Sometimes The Grass Is Greener On The Other Side

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Chief Brody's Comment
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This post really is in response to Rob T’s post titled “When Should You Put Your Foot Down.”

As some of you know, I recently transferred to the Prime tanker division from the Prime flatbed division. I’m on the “inedible side” of the Prime tanker division. I transferred because I got tired of tarping metal loads. But before I transferred within Prime, I researched other companies. This is how this post relates to Rob T’s post—when looking at other companies, I didn’t even consider any “home daily” jobs. Primarily because of what Rob T has shared about his daily schedule and the frustrations he’s had with balancing work and home life.

Many of the posts on this forum involve the “trucking lifestyle” of OTR. The prevailing wisdom involves that people don’t survive their first year because they don’t really take to heart the time commitment of trucking. It’s easy to have the perspective that the job “consumes” all your time, which to a certain extent it does. In my opinion, the key involves developing strategies to turn your driving time into “me” time, such as listening to podcasts, audiobooks, talking on the phone, etc. And then managing your breaks such that you get of the truck to walk for exercise, explore surrounding areas, or stop during the day at interesting places.

Another common thread, both from prospective drivers and drivers with some experience involves finding those golden regional , local, or home daily jobs so they can get home more and spend more time with family. What I found in doing my research for other companies is the tension between the economic realities of the trucking industry and driver quality of life. There was a recent thread about linehaul guys making $100,000 per year. Correct me if I’m wrong, but the linehaul guys have pretty brutal schedules, which makes sense. Generally, if you want to make a lot of money, you have to work hard. Same thing with the home daily driving jobs. The company wants to maximize their revenues so they schedule as many loads as possible in a day, which makes the job challenging for the driver.

This is one of the reasons why I focused my job search on private fleet jobs. To a certain extent, it’s the proverbial cutting out the middleman. If a company contracts with an outside carrier to haul their goods, that outside company needs to make a profit. If the company has enough freight, it makes economic sense to have private fleet operations that eliminate the profit aspect of an outside carrier. Take Walmart for example. In addition to a huge volume of freight, they are able to leverage their 800-pound gorilla status over their vendors. I’ll let Turtle comment more on this.

Back to me. While I didn’t realize it when I switched to the tanker division, it is so much better than flatbed. First, I haven’t even hauled any metal, let alone tarp it. In addition, I’ve learned that Prime’s inedible division started when Prime bought out Milky Way Transportation in 2018. Prime essentially acquired the entire going concern, equipment, employees, and customers. So, even though Prime is somewhat new to the inedible side, many of the customers we serve were long term Milky Way customers. I mention this because it’s a very different dynamic in the Prime tanker inedible than Prime flatbed as I’ll explain more below.

First, we serve a very small number of customers, which makes for more consistency—going to the same shippers and receivers all the time. And because we have a small number of customers, we have a lot of drop and hooks. Then because we are a small division, tanker generally is known as the “unicorn” division because we have fewer tanker drivers than any other division, the intimacy of the operations are better. You get to know the support staff better. I know all the staff at the “tub,” which is Prime’s in-house tank wash in Springfield and can resolve issues in person with them. And because we have so few trailers, they keep detailed notes of any issues with a particular trailer. In addition, my FM often works at the “tub” and I have had several conversations with him about all facets of the inedible tanker division.

The other good thing about the Prime inedible division, is that most of our customers revolve around St. Louis. Thus, I am always driving through St. Louis and get to spend many nights or even 34-hour resets at home.

The pace is slower than flatbed, which is good for having more free time, but I’m making a little less money than I made in flatbed. I’m still making the money I need to make. It’s just that there are certain nuances where you have more down time. For example, many of our customers replenish their storage tanks every couple of days and they have to schedule a steady stream of trucks to keep product in their storage tanks. Thus, if you arrive early, they may not have room in their storage tanks so you have to wait until the use more product to off load.

As the title of the thread says, in my opinion, there are “better” jobs out there. The difficulty involves first, being realistic about your own priorities. If you want to make a lot of money, you’re probably going to have to run hard. If you want to be home a lot, and have quality time at home, you’re probably going to sacrifice some money. If any driver reading this has both a lot of time at home AND gets paid over 100,000 please chime in.

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.

Linehaul:

Linehaul drivers will normally run loads from terminal to terminal for LTL (Less than Truckload) companies.

LTL (Less Than Truckload) carriers will have Linehaul drivers and P&D drivers. The P&D drivers will deliver loads locally from the terminal and pick up loads returning them to the terminal. Linehaul drivers will then run truckloads from terminal to terminal.

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.

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.
Banks's Comment
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here was a recent thread about linehaul guys making $100,000 per year. Correct me if I’m wrong, but the linehaul guys have pretty brutal schedules, which makes sense. 

It mostly depends on seniorty and what's available. There are guys I work with that work from 9AM to 6PM making 105k a year. I was making 1800/week working from 10PM to 7 AM.

I'm working extraboard (on call) now and it's taken some getting used to. My hours have varied, but I'm making more money. I worked 4 days last week and I made about 2k and I had 23 hours left on my 70 when I logged out on Friday. I had the option of taking another 600 mile run on Friday night bringing me up to 2500 for the week, but like Rob I opted to enjoy the full weekend with my family instead of being a zombie all day Saturday. Last weekend, I took the run and Saturday sucked.

We still have a raise going into effect the first week of October and that may change how many miles I run. I may opt for less.

Linehaul:

Linehaul drivers will normally run loads from terminal to terminal for LTL (Less than Truckload) companies.

LTL (Less Than Truckload) carriers will have Linehaul drivers and P&D drivers. The P&D drivers will deliver loads locally from the terminal and pick up loads returning them to the terminal. Linehaul drivers will then run truckloads from terminal to terminal.
Anne A. (and sometimes To's Comment
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Guys,

I'm so in line with this, in many ways.

The tanker entities that we (Tom and I ) are looking that, are akin to AndHe78's ... and yes, Crossett offered him quite a job. Three domes, tri axles, upgrading to X again..... We think he's aged out, no joke. DO IT WHILE YOU CAN, and have the motivation to.

And then Sheetz in Columbus. $35/hr 4 day work week. Fuel. Petroleum. Remember Daniel Baba's posts? Yep, 100K a year, sure. His experience qualifies him....but does his age ... quantify him? My struggles with HIS final choice.

Chief, I commend you. With Tom's experience; we sure cannot find him anything, similar to what you've acquired. Local farms in Ohio have hopper bottoms, food grade (milk) products, yet nothing W2, of course.

double-quotes-start.png

here was a recent thread about linehaul guys making $100,000 per year. Correct me if I’m wrong, but the linehaul guys have pretty brutal schedules, which makes sense. 

double-quotes-end.png

It mostly depends on seniorty and what's available. There are guys I work with that work from 9AM to 6PM making 105k a year. I was making 1800/week working from 10PM to 7 AM.

I'm working extraboard (on call) now and it's taken some getting used to. My hours have varied, but I'm making more money. I worked 4 days last week and I made about 2k and I had 23 hours left on my 70 when I logged out on Friday. I had the option of taking another 600 mile run on Friday night bringing me up to 2500 for the week, but like Rob I opted to enjoy the full weekend with my family instead of being a zombie all day Saturday. Last weekend, I took the run and Saturday sucked.

We still have a raise going into effect the first week of October and that may change how many miles I run. I may opt for less.

Banks, you've been a huge help. The proximity to the 'GOOD' LTL's are just .. off. WMPF ! 1 hour 17 mins. away. We are in the trenches, a skoche away from the good stuff.

TA/Dedicated has been persistent. PittOhio, not so much...even though I love the Macks, they don't seem to care, either way.

The BEST near us, is .. P & D .

Is the grass greener ?!?!? We just hope to keep our grass 'alive' ~ at this point.

HAD FAB NEVER SOLD OFF ... nobody would be in my / our shoes . . . what IS the right choice????? You guys...probably don't put it on your spouse to play 'eliminator.' Lucky ladies, haha!

Extremely happy for ya, Rob D. ; you'll see so many avenues open..with that experience. Sorry, I missed that posted elsewhere.

Best and SO MANY thanks, to you both; and all.

~ Anne ~

ps: Highlighted Topic!

LTL:

Less Than Truckload

Refers to carriers that make a lot of smaller pickups and deliveries for multiple customers as opposed to hauling one big load of freight for one customer. This type of hauling is normally done by companies with terminals scattered throughout the country where freight is sorted before being moved on to its destination.

LTL carriers include:

  • FedEx Freight
  • Con-way
  • YRC Freight
  • UPS
  • Old Dominion
  • Estes
  • Yellow-Roadway
  • ABF Freight
  • R+L Carrier

P & D:

Pickup & Delivery

Local drivers that stay around their area, usually within 100 mile radius of a terminal, picking up and delivering loads.

LTL (Less Than Truckload) carriers for instance will have Linehaul drivers and P&D drivers. The P&D drivers will deliver loads locally from the terminal and pick up loads returning to the terminal. Linehaul drivers will then run truckloads from terminal to terminal.

Linehaul:

Linehaul drivers will normally run loads from terminal to terminal for LTL (Less than Truckload) companies.

LTL (Less Than Truckload) carriers will have Linehaul drivers and P&D drivers. The P&D drivers will deliver loads locally from the terminal and pick up loads returning them to the terminal. Linehaul drivers will then run truckloads from terminal to terminal.
Truckin Along With Kearse's Comment
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Back in 2018 I had a trainee we knew here at Splitter. He always thought the grass was greener, left Prime. Went to Knight, then Roehl. Then back to Prime. He went lease to make more money and be in control, then did a lease purchase. A month ago he left Prime again for a "great company that makes more money". That lasted a month. He is back at Prime now.

His advice to my students, "Stay company and do CDL training." 😂. I told him that 4 years ago.

Sometimes the grass is greener. Other times it is the same color on both sides, but one has a better fertilizer. (Get it.. more BS to deal with) 😂

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.
Banks's Comment
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I wish I could be more help. The only advice I can offer now is roll the dice and accept the offer you believe fits best. If the fit isn't what you thought it was, keep looking until the grass is the right shade of green.

Davy A.'s Comment
member avatar

I was just thinking about different possibilities today. I have so much flexibility where I'm at that's it's really difficult for me to go elsewhere. I don't know if it's like that at other places.

For the most part, they let me call my own shots with scheduling. I'm consistently early and I either get layover pay or just drop early. If I am late, they don't bat an eye. It's usually because of weather or customer delays and I'll end up with layover pay on it.

But still that obsession comes in of if I could be consistently making more money for the same hours of work. My guess is that it's probably pretty close all told at most places. I'm hesitant to go elsewhere if I don't have the same level of autonomy there.

Turtle's Comment
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Sometime back I mentioned in another thread how it isn't always about finding the place where you make the most money. And it isn't always about finding ways to improve your performance such that you can make the most money. Often it isn't, and shouldn't be, about the money. It's more important in my view to position yourself in such a way that you can strike a balance between money and happiness. It's up to us to improve our positions in a way to hopefully take advantage of both.

Take Chief's case, for example. He made slightly better money in flatbed, but wasn't happy. Recognizing that, he searched out alternatives and found a different niche to experiment with. Doing so may end up positioning himself for better opportunities. At the very least he'll be more comfortable and happy in his current situation, and this can allow him to avoid rash career decisions. Rather, he can focus his efforts on positioning himself for a possible next move.

One never knows what opportunities will arise. Taking the advantage of forethought will undoubtedly position yourself for those opportunities. "Plan the work and work the plan", my dad always told me. Think ahead to what you'd ultimately like to achieve or where you'd like to end up, and map out a plan to get there.

The difficulty involves first, being realistic about your own priorities.

Absolutely true. I planned from the beginning to position myself for a driving job that would hopefully bring me the perfect balance of time off with my family and a decent pay to afford me the things I want. I wasn't simply content to just wait until the next thing came along. Instead, I recognized what I had to do to get there, and worked diligently to make it happen.

If any driver reading this has both a lot of time at home AND gets paid over 100,000 please chime in.

I don't know if what I have qualifies as "a lot of time at home". I'm away from home 4 1/2 days a week, but have 2 1/2 days off and 27 paid days off a year, and should make north of 120k this year. That never would've happened if I just remained content where I was and simply tried to increase my performance. I had to put myself where I needed to be. Obviously this gig won't work for someone who wants to be home daily. However, the WMPF does have home daily runs up for bid, which brings up the point made by Banks:

It mostly depends on seniorty and what's available.

That's true, and also a solid reason to do what I described above, which is to think ahead and understand what it will take to achieve whatever goal it is you have. And take the steps NOW to position yourself to get there.

That may mean biding your time, gaining the necessary experience to qualify for a better job. Or it could mean making the jump to get in somewhere now in order to start gaining the all-important seniority it takes to get the sweet runs. I kinda had to do both.

Plan the work, and work the plan.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.
Ryan B.'s Comment
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Turtle, that is sage advice and valuable insight. I appreciate the perspective you provided. A great deal of profitable thoughts shared from all here. Yours really stood out to me though.

Anne A. (and sometimes To's Comment
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I wish I could be more help. The only advice I can offer now is roll the dice and accept the offer you believe fits best. If the fit isn't what you thought it was, keep looking until the grass is the right shade of green.

You've been incredibly helpful, good sir. ALL you folks have. This is also a great lesson in LOCATION, for some of the better paying jobs out there.

Thanks to all. That's pretty much what we've gotta do.

~ Anne ~ (and Tom, BK.) ~

ps: Ryan; totally agreed.

Back in 2018 I had a trainee we knew here at Splitter. He always thought the grass was greener, left Prime. Went to Knight, then Roehl. Then back to Prime. He went lease to make more money and be in control, then did a lease purchase. A month ago he left Prime again for a "great company that makes more money". That lasted a month. He is back at Prime now.

His advice to my students, "Stay company and do CDL training." 😂. I told him that 4 years ago.

Sometimes the grass is greener. Other times it is the same color on both sides, but one has a better fertilizer. (Get it.. more BS to deal with) 😂

Oh, wow!!!

I remember Splitter. His last screen name was 000 .... kinda thin skinned, but good guy. Yes?

~ 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.
Old School's Comment
member avatar
I remember Splitter. His last screen name was 000 .... kinda thin skinned, but good guy. Yes?

Splitter is a great guy. I spoke with him a couple of times. I wouldn't call him thin skinned. He's passionate - that's how I would describe him.

He wants to test everything. I'm sure that's why his journey has taken the twists and turns it has. He doesn't trust everything he hears. That's probably why he balked at some of our advice. He got his own conclusions and that's kind of the way he rolls.

I'd be happy to hear from him again.

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