Being A Company Driver

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Donna M.'s Comment
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When I started trucking I knew nothing, so I chose to be a company driver. Almost a year later I’m still a company driver. Many of my friends from training went lease, and many are no longer in trucking. It’s really hard to explain the depth of what you don’t know till you are out here. I thought I wanted to do a dedicated route , heck no, one week it bore me to death. I like to run hard some people don’t!

Of course, we start trucking for the money. Those that chose to lease a truck believed they would make even more money. But this time of the year doesn’t seem to work that way for lease. See, we have to chase the freight, which means tons of deadheading. I just came off home time, and this is my actual load assignment. I deliver tomorrow, and I’m sitting in Arizona now.

0066937001575949619.jpg

As a company driver I am paid for every mile; empty and loaded. I took several toll roads I paid $0. I didn't pay for fuel and fueled 3 times. Didn’t pay for Prepass. Didn’t pay for Qualcomm. No maintenance on the truck or tires. I just drove and made my paycheck. Some of these things unfamiliar, yes I’m sure to a new lease driver they were to. Being a company is the best way for new drivers to make money and learn trucking. I probably will continue to be a company driver, I’m still learning!

Deadhead:

To drive with an empty trailer. After delivering your load you will deadhead to a shipper to pick up your next load.

Dedicated Route:

A driver or carrier who transports cargo between regular, prescribed routes. Normally it means a driver will be dedicated to working for one particular customer like Walmart or Home Depot and they will only haul freight for that customer. You'll often hear drivers say something like, "I'm on the Walmart dedicated account."

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.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.
40 Days's Comment
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Thanks for sharing that Donna! I am at 42,000 TNT and my lease driver trainer told me that company drivers only get paid when they're loaded and only do short runs in NE. I guess misery needs company. Lol. He is also trying to talk me into teaming with him after upgrading at .28 cpm. Made my choice easy with your post. Company!!!!!!

CPM:

Cents Per Mile

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

TNT:

Trainer-N-Trainee

Prime Inc has their own CDL training program and it's divided into two phases - PSD and TNT.

The PSD (Prime Student Driver) phase is where you'll get your permit and then go on the road for 10,000 miles with a trainer. When you come back you'll get your CDL license and enter the TNT phase.

The TNT phase is the second phase of training where you'll go on the road with an experienced driver for 30,000 miles of team driving. You'll receive 14¢ per mile ($700 per week guaranteed) during this phase. Once you're finished with TNT training you will be assigned a truck to run solo.

Truckin Along With Kearse's Comment
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Thanks for sharing that Donna! I am at 42,000 TNT and my lease driver trainer told me that company drivers only get paid when they're loaded and only do short runs in NE. I guess misery needs company. Lol. He is also trying to talk me into teaming with him after upgrading at .28 cpm. Made my choice easy with your post. Company!!!!!!

im.company too and have videos on Youtube with my pay stubs. the newer lease ops are complaining they are only making $800 per week.

Donna and i are at $1500 to $1600. Lease ops dont know they are telling you lies cause they believe what they are telling you.

CPM:

Cents Per Mile

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

TNT:

Trainer-N-Trainee

Prime Inc has their own CDL training program and it's divided into two phases - PSD and TNT.

The PSD (Prime Student Driver) phase is where you'll get your permit and then go on the road for 10,000 miles with a trainer. When you come back you'll get your CDL license and enter the TNT phase.

The TNT phase is the second phase of training where you'll go on the road with an experienced driver for 30,000 miles of team driving. You'll receive 14¢ per mile ($700 per week guaranteed) during this phase. Once you're finished with TNT training you will be assigned a truck to run solo.

RealDiehl's Comment
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Wow! That's a lot of deadhead miles on that load. Enjoy your fuel bonus. Luckily since I have a TNT student right now, miles are not hard to come by. We recently had a trip from Kennesaw,GA to Tacoma, WA (by the way, trying to find a place to park in Tacoma is impossible. The Loves there is temporarily closed). Then from Oregon to New Jersey. Getting unloaded in Jersey now. Im glad you are getting miles, Donna.

Deadhead:

To drive with an empty trailer. After delivering your load you will deadhead to a shipper to pick up your next load.

TNT:

Trainer-N-Trainee

Prime Inc has their own CDL training program and it's divided into two phases - PSD and TNT.

The PSD (Prime Student Driver) phase is where you'll get your permit and then go on the road for 10,000 miles with a trainer. When you come back you'll get your CDL license and enter the TNT phase.

The TNT phase is the second phase of training where you'll go on the road with an experienced driver for 30,000 miles of team driving. You'll receive 14¢ per mile ($700 per week guaranteed) during this phase. Once you're finished with TNT training you will be assigned a truck to run solo.

Brett Aquila's Comment
member avatar
It’s really hard to explain the depth of what you don’t know till you are out here

That's a powerful statement, and it's so true. That's why at Trucking Truth we lay out a plan for everyone their first year and give them the proper expectations and perspective. In fact, that's why I started this website in the first place. I knew how desperately new drivers needed good information and support.

Being a company is the best way for new drivers to make money and learn trucking. I probably will continue to be a company driver, I’m still learning!

I'm glad you said that. It demonstrates a common perspective people have even after they learn that leasing a truck isn't the way to go. People often believe you work your way up from company driver to lease driver to owner-operator as if those are improvements in your career. That's not true at all.

A company driver is an employee. A lease driver and an owner-operator are business owners. You do not want to become a business owner in any industry unless the economics are strong and you are well-prepared for the risk, the additional work, and other challenges that come with being a business owner.

One of the golden rules of starting a business is to know the qualities of the business you'll be starting. Owning or leasing a truck to haul freight is a terrible business to own. It's a commodity business. You have no way of truly differentiating yourself unless you grow to a massive scale, and even that may not be enough. Celadon trucking just filed for bankruptcy, a very large company that has been around for decades.

If you want to make a living hauling freight, the most logical way to do it is as a company driver. Owning or leasing a truck means taking on huge amounts of additional risk and work, and most of the time you'll end up making less than a company driver because you don't have the advantage of scale that the large companies have.

Donna, you're doing it the right way.

Here are some articles for good reading:

When Is The Right Time To Become An Owner Operator Or Lease A Truck? Never.

So You're Thinking About Becoming An Owner Operator?

Owner Operator:

An owner-operator is a driver who either owns or leases the truck they are driving. A self-employed driver.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.
PackRat's Comment
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Great observations, Donna! I couldn't agree more with everything you stated.

Turtle's Comment
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40 days, don't let misinformation lead you into an unwise decision. My 3 years as a Prime company flatbedder should have been a clear indication of the benefits of being a company driver. I had great equipment, first choice of runs, consistently high miles paid empty or loaded, covering all lower 48, and back-to-back $70k+ years, all while enjoying way more home time than a lease op.

They love trying to convince you to go lease, or by trying to sucker you into "teaming" up. In reality, they're only trying to convince themselves that they weren't suckered as a pawn into a raw deal, one heavily skewed in the company's favor.

They promise a pay rate that at face value is slightly higher than a company driver would make. But guess what? You still lose in the deal because they are still motivated to reduce miles, thereby cutting costs. You'll want the high mile load, he'll want the low mile- high revenue load. You lose.

You're a smart guy. Don't fall for that nonsense.

PJ's Comment
member avatar

Donna you are exactly right in your thinking. You have done very well.

These companies that push leasing to new drivers make me upset. Because they already know the points you made. However they will make their leasing program look so wonderful.

My girlfriend went to a large carrier last year. She was in a class of about 25 brand new drivers. The leasing folks came into orientation and gave a 4 hour presentation on how great the program was. She and I were just acquanited then. She was excited after hearing the presentation. I asked her several questions and she sent me a copy of the contract. I spent about an hour showing her how the numbers would actually work out and she saw quickly it wasn’t such a good deal. Several of her classmates went lease and done horribly.

Thank you for sharing your observations

OWI:

Operating While Intoxicated

40 Days's Comment
member avatar

4 company drivers cant be wrong. So ready to upgrade and go company by January 1st hopefully start my solo path soon. As always thanks Donna, (Rainy) /Kearsey, ReilDiehl, and never least in my book Turtle. Hope Bentonville is treating you good Turtle.

Rob D.'s Comment
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40 days said:

So ready to upgrade and go company by January 1st hopefully start my solo path soon.

In planning for expectations, assuming that you upgrade by January 1st, how long from when you arrived at orientation to upgrading to solo?

I recall that you had a two week delay due to the licensing issue.

And can you give us a summary of how your training has been?

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