Starting My New Career With Prime Inc.

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Victor J.'s Comment
member avatar

After reading several training diaries here, I've decided not only to start my career in trucking, but figured I should do my best to document it here to help others in the future when it come to getting an idea of how training could go. I apologize in advance for my less than great writing skills, and if updates aren't incredibly frequent once I get going in training, I have no idea how overwhelmed I will be or how much time I will have to post updates.

Short background, I'm still quite young in life, 24 years of age, growing up I really only have had 2 main hobbies/passtimes, working on cars, and building/work with computers and other technology. Ever since I can remember I've wanted to drive large trucks, my father drove for awhile when I was very young, and both my Uncle's had their CDL and drove OTR for years, one of them is still at it 25+ years after he started.

I've been looking into starting this career for a while now, but had no idea where to start. 4 years ago at the age of 20 I realized to go OTR I would need to be at least 21, and at the time several companies were telling me I had to be 23, so I was convinced I had to wait until I was 23, and stop looking into it further for a few years. After applying and contacting several companies last year, I realized I would need to have a fair bit in savings to afford the transition while in the unpaid training phase, I had to put plans on pause and start saving to accommodate this, but I am finally where I need to be to start this journey.

After spending the last month or 2 applying, talking to, and narrowing down options on where to start, I've decided on Prime Inc. They aren't located very far from home from training, offered very competitive pay both while in TNT training, and starting pay once I go solo. I will be driving reefer in a lightweight.

I was informed my my recruiter a couple weeks ago, that I would need to get my DOT Physical, Drug Test, and CLP with Tanker Endorsement prior to starting orientation. I started studying the handbook, and the app they suggested, CDL prep, and in the week leading up to the test starting the High Road Training Program here. So I am going to start entries today, where I first go to take my CLP tests.

March 3rd, 4:45am,

Waking up bright and early to get to the DMV to take my test for the CLP today, DMV/DPS around here is booked up for months on appointments, but mine here still accepts walk ins, so I must arrive well before their 8am opening time if I am to get a good spot in line.

5:45am,

I thought for sure being over 2 hours early was going to put me first in line. I was wrong, 2 people had beat me here by over an hour. No worries though, I'm still in the first few and should get to test quite early, only a couple hours to wait. During this time I'm getting some last minute studying in to make sure I'm good to go.

7:45am,

They opened the doors early, they went through the first 6 people in line, gave us a numbered ticket, and wrote down what we were there for today, onto the waiting room until its my turn to test.

8:20am,

My number is called, I go up to the appropriate desk, and give my all my documents, and fill out a couple forms, get my picture and fingerprints taken. Then then set me up on the next available test computer.

8:45am,

I was way more prepared than I thought, I flew right through all 4 test, ended up missing 1 or 2 from simply mis-reading a question that said something like "is NOT" or "Except" but that is okay, I still passed and got my permit. now onto get some celebratory breakfast, then back to my current job where I will be working out the next week and a half until my training date.

I'm not quite sure if its odd to include my experience with getting my permit here in my home state, didn't see many others do it but it was a notable step in this process to me, so I figured I'd document it.

I don't go to Springfield, MO to start my orientation until March 16th, my recruiter tells me its unusual, but due to the current virus concerns I wont be placed on a bus or plane, but rather be given a rental car to make the drive up there. I can't complain, I wasn't too excited for a bus ride anyways.

Probably won't be any updates until I am on my way to orientation, if anyone has any questions, comments, or recommendations on specific things I should make sure to document in detail during my training, please let me know.

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.

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.

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.

DMV:

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.

OWI:

Operating While Intoxicated

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 14ยข 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.

CLP:

Commercial Learner's Permit

Before getting their CDL, commercial drivers will receive their commercial learner's permit (CLP) upon passing the written portion of the CDL exam. They will not have to retake the written exam to get their CDL.

Old School's Comment
member avatar

That's a great start Victor! Now you have to follow through so we can follow along with you on your journey!

Wow, you've actually been considering this for quite a while. That's great!

I'm looking forward to following along, and I can assure you that others will greatly benefit from what you post about going through the whole training process. Thanks for starting this diary.

OWI:

Operating While Intoxicated

PackRat's Comment
member avatar

A dynamite intro for a training diary!

I'll be one of many following along. Don't be shy with any questions. There are quite a few Prime drivers on here actively.

OWI:

Operating While Intoxicated

Victor J.'s Comment
member avatar

Thanks Old School for the kind words. I am absolutely going to follow through with this career choice, im confident of that.

Now following through on this diary could prove challenging, never done this type of thing before ans never really thought about doing it until just the other day, but im going to do my best. Hopefully those who follow along can benefit in some way from learning how my experience goes.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.

OWI:

Operating While Intoxicated

Old School's Comment
member avatar

Victor, you will reap rewards yourself by doing a diary also. It will help you realize how much progress you are making. Some days you are going to be discouraged. Other days you are going to feel elated. It will help you to focus and see your real progress. Hang in there and feel free to question us about anything that is going on. We have so many Prime drivers in here that can help with specifics, and there are others here who can help with general questions.

Anne A. (G13Momcat)'s Comment
member avatar

A dynamite intro for a training diary!

I'll be one of many following along. Don't be shy with any questions. There are quite a few Prime drivers on here actively.

Victor J. ~ That was an AMAZING post. Wow....felt like I was along, with and for!

Can't offer up MUCH info as a 'wife of' person, but sure will be up in here, following along!

You got PackRat and Old School in your belt ... you're good! Two of the best!!!

Wishing you the BEST !! Would LOVE to follow along; absolutely!!

~ Anne ~

OWI:

Operating While Intoxicated

Victor J.'s Comment
member avatar

Small update for today, much more to come next week when orientation gets started.

March 3rd, 8:00am,

Today's the day it's official. Showed up to my current job, turned in my keys, uniforms, ect. and did all my exit paperwork. This job is behind me now and I'm looking forward to next Wednesday when my orientation starts, just waiting for final details from my recruiter.

11:39am,

Got a call from my recruiter, went over everything one last time and he gave me the information on picking up a rental car for my drive up to Springfield. Hopefully get something fuel efficient as I will be responsible for gas upfront to be reimbursed after training.

I'll be taking this weekend to get everything in order for being gone, spending time with friends and family, and all last minute preparations for taking this leap. If anyone has any advice on what to / not to bring let me know. Not sure if I should bring bedding(pillow/blanket) as they said I'll be going right from orientation to a truck with a trainer. How heavy/light am I expected to pack? I don't wanna have too big of a bag and take up unneeded room on a trainer's truck, but I also don't wanna be the guy that didn't bring enough clothes or outright forgot something that will be needed.

Turtle's Comment
member avatar

As far as how much stuff to bring with you on the truck, count on everything you bring having to sleep with you on the top bunk. Some trainers like myself will give you some room in a cabinet, but don't count on it. Pack lightly and efficiently. Bring enough clothes for a week, with extra socks and underwear for the really busy times.

A light sleeping bag and pillow will be sufficient in most cases. You'll have your own air and heat controls in the bunk while your trainer is driving, so don't worry too much about heavy blankets and such.

The campus inn where you'll be staying is a short walking distance from a walmart. So you can wait until you get there before buying some stuff, if you wish to make your trip easier.

Victor J.'s Comment
member avatar

Thanks Turtle for the info.

Would you say it would make sense then to make sure anything I bring tucks into a reasonably sized dufflebag? that way it should be able to fit easily on the bunk either behind a pillow or under my feet I would think. thinking of this also got me thinking, what kind of clothing is "typical" for this line of work? Is pants/jeans, t-shirt, and work boots every day required/the norm? or is it acceptable to wear shorts/cargo shorts or something similar? If I'll never really be able/allowed to wear shorts then there's no reason for me to pack any I'd suppose.

Turtle's Comment
member avatar

Yes, I brought a gym bag sized duffle stuffed to the gills with me to Prime, as well as a jacket and boots. I was in flatbed, so the dress was a little different than for reefer. I'm sure some warehouses may have a dress code, but shorts and sneakers are still acceptable in many places. Reefer drivers may chime in with better info on that.

Reefer:

A refrigerated trailer.

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