Prime Inc - Flatbed/Reefer - CDL Trainee

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Moose's Comment
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My journey with Prime starts today. Subject to onboarding processes, I expect to start on Monday, November 8 in Salt Lake City. I spent more than three months investigating researching the various 'starter' companies and this one constantly jumped to the top of my life in terms of quality of training, positives vibe from communicating with current/past Prime drivers, and positive experience communicating with recruiting.

Flatbed has always been my long-term goal, so I was pleased when the recruiter told me that it was between that and reefer given my recruiting location (CA). I'll update this journal from time to time and share as much information that I can (company permitting) for anyone who may be researching starting with Prime Inc. Feel free to post questions; I will answer them as time permits.

A little background: for the better half of my career I've worked behind a desk. I've never liked it. I have been wanting to get out OTR for close to 15 years. The timing is finally right so I decided to switch gears and look into options for obtaining my CDL. Unfortunately, most of the self-paid CDL programs in California leave a lot to be desired, and most would involve me renting a room for the duration of the program. It was an easy decision to consider company-sponsored options. For the reasons above, I ultimately decided to go with Prime.

Stay tuned for more & safe travels.

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.

Reefer:

A refrigerated trailer.

Mountain Matt's Comment
member avatar

I'm looking forward to following along! I assume there is extra training involved for learning the flatbed side of things. When does that happen--after your TNT (30K miles)?

All the best to you!

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 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.

Anne A. (G13Momcat)'s Comment
member avatar

My journey with Prime starts today. Subject to onboarding processes, I expect to start on Monday, November 8 in Salt Lake City. I spent more than three months investigating researching the various 'starter' companies and this one constantly jumped to the top of my life in terms of quality of training, positives vibe from communicating with current/past Prime drivers, and positive experience communicating with recruiting.

Flatbed has always been my long-term goal, so I was pleased when the recruiter told me that it was between that and reefer given my recruiting location (CA). I'll update this journal from time to time and share as much information that I can (company permitting) for anyone who may be researching starting with Prime Inc. Feel free to post questions; I will answer them as time permits.

A little background: for the better half of my career I've worked behind a desk. I've never liked it. I have been wanting to get out OTR for close to 15 years. The timing is finally right so I decided to switch gears and look into options for obtaining my CDL. Unfortunately, most of the self-paid CDL programs in California leave a lot to be desired, and most would involve me renting a room for the duration of the program. It was an easy decision to consider company-sponsored options. For the reasons above, I ultimately decided to go with Prime.

Stay tuned for more & safe travels.

Are you still on path to start November 8th, Chris?

I'd suggest you read Turtle's & Chief Brody's diaries, prior to your flatbed experience with Prime, and also ANYTHING posted by Old School, as well.

Best wishes!!

~ Anne ~

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.

Reefer:

A refrigerated trailer.

Turtle's Comment
member avatar

Any updates Chris? Are you still on track to go to Prime? We're watching.

Moose's Comment
member avatar

Update! (Part 1 of 2)

I started on November 8th, as planned. This first week has been a wild ride.

Every day begins at 6 AM in the hotel lobby of the Ramada Inn (SLC airport) where all students congregate after a full English breakfast. No complaints by me. The hotel is comfortable, the food is great, and it's quiet. It's not the cleanest, and it does have a slight museum-like smell. I saw this in the reviews for the accommodations and resolved it by bringing some citrus spray to give the room a good once-over. Problem solved! The rooms themselves have a good size fridge in which I keep food and drinks. There's a microwave in the room as well. And the breakfast room adjacent to the front lobby has piping hot water and coffee 24/7. This is not a vacation destination hotel, but it's way above adequate for the duration of the training.

A shuttle driver (whom you'll get to know well) makes rounds from the front lobby to the Prime Inc. facility which is about an 8-minute drive down the road. Students who are in their 2nd week will be wearing bright vests since they'll be training on the tarmac. They get picked up first and the new students get picked up 2nd. Be ready to go when he arrives. The times are variable given traffic, etc. Everyone is shuttled by 7 AM, it seems.

Prior to arriving, I had heard good things about the facilities that Prime Inc. maintains, but I was still VERY surprised when I arrived on day 1. They've truly outdone themselves. It's a massive building with all kinds of state of the art equipment for training (computer lab, lecture hall, and simulator training room), as well as all kinds of amenities (billiards/ping-pong tables, a full-size indoor basketball court with cardio exercise machines, a separate weight training room, a spa/hair center, company store), and a cafeteria with all kinds of delicious options on the menu sold at discounted prices. The facilities are impeccably maintained, brightly lit, and it honestly feels like a comfortable safe haven that full-time truckers would want to stop and hang out in while traveling across the US and getting their trucks serviced/repaired or getting upgraded with further training. In short: I was impressed.

The two guys who manage orientation and simulator training are consummate professionals who approach teaching us with a nice mix of humor and seriousness. All the students seem very happy with their interactions with both of these guys. They set the bar pretty dang high. But they also instilled a ton of confidence in all of us students starting from day 1. Their offices are always open and they're always eager to respond to any questions we ask. I have no doubt they hear the same questions over and over, week after week, and yet they answer them kindly and genuinely no matter what the question is. I couldn't have asked for better instructors for my CDL training. I feel very lucky to have started my CDL journey here.

The first week begins with housekeeping matters (rules, protocols, and general advice), then proceeds to computer-based training. This is really just a quick way for a ton of information to be thrown at you. Although many of the topics are dry, the videos are engaging enough, that even after a day and a half of sitting in front of a computer screen, I felt like I picked up a lot of useful information. Some students sped through the videos and took the end-of-video quizzes only to finish early and tap their toes waiting. The rest of us watched all videos from the beginning to end. I took notes on topics I had limited knowledge of and plan to read/study further.

After computer-based training, we had a series of lectures over the next couple of days. Some of the topics are dry but the instructors did a decent job of mixing them with discussions, Q&A's and humor. I filled up half a small notebook scribbling notes during the first few days. I recommend doing the same. You'll receive a ton of information in a very short period of time.

On the second or third day, we started on a simulator. To call it a video game would be an insult. It's a massive three-panel wrap-around computer display with a replica Freightliner ****pit -- trucker seat and in-truck dashboard. While it's not a perfect replacement for the real thing, I found it very useful when one of the trainers was giving us instructions for learning various backing maneuvers and safe handling of a truck in various scenarios (construction, accident, snowy/icy conditions). Another major confidence boost and we haven't even touched a live truck at this point.

By the end of Day 4, the majority of us in the cohort have been cleared (background check) to move on to the next stage and we've been issued our ID's. Everything feels very real at this point for most of us and our excitement level if through the roof.

A lot of the students from my cohort are from California, so we have a lot in common. Conversations are friendly and honestly, I have not met a single person that I didn't like. Everyone is cordial, warm, and polite. Age range and background varies. This company lives up to its reputation of embracing diversity. A lot of positive vibes here!

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.

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.

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

Moose's Comment
member avatar

Update! (Part 2 of 2)

On Day 4-5 we're out on the tarmac with the Cascadia's we'll be training on. We've been given a 10-page document that outlines a perfect Pre-Trip Inspection and we're let loose on various trucks to begin teaching ourselves. There are trainers floating around who are happy to answer any questions we have. Pick their brains! I learned some awesome mnemonic devices and narratives to help learn some of the complicated aspects of the Pre-Trip. I'm breaking down my pre-trip section by second and working hard to get 100% every time. I want to feel comfortable enough that it becomes second nature, like saying my A-B-C's. I feel like if I can visualize my entire pre-trip and know it by heart that I could recite it over a phone call to someone else looking at the truck, I'll be able to pass my Pre-Trip inspection test with flying colors.

It's worth noting that there are some other cohorts who started 1-3 weeks prior to my cohort who are still out on the tarmac working on their pre-trip or learning the backing maneuvers on a live truck. It's not clear whether these students are struggling or if there's just a backlog of students and a shortage of instructors/trainer trucks. But I've noticed that a number of students at THIS state in the training are spending inordinate amounts of time talking to each other about their future career plans, vaping, or holding up the sky with their hands in their pockets. I personally am using every second I'm out there to work on my pre-trip, rehearsing it over and over and over. I'm not the quickest study, so that's really the only way I can learn. Rehearse, rehearse, rehearse. I'm teaching fellow students to help reinforce what I'm studying, and I'm asking them to grade my performance as I do it over and over again. I feel like my cohort has a lot of strong students who are super eager to master this component so that they can get into the truck as soon as possible. I expect to spend the next 3-4 days focusing on mastering my pre-trip. I'd love to be able to have one of the trainers watch my Pre-Trip and give me an evaluation no later than next Tuesday. Our Director of Orientation (primary instructor) said it was perfectly fine to approach the trainers on the tarmac and let them know when you feel ready to be evaluated for pre-trip. That wraps up the first 5 days with Prime Inc. in Salt Lake City, Utah!

Some addendum:

We don't have weekends off during training. We will continue to show up at 7 am on Saturdays and Sundays. There's ample opportunity to get adequate rest and breaks. I'm actually pleased that the program is continuous. It was mentioned by someone that if we are still working on the tarmac in a week or so, we would likely have a day or two break. Honestly, I'm hoping that I'm inside a PSD trainers truck before that happens!

For the first 4 1/2 days, we were given meal coupons to cover meal costs at the short-order grill and grab-and-go food options in the cafeteria. The food at this facility is great. I personally adhere to a keto diet, and I was able to eat plenty of healthy modified lunches and dinners to suit my eating style. On Fridays, there's a company-wide safety meeting and a free breakfast is offered. I had a 12oz steak and eggs and it was scrumptious! Will definitely be doing that again. :)

Moving forward, I'll be prepping lunches and dinners with supplies I pick up at the grocery store and keep in my fridge at the hotel. It definitely wouldn't hurt to have a lunch pack with an ice-pack to keep food fresh for lunches on Prime campus. But the cafeteria prices are very reasonable so there's always that option!

On the 3rd day, I was pulled from class to take a very quick physical agility test for drivers who are pursuing flatbed division. It was composed of two repetitions of lifting a 60 lb tarp to a height of approximately 6 feet (mimicking a FB skateboard), lifting with legs (not back!). I was given some advice on how to lift the tarp a different way the 2nd time, and it definitely helped. My form felt good. Probably a difficult test if you're someone who is petite or you lack muscle tone. For me, it was a friendly reminder that I need to use my kettlebells/free weights more. But honestly, I'm thrilled that I'll get some paid 'weight lifting' between loads. I was told I passed; I haven't learned when I will begin training for flatbed specifically. But I know that I will have a 2-day class on proper securement for FB loads. I'll be sure to do a write-up when that time comes.

Thanks for reading. Sorry for any errors in grammar/spelling above. I'm writing this with heavy eyes that are ready to hit the pillow after a long week. Every night ends with me reviewing my pre-trip inspection and slowly eating the elephant, learning 10-15 new items before going to bed. When I take a shower in the morning I like to talk to myself doing the pre-trip. I do it again on the road to class. And again on breaks. I feel like I'm living and breathing trucking right now, and honestly, I love it. I haven't felt this happy in a very long time.

Thank you all for your comments above! I'll be sure to check out those other write-ups before commencing flatbed.

If you have any questions relevant to the first (5) days, please ask away. I'm only going to post updates once a week. Learning is taking up most of my time; sleep and rest and eating healthy consume all the rest of my time. I will answer short ?'s between major posts!

Cheers!

Moose

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.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.

PSD:

Prime Student Driver

Prime Inc has a CDL training program and the first phase is referred to as PSD. You'll get your permit and then 10,000 miles of on the road instruction.

The following is from Prime's website:

Prime’s PSD begins with you obtaining your CDL permit. Then you’ll go on the road with a certified CDL instructor for no less than 75 hours of one-on-one behind the wheel training. After training, you’ll return to Prime’s corporate headquarters in Springfield, Missouri, for final CDL state testing and your CDL license.

Obtain CDL Permit / 4 Days

  • Enter program, study and test for Missouri CDL permit.
  • Start driving/training at Prime Training Center in Springfield, Missouri.
  • Work toward 40,000 training dispatched miles (minimum) with food allowance while without CDL (Food allowance is paid back with future earnings).

On-the-Road Instruction / 10,000 Miles

  • Train with experienced certified CDL instructor for 3-4 weeks in a real world environment.
  • Get 75 hours of behind-the-wheel time with one-on-one student/instructor ratio.
  • Earn 10,000 miles toward total 40,000 miles needed.

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.

TwoSides11's Comment
member avatar

Glad to read your enjoying yourself. Prime seems similar to TMC when I was there for a brief period of time. Keep studying and learning all you can. Good luck! Hope it works out for you at Prime

Moose's Comment
member avatar

double-quotes-end.png

Are you still on path to start November 8th, Chris?

I'd suggest you read Turtle's & Chief Brody's diaries, prior to your flatbed experience with Prime, and also ANYTHING posted by Old School, as well.

Best wishes!!

~ Anne ~

These are great reads. Thanks for sharing this with me Anne! :)

We took a personality assessment on the first day of training that helps Prime Inc. match us with a trainer that aligns with our personality type. I hope I filled out that questionnaire well enough to attract the likes of one of these kinds of flatbed drivers.

Moose's Comment
member avatar

I'm looking forward to following along! I assume there is extra training involved for learning the flatbed side of things. When does that happen--after your TNT (30K miles)?

All the best to you!

Matt. Stay tuned! I'll be sure to answer this question as soon as I find out. Prime TNT is division-specific. So I believe they'll have me do a flatbed Bootcamp prior to TNT, but after I take my CDL examination.

The order of operations is: Recruiting --> Orientation --> Paid Student Driver --> CDL Examination --> Return home to finalize CDL and wait for TNT Driver --> TNT Over-the-Road

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.

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 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.

Mountain Matt's Comment
member avatar

Matt. Stay tuned! I'll be sure to answer this question as soon as I find out. Prime TNT is division-specific. So I believe they'll have me do a flatbed Bootcamp prior to TNT, but after I take my CDL examination.

The order of operations is: Recruiting --> Orientation --> Paid Student Driver --> CDL Examination --> Return home to finalize CDL and wait for TNT Driver --> TNT Over-the-Road

********************************

Thanks for the info, Moose! Interesting posts... good to hear the details for Prime SLC, which I hear less about. Glad things are going well for you!

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.

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.

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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