Newbie Here, But Does This Pass The Sniff Test?

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Adrock's Comment
member avatar

Hello everyone!

I've been lurking for a bit, finally took the plunge and got registered here. First post, go easy on me please! My name is Adam, living in the Houston area, married, early 40's, 1 kid but he's grown and out of the house. My wife used to have a job that involved project work and took her away from home for 4-6 weeks at a time, so we're not worried about the time apart involved with this life, we know we can work through it. I'm here because it's time to make a career pivot, just got my CLP and readying up for school. I've been speaking with Schneider and planning to join their CDL Apprentice Program up in Dallas. I've read some of the welcome kit materials on here like the e-book and such, and searched and read previous posts, lots of good info, but not seeing my scenario exactly so thought I'd post and hear some expert opinions.

I initially went to a Schneider hiring event at their Houston terminal. I was advised to apply online, which I did. The recruiting team called and told me a bit about the program and told me to call them back once I had my CLP. I called them Thursday as soon as I got home from the DMV. They said that for my zip code, the only position they had available was Dedicated for Coca Cola and would only cover Central & SE Texas plus OKC. I was surprised that they didn't have any OTR availability but he said that was all they have right now. Seemed odd for a large carrier that does hiring events about every other week in Houston. So they made me a conditional offer over the phone and said next step would be to have a 20-30 minute call with a recruiter to go over the details. He asked if I could do it now, I said sure. He tried to transfer me, then came back and said everyone was busy and wanted to know if I would like to schedule a call-back. I agreed, thinking it would be later that day or the next day. No! Earliest appointment is 2 weeks out? That also seemed odd. He sent me some links, told me I had to apply for that position online and also register for the DOT clearinghouse. After digging around on their website later in the evening, I punched in my zip code and found they have an OTR position covering eastern 27 states based out of Houston and a Regional position available covering the central 24 states also based out of Houston. All this is starting to sound a little shady to me.

The average and top-end annualized pay are lower than the OTR and Regional positions they have posted. It claims 100% no-touch dry van , 85% drop and hook , average 5 loads per week, average 2100 miles per week, home weekends. Frankly if it's 1 load per day but staying in Central & SE Texas, I don't see how that can even add up to 2100 miles in a week when Houston to Dallas is only about 250, Austin and San Antonio are even less.

From what I have read here, seems like most people start (or at least recommend starting) out in OTR to maximize learning in the first year. After they offered this, I started thinking maybe it's a good thing, get some experience in the truck, driving, backing, etc, with some consistency in the routes and docks. In other words, fewer variables while I build my general comfort and confidence levels. On the other hand, is it limiting my learning curve too much? And why would they say this is all they have when their website says otherwise? Maybe it's a crappy position similar to the "dollar general" gigs and such that I've been reading horror stories about? For those of you with more experience, would I be well-served to push for OTR instead? Or perhaps take it, get a few months experience with it and then try to transfer out (within the company so I don't have to pay them back) to a OTR position? Bottom line, I don't want to commit to them and then end up stuck in a position for a year that is not going to set me up for a successful career in the long run. If this is all they are offering for now, am I better off looking to another company to train with instead? I'm hoping maybe someone has knowledge of this position and can share some insight.

Sorry for the long post. I don't want to put the horse before the cart, but seems like they are wanting me to pick a path before I have even started school, so don't want to make a poor choice right from the start. Thank you and looking forward to hearing your thoughts and learning from the pros!

Thanks, Adam

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.

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.

PackRat's Comment
member avatar

Unless there's some reason you need to be home more often than once every few weeks, I would highly recommend OTR to start your career with. I would need to know much more about any dedicated account before signing up.

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.

Big Scott (CFI's biggest 's Comment
member avatar

Don't limit your search to one company. CFI, has a drop yard in Houston, a terminal in Laredo, a new terminal just outside of Dallas, and many cross boarder drop yards in Texas. Most OTR companies have facilities in Texas due to the amount of freight into and out of the state.

Good luck

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.

Adrock's Comment
member avatar

Hi PackRat. I appreciate the reply!

No specific need to be home regularly. In fact I fully expected to be OTR starting out. I was surprised when that is what they offered and even asked about OTR but the guy said that's all they had. I might give them another call and see if I get a different person to speak with and maybe get a different answer. In case that is truly all they can do for me, what are the questions you would ask them about the dedicated account, if you were in my shoes? Being new to this, not sure what I should looking out for, red flags and such.

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.

Mikey B.'s Comment
member avatar

Hi PackRat. I appreciate the reply!

No specific need to be home regularly. In fact I fully expected to be OTR starting out. I was surprised when that is what they offered and even asked about OTR but the guy said that's all they had. I might give them another call and see if I get a different person to speak with and maybe get a different answer. In case that is truly all they can do for me, what are the questions you would ask them about the dedicated account, if you were in my shoes? Being new to this, not sure what I should looking out for, red flags and such.

Honestly, I'd say a company the size of Schneider will ALWAYS have open OTR gigs. He was probably trying to fill a specific position. There are tons of reputable companies all hiring OTR, if you stick with Schneider I'd deal with someone else. Also, 2100 miles is not very many for a week. I average about 3000 per week. When you say Houston to Dallas is only 250....you have to get back to the starting point so it ends up being 250 there and 250 back, 500 per day x 5 days a week is 2500 per week. Regardless, stick with OTR if that's what you're looking for, you should have no problems getting hired somewhere, often with a sign on bonus these days. Don't get talked into teaming either...or lease purchase.

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.

EPU:

Electric Auxiliary Power Units

Electric APUs have started gaining acceptance. These electric APUs use battery packs instead of the diesel engine on traditional APUs as a source of power. The APU's battery pack is charged when the truck is in motion. When the truck is idle, the stored energy in the battery pack is then used to power an air conditioner, heater, and other devices

Adrock's Comment
member avatar

Thanks Big Scott, I'll check it out!

Don't limit your search to one company. CFI, has a drop yard in Houston, a terminal in Laredo, a new terminal just outside of Dallas, and many cross boarder drop yards in Texas. Most OTR companies have facilities in Texas due to the amount of freight into and out of the state.

Good luck

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.

Adrock's Comment
member avatar

Thanks, Mikey B. See, that's what I thought too, hence my wondering if passed the sniff test. I'll be honest, I didn't think much of it at first, but after seeing the other positions posted on their own website with availability for my zip code, I started feeling like they were just trying to fill an undesirable position and selling it as "this is all we have..." I will give them another call and see what's up.

One lingering question in my mind though-- I understand that OTR will get me as much experience as possible, more so than other roles. In my (inexperienced) brain, though, there is a part of me that thinks starting out with something like what they offered could still have merit. I DO want to learn, but is it necessary/important to cram the bulk of it into my first year or is there benefit to starting out with more limited variables (i.e. consistent routes, limited number of different docks/yards) and then expanding from there? In other words, learn a bit, expand and grow more later vs splash around in a bathtub for a couple weeks and then test your mettle by diving headfirst into the deep end? I know most seem to argue in favor of the latter but curious to better understand why that is, i.e. what am I not factoring in?

Honestly, I'd say a company the size of Schneider will ALWAYS have open OTR gigs. He was probably trying to fill a specific position. There are tons of reputable companies all hiring OTR, if you stick with Schneider I'd deal with someone else. Also, 2100 miles is not very many for a week. I average about 3000 per week. When you say Houston to Dallas is only 250....you have to get back to the starting point so it ends up being 250 there and 250 back, 500 per day x 5 days a week is 2500 per week. Regardless, stick with OTR if that's what you're looking for, you should have no problems getting hired somewhere, often with a sign on bonus these days. Don't get talked into teaming either...or lease purchase.

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.

EPU:

Electric Auxiliary Power Units

Electric APUs have started gaining acceptance. These electric APUs use battery packs instead of the diesel engine on traditional APUs as a source of power. The APU's battery pack is charged when the truck is in motion. When the truck is idle, the stored energy in the battery pack is then used to power an air conditioner, heater, and other devices

Harvey C.'s Comment
member avatar

When my son was looking for a change I helped him look using Indeed and it seemed to be pretty good in showing different job offerings a trucking company had. I don't know how comprehensive this is, they might only post jobs they are most aggressively recruiting for (and maybe recruiters get paid more for filling those positions)? I searched Schneider at Houston and only saw dedicated and part-time jobs there:

https://www.indeed.com/jobs?q=Schneider+Trucking&l=Houston%2C+TX&radius=50 (sorry, posting hot link wouldn't work)

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.

OWI:

Operating While Intoxicated

Adrock's Comment
member avatar

Thank you, Harvey C. I'll check it out. In my case, though, I was finding more availability on their own company website than what the recruiter was offering me over the phone which just seemed a little shady.

When my son was looking for a change I helped him look using Indeed and it seemed to be pretty good in showing different job offerings a trucking company had. I don't know how comprehensive this is, they might only post jobs they are most aggressively recruiting for (and maybe recruiters get paid more for filling those positions)? I searched Schneider at Houston and only saw dedicated and part-time jobs there:

https://www.indeed.com/jobs?q=Schneider+Trucking&l=Houston%2C+TX&radius=50 (sorry, posting hot link wouldn't work)

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.

OWI:

Operating While Intoxicated

CM59's Comment
member avatar

I’m 26 and have only been at this for 9 months now. My company sent me out OTR for the first three months before becoming regional. It was some of the best learning and time out I had so far. I would drive out from FL to Kansas then out to CO, Washington, Montana, Cali, etc.

Even though it was a limited time it gave me a much better opportunity to learn and build daily routines, as well as experience a variety of shippers/consignees. Regional I deal with the same places over and over.

I had much more time and leeway to learn given I ran on recap, driving 8-9 hours a day versus pushing my clock to its limit every day. When I joined on the regional route it was another learning experience getting used to that. I enjoy the hell out of it though.

Just an observation but some drivers I’ve met who went regional out the gate became jaded with it.

Consignee:

The customer the freight is being delivered to. Also referred to as "the receiver". The shipper is the customer that is shipping the goods, the consignee is the customer receiving the goods.

Shipper:

The customer who is shipping the freight. This is where the driver will pick up a load and then deliver it to the receiver or consignee.

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.

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.

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