TMC Apprentice Orientation Experience

Topic 29446 | Page 1

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Asher H.'s Comment
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This is mostly a 'for posterity' post about my experience at Apprentice orientation for TMC. That is to say, I'm not looking for input but will be happy to answer any questions. Spoiler alert: I dropped out.

So TMC was one of few companies that sent recruiters to my school. A family friend worked for them for about two years before switching to a local (home every day) job but held them in high regard, so I was kind of biased towards them from the beginning. Additionally I let myself get 'sold' by the field recruiter and his photos of loads consisting of heavy equipment. It wasn't until after I scheduled orientation that I spoke to a former driver and learned what was really in store for me. Basically, drivers generally deliver and pick up loads each day. The week ends with the pick up of the load to be delivered first thing the next week.

Additionally, the majority of loads require tarping, which was the sticking point for me. I chose this field because I want to be OTR for long periods of time, and I just couldn't see that working for me with the circumstances involved with daily delivery and pick-up.

TMC does have specialty departments which is presumably what the recruiter's photos depicted, but they require experience: eight months for boats, two years for heavy equipment. Additionally these departments require one to live in the midwest (they specify particular states, but I don't recall which).

That being said, I think TMC would be a great company for anyone who was prepared for the realities of the job. Everyone I interacted with at the Columbia, SC facility was awesome. The head of the facility gave a talk on the first day, and was always available to students. When I decided to bow out, I went to talk to him (as he requested) and left on good terms.

The one criticism I have is that they don't really spell out the nature of the orientation until you get there. You generally have to be on site from 0700 to 1600. The first week is mostly classroom stuff, including several computerized tests. A word of warning: there's a basic math test, and some questions require you to type the answer (as opposed to multiple choice). Failing to put a dollar sign or comma (thousands separator) as appropriate will result in the answer being considered wrong even if it's "mathematically correct." So pay close attention to the example answer in those cases and format your input appropriately. The weekend is load securement training with another computerized test before leaving Sunday afternoon. The second week is driving and backing (45 degree). On the first week there's one late night for straight backing, on the second week there's one late night for extra backing or driving. On Tuesday of the second week you're put in touch with your Trainer Coordinator.

Another thing they don't point out prior to orientation is that you're pretty much expected to get with your trainer the Sunday after orientation is complete. Considering they don't guarantee any home time during training (it's based on the trainer's operational preferences) I was caught off guard by this. Myself and a few other students asked for a week before doing so, and were told by our Coordinators 'you have to work for the company for a year before requesting vacation'. That coupled with my doubts about daily pick-up/delivery prompted me to make the decision to bow out.

Another student had a baby on the way, with an inducement date and everything. He had informed his recruiter that he intended to be present for the birth and was told that wouldn't be an issue. His Coordinator had a different perspective apparently. Of the students that stuck around to that point, I heard more complaints re: Coordinators than anything else during orientation. They weren't located in the Columbia facility, though, which is why I say everyone *there* was great.

One other thing to keep in mind. The Columbia facility recently moved to a new hotel for lodging. My 'class' was actually the first in the new hotel, and it's nice. TMC's "standard" is double occupancy, but myself and some others were put in individual rooms upon arrival. We were later told not to get used to it, which is all fine and well. But when rooms freed up they had the *hotel staff* move our stuff to our new rooms without forewarning. Despite the fact my new room was across the hall from the old, I had some stuff damaged, some stuff lost, and some food from the fridge left out on the counter. The hotel took responsibility for the damage, but IMO they never should have been put in the position in the first place. Luckily I wasn't moved until the second or third day and had overheard - and I stress *overheard*, we were not explicitly told to expect that our stuff would be moved by others - what was likely to happen, so I had the opportunity to repack (it was all food and vitamins that I didn't repack that were damaged/lost). So unless they've reevaluated this policy, anyone who ever finds himself without a roommate should consider himself warned.

AFAIK I'm not on the hook for anything, though I didn't get any pay, either for the first full week I attended or the promised stipend* for driving my own vehicle. Not that I'm complaining of course, as I didn't exactly make any money for them.

* Which is pitiful, but if you go with the rental you'll probably be carpooling with other students which is why I drove my own.

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.
Old School's Comment
member avatar

I let myself get 'sold' by the field recruiter and his photos of loads consisting of heavy equipment. It wasn't until after I scheduled orientation that I spoke to a former driver and learned what was really in store for me. Basically, drivers generally deliver and pick up loads each day. The week ends with the pick up of the load to be delivered first thing the next week.

Additionally, the majority of loads require tarping, which was the sticking point for me. I chose this field because I want to be OTR for long periods of time, and I just couldn't see that working for me with the circumstances involved with daily delivery and pick-up.

Asher, what is it that you are expecting out of trucking? In another post you claim you have narrowed it down to dry van. What do you think dry van truckers do? They pick up and deliver loads on a daily basis. Are you expecting to be given 3,000 mile loads that take six days to complete? That type expectation is completely false. Are you wanting to be a tourist or a trucker? This is a job that requires a lot of work, determination, and commitment. Most of your runs are going to be 300 to 500 miles and you will probably be picking up and delivering on a daily basis. Truckers deliver stuff - that's what we do. Shorter hauls are common because not only are they more efficient, but they pay better rates to the trucking company.

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.

Dry Van:

A trailer or truck that that requires no special attention, such as refrigeration, that hauls regular palletted, boxed, or floor-loaded freight. The most common type of trailer in trucking.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.
Rob T.'s Comment
member avatar

Thank you for sharing you opinion and experiences at TMC. Its unfortunate that TMC wasn't what you hoped. It may seem petty to you for them to mark an answer wrong because you forgot a dollar sign but there's very good reason for it. Its not much different than TMC sending people home for ignoring signs and walking on the grass. There are a million things as a driver you need to pay attention to and one way they can see if you do that is with these tests. Also math is very important as a flatbed driver so you can calculate the amount of securement needed for your load.

Its common to not home during training. Most times when someone gets their career underway it can be 2 months (or longer) before they go home. Typically one of the first solo loads you have will get you by the house to stock your truck and hopefully get a couple days off.

I agree with Old School that its strange you're looking at dry van if you hated the idea of picking up and delivering a different load every day. Dry van MAY have more drop and hooks so you're not waiting long but that can easily waste MORE time due to other drivers not getting needed repairs made before dropping it.

Every division of trucking has pros and cons. It all depends on how important you view it. Reefer will have short loads as well, but you're more likely to get a longer run. The problem is grocery warehouses and meat packing plants love to take forever, plus the appointments in the middle of the night many drivers choose not to do reefer.

Dry Van:

A trailer or truck that that requires no special attention, such as refrigeration, that hauls regular palletted, boxed, or floor-loaded freight. The most common type of trailer in trucking.

Reefer:

A refrigerated trailer.

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.

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.

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