Growing Pains HURT! Life At A Startup.

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Jenny's Comment
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Hiya! I haven't been on in quite sometime, but I lurk when time permits, I get sound advice and refresher courses from the podcasts and have mostly "just been truckin'".

3years. I made 3 years...I have never stuck to a job path for 3 years ever! (Ok there was that one.... one, for 5 years I sat around watching TV and waiting for customers 10 per day was a super busy day!)

Anywho, I figure I should share some of my recently acquired insight with everyone. Mostly it has all been said before, mine is a success story, but I've watched many fail while making the same transition I did.

About 20 months ago I met a friends uncle, who was also a driver, somehow we hit it off. I wasn't a super trucker, nor was he, we of course share "war stories" but they are fairly real. We all embellish a bit don't we?

So while talking to him I find out he's going to a startup company, he would be the 15th driver they hired. At this point, I only had about 15 months experience, was still in the thralls of loving my job. Oh it was fantastic! I was getting 8-10k miles a month, on a guaranteed wage and had "put them in their place" regarding hometime. (Which was probably why my miles were so low πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚) It was my dream come true!!!!

Cut to an accident on I10 just before my delivery. I sat in that traffic cursing and calling and hoping I could make my appointment. I ALWAYS plan to be at least an hour early, and this was the case this day as well. It was gone, the whole hour and then some, and I ended up 30 minutes late and unable to unload. I called the weekend dispatch, generally they just take notes on these matters and pass it to your DM Monday.

I. Sat. For. Four. Days.

I got no info for that long except we're trying. I couldn't get approval to move to a better truckstop ( you know one with showers)..or anything. Hindsight is 20/20 I was being a ****y turd. So they ignore the problem = me.

I got lucky. While I sat soaking in Louisiana sweat for four days, wishing for a shower, I filled out the application. My fairly new friend recommended me and I got hired. Woo hoo! Faster trucks! Oh what a simpleton I was. They hire drivers with 3yrs or more. They did then, and they do now. The recruiter/safety manager/Vice President loved my attitude, and somehow I fell through the best crack in my life!

Er something.......

I am a founder. I have a title, I was the 24th of 25 hired to have it. I am still there but 5 I know have left and 2 have moved to different positions. Many others I don't know have left.

So, I'd like to talk about why those 5 left.

Isn't it great to be personally recognized as a FOUNDER? The trucks aren't governed, fuel stops aren't forced, you're not being BABYSAT! Awesome right? Not so much, you still get a lot of attention, your input is expected, moreso expected to be constructive and you're willingness to work through daily policy changes is a must! You're the "Trial and Error Team". Growing pains hurt!!

Every week we have a company meeting, we call in, learn what's new, ask questions, and provide feedback. Pretty quickly it became a whining session for the drivers part. "I had to sweep out a trailer I picked up" or "I had to strap a load that someone else loaded" or "I picked up a trailer headed to California and the tandems had to be moved". Always followed by "you guys need to fix it!" "You guys" being the board members and dispatch.

They all missed the part where we are all responsible for ourselves. One driver left because he needed structure and solid company policy on these matters. Completely understandable.

Another driver took too much advantage of the freedom and forgot his responsibility. A week long drinking binge is not a good plan regardless, but to expect that you're needed so badly they won't fire you, ludicrous.

The other three drivers, well, it is cumulative for them, all those freedoms we enjoyed, ungoverned trucks, unmanaged fuel stops, non forced dispatch, and no babysitter, all went away for them. I say them, because I still enjoy all but the ungoverned truck, and I know other responsible drivers are enjoying the same. Throw in no budget for raises yet and they are out!

The thing is, those of us who are still enjoying our "freedoms" followed the rules from the get go. We were asked to use a specific brand for fueling, take all the loads we were offered and if we couldn't make the appointment dispatch would change it, just get under the freight, and do our best. The governed trucks has to do with insurance costs. None of us can argue that change with any validity.

Drivers were fueling where they wanted, whining about where or when a load needed picked up, not taking into account we are small, we need to make a name for ourselves, we had to take some junky loads to establish a good reputation. It's just like a rookie driver proving themselves to a company, we had to prove it to the INDUSTY..

Everyone in the company wears many hats, unlike bigger companies where jobs are VERY specific. My DM for example is DM, planner/logistics, book keeper helper, and on call every 3rd weekend. This means drivers have to wear more hats too if we want to keep our freedoms. This is the closest a guy can get to being an O/O without the headache: we have a support team to take the worry out.

To be continued...

Tandems:

Tandem Axles

A set of axles spaced close together, legally defined as more than 40 and less than 96 inches apart by the USDOT. Drivers tend to refer to the tandem axles on their trailer as just "tandems". You might hear a driver say, "I'm 400 pounds overweight on my tandems", referring to his trailer tandems, not his tractor tandems. Tractor tandems are generally just referred to as "drives" which is short for "drive axles".

Tandem:

Tandem Axles

A set of axles spaced close together, legally defined as more than 40 and less than 96 inches apart by the USDOT. Drivers tend to refer to the tandem axles on their trailer as just "tandems". You might hear a driver say, "I'm 400 pounds overweight on my tandems", referring to his trailer tandems, not his tractor tandems. Tractor tandems are generally just referred to as "drives" which is short for "drive axles".

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.

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.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.

OWI:

Operating While Intoxicated

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

Jenny's Comment
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Continued...

As for the raises, we are well paid, it would 7 years of raises from my previous company to match what I'm making now-per mile, I can hold on a bit while my company gets on its feet. It doesn't necessarily equate to higher annual pay though.

There are times when freight is slow, and us being a low man on the totem pole, our freight can become extremely slow. I've had months that I only worked a total of 16 days, and those days were as busy as they come!! Many drivers couldn't handle the yo-yo.

There are also the above mentioned junk loads. By that I mean odd load times, sometimes 3 days to do 1200 miles, multiple picks, multiple drops, or just those docks that no sane driver WANTS to deal with. We get those, and we get them a lot.

I did plenty of junk loads, I swept out many a trailer that drivers didn't clean, I reported and sometimes repaired damaged equipment, (most is new but our reefers are used and were awful!) I went where they sent me, I broke seals and played the cya game with pictures in order to properly secure pre-loaded freight. We have to deal directly with the repair guys, we don't hand it off and go sleep or watch tv. We don't get special comoensation for doing the extras. We get paid to chain, layover, detention and mileage pay like pretty much everyone else who works for a big company, but we only get a thank you for doing all the above extras. Some days it is frustrating that the other guys don't do their job, but I do mine.

I've learned why they wanted 3 years experience. It's a lot to manage professionally!!

The same rules apply for all companies, big or small, do what you're asked, do it safely and professionally and you will be rewarded with more miles, time off when you need.

The thing about working for a small company is, you do more, you don't necessarily get paid more. Sure, the cpm is great, but you've gotta be able to get the miles or your weekly pay can be $200....

I am sticking it out. I'm here because I believe this company can go places, I like being able to talk to the president of the company on a first name basis, I like the problem solving skills I've been able to develop.

I'm in a good place, we recently got a few good accounts and guess who they picked! It's great, for the last 4 months I've ran my clock out every week on long runs.

I'm sitting in Fla, 100 miles from delivery a day early, doing a reset because I only had 52 minutes left on my clock. I'll deliver tomorrow morning with a fresh clock and move on my preplan, which is 3100 miles right back where I came from, so I can grab another load out for the main big account. This is my life now. It's nice, but it hurt to get here.

Meanwhile those sad sacks that complain about this job are sitting on 1200 miles for the next 3 days not understanding that if they'd just get there in 2 days every time, the company would notice that the want to work, and trust them to do these loads that I do. Instead, they run 400 a day, stop at their favorite watering holes and screw around getting there, so the company thinks that is all they can or want to do.

I definitely suggest sticking with the bigger company if you need predictable pay, and hometime. Us little guys don't have anyone to swap that load with when you decide it's time to go. Hometime happens after you, and you alone deliver that load.

We are small and can't afford the mistakes, nor the lazy, nor the demanding. It's easier to get starved out here than anywhere big.

Be safe out there!!!

CPM:

Cents Per Mile

Drivers are often paid by the mile and it's given in cents per mile, or cpm.

Reefer:

A refrigerated trailer.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.
PackRat's Comment
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Great post! Glad you're still truckin', too.

Brett Aquila's Comment
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That is a super interesting story and tomorrow I'm going to have quite a bit to say about it. I'm about done for today and there's a lot I'd like to cover with this one. Thanks very much for sharing all that. I'll respond thoroughly in the morning.

smile.gif

Jenny's Comment
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Ohh!! I can't wait to hear what you've got.

I obviously didn't include EVERYTHING I've been through here, after all it's been 1.5 years since I started here.

And woohoo!! We JUST got our first Driver handbook. I am assuming there will be revisions, but at least there is something in print dancing-banana.gif

PJ's Comment
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Damn I was hoping by now Brett would have lined it out. I’m a bit like you Jenny I drive for a private fleet. They pay very well and I have top of the line equipment. But..... I break down I’m the one to figure it out. No breakdownto call. We’re as close to O/O as it gets. I have a mastercard with a high enough limit to almost buy a modest truck and the trust of my boss to do the right thing. Hand holding of any kind was checked at the door

Jenny's Comment
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I am sure my company is on its way to being like the others, I just got in early enough that it's a bit more personable. We basically have a skeleton crew that is growing. We'll be 300 trucks in 2 more years I bet.

Handholding will come. It'll have to because too many drivers just don't have the integrity to do the right stuff. I may bail out of the seat to be part of the safety team if the opportunity arises after all of the dust settles confused.gif

OWI:

Operating While Intoxicated

PJ's Comment
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Go for it.... We have 8 trucks

PJ's Comment
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And my avatar pic is my company issued truck😁😁

Jenny's Comment
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Nice ride πŸ‘πŸ˜Ž

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