What Ever Happened To CK?

Topic 31081 | Page 1

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Trucker Chris (CK)'s Comment
member avatar

(Part 1/2)

Hey everyone! Long time no talk! I finally escaped Kearsey’s dungeon long enough to update my profile and make a post, and hopefully I will remain free long enough to hang out here and give back a bit.

I am still alive, still trucking and still loving (almost) every minute of it. I am so grateful that I stumbled upon Trucking Truth back in 2018, so grateful that some of you told me to hit the brakes before applying to….um, several of the companies out there…. and wait for Rainy (Kearsey) to tell me all about Prime Inc. Up until that point, I had only seen a Prime Inc truck a time or two despite living at CA-91 and I-5, and assumed (incorrectly) that it had something to do with Amazon. TT, Kearsey and Prime Inc. changed my life!

Prior to getting into trucking, I had worked as an Air Traffic Control Specialist Trainee for Enroute with the federal government, which was my dream job, and it just didn’t pan out. I was devastated. I had promised my wife she would get to be a stay-at-home mom after years of working two or three jobs, running a business with me that I had just sold, and I felt that I had failed my family. It was very difficult to find motivation and I returned to a job that had been comfortable and fun in the past, and that was a return to the Disneyland Resort in Anaheim, CA. I worked there for several years as a working lead (supervisor) in food and beverage, but didn’t make enough money to, well, I didn’t make much more money than what I needed to pay for the gas to get to work. I tried working as an independent contractor editor and writer for a tech website and only found misery.

I started poking around here, reading Brett’s book, the forum, and an article here and there. I had a very serious discussion with my wife to make sure that she understood what her new-found title of Trucker’s Wife would entail for her, our relationship and our family. She understood and embraced the new challenge; but it isn’t always easy. She wants me to put it out there that she was grateful to have the opportunity to understand what the challenges would be ahead of time, by sitting down and discussing it, and the hardest part for her was adjusting to this new life during the beginning when I was in training, and with little income. We sat the kids down and explained to them what my new career would mean for them, and while they were sad that I wouldn’t be home often they were thrilled with the prospect of getting to ride along and see the whole country.

After Kearsey reached out to me about Prime, I applied, and was told I needed to get my CDL Class A Permit with Tanker endorsement. My recruiter asked when I wanted to start, and I told her after New Year’s 2019. She asked that I get my permit and reapply after the New Year, and I hit the FREE High Road Training Program, hard. A combination in studying here and using the knowledge that I gained through The High Road on various CDL quiz apps and BAM! I had my CDL Permit! Off to Salt Lake City I went, where I learned to pass the CDL Exam through Prime’s PSD (CDL training) Program. I blogged my training diary at the time, which you can find here for your reading pleasure.

After passing with a trifecta, with zero points in pre-trip and backing, and only six on the driving portion, I went out on the road with my TNT trainer for 30,000 miles. He wasn’t the best trainer, but he wasn’t the worst either. During TNT training, I triggered an automated Critical Event Report (CER) for Roll Stability Control; I hit a patch of ice on the interstate at speed and the tractor broke loose, I was able to recover before it became a fully developed jack-knife, but it was certainly terrifying nonetheless. An important lesson was learned, and I was required to complete an additional 10,000 miles with my TNT trainer (usually, this is usually between 2 and 2.5 weeks.) While these 10,000 miles might seem like a penalty for some, it was a great learning opportunity for me and allowed me to continue to gain valuable experience in the snow, ice and wind of the rather severe Feb-May 2019 winter.

I had intended to be a company driver, an employee, and Prime’s upper level pay for company drivers was among the things that attracted me to them. After much deliberation, I decided to go the Lease route. I know, I know. And to tell you the truth the criticism I expected (and frankly, still expect) to receive for making this decision is a large part of why I haven’t revealed it to anyone on this board, with the notable exception of my dear friend The Dungeon Master, until now, and why I went dark.

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.

Interstate:

Commercial trade, business, movement of goods or money, or transportation from one state to another, regulated by the Federal Department Of Transportation (DOT).

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.

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.

Trucker Chris (CK)'s Comment
member avatar

(Part 2/2)

While many drivers who chose to lease fail, or believe they do better than they actually do, I have been rather successful; my numbers, my lifestyle and what I have been able to accomplish for my family back that up. I will be the first to tell a prospective driver, or someone who is considering leasing, that there are advantages and disadvantages to both routes; a good solo company driver can make as much or more than a decent solo lease operator, a company driver doesn’t have a liability insurance deductible to worry about, or have the possibility of “going negative” (I should clarify, going negative in a severe way,) a company driver can take advantage of retirement benefits and health insurance whereas these are not offered to an independent contractor in equal quality or equal cost the way that they are offered to an employee, etc. Many lease operators forget that they are in-fact independent contractors running their own businesses, and then whine about not receiving employee benefits; do your research and have a clear understanding on the differences between being a company driver and a leased on independent contractor, and if your reaction to something is “Well, that’s not fair,” stick with being an employee, THERE IS NOTHING WRONG WITH THAT.

I am now a certified CDL instructor and TNT trainer through Prime. I have found that, under the current system, training brand new students to get their CDL is not very profitable for a lease operator with the various expenses we must meet each week. I focus mainly on TNT now, team driving with a new CDL holder, which is highly profitable, and I personally find more rewarding with the long-term mentorship that I hope to develop with each of my students. While some lease operator trainers see their students purely as a source of cheap labor, I embrace the opportunity to teach the next class of safe, successful drivers, whichever route they ultimately choose. I typically recommend they start solo as a company driver upon completion of their TNT miles with me, that way if they chose to go the lease route in the future, they will be comfortable with all aspects of the job, from parking to logs, and not have to figure things out with the added stress of a weekly truck payment north of $1000. My goal is for my student to be successful when they head out in their own truck; anything less and I didn’t fulfill my obligations as their trainer.

A little less than three years into this, and I have moved my family from Orange County, CA where my kids were in rough schools, out of a neighborhood riddled with crime, to a quiet middle-class town in northern Utah with excellent schools and a real sense of community. I was finally able to make good on my promise to my wife; that she gets to be a full-time stay-at-home mom, to participate in the kids’ activities that she was always too busy with work in the past do be a part of, and that she now pursues her passions (crafting, sewing, quilting, and her online clothing reselling business!) Best of all, they’re happy. When I come home, it’s all about quality family time.

While some would refer to a driver with 410,000 miles under his belt as an experienced driver, I prefer to think of myself as a rookie with some miles. I still make mistakes and I love learning something new. I love answering the “why” questions; why do we it this way? When I give my explanation, I enjoy seeing the wave of understanding wash over my students. To me, “I don’t know” is not an acceptable answer. Now, maybe it’s my time at Disney talking, but I take the approach of “Ya know, I’m not sure. Let’s find out together.“ I’ve seen the positive impact this approach to training has made in my students, and I’m looking forward to the opportunity to continue to make a difference.

For the prospective drivers, do yourself a favor and take advantage of the FREE resources that are offered here at Trucking Truth, such as the High Road Training Program, this forum and the wealth of knowledge these folks have. When you’re ready to make the jump, look closely at the options out there and choose a company that offers no-cost CDL training; why would you pay thousands of dollars for something you can get for free? Or get paid while you earn your CDL? For me, Prime Inc has been a wonderful experience and I don’t see myself going anywhere any time soon.

Keep that shiny side up!

Christopher Kahl Wasatch Logistics LLC, leased to Prime Inc

0241232001637247967.jpg

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.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.

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.

Chris K.'s Comment
member avatar

Excellent story. I follow a Prime lease drivers youtube channel, he is straight forward and to the point. He is just now becoming a trainer. I havent listened to his latest on the most recent DAB meeting he attended. As a chef working mostly in independent restaurants I loathe big corporations. With exception to trucking. I trained w Stevens and due to a health issue on the road left them fairly abruptly. Started working for a 70 truck team company loved them, however pay was so-so and I am glad I didnt work for them immediately out of trucking school. Rambling again. If you are making the $$ you need and loving life, keep going! I agree right out the gate leasing is a no-no, its kind of like opening a restaurant w success. You are winning in a situation where all odds are against you.

Anne A. (G13Momcat)'s Comment
member avatar

Great to see you BACK, Chris!! (CK!)

Gorgeous pic. Glad life is treating you well! Kudos on the MOVE, too; WISE move, IMHO . . .

Best wishes;

~ Anne ~

ps: Didn't realize it was 'really you!' with the 'new' avatar, hahaha!

Mountain Matt's Comment
member avatar

Great to hear the story of how trucking has positively impacted your and your family's lives! And I appreciate your attitude as a trainer--taking the time to answer questions and educate your students. Continued success and good luck to you!

Trucker Chris (CK)'s Comment
member avatar

Great to see you BACK, Chris!! (CK!)

Gorgeous pic. Glad life is treating you well! Kudos on the MOVE, too; WISE move, IMHO . . .

Best wishes;

~ Anne ~

ps: Didn't realize it was 'really you!' with the 'new' avatar, hahaha!

Thanks. Yes, escaping CA had been a goal for my wife and I for many years. There were a lot of reasons to flee, and Utah was everything we wanted.

Great to hear the story of how trucking has positively impacted your and your family's lives! And I appreciate your attitude as a trainer--taking the time to answer questions and educate your students. Continued success and good luck to you!

Thanks, and good luck to you too!

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