Walmart Private Fleet

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Turtle's Comment
member avatar

As most of you know, I've already made it through the selection process, and am now a driver for Walmart. But I took notes along the way, and wanted to share them in hopes that they will help someone along the way. I'll add more as time permits.

9/22 2030hrs

After months of research and internal debate, I took the plunge and sent in my application to be a driver in Walmart's private fleet.

It took a lot for me to do this. As some of you may know, I've been a flatbedder with Prime for three years at this point, and they have been absolutely great to me. I have nothing bad at all to say about Prime. But in the end, they just don't have the long-term package I'm looking for.

But I digress, this post is about Walmart, and the process to get in. I know this site is mostly designed for new drivers coming into the industry, but I thought this info might be helpful to somebody, someday.

First, as of this writing, to even be considered for a driving position at Walmart, you need to meet the following requirements:

- A minimum of 30 months full-time Class A tractor-trailer driving experience within the 3 years prior to sending your application.

- No more than 2 moving violations in the past 3 years, personal or commercial.

- No serious traffic violations within the past 3 years.

- No DWI , DUI , OUI, or reckless driving involving alcohol/drugs convictions within the last 10 years.

- No preventable accidents while operating a commercial motor vehicle within the last 3 years.

- No preventable DOT reportable accidents while operating a commercial vehicle within the last 10 years.

- No preventable accident resulting in a fatality or catastrophic injury in driving history (commercial motor vehicle).

There you have it. That's what it takes to even be looked at. As it was explained to me, in reality they are more strict in their selection process than what is written above. Those are just the minimum requirements. In some ways it doesn't look all that hard. But one little preventable accident or speeding ticket can squash it all for you and send you back to square one.

I've been fortunate enough to have avoided any of the typical rookie mishaps, maintaining a perfect driving/safety/service record. Not even a scratch has been put on my truck, and I owe that to a constant effort to be safe. The lessons we so often teach here on safety are critical in helping you keep your license clean, and your record clear. The benefit in doing so is having an opportunity such as I now have.

So on to the application process:

The online application itself is pretty simple and straightforward. You fill out your basic info, and answer yes/no to the requirements listed above.

You're required to list your previous 10 years record of employment, with names and dates.

They ask approximately how many miles you've driven.

They don't ask about criminal background at this point.

That's pretty much it. Quick and simple. Once you're done, it tells you to simply wait for a phone call. In my research, I've heard of them taking anywhere from 24 hours to a month to call.

With my finger poised over the submit button, I took several moments to take a final collection of my thoughts, if you will. Clicking submit will set into motion a series of events that may once again change my life entirely. I'm a creature of habit, one that resists change. If I had to stay with Prime for the rest of my career, I could be comfortable with that. I do love the company.

But this is an opportunity to be in Walmart's private fleet.

*click

Commercial Motor Vehicle:

A commercial motor vehicle is any vehicle used in commerce to transport passengers or property with either:

  • A gross vehicle weight rating of 26,001 pounds or more
  • A gross combination weight rating of 26,001 pounds or more which includes a towed unit with a gross vehicle weight rating of more than 10,000 pounds
  • DOT:

    Department Of Transportation

    A department of the federal executive branch responsible for the national highways and for railroad and airline safety. It also manages Amtrak, the national railroad system, and the Coast Guard.

    State and Federal DOT Officers are responsible for commercial vehicle enforcement. "The truck police" you could call them.

    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.

    HOS:

    Hours Of Service

    HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.

    DUI:

    Driving Under the Influence

    DWI:

    Driving While Intoxicated

    OWI:

    Operating While Intoxicated

Turtle's Comment
member avatar

9/23 0902hrs.

I had just dropped off my load at the receiver, and was literally less than a half-mile away when I got the phone call. Seriously, in just over 12 hours they had me on the horn.

Even though I had my headset on, I pulled over at the nearest opportunity. Luckily I was still on a little side road with wide shoulders and minimal traffic.

After a brief introduction, Danny from Walmart Transportation asked me to confirm that I met all the requirements listed previously. No problem there. He then asked about my description of the job duties I listed on the application. You see, I said I was a Class A OTR driver/CDL Instructor. He wanted to know if I taught in a classroom setting. I explained how Prime does training a little differently than some companies, and that all of my instruction was on the job. He once again wanted me to confirm I didn't teach in a classroom. I can only assume he wanted to make sure that I had at least 30 months of driving experience, not partially spent in a classroom.

After that, he wanted to set up a time for a more thorough phone interview later in the day. Being that I was headed to the Pittston terminal at the time, I gave myself plenty of time cushion, and asked if 1300hrs would be ok. He agreed.

At exactly 1300hrs, my phone was ringing, and I was ready.

This phone interview was a lot more in depth, but he still asked a lot of the same questions answered on the application. He went a little deeper into my employment background, asking a series of detailed questions on what I did at Prime as well as in my former career.

Additionally, he went over several of the details pertinent to the specific DC I'd be working out of. ie: area of operation, schedules, duties, average pay, etc. I had to verbally agree to each detail with a yes or no.

Next, he went over the onboarding/orientation process. If I'm accepted, they'll fly me to Bentonville, AR for a week of orientation, involving PowerPoints, pre-trip, road tests, etc. Only at the conclusion of that week will I know if I am officially a part of the team. Once again, I had to verbally respond to each point.

Next up, he grilled me on my driving record. The tiniest little infraction would possibly exclude me from consideration. He was very clear about wanting me to disclose every little thing that might possibly come up on a record check.

The whole conversation to this point took roughly 30 minutes. Finally, he uttered the words I so wanted to hear:

"Ok Turtle, pending verification of everything you've told me, I now extend to you a conditional job offer, and an invitation to attend orientation."

Yessss!

He offered an orientation start date of 10/14, but I have an important dentist appointment that day that I can't get out of. So I'm now officially scheduled to start 10/28.

Lastly, he told me of the 3 emails I'd be receiving immediately following the conclusion of the interview.

Pay attention to this part, because it may catch you off-guard, as it did me.

The 1st email was directing me how to get a pre-employment drug screen and DOT physical. No big deal, right? You click a link and enter a zip code where you would like to take the physical and drug test. It then provides a list of facilities within that area that are in Walmart's network. You pick an office, and they will bill Walmart directly.

The catch is you only have 48 hrs to schedule the test, and 7 days to take the tests. Failure to do so will be regarded as a refusal! Pay attention to where you are and where you will be when you send in the application. By chance, I was at my terminal having some work done to my truck. So simply by chance I had the time to get the tests done the very next day. While my truck was in the shop, I hopped an Uber down to the local Concentra. Easy peasy.

If I had been out in the middle of BFE with no clue where I was headed next, it could have been way more difficult to get the tests scheduled and completed in the required time frame.

Once again, failure to get the tests done in the 7 days will be listed as a refusal in Walmart's system. Plan accordingly before submitting an application.

Now re-read those last three paragraphs again. Make sure you are, or will be in a convenient location before starting the application process.

The 2nd and 3rd emails were about your criminal background and employment history, respectively. This is where you need to disclose everything, in detail. HireRight does the employment background, and I forget who does the criminal. But I'm sure both are extensive.

In the criminal portion, the question asked is:

"Have you ever been convicted of a crime?"

Not just a felony or misdemeanor. ANY crime. Not in the last 5 years, not in the last 10 years. They ask if you've EVER been convicted.

They also list detailed explanations of when and where you could exclude or omit something, on a state-by-state basis. Examples of expungements or sealed records are given.

The employment history is typical of any application. Before joining Prime, I was a self-employed contractor. For that history they ask for copies of beginning and ending 1099s, as well as a Schedule C. This is only to help in the verification process.

So now I wait, with the required tests completed, and background checks authorized and underway. I should expect to receive a follow-up email sometime soon, and another one by 10/23 confirming my flight reservation to Arkansas.

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.

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.

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.

DOT:

Department Of Transportation

A department of the federal executive branch responsible for the national highways and for railroad and airline safety. It also manages Amtrak, the national railroad system, and the Coast Guard.

State and Federal DOT Officers are responsible for commercial vehicle enforcement. "The truck police" you could call them.

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.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.

OWI:

Operating While Intoxicated

Turtle's Comment
member avatar

10/3 1615 hrs

I had a little scare yesterday. While looking through my emails for contact info for the Walmart recruiter, I noticed a line in one of the emails that said:

"Within 48 Hours of receipt of this email, you must click the link below and fill in the I-9 form."

Uh... the email was sent 10 days ago, and I never clicked that link, or filled out that form... wtf are ya thinking, Turtle?!

I quickly filled out and submitted the form, then fired off an email apologizing profusely for overlooking the requirement. My recruiter Danny called me a few minutes later. "Nah, don't sweat it. No big deal. You'll have to fill it out again when you get here, anyway."

Cool, whew.

Since I had them on the phone, I asked him if my overall chance of hire was still looking good, now that all the background checks should have been completed. "Let me check." he says. (Keyboard tap tap tapping)

"What? This can't be right. Rich, you're not going to believe this, but the company doing the work history check says they can't find Prime."

"Do you mean they can't find me listed as an employee of Prime?"

"No, I mean they can't find Prime at all. As in they can't find the company at all. So they can't call Prime to verify your employment history. Obviously somebody is making a mistake. Don't worry though, we'll get it straightened out, if I have to call them myself."

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.

Turtle's Comment
member avatar

10/4 1300hrs

Although still over three weeks or so away from starting the new job, I gave my notice today.

Some will say that a formal notice isn't really necessary in trucking. Just turn your truck in and move on. Others will say that giving notice is a mistake, because the company will then limit your miles or stop caring about you. Regardless, I won't let those myths allow me to be unprofessional. I hold Prime and my fleet manager in very high regard. They've always done right by me, and I will return the respect given to me.

In the phone call I laid out my plan of departure, which was kind of tricky. You see, I have scheduled hometime coming up, and wanted to take that time to mostly empty my truck. As a flatbedder, I have a lot of gear, and at Prime we purchase that gear ourselves. Even though Prime will buy that gear back from us, I'd rather keep some of it at home. Additionally, I have all my personal stuff that needs to come out (fridge, micro, clothes, etc).

Following hometime, that leaves just over a week to get me loaded back to Springfield, where I can turn in the truck. By planning ahead, my dispatcher knows I won't have my tarps or most of my securement equipment. So he knows to plan accordingly when choosing a return load for me. They're being very accommodating in helping this exit strategy goes smoothly. Communication has been key in this. I already have my flight home from Springfield reserved for the 25th, and they are aware of this also.

In the conversation with my dispatcher, I also requested to cash in my unused vacation time, to the tune of $700. No problem, he says. It'll be in my next check.

Oh, and my next load immediately following the phone call...a 2300 mile gravy run. So much for limiting my miles.

I guess what I'm trying to show here is just how well they're treating me, even after knowing I'm leaving. We've maintained a solid, mutually profitable partnership over the previous three years, they want to send me out with respect. It should go without saying that I'm always welcome back at Prime, but he said it anyway.

Dispatcher:

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.

Fleet 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.

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.

Turtle's Comment
member avatar

10/23 1830hrs

I pulled my last load for Prime today. Now I'm back at the terminal , and will go through the process of cleaning out and turning in my truck tomorrow. Most of the emptying out was done when I was home last. There are only a few bare essentials remaining in the truck to deal with. No big deal.

I'd be lying if I said I wasn't a little sad about leaving this company. I've called this place home for the last 3 years, and these people have been my family. It's hard to say goodbye to something that's been such a central part of my life.

10/24 0930hrs

My Walmart recruiter had told me to expect an email sometime yesterday containing my travel itinerary. When it didn't come I was a little concerned. A quick call to him allayed my fears however. They were a little behind, he said, and I should receive the info today. No sooner did we hang up did I hear the notification beep for an incoming email. Now my travel to orientation is secured. One more step.

The rest of the day was filled with a final emptying and cleaning of my truck. That too was bittersweet. That truck was also my home, and a good home it was. 2yrs 8months, 48 states, 370k miles, and countless adventures came from that truck. My wife and I will forever remember the great times we had through our experiences travelling this fascinating country within her . It may sound crazy, but I'll miss the ol girl.

10/25 0825hrs

Sitting in the Springfield airport. After a final walk around Sprimo, I boarded the shuttle for the short trip here. Goodbye Prime

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.

Turtle's Comment
member avatar

10/27 0800hrs

After flying home for a couple days, I'm now on a plane bound for orientation in Bentonville, AR.

The butterflies are showing a strong game today. Although not quite as bad as when I first left for Prime, the nervousness still exists. This should be a slam dunk, but getting into Walmart is rumored to be difficult. Making it this far hasn't exactly been easy, so I'm hoping the worst is behind me. Paying my dues as I have has put me in the fortunate position of not having to worry too much about not making the cut. If for some reason I don't pass muster, they'll fly me back home and I'll simply go to the next company on my wish list. But even though the pretrip, driving, and backing tests at Walmart are reportedly very strict, I'm confident enough in my skills to not be too concerned.

The travel costs for orientation are all covered by Walmart. Drive time/mileage, parking costs at the airport, and meals will be reimbursed with receipt. Once I arrive in Bentonville, the hotel provides a full breakfast, lunch is catered, and I'm to be issued a $100 debit card meant to cover dinners mon-fri. Any unspent money on the card at the end of the week is mine to keep.

1200hrs

"Hey, are you going to Walmart?"

"Yup, you?

3 rows up: "Yeah me too"

Across the aisle: "No kidding, looks like a lot of us are going."

It never dawned on me that this little puddle-jumper of a plane would have several of us hopeful Walmart drivers aboard. It makes sense when I think of it, though. They bring in recruits from all over the country, just like any other trucking company. Making friends already.

1700hrs

The shuttle picked us up at the airport and took us first to the hotel to drop our bags off, then on to a human resources center where we filled out some paperwork. Basically we were just signing paper copies of the forms we already filled out electronically in the application process. They gave us our ID badges, debit cards, and instructions on when / where to report for the next day's activities.

Breakfast at the hotel begins at 0600, the shuttle will arrive at 0645 to bring us wherever it is tomorrow's fun will be held.

OWI:

Operating While Intoxicated

Turtle's Comment
member avatar

10/28 0600hrs Day 1

Had breakfast with Joe, Steve, and Li at the hotel. We've sort of been hanging together since meeting at the airport. Joe actually lives within 20 miles of me, and we'll be going to the same DC. That's of course if we make it through orientation.

At 0645 we, along with the rest of the candidates, were herded into shuttles for the short trip to the training center. Once there, we were corralled by the back door for several minutes, unsure of why we were made to wait outside in the dark. When they finally opened the doors, we first heard booming loud music coming from inside, and then were led through a gauntlet of about 30 or so cheering staff, managers, and trainers, each shaking our hands and slapping our backs. The positive energy and welcoming atmosphere was intoxicating and overwhelming. What a way to set the tone and start this process! It immediately relaxed everyone and put us all in a good mood.

After a few welcoming speeches and pep talks, they laid out the basic outline of how the week will progress. All testing and classes will be condensed into 3 days here. Half of each day in class, the other half in skill assessments (pretrip, backing, and road tests). Skills tests on the first day are simply to see what you are bringing to the table. No feedback will be given. Just show them what you can do.

Split into two groups, some go to the upstairs classroom for PowerPoint sessions on company policies, safety procedures, drug & alcohol rules etc. The others wait to be called for skills tests.

As for the skills tests, I will say this: Thank heavens I'm pretty well versed and practiced in the pretrip. A lot of drivers coming here are not, and it shows. We aren't able to watch the tests, but drivers are coming back to the building with very long faces. It's apparent that a good pretrip is nothing more than a distant memory at most for some of them. The best word I could use to describe how they looked upon their return is "humbled".

If you learn nothing else from this diary, learn this: Come prepared. Learn your pre-trip before you get here. Plus, know how to back and drive a truck. You will be given ZERO time to practice before the tests are administered. You are expected to know what you're doing BEFORE you get here.

After the morning classes we were treated to a catered lunch. Huge trays of meat & chicken fajitas and all the fixins. Fruit, veggies, snacks, sweets, sodas and coffee. You name it, they had it and plenty of it. All free all day. They warned us that we may gain weight this week with all the food they provide.

After lunch I moved downstairs for the skills tests. First up: backing.

At first glance, the backing station looks quite simple. Two trailers parked 12ft apart, and you have to manuever your trailer from a parked position into the space between the other two. It's meant to mimic a typical backing scenario at a Walmart store. In reality it isn't very easy at all. Over half the class on the first day bumped one of the trailers. Confined by cones, the space in which we have to maneuver is pretty tight. No sweat for me today though, I got it safely in the box. The instructors merely observed and took notes without comment or feedback. Note: They time you, and want it done in a "reasonable" amount of time.

The pretrip station is nothing out of the ordinary. Compared to the way I taught it, it's actually easier in my opinion. BUT, there is far less tolerance for missed items as compared to a standard CDL exam. One difference is you pretrip the truck first, then couple to the trailer and pretrip it second. Afterward you uncouple the combo and pull the truck forward a few feet. At the end of my pretrip, I got a simple "good job" from the instructor. No other feedback. Note: They time you, and want it completed in 30 minutes or less.

The road test is where it got dicey for me.

Walmart currently operates mostly manual transmissions. Rumor has it they plan to switch over to autoshifts one truck at a time over the "next few years". If you have a restricted CDL, you aren't eligible to apply at this time.

I have very little experience in a manual, so coming into this I knew I'd be a little rusty at shifting. Rusty I was.

With zero time to practice, we went out for the first road test. The course led us through some simple city streets before hopping on the highway for 15 miles or so. There were construction zones, reduced speed zones, yields, stops, lights, traffic etc. Upshifting wasn't so bad, but I struggled with downshifting. They do allow floating, which helped me some I think. Although the shifting wasn't pretty, I managed to get us around and back without losing the gears or forgetting where my stick was. This trip took roughly 45 minutes. Again, no feedback from the instructor.

1645hrs

At the end of the day the instructors took us back outside and showed us the Walmart way of doing pretrip and backing. This is the time to take notes, ask questions, and receive feedback. You could see many many drivers taking notes on the pretrip. Hopefully they study hard tonight, because today's performance was less than stellar.

1930hrs

It was a long exhausting day, one filled with hope and anxiety, and a little fear thrown in for good measure. We finished the day with a quick walk to the burger joint down the road before hitting our rooms.

0111996001572837001.jpg

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.

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.
Old School's Comment
member avatar

Turtle, these are great diary entries! We really appreciate your efforts. I'm fairly certain this is our first diary for the Wal-Mart private fleet. Congratulations on your progress.

Jay G.'s Comment
member avatar

Making it this far hasn't exactly been easy, so I'm hoping the worst is behind me. Paying my dues as I have has put me in the fortunate position of not having to worry too much about not making the cut. .

I feel like I say this a lot, but I will continue to say it: Thank you for sharing. Also, many times you gotta get the tough stuff out of the way first in order to have smooth(er) sailing. I wish you all the best in your new journey and am excited to read your followups and continued experience.

PackRat's Comment
member avatar

Great documentary of their step-by-step process. Great group picture, too.

*NOTE* That guy on the left....? He looks pretty shady.

good-luck.gif

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