My Prime Upgrade / First Month Solo Experience

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Dennis L's Comment
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05/09/22 Upgrade Day 1

The day started at 07:00 CDT with the Prime Safety Class at Campus Inn Sim Lab classroom.

Distracted Driving - Top 3 Reasons: 1. Cell Phones 2. Music - ear buds 3. Items within reach - unclean work place

Watched four videos: 1. Defensive Driving 2. Extreme Weather Driving 3. City Driving 4. Distracted Driving

Then completed two simulator drives related to the videos.

A couple points made by the instructor: 1. Look ahead 12-15 seconds to spot potential hazards to allow more reaction time before they become emergencies. 2. 80-85% of Prime incidents occur at <15 mph backing or pulling out. Avoid backing whenever possible.

Next was an Upgrade Skills Test simulation of backing into a customer dock requiring an offset back. This had a 10 mins time limit with unlimited pull ups and GOALS. If you did well on the practice run, that was good enough to pass.

This activity lasted from 07:00-11:30 CDT.

Next was an HOS eLogs class at the Plaza building from 13:30 - 15:30 CDT. This was a good discussion of the split Sleeper Berth application and the use of Personal Conveyance. Took a lot of notes.

The people going Lease/Operator had two additional classes to complete today and tomorrow morning related to running their small business. There was one flatbedder and one tanker upgraders who have special classes to complete.

We were assigned 38 Computer Based Training (CBT) tasks to complete in Ten Street Driver Pulse App. I was able to do this on my smartphone (iPhone) throughout the day and evening.

Finally finished all of my upgrade pre-requisite tasks for a Company Reefer driver by 23:30 CDT. Sent my completion notification email to the upgrade coordinators.

Now wait for my confirmation email tomorrow with instructions for my next steps to check in for a truck assignment with Success Leasing.

Interesting to note that the class this morning included a few drivers training to be trainers, 4 upgrades to Company driver (includes me) and at least 12+ upgrades to Lease/Operator.

Prime is primarily a Lease/ Operator and Owner/Operator company with 2/3 of ~9,500 drivers. Only 1/3 are Company drivers. The leases are structured such that a driver can switch back and forth between Company and Lease without penalty. Micro-fleets are becoming popular with a driver leasing or buying multiple trucks, then getting Company drivers to drive for them.

“Trucking Along With Kearsey” YouTube channel has 3 interesting videos interviewing an Owner/Operator with 7 or 8 trucks plus one of his Company drivers. There are successful L/O and O/O drivers at Prime.

The reasons for going Lease immediately were the usual perception of greater freedom (less micro-management) and greater upside earnings potential. Considering that most trainers are Lease/Operators I can understand their influence on new drivers.

The leasing program is financially beneficial to Prime because Prime becomes a Freight Broker taking an 18% cut of revenue off the top. The Lease/Operator assumes all the risks of operating their business profitability.

It makes more sense to me to be a Company driver for 1 or 2 years making rookie mistakes on Prime’s dime rather than yours.

It isn’t always clear how much more a L/O earns compared to a Company driver who has a lot less stress and risk. I heard one anecdote today of a L/O grossing $190k revenue and netting $80k. Wasn’t clarified if the $80k was before or after taxes, health insurance, etc.

Elog:

Electronic Onboard Recorder

Electronic Logbook

A device which records the amount of time a vehicle has been driven. If the vehicle is not being driven, the operator will manually input whether or not he/she is on duty or not.

Elogs:

Electronic Onboard Recorder

Electronic Logbook

A device which records the amount of time a vehicle has been driven. If the vehicle is not being driven, the operator will manually input whether or not he/she is on duty or not.

Sleeper Berth:

The portion of the tractor behind the seats which acts as the "living space" for the driver. It generally contains a bed (or bunk beds), cabinets, lights, temperature control knobs, and 12 volt plugs for power.

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.

Reefer:

A refrigerated trailer.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.
Dennis L's Comment
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PS correction. Prime takes a 28% cut of revenue, the L/O gets 72%.

Jamy F.'s Comment
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Congrats, Wish you luck!

PackRat's Comment
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28% off the top...😳 I had no idea it was that much. O.M.G.

Hopefully you get your truck before long.

Truckin Along With Kearse's Comment
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I can assure you that $80k is before taxes with limited workers comp and no 401k or benefits. Over and over again i have proven in videos that I make the same if not more than these lease people when you break down cpm. I can show u how to read the settlements.

CPM:

Cents Per Mile

Drivers are often paid by the mile and it's given in cents per mile, or cpm.

G-Town's Comment
member avatar

Trust what Kearsey says as Gospel.

Trucking Truth has several good articles dispelling the myth about L/O and the vast riches they reap…here is one of the better ones:

Confessions of an Owner Operator

Owner Operator:

An owner-operator is a driver who either owns or leases the truck they are driving. A self-employed driver.

Dennis L's Comment
member avatar

05/10/22

I was officially upgraded to what Prime calls an “A seat class” driver this morning at 06:49 CDT eligible to be assigned a truck.

I checked in virtually with Success Leasing at about 09:25 CDT (I slept in. Those dang 38 CBTs wore me out last night). Now I wait for a phone call from Success Leasing to come look at my assigned truck.

Since I am a Company solo driver, I will be assigned a Lightweight truck. I’m fine with that. My understanding is that the current starting cpm rate for a Lightweight is 53 cpm vs 48 cpm for a full-size Condo. Also, Kearsey shared in one of her videos that the Lightweight driver earns paid vacation after each 85k miles rather than 125k miles for the Condos. I haven’t seen that vacation info in writing yet from Prime.

There was a guy going L/O yesterday mouthing off about why he came to Springfield to upgrade rather than Pittston, PA where he trained because Pittston only had two Lightweights available and that wasn’t for him. His goal was to eventually own his equipment. Heck, he came to Springfield because Prime told him to come here. Right now this is where the trucks are located.

I should also be assigned a new FM soon for Company reefer dispatch. Then I can go meet the person and start a conversation about expectations.

Fm:

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.

CPM:

Cents Per Mile

Drivers are often paid by the mile and it's given in cents per mile, or cpm.

Reefer:

A refrigerated trailer.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.
Dennis L's Comment
member avatar

A rookie Prime Company solo driver can reasonably gross between $70k to $75k within 1-2 years (see Kearsey’s Chief Brody interview). Kearsey also has a video from 2019 showing a rookie reefer Lightweight driver making ~$65k in first year at 51 cpm back then. The gross earned can increase with longevity cpm pay raises and other bonuses.

The Company driver gross includes taxable cpm income, taxable performance bonuses plus non-taxable Per Diem (don’t need that debate again).

I think a fair comparison with a L/O would be their annual LLC Net Taxable Income after all operating expenses and tax deductions are subtracted from their gross revenue payments from Prime for operating one truck solo. A micro-fleet LLC is a different animal. Also, no team driving or training unless the Company driver is doing the same.

Another point of confusion that OS makes in his article is whether or not the L/O LLC is itemizing payments to themselves as a salary or just using LLC revenue to pay their personal living expenses? This makes the apples to apples comparison very difficult without seeing the tax returns for both the L/O LLC and Company driver.

CPM:

Cents Per Mile

Drivers are often paid by the mile and it's given in cents per mile, or cpm.

Per Diem:

Getting paid per diem means getting a portion of your salary paid to you without taxes taken out. It's technically classified as a meal and expense reimbursement.

Truck drivers and others who travel for a living get large tax deductions for meal expenses. The Government set up per diem pay as a way to reimburse some of the taxes you pay with each paycheck instead of making you wait until tax filing season.

Getting per diem pay means a driver will get a larger paycheck each week but a smaller tax return at tax time.

We have a ton of information on our wiki page on per diem pay

Reefer:

A refrigerated trailer.

OWI:

Operating While Intoxicated

Dennis L's Comment
member avatar

I was informed by my TNT FM who my new FM will be and to expect him to contact me shortly.

Funny how this happened within minutes of my sending an email to my former FM asking about it?

I’ve walked next door to the Cracker Barrel for lunch. One of my favorite places to eat. My wife and I used to eat at this Cracker Barrel back in 1994-1997 when I first started working overseas. She would bring me to Springfield airport to fly in and out. We ate here and sometimes stayed a night at the Holiday Inn hotel next to the Lamplighter.

Back then the Holiday Inn was a nice place. It was owned by John Q. Hammonds. He was a big Holiday Inn franchiser and a big deal in Springfield (now it is Robert Lowe of Prime Inc and Johnny Morris of Bass Pro Shops). Hammonds owned the Chateau on the Lake hotel & resort in Branson on Table Rock Lake. That is still a very nice place to visit if you get the chance, along with Bass Pro’s Big Cedar Lodge.

Fm:

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.

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.

Dennis L's Comment
member avatar

Kearsey has confirmed to me in offline communication that my new FM is also her FM. She has offered to mentor me, which I greatly appreciate.

It will help me a lot having an experienced Company reefer driver to call on for advice.

Chief Brody has said that Kearsey helped him (an attorney) and now me (an engineer). Will be interesting to see if she can tell a difference? Probably not since attorneys and engineers are both logical abstract thinkers.

Anyway, just waiting to be contacted. Seems to be a lot of that in trucking.

Fm:

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.

Reefer:

A refrigerated trailer.

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