Researching Companies - PRIME, CRST - Seeking Advice.

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John T.'s Comment
member avatar

I've been reading up on a few companies that offer CDL training and I'll be honest, after looking around here and elsewhere, I'm left with a lot of questions, apprehension and confusion. I'm brand new to the industry; I'm looking at this as a potential career change and other than knowing the companies by name, I know nothing about them. If I read the reviews here I'm left thinking, hey, this company might be one to look at. Then I read what current and former drivers post on forums and you'd think these companies were ran by thieves and slave traders.

I'm particularly interested in finding out the most I can regarding CRST and PRIME. Being from Des Moines, IA, CRST is just a little over an hour drive. PRIME is something like 5 hours away. So just for the sake of logistics for home time CRST is kind of a no brainer. I hear a lot of REALLY bad things about CRST though, and sorting the BS is kind of tough. Same with PRIME. Rob Low is portrayed by many to be the devil himself, but again, how much about the company is BS?

About me - I'm 34, married, no kids. In the last eleven months I've literally been working 80-90 hours a week, being on-call 24hrs a day, with very little time with my family. At times I've worked two to three days straight through, and the only time I had off was three days when all of that wonderful stress landed me in the hospital. All that on a $33,000 salary, I basically made less than minimum wage. It's time for a change. My intention is to get on with a company, fulfill my obligation to the training contract, get some experience under my belt, and eventually move to a local company. I also have ZERO intention of leasing or being an independent owner/operator. I have thought long and hard about the OTR lifestyle and I'm looking at it with a boot camp sort of mentality. I know it's going to suck, but it's supposed to in a way. I know the money won't be great but like anything in life I have to pay my dues and if I stick with it I also know the rewards later on will be well worth it. My wife is the daughter of a truck driver; her grandpa also drove truck as does two of her uncles. She knows full well what it will be like to not have me home every night while I'm on the road, but again, she also knows that in time it will all be worth it so she's being very supportive.

With all that said, these two companies are my main focus of interest but if there are other companies I should look into I would love to get some input from those that have experience they can share. I know it's not all roses with any company but I also know the recruiters will blow all the smoke they can to get someone to sign.

So really, what can I expect? Average mileage each week, home time, equipment, training, pay, etc. What kind of issues should I expect with payroll, dispatch, co-drivers, trainers?

I thank everyone in advance,

J.

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.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.

OWI:

Operating While Intoxicated

Alan C.'s Comment
member avatar

I understand I am making a career change from law enforcement to trucking. My advise only believe part of what you read on forums, most of the time the person making negative comments isn't giving all the facts and could be mostly their own fault. Being a cop I wanted to get all the facts.

After looking at different trucking companies that offer company sponsored training , Knight and Prime offer paid training. I went to truck stops and spoke to drivers from both companies to get the god, bad, and ugly info on both to make a educated decision. Knight has better equipment full size tractor vs. light weight tractor giving you more room and two tanks for fuel instead of one tank, the other important issue for me is more home time. Prime is known to keep drivers out 6-8 weeks at a time with forced loads all otr. Knight has many options to suit drivers, no forced runs, plus they offer regional and dedicated keeping me closer to home in case of a family emergency. Needless to say in my opinion Knight was a no brainer decision they are the best overall for being a new truck driver.

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.

Company Sponsored Training:

A Company-Sponsored Training Program is a school that is owned and operated by a trucking company.

The schooling often requires little or no money up front. Instead of paying up-front tuition you will sign an agreement to work for the company for a specified amount of time after graduation, usually around a year, at a slightly lower rate of pay in order to pay for the training.

If you choose to quit working for the company before your year is up, they will normally require you to pay back a prorated amount of money for the schooling. The amount you pay back will be comparable to what you would have paid if you went to an independently owned school.

Company-sponsored training can be an excellent way to get your career underway if you can't afford the tuition up front for private schooling.

John T.'s Comment
member avatar

I had looked into Knight but I have concerns being in Des Moines, there aren't many companies that have terminals close to home and that's my biggest concern. If a company like Knight or Prime, England even, would allow me to come off the road here in Des Moines and not go to the terminal I would feel much better about things. That's why CRST was so appealing. It's a bit more than an hour drive from home to Cedar Rapids. I am waiting to hear back from recruiters at Prime and CRST but I am absolutely willing to talk to recruiters at other companies as well.

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.

Jay B.'s Comment
member avatar

A big difference between those 2 companies is CRST is pretty much forced team driving and prime is almost forced solo driving with the lightweight trucks. I looked into CRST but I really want to start out solo after all the training and not be with someone I just met 24/7 for weeks or months at a time.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.
Alan C.'s Comment
member avatar

John Knight's closest refrigerated terminal is 5 hours away from my home. They allow you to take the truck home on your off time, just fyi if that helps. Not trying to sell you on Knight, by far they seem to be the best as far as being a training company. In fact I have talked to about 8 different drivers for Knight, least amount of time a driver has been there is 4 years, that says a lot for Knight in itself.

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.

John T.'s Comment
member avatar

John Knight's closest refrigerated terminal is 5 hours away from my home. They allow you to take the truck home on your off time, just fyi if that helps. Not trying to sell you on Knight, by far they seem to be the best as far as being a training company. In fact I have talked to about 8 different drivers for Knight, least amount of time a driver has been there is 4 years, that says a lot for Knight in itself.

That actually does help. I read up on them quite a bit and they sound far more flexible with routing and home time than any other training company out there. I will be calling them this morning to talk to a recruiter to see if they are taking drivers in my area.

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.

John T.'s Comment
member avatar

Well, I spoke to Amanda at Knight and got some specifics over the phone. After having done research and speaking to her, I do think Knight is the way to go. I need to get my Iowa CDL permit before attending school but I'd be going to school in Indianapolis, then after training I'll be working out of the terminal in Kansas City. She said if I specifically want to drive reefer I can be dispatched out of Green Bay but that's a 6-hour drive from Des Moines compared to a 3-hour drive to KC. I'm not sure I have a preference either way but from the info she gave me the pay is the same. What I do like is that, according to Amanda, I'll be home weekly, and that's a HUGE plus.

So now the next thing on my list is to get my permit. I've got a ton of studying to do.

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.

Reefer:

A refrigerated trailer.

Alan C.'s Comment
member avatar

Sounds great John, good luck will have to stay in touch to compare progress. I will be starting my training the beginning of September. I am going to the refer side, reason being from talking to drivers refer side gets more miles, plus if slow can take dry goods where they can not haul refer. Not sure of getting home weekly best I heard of is home time after being out two weeks.

John T.'s Comment
member avatar

Shoot, even at two weeks, that's still better than I have seen anywhere else so far. If I were to end up somewhere that puts me out 6-8 weeks at a time I'd complete the contract and bail for a local gig but Knight is sounding like a decent place to go long term.

Josh E.'s Comment
member avatar

John Knight's closest refrigerated terminal is 5 hours away from my home. They allow you to take the truck home on your off time, just fyi if that helps. Not trying to sell you on Knight, by far they seem to be the best as far as being a training company. In fact I have talked to about 8 different drivers for Knight, least amount of time a driver has been there is 4 years, that says a lot for Knight in itself.

I talked to a Recruiter from Knight Refrigerated and she told me I wasn't allowed to take the truck home...I'll be getting my CDL next month and I guess I would have to start in their Squire Program, would taking the truck home be an option once I transferred to Knight after training?

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.

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