From The Corporate Environment To Trucking

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Brett Aquila's Comment
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I know a lot of you got started in trucking after spending many years in the corporate environment. It's something I get asked about a lot and I'd like to write an article about it. I'd love some insights from those of you who came from the corporate environment and have been driving for a little while now. Even a few months in trucking is enough experience to share your insights, and I'd really appreciate hearing what you have to say.

Imagine someone came up to you and said, "I'm thinking about leaving my 20 career in the corporate world to become a truck driver. I'm sick of the cubicle, the politics, and the pressure. I feel like I want something different in my life and trucking seems like it might be a cool job."

What would you say? What experiences would you share?

How would you help someone decide if making the jump from the corporate world to trucking might be a good idea?

What was your experience? Your biggest challenges? The best and the worst parts of the change?

Most importantly, was it the right move for you or not, and why?

HOS:

Hours Of Service

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

Hey Brett-

Great article topic! I may fit the bill for your request. My story...

Was a TV producer for 15 years and just needed a break in 2015. I loved driving and always wanted to see the country- did extensive research on Trucking Truth for a few months and quit my comfy TV studio and enrolled at my local truck driving school much to the dismay of family and friends.

(Shameless plug to dig up my training diaries on TT).

Was at Prime for 9 months and had to leave due to a parent getting sick and needing to be home to take care of them. I went to back to freelance TV producing but missed the open road so rejoined Western Express for 4 months doing NE regional in 2017.

During that Time, A freelance client offered a full time Producer position was negotiated with an almost six-figure salary that was too good to turn down so I came off the road again.

I still stalk the TT forums weekly and like to keep up with industry news and just this month renewed my medical card to keep my CDL updated.

Learned so much from driving that extended to life that you read often on the site. For me...

1) Time management / planning. From trip planning to HOS being proactive and anticipatory will give you an edge in any industry.

2) A positive attitude gets you farther. Smiling and making a joke with folks at a guard shack or shipping clerk makes a difference in getting you in/out faster. Same goes for the office- you catch more flies with honey than vinegar.

3) “you get what you put into any job”. If you do the bare minimum your FM will give you the ‘junky’ low mile loads. If you push yourself and strive to max out your hours / miles and help your FM out to prove yourself, you be rewarded. Same for my gig now- more I put into a show, the better the outcome.

Biggest accomplishment : 3600 mile week!

Regrets- I regret coming off the road before my year was up and learned a lot about my self from the solitude. Would love to do local weekend work to get back on the road and think about it often. In the end it was a bigger pay check that lured me off the road, but do see myself going back OTR sometime in the future so no regrets at all for making the leap to trucking.

Good luck on the article, feel feee to ping me and thanks for all you do on TT!

I know a lot of you got started in trucking after spending many years in the corporate environment. It's something I get asked about a lot and I'd like to write an article about it. I'd love some insights from those of you who came from the corporate environment and have been driving for a little while now. Even a few months in trucking is enough experience to share your insights, and I'd really appreciate hearing what you have to say.

Imagine someone came up to you and said, "I'm thinking about leaving my 20 career in the corporate world to become a truck driver. I'm sick of the cubicle, the politics, and the pressure. I feel like I want something different in my life and trucking seems like it might be a cool job."

What would you say? What experiences would you share?

How would you help someone decide if making the jump from the corporate world to trucking might be a good idea?

What was your experience? Your biggest challenges? The best and the worst parts of the change?

Most importantly, was it the right move for you or not, and why?

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.

Fm:

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.
G-Town's Comment
member avatar

Brett wrote:

Imagine someone came up to you and said, "I'm thinking about leaving my 20 career in the corporate world to become a truck driver. I'm sick of the cubicle, the politics, and the pressure. I feel like I want something different in my life and trucking seems like it might be a cool job."

What would you say? What experiences would you share?

Really great topic. Considering my past, I'd say this is something I can (hopefully) provide some insight on and guidance.

The very first thing I would ask them is; "why they think it's a cool job"?

Depending on their answer or lack of one, I'd inquire further and guide them accordingly and most likely recommend reading Becoming A Truck Driver: The Raw Truth About Truck Driving. Brett's book removes all of the false information, set's accurate expectations and delivers the facts in plain, easily understood English. I actually refer back to his book from time to time to provide on-going confirmation.

So...yes... "you are interested in becoming a Big Rig Driver?" I'd ask several qualifying questions, as follows:

- Do you have a relatively good driving record? Kind of speaks for itself. I know many, many corporate executives who drive like their tail feathers are on fire. I actually had an experience riding with the CEO of the company I was employed with who at times would use the berm to pass slower traffic. After the first time I saw him do this, there was no second time. Right off the bat, if the individual is an arrogant and highly aggressive driver I'd urge them NOT to attempt this. A learned behavior that has become chronic isn't easily unlearned. It's possible...but not without some consternation.

- Do you love to drive? The answer to this must be a resounding YES. I mean, can it be anything else? If they hesitate, again I'd suggest to rethink the "Big Rig Driver" desire after taking a very long car trip of at least 9-10 hours. If the answer is yes, I'd still dig a little deeper asking for some affirmation.

- Are you really good at time management? I'd like to suggest "that"; "just because a person is highly successful in their corporate life, their time management skills may be somewhat lacking". I've lived it folks... If that wasn't the case, software development projects would not need layers of project management to ensure the team stays on budget and on-track. I think you all know that time management for a top performing truck driver is at the core of their success.

- Do you like to spend hours and hours alone? And if so, how do you know that? This is a big one for most corporate warriors. Most of what occurs in very large companies requires a tremendous amount of interaction with other human beings. Even contemporary software development, which when I started was typically associated with the socially compromised among us, is all about getting stuff done within a team environment. It's uncommon to spend prolonged periods of time void of human interaction.

- Are you patient? Yup. Again, we all know this job, especially in the very beginning requires the patience of Job (pronounced Joeb, an Old Testament ible reference). This is also going to be a total paradigm shift for a veteran business professional. Corporate mavens became accustom to success and likely have forgotten all of the failure and sweat required to achieve where they are. Learning how-to drive a semi and becoming proficient at it, is the great equalizer. It does not discriminate or favor anyone.

- Are you able to maintain an even keel, not becoming overly excited or depressed when something really good happens or something not so good happens. Controlled emotions in the face of adversity. Think logically, not emotionally. This hold true for anyone. However I believe this is one area a successful business person might have a slight edge, because they (we were) are conditioned to think rationally and logically.

- Do you like to solve problems? Simple...we do a whole lot of that on this job. Regardless of who created them. It's usually up to us to provide the fix. All of the really good drivers on this forum come up Aces in this department. Again business people, at least the many I have worked with in my past career, are usually very good at this. Perhaps the only caveat I'd offer; "are you good at solving problems on your own, without the luxury of delegating it to others". There is not much delegation of responsibility out here. The proverbial buck stops right smack in the middle of our steering wheels.

and finally this... (laughs to self)

- Do you think you are humble? If not, can you be? All we need to do is look at some of the headstrong, know-it-alls that have graced this forum with their superior knowledge and worldly wisdom to realize how critical it is to be humble. For anyone who has spent time in the corporate world, I am sure you can think of at least 1 person that believed; "the entire universe revolved around every breath they took". This one thing is possibly a trait that might escape many business people. Like I have said to more than one person, former colleagues that thought trucking might be cool...never forget where you came from. Be humble and accept the fact in the beginning you know nothing and that at least during school & training no one wants to hear how smart you think you are.

Rob D.'s Comment
member avatar

G-Town,

Check, Check, Check, Check, Check, Check, Check, Humility: Working on this one (I know you will not miss the irony of my self assessment for the other traits)

G-Town's Comment
member avatar

G-Town,

Check, Check, Check, Check, Check, Check, Check, Humility: Working on this one (I know you will not miss the irony of my self assessment for the other traits)

The true irony...

We never stop working on any of the things I mentioned.

TXGooner's Comment
member avatar

Well , after lurking for a long time, this thread got me to register as it is the exact topic I find myself in. I have a good paying corporate job but looking to possibly change that into something entirely different. My two biggest hurdles are the family and the money. Unfortunately, those hurdles are personal and can't be made by anyone but me and my family. In the meantime, I really enjoy all the stories from people entering this career from all walks of life!

If it were 20 years earlier though....

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.
Bill R.'s Comment
member avatar

Brett,
I would really like to read something like this, especially as it is exactly where I'm sitting right now...coporate job and politics getting older by the minute...looking for something new.

G-Town,
Excellent response, as usual. Great questions/responses to get one thinking over this new career change we are considering.

I'm in a very similar situation to TXGooner with family and money (college tuition), but I do have an end point in sight when my daughter graduates next year. Family is supportive and understand what I am hoping to do with the new career. I just have to stick it out that long.

Getting my patience and humility practice in...don't tell 'em what I think. Just get the job done and make sure my customers are receiving great service from the work I do.

smile.gif

Looking forward to more replies and the article, eventually.
Bill R.

Marc Lee's Comment
member avatar

Great stuff as always G-Town.

thank-you.gif

Seabee-J's Comment
member avatar

I think the biggest challenge for some of the corporate people going into this type of work would be the humility . I know that you are at the mercy of shippers receivers and pretty much everyone else to get your job done and that will affect your performance. I certainly dont come from a corporate environment but mid to high level workers are used to having a lot of weight so going to this type of industry were it is substantially reduced would be a huge culture shock , I'd think .

Shipper:

The customer who is shipping the freight. This is where the driver will pick up a load and then deliver it to the receiver or consignee.

Bruce K.'s Comment
member avatar

There’s a lot of good points made in previous comments, especially the very comprehensive analysis by G-Town.

I was never a “corporate “ guy, but I did run my own business for many years. My greatest pleasure was being on the job site and swinging a hammer. But the office part of the business was inescapable and required steady attention. So I got used to wearing two hats most of the time.

The modern day truck driver has been called the last American cowboy. I believe there is some truth to that analogy. If that’s the case, then any corporate guy going into driving will need a carefully crafted independent spirit and a sense of adventure. And there are many such people bottled up in offices just waiting to escape.

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