Retired And Starting Over.

Topic 23312 | Page 1

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Michael M.'s Comment
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In 2015 I retired from the Border Patrol, and times have changed, not only financially, but boredom has really set in. Trucking is something I have thought about since high school. The last few months I have been on this site and have started the High Road program. My plan is to apply to company schools near the San Diego area. Swift has a school in Fontana, CA and Knight in Phoenix, AZ. I'm thinking these companies so hopefully I will be close when home time rolls around. Any advice would be appreciated, concerning companies.

Peter M.'s Comment
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Best of luck to you.

Old School's Comment
member avatar
My plan is to apply to company schools near the San Diego area. Swift has a school in Fontana, CA and Knight in Phoenix, AZ. I'm thinking these companies so hopefully I will be close when home time rolls around. Any advice would be appreciated, concerning companies.

Welcome aboard Michael - we're really glad to have you!

Hey listen, there's no good reason to limit yourself to companies that have terminals near your home. I have worked for two different companies and never had the terminal that I was dispatched from anywhere near my home. Usually they have been several states away from me or as much as a thousand miles from my home. Home time is something that is confusing for those of us who've never been in this business. It's not something that "rolls around." It is something that you will have to request a couple of weeks in advance of when you want to be home, and it needs to be communicated properly to your driver manager in the way that your particular company requires. This is usually done over the Qualcomm , or on-board computer that is in each truck. Most companies have a macro (simple to access pre-formatted message or form) that is used for requesting home time. You can stay out on the road as long as you like, but most over the road jobs will limit you to one day at home for each week (7 days) that you are out on the road. Home time polices vary at different companies, and once you are a well established driver it will even vary more for a valuable dependable driver who is doing a great job at adding to the company's bottom line.

People get confused about having a terminal close to their homes, and it is understandable. There are so many things about the trucking business that are misunderstood, and that's because it is nothing like any job you will have ever been involved with before. It is much more than just starting a new job, it is a completely new lifestyle, and that part alone is one of the major things that makes it a difficult adjustment for so many. Trucking companies will usually indicate on their web sites what they call their "hiring area." Basically those are areas where they are heavily involved in delivering freight. Their "hiring area" is what makes it convenient for them to get you home for home time. If they are delivering a lot of freight near San Diego, then when you want to go home they will simply get you a load that goes to that area. You will deliver your load and then take your truck home and take a break. Depending on your neighborhood, you may have to make arrangements for a place to park your truck such as a nearby truck stop or a big box store that may allow truck parking. Sometimes you will find that your company has what we call a "drop yard" (basically a small lot where they park trailers for use in that area) nearby where you can park and have a friend or relative come pick you up.

Continued...

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.

Over The Road:

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.

Qualcomm:

Omnitracs (a.k.a. Qualcomm) is a satellite-based messaging system with built-in GPS capabilities built by Qualcomm. It has a small computer screen and keyboard and is tied into the truck’s computer. It allows trucking companies to track where the driver is at, monitor the truck, and send and receive messages with the driver – similar to email.

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.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.
Old School's Comment
member avatar

All the major carriers are great places to get your start, and they are also great places to continue your trucking career. They have great equipment, a laser focus on safety, and they can keep you very busy racking up those miles and getting great paychecks. You will find some very misleading and confusing information online when trying to research this career, which is why Brett started this whole web site. The name "Trucking Truth" was no accidental quick idea, but a well thought out approach to make an attempt at counter acting the blatant lies and misinformation that keeps many people from making a decent start at this career. There is a ton of valuable information in here for you, and I hope you will avail yourself of much of it. It is important also to make an effort to participate in the forum conversations - you will learn a great deal by participating in the conversations. Any time you have a question, post it over in the "General Trucking Conversations" section and we will help you out with it. Don't be shy - we don't bite! You will always be treated with respect, and we will do our best to help you understand what it is that you are getting yourself into. We won't confuse you with a bunch misleading nonsense about this industry. It is what we do - we devote a lot of time and effort to helping new entry level drivers have a good understanding of how to make a good start at a career that has been very rewarding for us.

Here's a couple of our resources that I recommend you spend a little time with...

Listen to this Podcast about Being Focused On The Right Things for success as a rookie driver.

Here's an article that answers this very important question, "Do I Have What It Takes To Be A Successful Truck Driver?"

Oh, by the way, I am happily employed by Knight Transportation, and we have several of our members here who work very successfully at Swift. They are both great options, but you don't need to limit yourself based on terminal locations.

One more thing I just thought of...

You came from a background where you were accustomed to plenty of well thought out training procedures for your job, and that is oftentimes a problem for folks who try to jump into trucking from a job like law enforcement or government agencies. I encourage you to listen to this Podcast which explains the seemingly mysterious training procedures that trucking companies use. I think you will find it helpful when trying to make that initial adjustment into this career.

Why Is Truck Driver Training Done In Such A Rush?

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.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.
David John's Comment
member avatar

I am from San Diego as well!

I will be working with one of the large nationwide carriers and I went in this direction specifically for the reasons Old School mentions. Perhaps Safety concerns and focus, and the nationwide resources available to these large companies. The job I initially applied for requested that I live within 100 miles of Fontana, CA but I believe this is not a requirement for many of the other driving positions I am now hearing about.

The company I chose directed me to a school in Phoenix, AZ. It is a third party school rather than a company school. This I prefer, but I am convinced both routes will provide you with solid training. I do beilieve, as I’ve seen Brett encourage, that working with a company that will provide you with training, or reimburse, or pay for third party training, in exchange for one year of service, is a good path. Where the company is investing in your training they and you both have an interest in and will benefit from your ultimate success.

While in school in Phoenix, AZ I am observing that there are an incredible number of distribution centers and trucking company regional terminals both there now and coming. With Amazon distribution and others coming Phoenix will grow into a very large hub. I would encourage you to do your driver training in Phoenix as I believe it will provide both insight and connections for trucking opportunities well into the future, as Phoenix grows. Having gone to Phoenix I am less aware of Fontana, but I suspect this area also has many driving opportunities and interested trucking companies.

I believe a number of the companies run routes down into San Diego, including down to the border and likely now crossing into Mexico as well. I do not know with certainty but in listening to presentations from the carriers I expect many opportunities to drive into San Diego. One Phoenix to San Diego daily round trip (dedicated, I believe) was mentioned as well.

The reason I prefer a 3rd party school to the company school is the idea that these schools take you on as their ‘alumni’ and state that they will always use their contacts in the industry to help you, as much as they are able, find a driving job. There is no assurance or guarantee, but they work with all of the companies and they will help regardless of the direction you choose. I have wondered if the company schools have this ability as well? Can they provide broad support or are they focused on the one carrier they represent? I also heard of one company school that offers to pay half of the tuition but I learned that the cost of the truck driver training program was twice the cost. It seemed like adjustment to the numbers to their benefit, not the students.

You will have many options available should you choose to push forward.

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.

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.

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.

Old School's Comment
member avatar

Just a couple of things I want to point out.

I believe a number of the companies run routes down into San Diego, including down to the border and likely now crossing into Mexico as well.

I don't know of any American truck drivers crossing the border into Mexico. I haul aluminum extrusions bound for Mexican manufacturing facilities often, but typically these loads are dropped in a drop yard near the border. There are tons of these yards in the San Diego area, and quite a few Mexican trucking companies maintain terminals there. Sometimes I deliver to a Mexican trucking company on our side of the border, where they simply unload my trailer directly onto one of their trailers.

I would encourage you to do your driver training in Phoenix as I believe it will provide both insight and connections for trucking opportunities well into the future, as Phoenix grows. Having gone to Phoenix I am less aware of Fontana, but I suspect this area also has many driving opportunities and interested trucking companies.

The particular part of the country in which you train is meaningless. I trained in deep East Texas, where there are no major trucking companies located. It didn't matter. Hiring areas are what matter - it's simple, these companies hire people who live in their freight lanes. Both Fontana and Phoenix are major hubs for most of the major trucking companies, but again that's not important. You could train in Salt Lake City, UT, or Springfield, MO, or even Scranton, PA, none of that gives you an advantage or a disadvantage.

The reason I prefer a 3rd party school to the company school is the idea that these schools take you on as their ‘alumni’ and state that they will always use their contacts in the industry to help you, as much as they are able, find a driving job.

This is simply a marketing gimmick that worked on you. My school offered this same benefit, but you'll soon discover the only reason you would ever need their assistance was if you were really terrible at this job. First off, it's vitally important to your success at this that you Stick With Your First Company For One Year. After you've gained that first year's experience, you can make a couple of phone calls and have several job offers lined up in a matter of minutes. You're not a commodity that needs an Agent to help you, and your going to get the same offers financially with or without their assistance. The reason they offer this service is they negotiate a commission for themselves from the companies they work with. They don't do this for your advantage, but rather their own.

Remember guys, this whole career is performance based. Your track record follows you, and a good one creates opportunity for you. That's the whole secret to this career. None of this peripheral stuff like location and particular schools carries any weight as far as getting a shot at success at this this. It's always the Top Tier Drivers who make a good showing at this career. That means the only critical factor is how you prove yourself out here.

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.

OWI:

Operating While Intoxicated

David John's Comment
member avatar

With reference to the comment, “This is a marketing gimmick...”, I am happy to say that for the school I am attending this was not sold to me as a benefit beforehand, nor is this method used by the school itself.

The school I am attending does not charge hiring companies a fee. The full time employee that maintains contact with hiring companies does in fact provide interested students with a multi-page spreadsheet of all hiring companies and the specific recruiter with phone and email contact information. The ‘alumni’ is free to contact the recruiter themselves and/or work with her in contacting. The school receives no financial benefit from placement of the student/alum.

I am happy this is the case. I believe schools that are seeking a finders fee have lost sight of their true mission in their search for greater income. In seeking a finders fee these schools will create a barrier for companies who wish to hire their students. Top Tier drivers will be aware of what other companies would pay, so working with the school to find a position would either cost the hiring company more for the driver or result in lower pay or reduced sign-on bonus, not to the benefit of the drive, this would likely result in the driver going elsewhere.

Schools who are training well will have companies interested in hiring their drivers. Success in placing students will result in an ability to attract new students. In addition, success in teaching and certifying students can result in companies sending their students to the school or approaching the school and asking the school to have their instructors train their students.

The school I am attending has instructors teaching students in trucking companies all around Phoenix, classroom, range and driving in the actual company vehicles.

I was asked to take my training at this school by the national carrier I chose. I followed the advice I have read. I chose a national carrier. I plan to drive with them for one year. I am trusting them and doing as they ask. This carrier does train their drivers in-house, however, they prefer having the student complete the first few hurdles, including the CDL-A license, before in-house training begins.

As I have read, I believe the Top Tier OTR driver with 1+ years of experience will have many OTR opportunities and options. But understanding that many people may wish to drive local or regional , 16 of the 19 people in my class were hoping to find a local position, I believe that training with a company that has contacts within the region may be of benefit. Some companies may have a limited number of positions. A driver who wishes to fill a specific position in a specific company may have an advantage where their school has been used by the company to train its students in the past.

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.

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.

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.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.
Brett Aquila's Comment
member avatar
The full time employee that maintains contact with hiring companies does in fact provide interested students with a multi-page spreadsheet of all hiring companies and the specific recruiter with phone and email contact information. The ‘alumni’ is free to contact the recruiter themselves and/or work with her in contacting. The school receives no financial benefit from placement of the student/alum.

In other words, they're giving you a list of names and numbers and telling you, "Good luck" because that's all they can do. The school has absolutely no say or influence over which drivers a trucking company is willing to hire.

I agree with Old School 100% - any job placement services a private school offers is simply a marketing gimmick. There isn't anything they can say or do to positively influence any company's hiring decisions. My dog could provide the same job opportunities your school can.

This carrier does train their drivers in-house, however, they prefer having the student complete the first few hurdles, including the CDL-A license, before in-house training begins.

Then why aren't you going through their training program, and why wouldn't they want to train their own drivers? Doesn't it stand to reason they'd want to make sure you're the right guy for the job and that the training was done right?

Unfortunately all of the theories you have about your schooling are logical, but untrue. It's not that a private school can't do a good enough job to help you get your CDL , but Paid CDL Training Programs are the best way to go for a long list of reasons:

Why I Prefer Paid CDL Training Over Private CDL Training

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.
David John's Comment
member avatar

At the end of the day, I feel I agree with your position on paid training. The driver benefits, the company is invested in the process. I will have to re-read your links to verify that I have followed your advice, I thought I had.

What I did not realize, if that is what you are suggesting, is that you hold a position in which a new driver should only choose a company that can and will do 100% of the driver training in-house.

In my case the company has some driver training performed by a third party.

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.

Brett Aquila's Comment
member avatar

What I did not realize, if that is what you are suggesting, is that you hold a position in which a new driver should only choose a company that can and will do 100% of the driver training in-house.

In my case the company has some driver training performed by a third party.

No, I wouldn't go that far. Private schools can get the job done but generally speaking not as well as paid programs do. Now if the company is paying for your training and you'll be under contract with them then that's a great thing because they have a vested interest in your success. It would be ideal if the training was done by the company instead of an outside school but that's really nothing to be concerned about. I'm sure it will work out fine either way.

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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