Another Side Of Local. My Experience With A Small Local Company

Topic 22439 | Page 1

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Minnis B.'s Comment
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I have been debating writing this for a while now. So far I'm roughly 5 months into my local gig and it's been quite an experience so far. I know the forum focuses mainly on helping new drivers get rolling and if I had it to do over again I would definitely go OTR for a while instead of breaking staight into a local job. I just thought since many people ask about local jobs I'd share my experience with it and also my experiences working with a small company.

*My type of work is not typical and is DEFINITELY dependant on location*

I guess to start off I work for a smallish company named FTL LTD. We have around 60 trucks right now ranging from 1996 to 2018 models. It's a mixture of roughly 75% tandem axle dump trucks (which is what I drive) and 25% tractor trailers. All are either Freightliner FLD's or Coronado's or Peterbilt 379's. We haul gravel, sand, dirt, asphalt, coal, or anything else that can be loaded into a dump truck or trailer. I personally haul coal so that's what this will mostly center around.

There are some perks to this type of job and there's also some downfalls. In the end though things usually work out for the best. I'll list a few of each and try to go into more detail on each as we go along.

First the perks, we are exempt from HOS regulations, we are home usually by 5 pm daily and have weekends off, I hear from my boss once per day which is a text telling me what time we will start getting loaded the next morning, we can fuel when and where we want.

The downfalls would be we are paid by the load with no pay for breakdowns/hold ups or anything else, if we don't dump anload of coal in the bin we don't get paid. Being a small company can be rough when it comes to break downs as well. Today a coworker had a rock somehow get in between the air lines coming from his secondary tank shutting him down, usually OTR with a large company this wouldn't be a big deal. Our shop is roughly an hour and a half away from the job site and we only have 2 mechanics on duty on day shift. My coworker sat and waited SIX HOURS for a mechanic to come and it only took about 10 minutes and a $2 coupling to get him rolling again. He lost $120 pay today over a $2 fitting. That's hard to swallow sometimes but it's part of trucking unfortunately.

Now I live in West Virginia and we have what is called the Coal Resource Transportation System. This entity issues special overweight permits for trucks that haul coal. I obviously have a permit on my truck but it applies only to coal. If I am hauling gravel for instance, I am allowed 66,000 lbs gross weight on my 10 wheel dump truck. If I am hauling coal I am allowed 90,000 lbs gross weight plus a 5% overage which totals 94,500 lbs gross weight on the same truck. Usually 30 tons is what I haul which puts me around 92,300 lbs with a full tank of fuel. It definitely takes some guts (or pure idiocy) to haul this kind of weight on these small winding 2 lane back roads with 4 wheelers playing Nascar all around you.

My day begins at 3:45 am when my alarm goes off. I get up, pack a lunch, usually eat a Jimmy Dean biscuit, dress and am out the door by 5 am. I spend about 5 minutes starting my paperwork for the day and about 20 minutes doing a pre trip. Around 5:25 I start the engine and let it be warming up while I fill out my pre trip sheet. When 5:30 comes I put the ol girl in gear and it's off to the races. I have roughly a 50 minute commute and the job starts generally at 6 am. That puts me getting there around 6:20. Yes, I'm late. There's a reason for this though. It may not make sense to some people but it works out very well for me. We have a total of 11 trucks on this particular haul. I personally like to run in the middle of the pack. I'm not skilled enough yet to run with the big boys but I'm confident enough to run a little faster than the brand new guys. All 5 of the big boys are sitting at the gate at 5:30 before the mine even opens for the day. Remember I get paid by the load? Sure I could show up at 6 like is supposed to happen but I'm sitting there for free. I'm not a big fan of doing anything for free if it can be avoided. Well it takes the loader man around 25 minutes to load those first 5 trucks. I get there at 6:20 and he's usually starting on the last truck as I'm pulling in. I only wait 5 minutes before I get paid this way and get a little extra sleep too. The only way it would end differently is if I showed up more than an hour earlier than I do so it works out in the end. All about learning tricks of your trade. The new guys aren't used to getting up so early and don't roll in til 6:30 or later so I end up getting to run exactly how I like.

As long as things go good during the day I end up usually with 9-10 loads per day which grosses me $180-200 per day. More can be made on some OTR jobs but it's a trade off, I make a little less but I get to be home every evening and all weekend from Friday evening until Monday morning. It's worth it to me.

I have 2 bosses, Steve and Odie, we are on a first name basis and I feel free to call them at any hour for any reason. They are very good people. All they ask of me is to show up and try not to break anything expensive lol. That's my goal anyway so no problem there. I drive my personal vehicle to the shop every Saturday to turn in my load tickets (how we get paid) and grab some grease, DEF and any other fluids or bulbs I may need for the week.

To be continued...

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.

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".

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.
Minnis B.'s Comment
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Now that the weather is getting nice, when I roll in one of them usually has the grill rolling cooking up some steaks, chicken, burgers etc. for anyone that wants to eat. That's hard to come by these days. We also had a big Christmas party last year, I had been working for the company for 3 days, I show up to the party and was welcomed with open arms and a $100 Christmas bonus check. That's even harder to come by these days. It's not all great though. Like I mentioned earlier about my coworker waiting for 6 hours today, a few weeks ago I had a bolt go through one of my tires and was down for 4 hours waiting on a mechanic. Last week I had an NOx sensor go bad on my truck causing it to slightly derate because that sensor wouldn't allow it to regenerate while driving so every few rounds I had to stop for 30 minutes or so to perform a parked regeneration. When the DPF system is operating normally I never need to do a parked regeneration. This really hurt my pay last week as my load count dropped drastically. Another issue is we drive on some extremely rough roads going in and out of these mines and my airbag for my seat is busted meaning I have to sit on the floor and take every bump the truck takes leading to a VERY sore back and rear end. Told the main boss about it and he just says he will get around to ordering the part as soon as he can. It's been 2 months now.

That's all I can really think of right now, it's been a pretty rough day. If I can think of anything else I'll add to this later or if anyone else has any questions feel free to post them and I'll do my best to answer.

Rob T.'s Comment
member avatar

Thank you for shedding light on your job. Always interesting to see what type of things people are using their CDLs for. Minnis, out of curiosity how has your driving/awareness changed from that accident you had very early in your career?

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.
Minnis B.'s Comment
member avatar

Thank you for shedding light on your job. Always interesting to see what type of things people are using their CDLs for. Minnis, out of curiosity how has your driving/awareness changed from that accident you had very early in your career?

Well Rob, to be honest the first month or so after returning was hell. I clenched up every time the truck started leaning even a little. That has since calmed greatly, I still have a mini panic attack when I get into a pretty hard lean but it's improving. I learned I was just not ready to run with the big dogs which is exactly what caused my accident. I became overconfident in my abilities. Now I still run pretty hard but I run at a speed and in a gear that I can come to a complete stop in a reasonable amount of time if something jumps out at me. I've also gotten to the point of knowing every inch of the roads I travel on daily, I can almost see around a blind curve and know where I have an "out" if the need arises. I've started paying more attention to these 4 wheelers. It's the same ones day in and day out 99% of the time with a few unexpected ones sprinkled in for fun. I've noticed they are creatures of habit and when I see a particular one I just about know exactly what he's going to do before he does it. I noticed they have a particular time frame they travel in and they're usually in groups so if I notice it getting to be a certain time I will drag my feet so to speak in order to pass the group in a wider section of the road. I guess you could say laying on my side that day really opened up my eyes. I'm much more aware of my surroundings at all times and even more so when I'm fully loaded.

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.

OWI:

Operating While Intoxicated

Turtle's Comment
member avatar

Yeah definitely thanks for sharing. I too like hearing different perspectives. Good luck Minnis, sounds like you got it going on.

G-Town's Comment
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Minnis your courage and persistence is admirable. I appreciate what you wrote...applicable for everyone; newbies and not so newbies.

Thanks for posting this. Really good stuff!

Safe travels!

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.
Minnis B.'s Comment
member avatar

Minnis your courage and persistence is admirable. I appreciate what you wrote...applicable for everyone; newbies and not so newbies.

Thanks for posting this. Really good stuff!

Safe travels!

Thanks G-Town. It's definitely taken a lot of courage to get where I am now. I nearly gave up my first day back and many times after. Just have to remind myself I was born for this.

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.
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