Home Run, Inc.

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Cincybeerhawk's Comment
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Tomorrow is the day! I head to Xenia (Ohio) to meet with Leadership of Home Run, Inc. and receive a tour of the headquarters. My report time is 9:00 a.m. sharp, but I plan to be on site at 8:45. I have no idea what the day and the future holds other than what I’ve read in this forum and heard from others.

My journey into a career in trucking began sometime shortly after 1:00 p.m. on March 25, 2020 when I, and hundreds of others, together on a conference call, received a robo-call from the president of our Fortune 200 hospitality conglomerate advising us that as part of a ‘business disruption plan’ we were all furloughed/laid-off/pseudo-unemployed effective April 1 (yes, I see the irony). After inventorying my skill set and learning that regardless of how I marketed myself, my nearly four decades in the industry had me hopelessly ‘type cast’, I began thinking outside the box after a suggestion from a neighboring farmer that I should pursue a CDL as there were many, many grants to be had.

On July 7 at 7:00 a.m. I took a seat in the front row of Classroom 1 of Napier Truck Driver Training, Inc. I was 30 minutes early (you can never, ever get in trouble for being early, right?) and eager to learn. Finally, on Thursday, October 1 I properly, using three points of contact, exited Unit 2015 on beautiful Medway after successfully (on my second attempt) passing the Ohio CDL exam. Ten minutes later I was standing in front of a clerk at a BMV in nearby Fairborn as I completed the final step in earning my license. There was no way I would allow the test administrator to have second thoughts about passing me!

In the preceding 85 days I had experienced the highest of highs and the lowest of lows. The classroom learning and the mastery of the ‘pre-trip’ came easily as I’ve always been a good student, but the physical aspects of the maneuverability exercises and actual driving (often) had me disappointed at the results of my efforts. No matter how hard I tried I could not develop to my satisfaction the skills needed. “Perfect practice makes perfect,” is a phrase I have heard many times and a mantra that served as my North Star. If I could not operate the truck with excellence I was not willing to test for a license.

Finally, I believed that I had the game to successfully complete the three components necessary: the ‘pre-trip inspection’, the maneuverability (straight back, offset, and either parallel park driver side, parallel park blind side, or the alley dock), and the road test.

I handled the pre-trip with relative ease. My ‘in cab’ with the air lost test was flawless. I was determined not to miss a single point therefore I was on my hands and knees and on my back under the drive axle as I pointed out each and every item on the checklist and advised the evaluator as to the unacceptable flaws in any of the components.

“You know”, he said, “you really don’t need to get under there to point out all those pieces.”

My response was simple, to the point and from the heart, “I’m sure you’re right, but if being down under here allows me to get one more point and that’s what I need to pass, I’m fine with it. My wife didn’t send me up here to fail, and I’m not gonna let her down!”

Next was the straight back. I gave up one point when I used a second, unneeded ‘pull forward’ after I had backed about 20 feet past the final two cones which marked the end of the exercise. I had used the first ‘pull up’ when I decided to straighten the truck after coming too close to the yellow boundary line on the left side of the test. The second move forward came with a price, and I paid it.

I gave up two points on the offset (left to right) when I cut the driver’s side rear of the trailer too close to a line and went out of bounds. Unphased, I pulled forward, straightened the truck, and backed the truck then length of the aisle without any further problems.

For the final exercise the parallel park driver side exercise had been selected for me. I could not believe my luck as I had practiced that exercise the previous date while prepping at Napier. I had the benefit of using the same model tractor and trailer for practice as was in place for the test so I spent the time using the ‘Ricky Lake smokes lotsa reefer’ pneumonic that had served me so faithfully during my months of prep work. Yes, I used my two permissible ‘GOAL’s, but I didn’t need a single pull-up as I perfectly set the truck up for the backing and after my final right (reefer) the truck was centered perfectly in the box. I had about 18 minutes of the allotted 40 remaining, so I mad two complete circuits around the truck to ensure that I was in the box. Satisfied, I climbed back into the rig, closed the door, put on my seatbelt, and sounded my horn to signal the evaluator that I had completed the test.

I failed the road test. I had no one to blame but myself. I had been coached that Unit 2015 did not shift well if the RPMs were above 1500, but I didn’t pay attention and had the tachometer at about 1900 when I tried to switch from sixth to seventh gear. When I failed to put the truck in gear I panicked and brought the truck to a stop as I didn’t want to coast the vehicle as that would be an automatic fail. Stopping on a state highway had the same result, so my goal of going ‘one and done’ died eight minutes short of completion.

Pre-trip Inspection:

A pre-trip inspection is a thorough inspection of the truck completed before driving for the first time each day.

Federal and state laws require that drivers inspect their vehicles. Federal and state inspectors also may inspect your vehicles. If they judge a vehicle to be unsafe, they will put it “out of service” until it is repaired.

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.

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.

Bmv:

Department of Motor Vehicles, Bureau of Motor Vehicles

The state agency that handles everything related to your driver's licences, including testing, issuance, transfers, and revocation.

Reefer:

A refrigerated trailer.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.
Anne A. (momcat)'s Comment
member avatar

EXCELLENT rendition of how it's going, Cincy ~!!!! Wow, on you getting the parallel, and the R.L.S.L.R ... love it! What about the road test, though?!?

I wish you ALL the best tomorrow, fellow Buckeye. I'm going to LOVE reading your diary. Your writing style promotes high verisimilitude... and I love it! Will check back tomorrow, with the others; I'm sure!!!! Kudos, man!

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Cincybeerhawk's Comment
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After reporting my failure to Napier, paying (how I hated that) for a second test date, I drove the 60 miles south along I75 to my home in Cincinnati. I had a long seven day wait until I could return to the site of my defeat. I focused, spent more time at school practicing my driving, and prepared myself mentally. At 8:30 a.m. on Thursday, October 1, I was again in the lot of the third-party testing facility in Medway. I was determined to succeed. At 9:00 a.m. I put the truck in gear and began another tour of suburban Fairborn as I sought to complete my quest. I was familiar with the route having driven most of it the preceding Wednesday. Construction detours in the area limited the site to a single route, therefore I benefited from the previous week’s fail. This time I paid attention and shifted appropriately. I maintained proper speed and following distance, checked my mirrors frequently, signaled early and often, made sure to keep my left foot off the clutch, and both hands on the wheel. I made all my turns properly and didn’t curb the trailer (another instant fail). After bringing the truck to a stop, setting both brakes, and taking the rig out of gear, I heard the best two worlds this side of ‘I do’ when the evaluator said, “you passed.”

Euphoric, I dialed my wife as soon as I got back to my pick-up truck. The call went straight to voicemail. I hung up and called my mom. She answered and didn’t even complete ‘Hello’ before I interrupted and told her I passed. After the stop at the BMV , I made the short drive across Dayton to apply for a TWIC card, then another drive south on 75. I was in a much better mood this time! With a short detour to the Love’s and another at the Pilot truck stop I joined both loyalty programs. Another call to school to notify them that I had passed and my status went from ‘student’ to FNG.

During my time at school I took full advantage of all the visits from the recruiters for various trucking firms. I had quickly decided that I wanted to be a ‘skateboarder’ because of the pay structure. I really liked the idea of earning a percentage of the fee paid to the truck for the various loads rather than working for cents per mile. I had previously worked as a vendor at Riverfront Stadium and had earned a commission on the items I sold, and the flatbedding payment plan seems to align with that. The way I look at it, the more freight I can move and the better I can manage my clock during the allowable time for me to drive in a week will result in a higher paycheck.

I am a Buckeye. Born in Mt. Carmel East Hospital in Columbus, and raised in the 513 and spending as much time as possible on our family’s farm, Two Walnuts, in suburban Peebles, I love everything about Ohio. My goal was to drive for a company based here. Home Run checks all the boxes that are important to me: Ohio- based, flatbedding, and regional , so that I’m home on a quasi-regular and predicable basis.

I spent the better part of last week watching various videos introducing me to important topics and issues in our industry. Safety, HOS , defensive driving, FMCSA regulations, and introductory greetings from upper management at Home Run were all part of the visual on boarding process.

Next, I downloaded, completed, scanned, and submitted many, many documents so that Home Run could poke, prod, and properly vet me before offering me a position and welcoming me to the family. I consider myself very adept at the ‘meet and greet’ scenario that I will experience tomorrow, but I’m apprehensively confident (is that even a thing?) nonetheless.

I’ll write more when I have something worthy to report. Thanks for reading and for joining me on the path to earning a position as a driver with Home Run, Inc.

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.

CSA:

Compliance, Safety, Accountability (CSA)

The CSA is a Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) initiative to improve large truck and bus safety and ultimately reduce crashes, injuries, and fatalities that are related to commercial motor vehicle

FMCSA:

Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration

The FMCSA was established within the Department of Transportation on January 1, 2000. Their primary mission is to prevent commercial motor vehicle-related fatalities and injuries.

What Does The FMCSA Do?

  • Commercial Drivers' Licenses
  • Data and Analysis
  • Regulatory Compliance and Enforcement
  • Research and Technology
  • Safety Assistance
  • Support and Information Sharing

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.

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.

Bmv:

Department of Motor Vehicles, Bureau of Motor Vehicles

The state agency that handles everything related to your driver's licences, including testing, issuance, transfers, and revocation.

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.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.

OWI:

Operating While Intoxicated

Anne A. (momcat)'s Comment
member avatar

Another great post, Cincy ~!

We LOVE Ohio, as well. Husband (and I and the kids!) still live on (and own) the family property, which used to be his family farm. It's awesome. Maybe one day, we can 'cross visit' in the rigs ! Yes, we have truck parking...LoL!

0648011001602524704.jpg

Awaiting your upcoming 'update,' and CONGRATS on the final passing of your road test, for sure ~!!! Hoping today went as well as, or better than, you'd hoped.

~ Anne ~

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Cincybeerhawk's Comment
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Home Run moves quickly and I like that.

I had become numb from my experiences at a well-known Fortune 200 corporation where (nearly) every decision at the local level was escalated to Corporate where legal, HR, accounting, and occasionally The Chairman or his designate would ruminate on the idea and then, after countless meetings over even the simplest of inquiries, would deliver an edict on the situation.

At Home Run, I met one-on-one with Kyle Ritchie, the recruiter who had peaked my interest in skateboarding in general and HR in particular with his presentation at Napier. By noon I had been orientated, had meet the dispatch staff, ownership, and, most importantly, Dave, the head mechanic, who, along with his tea, will keep my truck running.

After yet another DOT-mandated drug screen at a nearby clinic I had completed all the non-driving (I think) on-boarding that HR offered. I was issued a hard hat (red, of course, since that’s the HR primary color), an ANSI 107 Type R Class 2 SV2Z Economy Safety Vest (size L), safety glasses, my very first Driver’s Daily Log (thank you, J.J. Keller), the CSA Handbook, several other pamphlets, and, most importantly, a Cargo Securement Handbook for Drivers (again, thank you, J.J. Keller).

I will be training with Keith Taylor. Not the ‘60’s actor who played in Star Trek, Wagon Train, and Land of the Lost, but the driver who, over the next four weeks (give or take), will take this green-as-grass FNG with less than 20 hours of seat time in a semi and forge me into a (very new) driver who will proudly pilot a rig bearing his employer’s name and logo around various states primarily east of the Mississippi.

Keith and I spoke briefly on the phone and he promised to update me as to when and where we will meet tomorrow. True to his word, I received a text shortly after that informed me that I am to meet him at 11:15 in Xenia at the Home Run terminal as we will be heading to Dayton to be loaded and then traveling north to Strasburg, Ohio. For those of you reading along (I know there’s at least two of you: Anne A, and my mother), Strasburg is off I77 in the high school football-rich Mecca of northeastern Ohio. It’s not far from New Philadelphia, the birthplace of one Wayne Woodrow (Woody) Hayes, the coach who set Ohio State football on solid footing. I’m guessing I’m too early in my truck driving career to ask Keith if we can take a side trip to visit his childhood home. I probably shouldn’t use my 10 hour re-set to hail an Uber in order to genuflect at this holy place. I digress...sorry, not sorry.

Here’s a secret: I wasn’t expecting to get sent out this early, so I have been and will, as soon as I hit ‘submit’ continue with my packing for this initial trip. I’ve set the over/under at seven as it relates to ‘things I should have known to pack but didn’t’. I’ll report back Friday (?) night with the results.

I have the requisite basics for a flatbed trainee: steel toed boots from Red Wing, several pairs of leather gloves, very sturdy work pants (I’m a disciple of Duluth Trading Company), t-shirts, long sleeve shirts, my new, favorite distressed ball cap emblazoned with a US flag, many, many pairs of socks, underwear, a three-season jacket, and a pair of Manitowoc moccasins. I’ll throw in a rain jacket just to ensure that we stay dry. If I leave the rain gear at home we’ll end up dealing with enough rain to close roads due to flash floods.

I have a light-weight sleeping bag and a pillow with a beat-up case (The CEO of Beerhawk, Inc would discipline me if I took any of the ‘good’ linen). Everything will be packed into an Eddie Bauer zippered duffle bag and that will be placed into a waterproof dry bag.

My TWIC card arrived last Thursday, and the next day the mail carrier delivered my ‘hard’ Ohio CDL. My laminated DOT physical card is packed as well. I have the laminated Deluxe Motor Carriers’ Road Atlas (2020) by Rand McNally as I’ll be trip planning our route.

Finally, I will pack an oversized container of common sense and next to it I’ll place my 50 lb. bag of Safety. I’ll practice my ‘2:1’ training (listen twice as often as you speak).

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.

CSA:

Compliance, Safety, Accountability (CSA)

The CSA is a Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) initiative to improve large truck and bus safety and ultimately reduce crashes, injuries, and fatalities that are related to commercial motor vehicle

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.

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.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

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

I'm following along, too. good-luck.gif

Football in OH10? I didn't know there were any teams up there. That's good trivia.

OWI:

Operating While Intoxicated

Anne A. (momcat)'s Comment
member avatar

You KNOW it, Cincy ~!! (Here's a 'howdy' for your mom, from Anne & Tom! LoL...) smile.gif

Your diary is probably being read by MANY prospective FNG's that haven't registered here yet, and you'll never know. Often, they will cross post on the Facebook page; so I can kinda follow that way, myself!

Red Wings rock...and Carolina's are 2nd best; my guy has both. One is heaver, other lighter, depending on the season(s) here in Ohio. I could go 'on and on' because I LOVE reading your posts, and actually read them TO my hubby when he gets home; he LOVES hearing all things Ohio. Loyal, he is! He's heading home from Vandalia, as I type.

They sure hooked you UP with some awesome preparedness, Cincy. (Wouldn't you say, @Turtle?) Your writings will pique interest in MANY prospects to come, guaranteed.

Keep on keeping on; you sound like you TOTALLY have this. You are a walking, talking, learning, driving . . . (et al ...) exemplar of the perfect candidate for ANY trucking company! G'Town needs to come 'up in here' and read your diary, I'm certain he would agree.

Always well wishes, from the Buckeye duo~!

~ Anne ~ (and Tom, when he's in here w/me!)

thank-you-2.gifgood-luck.gifgood-luck-2.gif

Anne A. (momcat)'s Comment
member avatar

I'm following along, too. good-luck.gif

Football in OH10? I didn't know there were any teams up there. That's good trivia.

OMIGOSH~~!!!!! Didn't you see the Browns, the last few weeks ?!?!?!? <<<<<<<< If NOT, you've missed a legacy occuring from the slap'go.

Sorry about the Bengals, Cincy. OSU, mediocre.

I'm staying in the 'DAWG POUND' myself, haha!!

rofl-3.gifsorry.gifrofl-3.gif

OWI:

Operating While Intoxicated

PackRat's Comment
member avatar

Two words:

ROLL TIDE!

Papa Pig's Comment
member avatar

Rat pack you are correct that it is two words but the words are “War Eagle”

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