starting off in the trucking career.

I've just started off in the trucking business and I have less then a month under my belt. So far I have no problems as far as reading maps and getting to the receivers on time. The only problem I have is finding a parking spot after 11 pm. Lol, I'm more confused on what company is the "better" company to drive for. I was pre hired by crst, USA truck, Warner and just about every company that accepts new driver out of cdl school. After doing research on all the companys I found out that there's nothing but bad comments from everyone so I ended up going to transam due to the fact that they paid the most per mile out of all the companys. I have all my endorsement s even HM. As for myself of a new truck driver is there a "better" fleet I should possibly go with after 6 months to a year? And what are a few things I should look put for? And what about being an owner operator?

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Comment by Rhett Butler on March 20, 2014 at 11:50am

Mark you should gauge the company you are with based on several things before looking to jump ship for "greener pastures".

How are they treating you? Do they treat your with respect and allow you to do your job or act as if they are your "babysitter"? Do they listen when you have ideas or issues? Do they act on what they "promised" during orientation or do you have to fight with them to get home, reimbursed for expenses, etc.?

How well do they run you? Are you getting enough miles to support your family or just survive? Are you stuck sitting for 12-24 hours for your next load or do they have you dispatched before you empty?

Here's a scenario I had happen to me several years ago. I worked for a now defunct regional carrier based in Wisconsin running the upper Midwest. I was home every weekend, made $.42/mile and was averaging 2,750 a week. When I had a complaint they worked with me to resolve it. When I had an idea they listened to it and worked out the pro's and con's to determine the feasibility for fleet wide implementation. My fuel card was open to whatever fuel stop accepted it, I wasn't told where or when to fuel so I could maximize my time. It was up to me to plan my route, I wasn't told what routes to run, what roads to take and had flexibility to change that route if necessary or needed. While there were some issues I didn't find acceptable such as one company we hauled for refused to pay detention and their driver unload/assist pay wasn't the greatest, I made a comfortable living.

One afternoon I received a call from a JB Hunt recruiter. He was "excited" to share with me I had been pre-qualified to hire in starting at $.47/mile and explained all the benefits (health, medical, 401-K) and when would I like to attend orientation in Chicago. I began grilling him on what the average mileage their drivers ran each week, explained what my situation was, inquired about home time, length of time out and what my lanes were subject to be. While the thought of making "more money" in his opinion was the main driving point of his pitch, I argued making 5 cents more per mile didn't compensate for less miles, the need to run Canada and obtain a passport without reimbursement of the cost (some companies like Marten Transport and Gordon Trucking will reimburse the cost of a passport). I liked having the flexibility to pick my routes and fuel stops where as JB routed drivers for "maximum performance" and "shortest route" while telling drivers when and where to fuel.

Bottom line is I researched the company, talked to other drivers that worked there and when the recruiter called me with his pitch I was already well informed. Here's the thing, your will always find drivers that are not satisfied with who they work for, but you will find drivers that love their job. While working for Marten I made a good living but they had a bad habit of getting me into areas and then leaving me there as a "regional" driver and then giving me a problem getting home (I put up with that for 6 months and left). I had a similar experience working for Gordon when I began with them, but when I told them either live up to their word or find another driver the started getting me home when I was due for that time (I was with them for a year and a half). Heartland Express promised me $.38/mile and told me their drivers averaged 2500 miles a week. I wound up making $.32/mile, averaging 1800 miles a week and had to fight to get paid unloads/assists (I was there 3 months and estimate they still owe me about $300 in unpaid work for unloads/assists).

But there are great companies out there as well. Smith Transport out of Roaring Springs, PA pay drivers everything they promised in orientation (detention on all stops, load or unload, have a variable stop pay), take care of their equipment and get you home when promised. The drawback is they count the day you arrive home as a day at home, regardless of what time you got there and have a habit of running you close on hours and then routing you towards a terminal for the 34 hour break. Pro's and con's are everything, but do the pro's outweigh the con's? In this case they did and I ran for Smith for 3 years before taking another offer with Kenco Logistics running hospital beds/stretchers for Stryker Medical for 5 years, 3 out of Michigan and 2 out of Phoenix. I would still be with today had they not moved from Phoenix to Bakersfield, CA.

Don't just base your move on money. Ask how hard they run (average miles, layover/dispatch times), how often you get home, what they pay for (load/unload/detention), what benefits they offer and how they treat their drivers. Some of this you get from recruiters, some from current drivers. Don't ask a driver how happy the are, focus on mileage, pay and home time and get it from several drivers not just one or two.

I currently run for First Fleet (based out of Murfreesboro, TN) running dedicated for Kroger after leaving Marten. I make great money and get home a minimum of 4 nights a week while running Las Vegas and Albuquerque. They have locations all over the country and if you are looking to move on from TransAm I would recommend you look and see if they are in your area hiring (http://www.careerbuilder.com/employerprofile/companyjobs.aspx?compa..., http://www.firstfleetinc.com/Careers.aspx) if you want great home time while making a good living.

As for o/o, check out the blog http://www.operation18.com/forum/topics/cost-to-operate-a-truck for some responses to that question. I have a reply there as well. I would really think hard and research that option. Talk to Landstar or Mercer drivers (both o/o only companies) for better input and suggestions. Personally, having been in the industry for almost 35 years, I find it less a headache to work for a company. The cost of running today compared to when I began makes me less enthusiastic about owning a truck. But that's just my opinion, others would tell you they wouldn't run any other way.

Hope this helps you!

Comment by Nancy Long on March 7, 2014 at 12:14pm

To become successful in the trucking business takes skill, ingenuity, energy, hard work, and most of all intelligence to keep updated with all the federal and state rules, regulations and laws. Just driving down the road, though vital, is just a part of the industry. 
 

Comment by Walter P Lane on April 17, 2013 at 9:43pm

Hello Mike,  I just sent you a friend request.

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