or even waste a minutes thought on it, when you don't even have a CDL or haven't even DRIVEN A TRUCK YET.

You have a ton of other stuff to learn and accomplish, without leasing or owning a truck even factoring into the equation at THIS VERY MOMENT.

Deep breath grasshopper - you have plenty of time to make that mistake.

If you want to get on the road sooner - and you haven't signed a contract with Great Lakes or given them any non-refundable $$'s - then by all means, start applying to companies and see if you can get into an orientation any sooner.

"Drive This Truck" - never heard of them - got a link? This is probably a 4 year lease purchase - which is typical in the world of lease purchases. You also end up paying WAY MORE than you would have, at retail with regular financing. You (likely) have to drive for the company that leases you the truck (as in, even though they SAY it's your truck - it's THEIRS and you go WHERE/WHEN THEY SAY). After 4 years, you have a 400K miles truck (which is still a young truck) that you can take anywhere at that point. None of these plans "sound horrible" - and I've seen one or two that are actually decent (where your deal is with a leasing company and you can "take your ball and play elsewhere") - but again - not something you even remotely want to concern yourself with at this stage of the game...

Rick

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.

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.

Patrick C.'s Comment
member avatar

I am basing mostly on what I witnessed as I grew up. My father has been driving 45 years now. I listened to what everyone talked about. Outside of trucking I have worked for companies of many different sizes. In large corporations you are just another employee. Yes you get to know those in your immediate circle. But to any higher level management you are completely unknown.

My whole point is simple. In smaller "family" atmospheres EVERYBODY will get to know you. Including the bosses of the company. In large corporate trucking companies outside of your immediate circle, NO ONE really knows who you are. It is just the nature of business size regardless of the type of business. It applies to ALL businesses that are a large corporation.

I am willing to put money down if you walked up to the Owner of Swift on the street he would have absolutely no clue who you were. It is just the nature of the beast.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.
G-Town's Comment
member avatar

I am basing mostly on what I witnessed as I grew up. My father has been driving 45 years now. I listened to what everyone talked about. Outside of trucking I have worked for companies of many different sizes. In large corporations you are just another employee. Yes you get to know those in your immediate circle. But to any higher level management you are completely unknown.

My whole point is simple. In smaller "family" atmospheres EVERYBODY will get to know you. Including the bosses of the company. In large corporate trucking companies outside of your immediate circle, NO ONE really knows who you are. It is just the nature of business size regardless of the type of business. It applies to ALL businesses that are a large corporation.

I am willing to put money down if you walked up to the Owner of Swift on the street he would have absolutely no clue who you were. It is just the nature of the beast.

Patrick...the people that matter to me at Swift know who I am and I know who they are. That's what is important. My DM ,, the planners and the terminal manager all know me.

And Richard Stocking? The action CEO...he actually communicated with me via email last year during the roll out of the cameras. If he met me on the street he likely wouldn't know me..,and frankly it's not relevant or important to me.

Look Patrick you are entitled to your opinions...but realize that there are people on this forum, many of us that have had very good even great experience with the largest carriers in the industry.

Terminal:

A facility where trucking companies operate out of, or their "home base" if you will. A lot of major companies have multiple terminals around the country which usually consist of the main office building, a drop lot for trailers, and sometimes a repair shop and wash facilities.

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.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

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

Thank you for all the replies.

Rick, here is a link for drive this truck. http://drivethistruck.net/ I had never heard of them either. When I went for my physical and drug screen at Great Lakes they had pamphlets on 30 companies. I took one of each. I will have to check out the other companies mentioned for a second time. I read about them months ago when I made my short list of companies.

I only asked about the owner operator as I plan to drive for ten years. I was in the Marine Corps for 9 years and have an honorable discharge. I can stick with anything. I want to mainly do no touch. I don't really know what I want to haul. I didn't realize I had options. I have not given the school any money. I was going to use the GI Bill. The only issue I have with waiting for the school is that I wouldn't start getting paid until mid January.

I think I would prefer to start with a larger company that has more route options. Not entirely sure it works that way but makes sense to me.

I have been a member for over a year. However, I didn't really follow anybody on here. I mainly studied The High Road materials. It helped a lot when I took my CDL temp tests. I passed all 6 tests in under 40 minutes. The lady at the counter asked if I was reading the questions. I told her that I must be reading them cause I was getting all the answers correct.

Being single without kids means I don't really need much home time.

Thanks again,

Bill

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.

Owner Operator:

An owner-operator is a driver who either owns or leases the truck they are driving. A self-employed driver.

Brett Aquila's Comment
member avatar

Bill, go through our Truck Driver's Career Guide and read up on your options for schooling and jobs. There are a ton of options available to you. You can use your GI Bill for private schooling or you can go to any number of Paid CDL Training Programs. Take the time to understand your options better before making any commitments.

I think I would prefer to start with a larger company that has more route options. Not entirely sure it works that way but makes sense to me.

it does work that way for the most part. Larger companies, especially companies with different divisions hauling different types of freight, have a wide variety of opportunities available. Keep in mind though that many of them will require a little experience with the company before they'll be available to you, but normally not more than 3 to 6 months.

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.
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