My Journey To Roehl

Topic 24053 | Page 1

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Aubrey M.'s Comment
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I know Professor X just did a diary on this company, but I'm adding a bit by starting from the pre-hire.

RESEARCH AND REASONING Use the following as a guide, but use it in the pursuit of your own research into this profession. I'm not advertising this as the "right way," it's just the way I did it and the things I learned along the way.

Before reading here on TT I was of the pay my own way and go to a CDL school mindset. Through reading here and personal research I changed my mind and realized trucking is a whole other world compared to what most people are used to, not just the job of trucking, but the training and hiring process nowadays. So, I started looking at paid schooling through major companies (research for yourself the more than convincing reasons on Trucking Truth of why to go through paid company training).

Despite my learning from Trucking Truth, I continue to have the CYA mindset as far as work, so I wanted no limitations from any paid schooling I attended, this greatly narrowed the fields depending on the state. I'm from Michigan, and Michigan has a manual restriction on CDL's if one does not test on a manual. I realize that most major companies are going to automatics or automateds, but many smaller companies (who run dedicated or regional routes giving drivers more home-time) buy the used trucks from major companies, or the cheaper trucks...which are manuals. You can have the manual restriction lifted at a later time by re-testing in a manual truck if you want, but in my opinion, why have to deal with re-testing!

Along the same line of reasoning, Though many schools do not require a CLP prior to beginning, I studied my butt off here on the "Trucking Truth Higher Learning CDL Training" to take the CLP tests and endorsements before starting any school or training. Just taking the CDL test (general knowledge, air brakes, and combination vehicle sections) is cheap. Endorsements tack on extra money (for your full license but not CLP), but it is only the HazMat endorsement that is somewhat pricey. I assume the cost is standard; fingerprinting and background check is $86 here in Michigan for the Hazmat. The CLP is $35. Even schools that require a CLP typically do not require endorsements. However, having the endorsements can result in a higher CPM (whether you actually use the endorsement or not), and also allow you to transport more varied loads, as a trainee as well as a solo driver.

At the same facility you get fingerprinted for the Hazmat endorsement, you can also obtain your TWIC card. The TWIC card is needed as clearance for anyone hauling intermodal from ports (or other freight from ports). The cost for fingerprinting and clearance for TWIC was $126. TWIC is not an endorsement, it is just a security clearance to enter ports; it is more akin to fast pass for traveling from the USA to Canada and vise versa. There is no written test for the TWIC or Fast Pass. As with the endorsements, the TWIC and fast pass are typically not required to enter any training school, but can increase your CPM pay, even as a rookie.

Some schools (like Roehl) require you to obtain your CLP prior to entering/being hired and some do not. Regardless, from what I've learned, if you have the time and minimal funds, just use the resources from this site to obtain your CLP. Even if the company/school you attend does not have this requirement it is a feather in your cap and you will be much farther ahead of your Schools are fast-paced and throw a lot of knowledge at you in a short time; the book learning combined with the intimidation of trying to control and safely maneuver a tractor and trailer can overwhelm many; do what you can to make it less stressful and easier on yourself.

Back to choice of schools, my decision of wanting to test on a manual transmission truck narrowed me down to Roehl and Swift. From here I'm not going to offer my reasons for choosing one company over the other because they have no bearing on success, nor offer any benefit, and excluding my reasons does not create any limitations on the individual who chooses one school over the other. I say this with one caveat, Swift (over 26,000 drivers) is by far the larger company and can certainly offer more varied and numerous types of driving accounts than Roehl (over 1900 drivers); Roehl has dry van national and regional as well as refrigerated and flatbed, but Swift (given their size and number of accounts) can offer similar and much more.

I only applied with Roehl, so don't do as I did and put all your eggs in one basket. Roehl was my first choice and I have the luxury and mindset of earning an income until being hired by an acceptable company. I still had fallback companies...Swift and Millis were my alternatives. It is far better to apply to many and have your pick of the litter.

Next: THE APPLICATION PROCESS

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.

HAZMAT:

Hazardous Materials

Explosive, flammable, poisonous or otherwise potentially dangerous cargo. Large amounts of especially hazardous cargo are required to be placarded under HAZMAT regulations

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.

Combination Vehicle:

A vehicle with two separate parts - the power unit (tractor) and the trailer. Tractor-trailers are considered combination vehicles.

Intermodal:

Transporting freight using two or more transportation modes. An example would be freight that is moved by truck from the shipper's dock to the rail yard, then placed on a train to the next rail yard, and finally returned to a truck for delivery to the receiving customer.

In trucking when you hear someone refer to an intermodal job they're normally talking about hauling shipping containers to and from the shipyards and railyards.

Dry Van:

A trailer or truck that that requires no special attention, such as refrigeration, that hauls regular palletted, boxed, or floor-loaded freight. The most common type of trailer in trucking.

CPM:

Cents Per Mile

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

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.

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.

OWI:

Operating While Intoxicated

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.

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.

Aubrey M.'s Comment
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THE APPLICATION PROCESS

This is the application process I wen through for Roehl.

There was a general (basically an interest questionnaire and info process) on Roehl's website.

After filling out the form on their website I was contacted by a recruiter who asked for further information.

After this point there is a series of calls and emails between you and the recruiter to gather information such as: work history for the past three years, residence history for the past three years, current job, current residence, how you found out about Roehl, why you want to work for Roehl, Why you want to be a trucker, and when you can start school. (Roehl starts new schools/classes every Monday). You'll also be asked to provide three personal references via email at this time. The references can be family, friends, co-workers, etc. and must be provided before a scheduled phone interview that is the next step if you have already tested for your CLP.

If you have not tested for your CLP , then this is your next hurdle.

If you already have tested for your CLP then a date is set for your phone interview. The phone interview further talks about your work history, interest in becoming a trucker, path to Roehl, etc.. Breaks in work history or any other red flags that pop up are talked about at this time as well. You are selling yourself to the recruiter at this time and trying to convince them you are worth taking a risk on and hiring.

*NOTE* DO NOT PAY FOR YOUR MEDICAL CERTIFICATION PHYSICAL -- Roehl will schedule and pay for your medical exam to obtain your CLP after a successful phone interview. Personally, I took my CDL exam as well as endorsements prior to applying to Roehl and passed everything but did not get my CLP because I had no medical certification. After a successful phone interview with the Roehl recruiter, I was scheduled for a physical....paid for and scheduled by Roehl.

THE PHYSICAL - The biggies that you need to be ready for for the physical are: blood pressure = less than 140/90, no sugar/diabetes issues, no red/green color blindness, vision at least 20/40 corrected or uncorrected. Additionally, you must hear a forced whisper in both ears from 5 feet away, extend your arms outward to the sides, extend arms outward in front of you-close your eyes-touch your nose with either hand, extend your fingers, make a fist with both hands, raise both hands and push with your forearms, squat, stand on your tippy-toes, be checked for hernias, checked for breathing issues, have ears, mouth, and pupils checked, and bend over to touch or try to touch your toes.

For the blood pressure, you can be tested up to three times. First is sitting normally. If you're high, they will test again in the same position after you've been there a while (to calm down). If you're still high, they will have you lay down for a period and then take your blood pressure. "White Coat Syndrome" is common and was spoken about in a post on here yesterday...basically, a person gets stressed about being at the doctor's for a physical and their blood pressure shoots up. This is known to medical staff and is why you get three goes at it. Learn to breath and relax.

Roehl also requires both a urine and hair sample drug test.

You pass the physical (not counting drug tests at this point) and you get your medical certificate and long form. You can get a 2 year, 1 year, 6 month, and 3 month certification, mainly dependent upon your blood pressure reading. They bring you the medical certification and long form immediately after your exam.

I did not encounter this, but was aware of the issue. More and more companies, including Roehl, are looking at BMI and neck size to assess people at risk for sleep apnea. My knowledge of it is if you have a bmi that is considered obese and a neck size that measures over 17" then a doctor may require a sleep study before giving you a medical certification or may limit your certification (less than 2 year) until you complete a sleep study. Roehl requires a 2 year medical certification before you can be enrolled in school. This is different than obtaining your CLP; you can obtain your CLP with a medical certification that is less than 2 years. With Roehl, the cost of the sleep study is on you, and until you complete it, you will not be enrolled or accepted into the training program.

NEXT: AFTER PHYSICAL

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.

Sleep Apnea:

A physical disorder in which you have pauses in your breathing, or take shallow breaths, during sleep. These pauses can last anywhere from a few seconds to a few minutes. Normal breathing will usually resume, sometimes with a loud choking sound or snort.

In obstructive sleep apnea, your airways become blocked or collapse during sleep, causing the pauses and shallow breathing.

It is a chronic condition that will require ongoing management. It affects about 18 million people in the U.S.

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.

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.

Aubrey M.'s Comment
member avatar

AFTER THE PHYSICAL

After you pass the physical, you go back to SOS and get your actual CLP.

After getting your CLP you upload everything to the "tenstreet" website for Roehl.

You'll upload the front and back of your CLP, your medical certification card, and your medical long form.

This gets you to the job offer point.

Roehl then sends you a job offer, telling you again about the $7000 obligation you're stepping into as well as setting a start date for school, work division, and pay rate (37.5 cpm for regional , 38.5 cpm for national; plus fuel bonus, hazmat bonus, safety bonus, etc). You also get paperwork thereafter for releases allowing them to check on your credit history, residence history, work history, etc.. They will also clarify or ask for any missing information up to this point. For example, they were missing some of my work history dates. As far as dates, you're initially asked for month, day, and year, but on the confirmation sheets I received it was only month and year listed. Regardless, I'd say know the days as well.

That's as far as I am at the moment. I'm scheduled to start on the 31st. I can't guarantee I'll post during the actual training, but I'll continue with this after for sure. Warning, it'll be bland, to the point, stating what went on in training and not my take on any person, trainer, personal freak outs, failures, or successes. I'm writing this strictly for informational purposes about the program and what it takes to enter and pass through it.

HAZMAT:

Hazardous Materials

Explosive, flammable, poisonous or otherwise potentially dangerous cargo. Large amounts of especially hazardous cargo are required to be placarded under HAZMAT regulations

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.

CPM:

Cents Per Mile

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

OWI:

Operating While Intoxicated

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.

Pete M.'s Comment
member avatar

Aubrey,

I, too, read Prof. X posts and will be looking fwd to reading your entries since Roehl will be one of the companies that I will apply to when I begin that process. TIA.

Professor X's Comment
member avatar

Very nice! I just noticed this thread ^,^

Thanks for the shout-out, I hope my experience helped, and I hope what Aubrey contributes here can be a benefit to many more. I am now a solo driver in the Flatbed division! On my first load cross country right now. Going to do a 34-hour and deliver on Thursday (unless I am told I can drop off early ^,^).

Cheers!

-Professor X

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