Another Career Journey Begins, Enabled By TT

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John S.'s Comment
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Hello all,

First post and intro as I've been lurking on here for a couple of months, soaking in the tons of information. Thank god I found this site early on while researching this career!

A huge thanks to Brett for this site and all the moderators and regular contributors to this forum! The information on here is priceless.

I am (was) and IT Professional for almost 25 years. After losing my management level job a few months ago, I was left disillusioned and plenty of soul searching ensued as to what do I want to do until retirement. Like for many, driving a big American rig was a long time dream that was sorta kept in the closet, mostly due to the stigma associated with that career choice.

Thankfully I am at a point at my life where I no longer care or live by any such prejudices... And my wife fully supports me, the kids are now big enough (15 & 11) to be relatively low maintenance and think this is cool (for now at least). My mother, well, she looked like she was ready to jump into her grave (as Brett put it) upon hearing about my career change, lolll. She handled it a bit better after I explained to her that no, I will not be loading/unloading 40,000 lbs of Idaho potatoes and chances are relatively slim of me dying in a fiery crash...

So I signed up for a private trucking school in middle of January, passed my CLP a couple of weeks later and got my CDL on March 7th. I tried getting pre-hires but things work a bit different up here in Canada. Basically every single employer told me to get the CDL first and then call them for a road test. So literally on March 8 I started calling the companies back.

Now this is where things got interesting and a bit different from what happens in the US. I do have a minor misdemeanor on my record that goes back 25 years ago, was not what the US CBP calls a crime of "moral turpitude" (murder, drugs, sex, aggravated violence, theft etc.), and I was always eligible to cross the border and did so literally a hundred times over the years for work and pleasure. I was upfront with all the companies that I applied for of course but all the big players (Schneider, Challenger, TransForce etc.) flat-out refused to even consider me upon finding out... As one recruiter put it: "You can cross the border a hundred times without a problem and then on the 101st time they can turn you around. It just takes one overzealous agent. We cant take the risk". Since 90% of jobs in Canada require crossing to US, man was I dejected at that point...

I didn't give up though. Kept going down the list and calling. I then saw one company that was holding a Saturday March 11 open-house/interviews/road-tests at a town about a 90 minute drive from my place, so I figured my best bet would be to show up and present myself in person. So I did. Showed up early and was the first one on site. Road-test went well, interview went well, then I explained my situation. The recruiter said they've dealt with cases like mine a few times, but said they would need to review with legal and then decide if they would offer me a position. Fingers crossed... BTW, the company is a medium-size carrier (about 400 trucks) and is considered a "bottom-feeder" by many up here for various (usual) reasons. But having been on here just long enough to learn that most of what I've read elsewhere is probably not true and if they would give me a chance, I'd take it, do my best and find out for myself...

There was one more company left on my list. Company B. Another medium carrier so-called "bottom-feeder" with about 300 trucks, and the reason I left them for last is that they do mostly US West coast runs in teams. But if that was my only option I was ready to take it. I applied online and literally 20 minutes after hitting the send button I got a call and an invite for a road test on March 16. The "road-test" was actually done on a simulator. Was an interesting experience and an impressive rig, 13-speed, clutch, grinds gears and all. In a simulator they can throw all kinds of scenarios at you that cannot be replicated in real life. Four-wheelers slamming brakes in front of you, another one attempting a suicide pass on a two-lane road, a biker jumping on to the road from a parking lot, a low clearance bridge, a car stopped partly on the shoulder and another truck coming in opposite directions, climb an 18% grade with 45,000lbs load from a dead-stop, followed by a few 10-15% descents and climbs, etc. It was INTERESTING/FUN to say the least. I did fail to note the low-bridge sign, and parking on the simulator was a disaster. Other then a 90 degree turn with a straight back, I struggled with all other scenarios. But instructor said I did much better than average and with a couple of hours of yard practice backing up i'd be ok and definitely good enough to hire.

Interview went very well. What they would do for my record is make me attempt to cross the border and report to US customs with a letter of employment and ask to have a look at my record and confirm if I would be eligible to cross with a CMV. If not, ask whether or not do I need a waiver. In that's case the company would support and help me to get the necessary documents. One week orientation would start on 27th, then first two runs to West-Coast with a trainer (not a team run). 4th week out as a team. So I had my first offer from Company B. Yay!

To be continued...Sorry for long post...

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.

CMV:

Commercial Motor Vehicle

A CMV is a vehicle that is used as part of a business, is involved in interstate commerce, and may fit any of these descriptions:

  • Weighs 10,001 pounds or more
  • Has a gross vehicle weight rating or gross combination weight rating of 10,001 pounds or more
  • Is designed or used to transport 16 or more passengers (including the driver) not for compensation
  • Is designed or used to transport 9 or more passengers (including the driver) for compensation
  • Is transporting hazardous materials in a quantity requiring placards

Pre-hire:

What Exactly Is A Pre-Hire Letter?

Pre-hire letters are acceptance letters from trucking companies to students, or even potential students, to verify placement. The trucking companies are saying in writing that the student, or potential student, appears to meet the company's minimum hiring requirements and is welcome to attend their orientation at the company’s expense once he or she graduates from truck driving school and has their CDL in hand.

We have an excellent article that will help you Understand The Pre-Hire Process.

A Pre-Hire Letter Is Not A Guarantee Of Employment

The people that receive a pre-hire letter are people who meet the company's minimum hiring requirements, but it is not an employment contract. It is an invitation to orientation, and the orientation itself is a prerequisite to employment.

During the orientation you will get a physical, drug screen, and background check done. These and other qualifications must be met before someone in orientation is officially hired.

Pre-hires:

What Exactly Is A Pre-Hire Letter?

Pre-hire letters are acceptance letters from trucking companies to students, or even potential students, to verify placement. The trucking companies are saying in writing that the student, or potential student, appears to meet the company's minimum hiring requirements and is welcome to attend their orientation at the company’s expense once he or she graduates from truck driving school and has their CDL in hand.

We have an excellent article that will help you Understand The Pre-Hire Process.

A Pre-Hire Letter Is Not A Guarantee Of Employment

The people that receive a pre-hire letter are people who meet the company's minimum hiring requirements, but it is not an employment contract. It is an invitation to orientation, and the orientation itself is a prerequisite to employment.

During the orientation you will get a physical, drug screen, and background check done. These and other qualifications must be met before someone in orientation is officially hired.

CLP:

Commercial Learner's Permit

Before getting their CDL, commercial drivers will receive their commercial learner's permit (CLP) upon passing the written portion of the CDL exam. They will not have to retake the written exam to get their CDL.

John S.'s Comment
member avatar

Continued...

As I got back to my car in the parking lot ready to head home, I got a call from Company A and they were ready to hire me as a US driver and asked if I was ready to start on March 20th or 27th! One week orientation and some driving practice, one or two weeks local/regional runs with a trainer and then Solo to US! Now here's the best part. In case I have issues crossing to US, they will help me with getting a FAST card and while this is in progress (might take a few months), they will have me running regional Ontario-Quebec-Maritimes provinces corridor, home every weekend! Plus, they have a local terminal 15 minutes from my home! And they run paper logs (double-edged sword for a rookie, i know...)

No brainer really, I decided to go with company A. Will start next Monday March 27th!

My simple plan: -Work hard
-Keep a positive attitude
-Be professional
-Develop a good relationship with Dispatch
-Listen and learn
-Do the PTIs religiously
-Dont hit anything!
-Stay away from terminal rats (thanks Brett, that last podcast was full of awesome stuff as usual)

All check, feel free to add and wish me luck!

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.

Regional:

Regional Route

Usually refers to a driver hauling freight within one particular region of the country. You might be in the "Southeast Regional Division" or "Midwest Regional". Regional route drivers often get home on the weekends which is one of the main appeals for this type of route.

Tractor Man's Comment
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Great story on how a Positive attitude and Perseverance will take you places in this World!!! Congrats

smile.gifgood-luck.gif

Garth M.'s Comment
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You should have gotten a pardon back in Canada. It would have saved you a lot of headaches

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.

Dan R's Comment
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Welcome John! Way cool that things have worked out for you.

Dan

John S.'s Comment
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Indeed and pardon application is in progress. Although at this point a Cdn pardon will not clear it from US databases...

I actually lived life for the past 25 years thinking I did not have a criminal record. I was sure that it was an unconditional discharge that gets wiped off the records after 1 year or at least that's what I (wrongly) understood when pleading. It was only when I requested a pre-employment screening report which came back "not clear" and then submitted the fingerprints to RCMP to get the records is when I realized it was a summary CC conviction. I really wish a former employer would have flagged this in a background check years ago. Or even that I would have been stopped and questioned about it at the border years ago... Would have dealt with it then.

You should have gotten a pardon back in Canada. It would have saved you a lot of headaches

BMI:

Body mass index (BMI)

BMI is a formula that uses weight and height to estimate body fat. For most people, BMI provides a reasonable estimate of body fat. The BMI's biggest weakness is that it doesn't consider individual factors such as bone or muscle mass. BMI may:

  • Underestimate body fat for older adults or other people with low muscle mass
  • Overestimate body fat for people who are very muscular and physically fit

It's quite common, especially for men, to fall into the "overweight" category if you happen to be stronger than average. If you're pretty strong but in good shape then pay no attention.

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.

Brett Aquila's Comment
member avatar

John, you have an awesome attitude and you've clearly been studying our materials because you nailed all of the most important points for your strategy going in. I love when people like yourself come through here fired up and ready to go. I'm that way myself pretty much everyday of my life. I'm always doing things I'm excited about and I never really even think much at all about the past because I'm entirely too excited about the future!

Keep us updated and let us know how things go. Congrats on the job offers. I have no doubt you're ready to make the very most of any opportunities that come your way. Best of luck!

smile.gif

John S.'s Comment
member avatar

Brett, Garth, Dan, Tractor Man, thanks for the welcome.

Yesss, I'm super fired up and excited to get started next Monday. After a long dark winter in so many different ways, I'm really looking forward to spring weather and hitting the open road in this beautiful part of the continent.

I know I have so much to learn, but learning is something I love to do, and take pride in learning as much as I can about anything I do and doing it well. I have no doubt this career will keep me learning hopefully until my retirement, 15-20 years from now, or maybe beyond. As long as them AI driven autonomous trucks don't take over, haha... ;)

Victor C. II's Comment
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Your going to do super fantastic!!!!!! Great job!!!!shocked.pngsmile.gifsmile.gifsmile.gif

Garth M.'s Comment
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Hey John sorry for my terse comment, wishing you all the success with your endeavors. Your right on about this forum it's a great resource and a positive inspiration for me as well.

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