Getting Ready To Go Roehl

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Jim W.'s Comment
member avatar

Hi all,

Just a middle-aged guy trying a new path in life. I was born and raised in central NJ and have lived here my whole life. My dad was in heavy construction and my mom was a homemaker until us kids got older. I became a volunteer firefighter / EMT, which is where I got my introduction to driving heavy vehicles. I worked for public works and drove dump trucks and garbage trucks. I developed my fondness for big vehicles early on. I had my class B CDL and always wanted to upgrade to class A, but providing for a young family took precedent.

My main career was as a refinery operator in Linden, NJ. I left there following a minor medical issue that has since been resolved. For the past few years, I've been working as a massage therapist. That was supposed to be the semi-retirement career that would allow my wife and me to take the time we wanted to do things for ourselves now that the kids are older. Aaaand then we separated. So I came back around to thinking about getting my class A CDL and was kicking that around for a little while. As the dumpster fire that was 2020 was coming to an end, my cousin died unexpectedly in mid-December. He was only 47 and was like a brother to me. We grew up together, we were in the fire department together, and saw him almost every day until I was 30. Right after he died, I got Covid and pneumonia and it was looking kinda serious for a couple of days. So after I was out of the woods and on the road to recovery, I decided I'm not wasting any more time. I did a ton of research, studied my butt off, and passed my tests to get my CLP. Soon I'll be headed out to Marshfield WI to start training with Roehl. They were in the top couple of companies I was looking at, and what clinched it for me is the structure of their training program. I like the idea that the pre-test training will be at the facility and then the OTR portion is run as a solo truck.

As I've said before, this site is an invaluable resource and has helped me research and prepare for these next steps. See you on the road soon.

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.

OWI:

Operating While Intoxicated

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.

John H.'s Comment
member avatar

All the best to you!

Hi all,

Just a middle-aged guy trying a new path in life. I was born and raised in central NJ and have lived here my whole life. My dad was in heavy construction and my mom was a homemaker until us kids got older. I became a volunteer firefighter / EMT, which is where I got my introduction to driving heavy vehicles. I worked for public works and drove dump trucks and garbage trucks. I developed my fondness for big vehicles early on. I had my class B CDL and always wanted to upgrade to class A, but providing for a young family took precedent.

My main career was as a refinery operator in Linden, NJ. I left there following a minor medical issue that has since been resolved. For the past few years, I've been working as a massage therapist. That was supposed to be the semi-retirement career that would allow my wife and me to take the time we wanted to do things for ourselves now that the kids are older. Aaaand then we separated. So I came back around to thinking about getting my class A CDL and was kicking that around for a little while. As the dumpster fire that was 2020 was coming to an end, my cousin died unexpectedly in mid-December. He was only 47 and was like a brother to me. We grew up together, we were in the fire department together, and saw him almost every day until I was 30. Right after he died, I got Covid and pneumonia and it was looking kinda serious for a couple of days. So after I was out of the woods and on the road to recovery, I decided I'm not wasting any more time. I did a ton of research, studied my butt off, and passed my tests to get my CLP. Soon I'll be headed out to Marshfield WI to start training with Roehl. They were in the top couple of companies I was looking at, and what clinched it for me is the structure of their training program. I like the idea that the pre-test training will be at the facility and then the OTR portion is run as a solo truck.

As I've said before, this site is an invaluable resource and has helped me research and prepare for these next steps. See you on the road soon.

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.

OWI:

Operating While Intoxicated

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.

Andrey's Comment
member avatar

Good luck, Jim! I was trained in Marshfield too, and am very glad. You will stay at a very nice hotel for 3 weeks, then you test, get your WI CDL , go home for about a week, pick up a CDL from your state, then go for 3 weeks OTR with a trainer, test again at one of the terminals, and get your own truck. Formally they call the first 6 weeks of solo driving 'phase 3 training,' but the only difference is you still have a training fleet manager , otherwise you start earning what they told you at the beginning.

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.

Fleet 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.
Jim W.'s Comment
member avatar

Thanks, I working out the travel plans right now, since there's no direct bus or train line to Marshfield. The closest I can get is about a half hour out. Waiting to hear back about shuttle availability.

Jim W.'s Comment
member avatar

The ticket is paid for and Friday morning I'll be on the train headed for Wisconsin. Orientation starts March 22 in Marshfield. I could have gone to Appleton on the 29th but they train on manuals in Marshfield. I know manuals are becoming less common each year but I figured if I can my CDL without the restriction, what the hell, just gives me more options.

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.
Chris E.'s Comment
member avatar

Congrats Jim, good luck!

The ticket is paid for and Friday morning I'll be on the train headed for Wisconsin. Orientation starts March 22 in Marshfield. I could have gone to Appleton on the 29th but they train on manuals in Marshfield. I know manuals are becoming less common each year but I figured if I can my CDL without the restriction, what the hell, just gives me more options.

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.
Jim W.'s Comment
member avatar

From the beginning to orientation.

After doing some research and experiencing some crappy events, I decided to take the plunge and train for an OTR job and lifestyle. My first decision was that I wanted to move fast and get training in the winter. I wanted to be able to see as many varied road situations as possible while I’m with a trainer. After that, I started researching companies. I started at 22 companies and eliminated the ones that didn’t train, or didn’t hire from my area. After that, it was a matter of weighing the pros and cons of each. And yes, I made a spreadsheet. While I am interested in flatbed, I wanted a company that had multiple divisions, preferably with a lot/terminal close to home. It got down to Roehl, Prime, or Veriha. While Veriha looks like a good choice, they only run dry vans. The choice between Roehl and Prime came down to the training setup. I liked that Roehl did the CDL skills prep fully out of the training facility and the TNT phase runs as a solo truck.

During this phase, I was also studying a ton. I went and got my physical done. It was company paid, but the prices around here run the gamut from $50 to $140. If you're planning on going for company-paid training, check to see if your choice pays for the physical. It sounds to me that even if you have your physical done, they might send you to the one they provide anyway, so save yourself the hassle.

So I passed my physical and went to the MVC the next day. I got my permit processed for $125. In NJ, because of Covid restrictions, they are only doing knowledge testing by appointment. You have to schedule your test online and the earliest I could get was 4 weeks later. Went back for the test and passed everything on the first shot (Thanks Trucking Truth!). I just told the woman at the testing center which endorsements I wanted to test for and they popped up on the computer screen one after the other.

I told my recruiter I had passed and things really kicked into gear. I sent him whatever forms or paperwork he needed either through email or through the Driver Pulse app. We agreed on a start date of March 22. With Roehl, you have to provide your own transportation to training, but if you take mass transit, they will send a shuttle to pick you up at the nearest station. I’ve gotten a phone call or email from my recruiter every couple of days so far, and he has been great about explaining everything.

Timeline so far: Feb 8, DOT physical - Feb 9, Scheduled knowledge test - Mar 9, passed knowledge test and got CLP - Mar 22, first day of orientation

As I write this I am T minus 22 hours to get on a train in Trenton NJ and head to Wisconsin.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Dave W.'s Comment
member avatar

Welcome brother and congratulations! I'm in phase 3 right now with Roehl and having a blast! These folks want you to succeed. I think you'll find that you made the right choice. I trained in GA at the Conley terminal and have only been to Marshfield once so far.

I wish you the best, and hope to see you out there. I'm in truck 6996, if you see me give me a wave.

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.

Jim W.'s Comment
member avatar

So it is the end of day 3 and they've been keeping us busy.

I took Amtrak to Tomah, about an hour South of Marshfield WI, and got in Saturday evening. After the long trip, I didn't feel much like eating and just went to bed in my room at the Econo-Lodge. There's a Denney's next to the motel and that's where I had lunch the next day. I met a couple of drivers there, one of whom works for Roehl, so I had some company for my meal. Right afterward, the shuttle showed up to bring me and one other newbie up to Marshfield. Turned out he was to be my roommate at the Hotel Marshfield.

The next morning we carpooled with some other trainees over to Roehl, about two miles away, to begin our new careers. Day one was mostly administrative stuff, company history, and some other basic stuff in the morning. In the afternoon we started safety information and introduction to equipment and the industry. The morning of the second day was about situational awareness, road safety, stopping distance, etc. In the afternoon we started practicing our pre-trip inspections on the range and started driving bobtail around the yard to practice shifting/clutch control. There are three trainees per truck and seat time is pretty much evenly divided. On day three we continued with our pre-trip practice after punching in, then into the classroom to go over proper turning setup and execution. There was also a demonstration of the workings of the fifth wheel. Back out to the range for some more bobtailing before lunch. After lunch, we coupled up to a trailer, went over trailer pre-trip, and drove around the practice field for a few hours.

There is a bunch of computer-based training that needs to be done and I've been knocking it out a little at a time in the evenings. Hopefully, by the end of this weekend, I will be able to knock it all out. So far so good. The instructors are all great and at nine trainees, we all seem to be getting enough attention.

Random thoughts so far: If you're coming to Marshfield, bring your own car if you can. There are plenty of restaurants and fast food as well as Walmart, Target, and Menards but they are a couple of miles away. There's a taxi service in town though if you need it.

The Hotel Marshfield has a free laundry room. If I had realized that, I would have packed a little lighter.

The practice field here is a dirt/red clay mix. If it rains for more than three minutes, it turns to sludge. Bring your booties. My recruiter told me to bring steel-toed boots. My roommate says his recruiter told him boots were optional. Guess who got his sneakers muddied?

There is a fair amount of computer-based training. You can do it on your phone, but it's much easier on a laptop.

The terminal has a couple of computers and a laundry room. Since you are an employee from day one, you are allowed to use them.

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.

Bobtail:

"Bobtailing" means you are driving a tractor without a trailer attached.

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.

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.
John H.'s Comment
member avatar

Great update! Keep em coming when you have the time!

So it is the end of day 3 and they've been keeping us busy.

I took Amtrak to Tomah, about an hour South of Marshfield WI, and got in Saturday evening. After the long trip, I didn't feel much like eating and just went to bed in my room at the Econo-Lodge. There's a Denney's next to the motel and that's where I had lunch the next day. I met a couple of drivers there, one of whom works for Roehl, so I had some company for my meal. Right afterward, the shuttle showed up to bring me and one other newbie up to Marshfield. Turned out he was to be my roommate at the Hotel Marshfield.

The next morning we carpooled with some other trainees over to Roehl, about two miles away, to begin our new careers. Day one was mostly administrative stuff, company history, and some other basic stuff in the morning. In the afternoon we started safety information and introduction to equipment and the industry. The morning of the second day was about situational awareness, road safety, stopping distance, etc. In the afternoon we started practicing our pre-trip inspections on the range and started driving bobtail around the yard to practice shifting/clutch control. There are three trainees per truck and seat time is pretty much evenly divided. On day three we continued with our pre-trip practice after punching in, then into the classroom to go over proper turning setup and execution. There was also a demonstration of the workings of the fifth wheel. Back out to the range for some more bobtailing before lunch. After lunch, we coupled up to a trailer, went over trailer pre-trip, and drove around the practice field for a few hours.

There is a bunch of computer-based training that needs to be done and I've been knocking it out a little at a time in the evenings. Hopefully, by the end of this weekend, I will be able to knock it all out. So far so good. The instructors are all great and at nine trainees, we all seem to be getting enough attention.

Random thoughts so far: If you're coming to Marshfield, bring your own car if you can. There are plenty of restaurants and fast food as well as Walmart, Target, and Menards but they are a couple of miles away. There's a taxi service in town though if you need it.

The Hotel Marshfield has a free laundry room. If I had realized that, I would have packed a little lighter.

The practice field here is a dirt/red clay mix. If it rains for more than three minutes, it turns to sludge. Bring your booties. My recruiter told me to bring steel-toed boots. My roommate says his recruiter told him boots were optional. Guess who got his sneakers muddied?

There is a fair amount of computer-based training. You can do it on your phone, but it's much easier on a laptop.

The terminal has a couple of computers and a laundry room. Since you are an employee from day one, you are allowed to use them.

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.

Bobtail:

"Bobtailing" means you are driving a tractor without a trailer attached.

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.

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.
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