Official Starting With Prime

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Chief Brody's Comment
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Interesting, Joseph...If I get into/decide to go with Prime this week, that's about when I'd start too. But not in "Pittsford"... Hmm, the only Pittsford I know is near where I grew up in NY; doesn't seem to be one in PA. Guess I'll have to look up all the terminal locations. Ok, so you must mean Pittston, PA. I'd be going to Salt Lake...either place, brrrr, this time o year...

Nothing against Prime, they're just going with the industry flow, but what's up with this standard of accruing only one day home time a week? Partly cuz you end up with another unproductive average day or so per week just getting home and back into action? You'd think SOME company would want to be known as not just saying they care about home time, but actually allowing for more of it, if not encouraging it. I get it about the incentive to get as much road time as they can out of their trucks and drivers, but jeez, what about the burnout factor? I'd hope if it were me behind that owner-of-the-company wheel I'd want to incentivize my drivers to stay with the company by being a rare exception.

I actually feel like I get enough time off with Prime's policy. I stay out about four weeks and then take 4 days off. Usually, I'm "under a load" when I go home for home time. I pick up before I head home then deliver after my home time. So, no time lost in the transition. Also, I generally get " weekends" off. I run hard enough that I burn through my 70 by Saturday. So, I usually get my " weekend" load Friday that delivers Monday and take a 34- hour reset Saturday through Monday morning. Plus after I pick up and secure my load Friday I'm just driving the remainder of Friday and all day Saturday. So, I usually am "tourist" mode where I'll stop at interesting sites along the way.

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.

OWI:

Operating While Intoxicated

Old School's Comment
member avatar
what's up with this standard of accruing only one day home time a week? Partly cuz you end up with another unproductive average day or so per week just getting home and back into action? You'd think SOME company would want to be known as not just saying they care about home time, but actually allowing for more of it, if not encouraging it. I get it about the incentive to get as much road time as they can out of their trucks and drivers, but jeez, what about the burnout factor? I'd hope if it were me behind that owner-of-the-company wheel I'd want to incentivize my drivers to stay with the company by being a rare exception.

From my perspective this conversation has taken an interesting turn. I'm going to share something with you guys that I have had opportunity to share before, but have not because I know how some folks take the attitude that we are "shills" for the big trucking corporations just because we are bold enough to stress "driver responsibility" the way we do. My dispatcher and I were having a discussion once where he was congratulating me on reaching the 650,000 mile mark. He was thanking me for the great working relationship we had together and kept stressing how I was the most productive driver he had ever worked with. During the discussion he said he was going to send me a screen shot from his computer showing my miles, total pay over the years, and the revenues and profits from my truck. I wasn't really shocked by the numbers, because I have a pretty good understanding of the trucking business. It appeared as though they were paying me an astronomical amount compared to what they got from the transaction. It is a tough business. We put in a lot of effort to make profits in the 3 to 5 percent range. Sometimes it is a little better, but that is about average.

The percentage level of profit in the trucking business is very low. Most companies run around a 97% operating ratio which tells you their expenses are high. It is a solid business, but it is a commodities business. That means the competition keeps the profit levels low. There are too many players willing to cut the prices so they can get the work. Every time I have seen the prices go up a little we see a sudden jump in the numbers of new O/O's trying to get in on the sudden change, and then when the numbers fall again we see those same numbers shrink. These effects are market driven and are normal in the commodities business. There is just no way for a trucking company to distinguish itself from the competition. They all do the same thing with the same equipment and problems. They serve the same customers, runt the same routes, and abide by the same regulations.

There are basically two ways for them to get ahead of the competition:

  • Reduce expenses through leveraged purchasing power, and cost controls.
  • Increase efficiencies by being more productive

My point is simply that you cannot achieve either of those methods of improving your business by allowing your drivers to take more home time. I always love being home, but if I am honest with you I start getting antsy after just a few days at home. The lifestyle change that comes with being an OTR driver took hold of me fairly early in my career. I loved being on the road! Don't get me wrong. I loved my wife and my family too, but I took a job that I really wanted to do. I wanted to do it well. I wanted to be the best driver that ever put his hand to this crazy job. My point is that if you want to be really good at this you have to be really productive. Once I had really established myself as a Top Tier Driver, I found that the company (or my driver manager) was a lot more lenient with me concerning how long I stayed home, or how frequent I needed to be home. I found them to be a lot more lenient concerning many things. I was a consistent contributing member on the team. That is where all the difference came into play.

Don't get so focused on how restrictive these home time policies seem to be. Learn to be productive and efficient. That changes everything - it really does. I teach this all the time, but once you actually get to that level you begin to see what I mean. My dispatcher would literally do anything for me. That isn't because he's a push-over, he is far from it. He has a high regard for me. I work hard to keep it that way.

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.

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.

Driver 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

Joseph L.'s Comment
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Honestly based on what I new, I didn't feel they where restrictive at all. Oh and sorry it's Pittson Pa. Think got it mixed up in my head since Pittsford comes up alot in my current job

J.D.'s Comment
member avatar

Thanx once again, Old Schooler, for the reality check… (This "HomeTime" sub-discussion seems important enough that maybe we should cross-post it to a new thread? I mean, you're revealing some serious inspirational history here, and the topic title's pretty obscure.) Though I’d read of the low profit margin issue in the trucking industry several times before, here and “in the news”, you drove it home for me more here, enough to catalyze a partial breakthrough in my understanding. (I rage against “simplistic thinking” and how it actually betrays the truth, so when I realize I’VE been guilty of it, it’s a real eye-opener.) Before this I’d just been assuming, ‘Hey, all almost any company’s gotta do is hire just enough more drivers so they can give their existing ones more home time, since when they’re not running they’re not being paid anyway. But duh, of course those drivers still do cost the company, just being on the payroll and accruing benefits, etc.; and then there’s the good-ole difficulty of hiring more reliable drivers. Tight margins make those smaller factors prohibitive.

ON THE OTHER HAND, here’s the example that’s been (mis-?)guiding my understanding most:

I graduated from a probably averagely decent CDL school, that appears to be a hybrid of the two main types, which seems a common enough strategy. Though the education is not company "sponsored" and you have to come up with your own tuition funding, the school is owned and run by a parent company, a medium-sized carrier, supposedly the main sub-contractor (unsure if that’s the right term) for a mega-carrier. They both run out of the same building and fairly large lot, and it’s obvious the school is a (non-exclusively) direct-n-easy pipeline for the company to hire lots of new drivers. (Non-exclusive in the sense that they hire plenty from outside; and those like me who get their CDL there aren’t discouraged from working elsewhere instead.) They're totally positioned to make it the path of least resistance for grads to get their first good OTR job, either solo or team. Though for other reasons I'm glad I decided not to go there, by far the biggest draw was that the Placement Director who’d worked for this carrier and also a mega-one assured me that they’re relatively very flexible with home time. (I still think I may end up with them in 2022.) Not to say they advertise or encourage more than the standard amount of home time, but they do allow it if that’s what you really want/need and aren’t gonna budge on it, without threatening to show you the door if you’re a driver in good standing. I’m talking like up to 3 WEEKS off between OTR runs!, with no company consequence except the slip seat, so of course you have to clear your stuff out of the truck when you get back to the home terminal , but no biggie there. And you still get to claim 1 year experience after your first year, he said. (This P.D. seems totally credible and I’ve an ex-classmate about to put the home time to the test; the guy I was gonna team with).

So, naturally I figured if THEY can give some drivers a lot more home time, why can’t other companies?! Though I now newly understand the market and other realities better, the factors blocking nearly all carriers from doing that, I still can’t see anything so superior about this company’s M.O. that they should be such a rare exception. They pay very competitively, so it’s not that… My best not-well-enough-educated guess is that being a sub-contractor for an industry titan reduces their operating complexity, along with using the hybrid model, and thus controls their expenses enough, that they can take on more of the new drivers coming out of “their” school than almost any other company could?

Insights, anyone? —JD

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.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.
Truckin Along With Kearse's Comment
member avatar

JD.... Drivers who produce better get more perks and home time...more down time when they want it on the road. Sometimes I get to pick my own load...Last night I positioned myself to repower a load for a solo driver. His load is gonna take me to TX and avoid the snow coming to both the northwest and Midwest. It also is adding 1400 miles to my pay week. IF I didnt want that....i could have put my truck in the shop at the terminal and gotten a few days off with pay and free hotel.

Someone asked about team home time and I dont remember if it is this thread.

My company allows us to home at the same time or separately. We dont need to live near each other...true for my students too. So when my codriver gets off the truck I get paid solo. That is NOT true for all companies. We had people here saying their team only company only has team loads therefore they require team mates to live near each other, take home time at the same time, and even make them.wait at home without pay if their team mate quits or gets fired and they are finding a new teammate.

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.

Old School's Comment
member avatar

J.D., trucking is considered an asset based business. Their trucks are the assets they utilize for turning a profit. Home time means assets are sitting idle. That's not good for the bottom line. That's the primary reason home time is limited. Exceptional drivers who have proven to be consistently hyper productive will always get special consideration and preferential treatment. Their equipment produces great numbers, so they are allowed privileges that others seldom see.

Generally when you see a company allowing extended home time, it comes with a caveat. That caveat is that you clean your gear out of the truck so someone else can keep it moving and producing revenues. A driver sitting at home isn't hurting them so bad as a truck sitting at a driver's house. If they have additional people who can keep that truck moving, that's what they want to do. They have a considerable investment in their assets. That's why they need them working and producing revenues. That's what the trucking business is all about - trucks moving freight.

OWI:

Operating While Intoxicated

Truckin Along With Kearse's Comment
member avatar

Also....better drivers get newer trucks. As a newbie I got a used truck.only 2 years old but still have 238k miles. As an experienced producing driver I got a brand new truck.. 2020 in March of 2019. I get to choose my students because I am good and they want me to produce more like me. So basically whatever I say I get "10/4 thanks be safe" as a response. I can stop training at any time and they would not be as pleased.

Example...yesterday we picked up a load from WA. Another prime driver was there headed to our terminal. My appointment time was extended. So I messaged dispatch telling them.i wanted to swap loads with the other guy. An hour later I got a message saying his is my preplan. It gabe me time to pick up supplies at the terminal and grab some extra sleep. BUT....it also allowed me to add 1400 miles to this pay week.

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.

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.

Rob T.'s Comment
member avatar

JD that 1 year experience carriers like to see means turning miles as well. If your work history shows you were an OTR driver but only had 50k miles its possible you'll be overlooked for other opportunities. Personally I think it'd be difficult to improve your skills if you're taking 3 weeks off regularly so early in your career. Heck, just being off a week sometimes it gets interesting!

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.

J.D.'s Comment
member avatar

Joseph, I don't want to be co-opting your "Prime" topic here! Would you prefer I drag this expanded discussion to a fresh thread?

Meantime...Always good to get the opportunity to clarify mis-impressions I create, so thanx as always for the honest feedback, Rob... No matter how careful I am with my words, misunderstandings seem all-too easy to creep in (though the carefulness does help, which is why I try so hard, though still probably not hard enough)...

...I wasn't at all saying anything like that I wanted to pull off a regular schedule of, say, 3 weeks on, 3 weeks off, just that the flexibility if it's needed at times is an apparent rarity (at nearly any job) that I can really appreciate. Since...you know, stuff can happen these days! Long story short, not as much to do with me directly, but a serious crisis at home in the next year is a strong possibility (such as major surgery after which I'm needed for a few weeks, which slowed things down a lot for me during school, but was fine with them). And I'd much rather that not have "whatever" be an emergency L.O.A., but more a built-in flexible job situation that doesn't majorly inconvenience my employer, who naturally passes the stress on to me.

To me, IF it's possible for them, it's a show of real caring that you're truly a valued member of a smallish company's team, and not just industry standard lip service they all seem to (understandably) have to claim in order to compete to attract drivers. Such a company's a place I could easily see myself staying until retirement, but if for good reason I wanted to go elsewhere after a year, good to know that all home time off would still count as fully employed for that year. You may be right, but so far I trust the Placement Director, who knows the company very well, saying that the record would show you put in a full year. Is it industry standard to have to establish how many miles were driven when changing companies? Never heard of that, and the ads all simply say stuff like "minimum 1 year experience", and what he said is you just have to have a year in good standing with them to get the credit, and that companies do vary that way. Of COURSE the more actual experience the better, but I doubt I'd be worried about not having a "solid" year of driving, what, over 300 long days the way most have to, in order to qualify elsewhere for a dedicated western route that gets me home every week.

(I’ve already written a response to O.S. and Kearsey’s thoughtful feedback, but will hold off awhile as I want to think through it all a little more... Plus I’m well aware I’m probably bombarding this forum, and this thread, with more than my share of words…though that dynamic will be changing as soon as I manage to "get a REAL job"! ;-).......

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