First Trucking Company, Prime, Con-way Or Werner: Pros, Cons, Favorite, Experiences.

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TxsGent's Comment
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I started a four week CDL school three weeks ago. I have received my permit for Combination, Doubles and Triples, and Tankers. The plan is to take the driving test a week from today, 10/07/2014. I don't mean to be counting to be counting chickens, but I have been researching the different companies, and I think that I have narrowed it down to these three.

One of the criteria that I had was companies that allow pets. I don't plan on taking a pet with me, but I would like for the wife to be able to ride with me once I have completed the training. She will have her small dog with her. I want to work in to a more flexible home time eventually. I realize that I will have to do some OTR for a period. I live north west of the DFW metroplex. Since an hour and a half drive to a local terminal would equate to three hours a day non-paid driving time, daily home time doesn't sound attractive. I would love to find something like what Roehl offers, minus the slip-seating. I can dream, can't I?

Prime: Even though they do not pay for the orientation, they appear to have to best starting pay. Pay while in training is $600 per week for the first 20K miles and $700 per week for the other 20K miles. (Newbies are with a trainer for 40K miles.) Starting pay for the lite weight trucks is 43 cpm and for the regular trucks is 38 cpm. I was told that I can request a regular truck, but everyone starts out in the light weight trucks.

Con-way: Seems to have a very good turnover rate, 60% compared to the national average of 130%. I am not sure about the national average quoted. The training is one on one for 7,500 miles at 26 cpm. Instructor at school seems to think that Con-way is the best choice, but I imagine it isn't the same Con-way that he remembers. He has over 20 years driving experience.

Werner: This is the last recruiter that I talked with. I really didn't expect too much from Werner. This looking to be my top choice though. The pet policy it the cheapest and there are no breed restrictions, other than limit one per driver. In addition to OTR, regional , dedicated, the recruiter tried to talk me in to a local driving job. No thanks. Training is 275 hours, but it is only paid at $400 a week. The trucks seem to be pretty new. I forgot to ask Prime, but I am sure theirs are pretty new as well,

I am not asking which one I should pick. I know that is all me. If there is a reason you would pick one over the other, I would like to hear your reasons. If one has a particular advantage that you see, I would like to hear that as well.

Thanks for any and all input, TexsGent

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.

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.

Doubles:

Refers to pulling two trailers at the same time, otherwise known as "pups" or "pup trailers" because they're only about 28 feet long. However there are some states that allow doubles that are each 48 feet in length.

CPM:

Cents Per Mile

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

Ken C.'s Comment
member avatar

I drive for Prime Inc. & went through their PSD and TNT training and it's probably some of the longest training in the Trucking Industry. I'm a Company Driver, in a Light weight, avg about 2800 miles a week and know the Home Time is 1 day for each week out after 3 weeks but I haven't taken any time off since I got here in April.

I know you can request a Full Size Truck and if your wife is going to be riding with you they will usually give you one if it's available when you go in to upgrade, or if you decide to lease you will get one but thats a topic best left alone for now

Now as to why I went with Prime it was because the longer training and choices of freight plus the higher starting pay besides they said yes to me 1st and Daniel B. was documenting so much stuff about Prime Inc it was really easy to see the positives....It's a Lifestyle, not perfect but still a lot of fun plus it pays the bills

Ken C

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.

TxsGent's Comment
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Thanks Ken C

mountain girl's Comment
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Hey, not to make things more complicated for you but check out May Trucking Company. I believe they have a really nice pet and rider policy.

-mountain girl

TxsGent's Comment
member avatar

Hey, not to make things more complicated for you but check out May Trucking Company. I believe they have a really nice pet and rider policy.

-mountain girl

Thanks for the reply.

With just a short internet search, I didn't find much information on May. Their web page is one of the worst that I have seen. The driver qualification page just copies from Section 391.11 of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSR). Oh, the Dallas Operating Center is "Coming Sooe"? I might give them a call after class, but first impression is not a good one.

Mountain girl, what's the latest update on your quest? Good luck and thanks again.

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.
ButtonUp's Comment
member avatar

Wow!

Well, first of all, congratulations on your progress! It wasn't that long ago that I was taking a very similar path.

If you haven't figured it out already from reading the various posts on the site, many people have very different experiences. One thing I have learned, is that a lot depends on the trainer or trainers you are assigned. One cannot make an encompassed conclusion about a whole company based on one set of experiences.

When it comes to trainers, you may have to ask them to do their job. If they won't, you can ask for another trainer! Generally the rule is if the trainer is not the most likeable person, but is doing a good job training, get the training and deal with it, you won't be riding with them forever. However, if the trainer happens to be jolly and easy going but is NOT training you, then get another trainer! The training is the most important thing. Sadly, many trainers may only have a few months experience themselves, and despite good intentions or not, not fit for the job.

However, the main reason I wanted to respond to your post is in regard to Werner. I didn't start with Werner, or train with Werner, so I can't help you there, but just keep in mind my above observations about training in general, as they apply to any training situation. I got my training at CR England. But, after about 4 months of school, training, and OTR with a lease operator, I went to Werner. I love it. I will work there until I retire if I am able. I run net-ops out of Indianapolis. That's the home daily gig they were probably telling you about out of Dallas. I actually usually pick up loads coming out of West Memphis, AR., and a lot of those come from Dallas, so if you went that route, we'd probably be running some of the same loads! Most of them going from Canada to Mexico, and vice versa.

I just had my two year anniversary with Werner. I've had several raises, and just got a nice bonus for longevity and performance. My experience with Safety has been through the Indianapolis terminal , but they have been more than fair, even though they are serious about their job. In two years, I have NEVER had to unload a trailer. I got a lumper once. I have gotten loaded at a shipper maybe 3 times, unloaded 5 or 6. It is very rare not to go to the same place I usually do, drop and hook , and come home in time to pick my son up from school. I am a single parent. All that being said, I have had to sleep in a hotel twice, and in the truck twice. But two of the four occasions I didn't make it home were voluntary.

Your wife can still come with you, and I am pretty sure the pet is allowed, but you may need to ask a recruiter about that. I am in the process now of getting my brother and my son authorized to ride with me if they ever want to. The only thing about this is that I started in a day cab , and then a half sleeper. Neither of those trucks had a passenger seat. I am in a Kenworth T660 now which has a passenger seat, of course.

As a solo driver, you're going to make about the same amount of money. A GOOD team will make about 15k more a year (per person), based on my personal observations and experience.

MY advice, if you were considering solo, is consider the daily gig. As a new driver, running the same route most days gave me a lot of time to get better at driving, and all the dropping and hooking in a familiar yard has given me the training I needed that I never got from an actual trainer. It was scary at first, but eventually it clicked. Yes, sometimes I have to go to a customer to drop and hook, and it's not always pretty, but it's only maybe a few times a month that I don't go to my usual destination and back, and most of those times it's to another yard to drop and hook, not to a customer.

Whatever your experience with training, with any company, in a short time it will be up to you and how you manage "your business" with your "customers" that is going to make the difference. I treat my dispatcher like my customer, trying to meet his needs, and it works well for me.

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.

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.

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.

Day Cab:

A tractor which does not have a sleeper berth attached to it. Normally used for local routes where drivers go home every night.

Dispatcher:

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.

TWIC:

Transportation Worker Identification Credential

Truck drivers who regularly pick up from or deliver to the shipping ports will often be required to carry a TWIC card.

Your TWIC is a tamper-resistant biometric card which acts as both your identification in secure areas, as well as an indicator of you having passed the necessary security clearance. TWIC cards are valid for five years. The issuance of TWIC cards is overseen by the Transportation Security Administration and the Department of Homeland Security.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

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

Oh, I was also going to mention, one of the Old Dominion drivers that runs out of Indianapolis and I usually catch each other when we are heading out, or coming back, and talk on the CB quite a bit. He runs more miles, but is still home every day 5 days a week. Pulling doubles , it starts at $105k a year. I think you might need a year experience first, though, but something to think about. He runs to the other side of St. Louis and back, averaging about 900 more miles a week than I am getting, so until my son is older I couldn't do it. Another thing I should mention is that I run 6 days a week when I can, as opposed to 5, so that gives me about 800-900 more a month than if I only worked 5 days.

Doubles:

Refers to pulling two trailers at the same time, otherwise known as "pups" or "pup trailers" because they're only about 28 feet long. However there are some states that allow doubles that are each 48 feet in length.

mountain girl's Comment
member avatar

Way to go, Buttonup. Thanks for all the information. Your runs are very desirable to a single parent like me.

When it comes to trainers, you may have to ask them to do their job.

-Buttonup

I cannot emphasize how true this really is. If you are not getting the training you need, then it's half his fault, half yours. You can't change the fact that he might be lame but you can change what you do about it, and as trainees, we need to be pro-active on this. We're the ones who pay the price if we don't get the training we need, so take care of yourself in that way. And I'm with Buttonup on personality types. If your trainer is a good 'ole guy but doesn't train for doodley, you need a new trainer. If he's an ornery old dude but he's pushing you to drive really well, tough it out, shut-up, and learn what he's teaching you. The most ornery, grumpy trainer at my CDL school pushed me to drive better than any of the others and he lightened up and got friendlier towards the end when I got good at stuff anyway.

That's a bummer regarding May Company's website. That certainly doesn't give anyone a good first impression. Check into them anyway, just in case they're a good company because it might just be their marketing department that's lame while operations is well run. I became acquainted with them firsthand rather than through their website so I had a different perspective.

-mountain girl

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.
ButtonUp's Comment
member avatar

A lot of it was luck, but I am glad to be where I am.

There's a few May drivers on here if I am not mistaken, here's the first link I saw to a post about them:

https://www.truckingtruth.com/truckers-forum/Topic-3752/Page-1/may-trucking

mountain girl's Comment
member avatar

Mountain girl, what's the latest update on your quest? Good luck and thanks again.

-TxGent

Thanks for asking. I'm workin' it-workin' it and I'll let you know soon.

(evil grin)

I'm very impressed with how fast you yourself have move things along. As I recall, you were just asking basic questions not too long ago and now you're almost finished with school. That is so awesome.

-mountain girl

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