Training With TMC At Their Columbia SC Training Center.

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Jay F.'s Comment
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Quick backstory for those that don’t know mine. I obtained my CDL on my own through transtech in Newton NC.

TMC was high on my list from info on this site, and the recruiter visit to the school sealed the deal. I want to do flatbed for the physical aspect, and the fact I can do more than just drive.

Dealing with my recruiter proved to be a bit of a struggle. Guy wasn’t knowledgeable at all. I would ask questions and get responses like I think, or I don’t know. I pushed him and would have all required paperwork emailed or texted within minutes. If I didn’t hear from him I was calling and bugging. My class date was December 9th.

I drove to Columbia from charlotte on Sunday December 8th they put all trainees up at the candlewood suites. It’s a 5 minute ride to the training facility. Checking was flawless, and was in my room by 7. I was informed the next to check in would be my roommate for the next 2 weeks. I was given a packet of paperwork with the instructions to have it filled out for Monday morning. I filled it out ASAP, and headed to dinner and wal mart. Plenty of restaurants and shopping within walking distance. When I returned my roommate was checked in. Super nice guy. Around the same age as me, and had just retired from the marine core. I don’t foresee any problems. We both hit the sack around 10.

Was up at 5am. Had to be at the training center at 6am. Pulled in and it’s still looks brand new. Not long after the bus pulled in with everyone else, and we were in the building! All I can say is wow! Place is beautiful every wall was covered in a huge picture of a TMC truck at Columbia landmarks. We went to the breakroom and it was amazing. 2 huge TVs free coffee sweet tea and Gatorade everything was spotless. We were told about lunch, and to not sit at the center table. It’s for the trainers.

We went to the classroom next. There’s about 30-35 computers. With huge leather executive chairs. Again just top notch. We handed in our CDL and another form of ID. They handed out handbooks. Gave us our employee number. Logged into the website and started on our paperwork. Everything was done online. It was flawless.

Next was the tests 4 total. first was general knowledge 67 questions, not easy. I missed 5. Scored a 92.4 which they consider a B. Next was basic math. I’m a whiz at basic math and it made you think. Half way through we left for our dot physical. I passed with flying colors. Resting heart rate of 53. She thought the machine was broke at first.

When we got back we did the physical assessment for TMC. Easy breezy. They have a flatbed that has a shipping container on it. They had us climb up a ladder onto the container, and then back down. Next it was getting us on the flatbed from the side and the off the back. Next we had to pick up a 120 lb tarp put it on our shoulder, and an 80 lb tarp.

We went in to finish up the tests. I scored an A on the math test. Missed 2 I believe. Next was policies and procedures test. It’s open book, but they reword everything. You better have some common sense. Last test was DOT regulations. Overall my combined scores was 93.4. I talked to 8 others and I had the highest scores. I will caution people to take your time. They purposely word stuff weird. I missed a true false question because false was the first answer. Totallly backwards.

In between testing we were served lunch. A restaurant called Murray’s does the catering. TMC never knows what they will bring. The instructor said it’s almost always good, but every once in a while it’s bad. They call that getting murrayed. Well day one I was impressed. Individual Togo boxes with a boneless chicken breast with topped with bbq sauce bacon and cheddar cheese. Rice corn and a bun for sides. It was delicious. Let me say this wasn’t a cheap fast food meal.

After lunch we finished testing and starting watching videos individually on our computers. The day was to end at 4pm, except for 7 of us. We would stay to practice straight line backing.

Backing is definitely a little different in a flatbed. Nobody did it perfect. I went three times and was far from perfect but two of the times were fine. One wasn’t. I know from school that I always backed better when I wasn’t tired, and I was spent today. No excuses though. I need to do better.

In closing I couldn’t be more impressed after day one. I know this is a long two week interview to get onto a truck, and still after that. After today I really really want this even more than before. Every time I passed a TMC before training I would be excited we’ll take that feeling and times it by ten after today. TMC is everything I have read about. Truly top notch. One thing that I noticed and other trainees mentioned is we thought it was more laid back than we expected. Perhaps they will get tougher but the instructors were great.

Thanks for reading I’ll try and update often

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.

SAP:

Substance Abuse Professional

The Substance Abuse Professional (SAP) is a person who evaluates employees who have violated a DOT drug and alcohol program regulation and makes recommendations concerning education, treatment, follow-up testing, and aftercare.

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.

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.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.
PackRat's Comment
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I really enjoyed following your in-depth description of your training, Jay. Looking forward to reading more in the coming weeks.

OWI:

Operating While Intoxicated

Jay F.'s Comment
member avatar

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Another good day today. The director of the training center spoke to us for about 30 minutes. Just went over some things. Said if we have any problems he wants to know about it. Said again about it being a 2 week job interview. If at any point you didn’t think it was for you let him know and you can leave and still have the option to come back to TMC down the road! He also said they do random room checks in the hotel. I know some of the guys brought some beers to the room even though it said no alcohol in the hotel. There’s 14 of us and I fully expect a couple to get sent home.

We were given more time to watch videos. I really like that it’s work at your own pace. I got ahead and was one of the first to finish, so I spent the time reading the employee handbook. The rest of the day we went over hours of service and how to log our hours the TMC trucking app and what to do if we need repairs. Overall it was pretty low key. We had another great lunch meatloaf mash potatoes and green beans. I included a pic I hope it loaded.

My roommate did backing tonight and it sounds like we all are doing about the same. We have a big test tomorrow. Hopefully I can bring my average up a little.thsnks for reading

Jay F.'s Comment
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Last two days have been pretty low key. We did have the HOS test Wednesday and it was hard. Some in the class failed it. I got a C. The purposely word it to trip you up, and after I’d get one wrong I would figure out what I did wrong. Overall my test average is 91 percent. I’m the highest in the class with one more test to go. From what we hear you can fail one test and still pass.

The rest of the time has just been videos and trip planning. We start the load securement phase of training today. We have 3 days of it, then 5 days in the truck. If we pass all that we get assigned to a training truck for 5 weeks.

I guess some classes lose a lot of students. The one trainer asked how many did we lose day one to the drug test. When informed none. He said that was a first, and there’s always at least one that fails. We seem to have a good group of mostly older guys so we will see how it goes

HOS:

Hours Of Service

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

Good day today. We met with the safety manager for the Columbia yard. He spoke for about 90 minutes. Then we started our load securement training. Went over all the paper stuff, and then in the afternoon we finally got to do some hands on stuff. Definitely was nice to do that. The next two days will be hands on.

On a side note. TMC is strict on their dress code. One guy had long hair. He had till Thursday to cut it. He didn’t. They called him out on Thursday, and today he showed up with it cut. Some say they have a Ton of rules. It doesn’t seem that bad to me. You just need to do what they say. Thanks for reading

Jay F.'s Comment
member avatar

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Awesome day. We got to play with the straps and chains. We started throwing straps over a 13’6’’ obstacle. Our instructor wanted each person to do it 3 times. I was 3 for 3 a few guys struggled, but eventually got the technique. He then made sure we all could get those straps tightened 3 times. Next they have different loads set up, and we got to rotate working on each. We got through most, but each group have a few more. That we will do tomorrow.

I must say it’s more labor intensive than I ever thought, and that’s ok I want that. I want to be in shape. That said there’s a few big boys that are at least 80 lbs overweight and they are moving around ok.

Before lunch we hopped on the bus and headed to a drop yard to inspect loads, and then to the Columbia TMC yard to inspect more loads. The training facility is separate and about 5-7 minutes away.

Tomorrow we finish load securement, and then start practicing driving for 4 days. Hard to believe we are past our halfway point. The days move fast and you’re tired at the end of the night. Even so I have always done gig economy stuff, and I have gone out to work for 3 hours 4 of the nights. I have my vehicle and any extra money is a bonus, and I’m use to working 12-14 hours almost 7 days a week, so I might as well do it. Thanks for reading

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.

OWI:

Operating While Intoxicated

Rob T.'s Comment
member avatar

Sounds like you're doing great, keep it up! I love that with TMC you get experience with securement during school and get some practice driving around town with some weight on the trailer (assuming it's the same as Des Moines does it) before hitting the road with your trainer

Jay F.'s Comment
member avatar

Sounds like you're doing great, keep it up! I love that with TMC you get experience with securement during school and get some practice driving around town with some weight on the trailer (assuming it's the same as Des Moines does it) before hitting the road with your trainer

Thanks Rob. One thing I know is training. I’ve done a lot of it over the years both as a student and as an instructor. It doesn’t matter what you’re training, some companies do it well, some don’t. TMC does it well. It’s very well thought out, and put together. You can tell the instructors have received a lot of training on how to train.

We haven’t started driving yet but they do have trailers loaded up with things. I’m very nervous about the driving portion. You gotta do well to get on a truck. I just feel like my backing isn’t really good yet. All we have to do is an offset. We keep hearing how a lot of students don’t make it out of orientation, but yesterday our instructor said we had a really good class, and he thought just about all of us will make onto a truck to continue training. Hopefully he’s right. There’s 14 of us, and we all want to be there

Jay F.'s Comment
member avatar

Well I just finished up orientation. Man what a quick two weeks. I can’t get over how great TMC treated us. They are truly a top notch company.

I didn’t want to post until this week was finished. This was the big week. The entire time was spent in the truck. I must say this really wasn’t communicated well by the recruiters. No biggie, it went well but Others were surprised by it too.

We were graded on our driving and poor performances could definitely get you sent home. We started with 14 and lost 2. Both due to shifting issues. One also got into it with an instructor that didn’t help.

The days started at 7 am the driving instructor coordinator talked for about 30 minutes, and it was off to the trucks. It was two students per truck, a couple days it was 3. Some students stayed on the backing yard. We came back for lunch at 12 then back out at 1 instructors would change and other students would go to the backing yard. The day ended at 4 and then some stayed for evening and more backing. I stayed 2 out of the 4 days.

Overall the instructors were great. Mac the backing Instuctor knew backing inside and out. There was really only one bad one. Guy was really sour, and none of the students liked him. He would just be a jerk even In The break room.

The driving was a mix of highway and city driving. They had us do some tight turns where we would dump the trailer bags to get the trailer to turn better. We also parked the truck at truck stops.

The backing was learning how to do a 45 Degree back, since you can’t do a 90 with the flatbed trailer. They had a figure 8 course setup up, and you would take the truck through the figure 8 twice. Pull out get in line to back. I want to be perfect at everything I do and I definitely don’t live up to my standards when it comes to backing. By the end of the week I was able to do the maneuver without assistance, but it’s not perfect.

Now I was told they never send students home just because of poor backing. They feel they can train anyone to back. What gets you sent home is if in a manual if you can’t get shifting down, or if you do something dangerous while driving.

One funny thing that happened was one of the guys that got sent home couldn’t do a figure 8. They gave us no instruction on this. I mean we all have our CDL so we should be able to go 5mph around some cones. Well we are on the backing yard and I’m talking to the instructor and we both look over and this guy drives the truck over a 10 inch high curb and is 6 inches from hitting a light pole. The instructor took off running. Not 5 minutes later he takes out about 3 cones and drives right into the backing hole by running out of the figure 8 course.

If you made it past Wednesday you were safe short of wrecking or doing something real dumb. Everyone was definitely more loose at the end of Thursday. We all stayed to back Thursday night.

Friday started at 8am we were given an extra hour to get out of the hotel. All we did was go through drop and hook , and then we had to clean the interior of all the trucks. They are definitely picky about the trucks but it’s easy to understand why. The training trucks all have over 400k in miles and look brand new. One more free lunch then we went over our instructions for meeting our trainers. Given our fuel card, given a tee shirt and were sent on our way.

Again the whole process has been great. I hope and pray I am successful on the road. I know bad things happen quick out there, but TMC seems like a great place to stay for a career. Thanks for reading

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.

Drop And Hook:

Drop and hook means the driver will drop one trailer and hook to another one.

In order to speed up the pickup and delivery process a driver may be instructed to drop their empty trailer and hook to one that is already loaded, or drop their loaded trailer and hook to one that is already empty. That way the driver will not have to wait for a trailer to be loaded or unloaded.

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.

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.

Victor C. II's Comment
member avatar

Wow thats really neat man! I was looking into them too but I was rejected a few times based on not driving for a while and incidents with Swift so now I am with Western Express and getting my experience with them then I will move on to bigger things.

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