I want people to know the full story of my journey in this industry, with full disclosure. As someone with a thirst for knowledge I found myself hitting dead ends and walls constantly in my research for the ‘perfect trucking company’…spoiler alert… it doesn’t exist. They all have some minor issues and each one is different. It just depends on what you are willing to settle for or put up with. By putting up blog posts, I believe trucking students or people new to the industry can benefit from what I say and some of my research. I follow many YouTube truckers (oh and I will also have a YouTube channel with live feeds of my driving…in place of a dash cam) and they are all a wealth of information. Ike Stevens, J Canell, Red Viking Trucker, to name a few.
So with that being said, here goes blog post 1.
As everyone knows, or maybe not, I went to Athens Technical College in Monroe, GA. I paid for my CDL school, meaning I didn’t go through a trucking company to get my CDL. I am a ‘free agent’ as they say now. If you go through a company, guess what, you are locked into a contract with that company, sometimes for 2 years! If you quit, move on, or get fired you will owe upwards of $5,000 and they will stop at nothing to collect. So I said to hell with that, and wanted to do this on my own. Went to ATC from January 2017 and took my CDL road test early, I was one of the first in my class of 4, on April 1st. I passed it on the first try with flying colors.
Its now June 28th. Why in the hell you ask, am I not working or in my own truck by now. I can explain that. First, I wanted to get all of the endorsements on my CDL. Which I did. That took time, and money, and testing. and waiting for the CDL hard copy to arrive in the mail. Then I had the brilliant idea (it really was, its how I got my current job, more on that later) to get my Hazmat endorsement so I can haul hazardous materials. That was a process in itself. Took about 3 weeks. Had to go to Augusta, GA to get fingerprints. Pay the $110. Take more tests at the DMV. Wait another few weeks for another hard copy of my CDL to get mailed to me. During this time, I couldn’t work driving, cause trucking companies want the hard copy of the CDL in your hands before you show up for orientation. I had a few offers but nothing was stellar. Every one of them were OTR (over the road, AKA home 4 days a month). I have a family wife, and 3 daughters. There’s no way in hell that I am gonna see them 4 days a month. So my journey to find something local began.
The search for local work has been an exercise in futility. NOBODY will hire you without a years experience. If they told me this in school, I would have went and got my HVAC certification and forgot the driving career. Too late now. In any case, its a massive SCAM ran by the insurance companies. See the trucking companies want to hire new drivers. But the corrupt, evil, sleazy insurance companies wont let them without a year of experience. I applied though, to every LTL (less than truckload) carrier I could see in this damn town. nothing here. Saia, Estes, YRC, R&L, McLane, and a few others. I got blank stares and canned rejection emails. To say I was pissed, was an understatement. I got a damn CDL, class A with ALL the endorsements…HIRE ME. But I digress….
This all took time. It took time to try to find something local where I can be home with my family like a normal man/husband/father. I even applied to drive dump trucks (need 5 years experience), trash trucks (need 1 year experience) and roll off trucks (need 1 year experience). Hell, I even applied for Coke, Budweiser and Pepsi. Need 1 year experience. What the HELL!! I broke down and sat on the bed one night and said to myself ‘well damn, I guess I am gonna have to take a job that takes me away from the kids and wife for a year. Its only a year. At least I’m not in the service and deployed with the chance of maybe never coming home’ (bless my service brothers and sisters). So, I took the job with Schneider. It was 3 weeks of training and then in my own truck. Sweet! Or so I thought. Got there, everything changed (the classic bait and switch) and I was very disappointed to say the least. But I stuck it out. Got my new DOT physical done with them (high blood pressure was a concern but I passed). Went back to the hotel, they didn’t have a room for me. Whatever. I drove 100 miles to the house. One way. Went back the next day, 100 miles one way (why the hell did I move to Athens) and tried to make it work. Went to climb into the truck like I’ve done at least 500 times, and I fell flat on my ass. See my thighs were not having it. The day before, we did the physical and I had to do 10 squats. Well, needless to say my legs were like wet noodles. And down I went. They sent me home, aka, let me go. Whatever. I continued the futile search for local work. Gave up on it. Applied to retail companies. Hell I could work retail again, even though I have a fully loaded CDL, no criminal history and a perfect MVR. I even applied to the transit system as one last breath of hope for local. Still waiting…..
So tomorrow, June 29th my journey with a company begins. I took the job with G&P Trucking Company out of Charlotte, SC (I’ll be based in Atlanta, GA). They said its off weekends. We will see. They said its home daily. We will see. They said its overnight runs. We will see. And trust me Ill let you know what they say or change. Again, full disclosure.
So with all that, here I sit washing my clothes for the trip. The cool thing about this company is the orientation is online. You fill out all the paperwork online, and watch videos. No sitting in a terminal for 10 hours while the other people play catch up. No. its not paid, but its fine. I’m sitting on my couch…..it shouldn’t be paid. After waiting another month, they got back to me and told me my training starts July 3rd in Atlanta for two weeks then it moves to Charlotte for two weeks. I test out, then I’m done and in my own truck.
I leave tomorrow from Atlanta at 10am. They are busing all of the Atlanta drivers to Columbia, SC. We will stay in a hotel tomorrow night (with someone I don’t know, yuck, time to sleep with my wallet, and phone) and Friday we do the formal orientation. Meet the president, do a driving test, and get bused back to Atlanta that evening. Then on Monday, the training starts. Its paid training, at $500/wk which isn’t too bad. I just hope they don’t hold out on you like other companies. Aka, if you fail anytime during the training you are kicked out and don’t get a dime. Should be illegal! But maybe they don’t do that. Again, I will find out Friday.
Well, let me go throw these clothes in the dryer. Its nice to pack a backpack for a quick overnight trip. Be kinda fun to get away anyway. Never been to Columbia. I will post everyday if I can, where I’m going, what I’m doing. And when I get my truck, I will post where I’m going, etc. And be sure to watch the YouTube live feeds. RedRider on YouTube.
Details about the company so far. G&P Trucking. Based in Charlotte, SC with terminals across the southeast. The parent company is Southeastern Freight Lines. The runs are all southeast runs for this company. No NYC, Canada, Mexico. The pay starts at .38 cpm for company drivers. 2000-3000 miles a week. They have a lease purchase option after six months if you wanna do that. Trucks are 10 speed, but they are going to automatics (hooray). Trailers are 53′ dry van, general commodity. 90% drop and hook. Like I mentioned, the orientation is done from home online. The formal orientation is in Columbia for 1 day, this is where you will do a driving test as well. They will accept your current DOT physical but you will take a drug test (urine) after interview. The runs are home daily, regional and OTR. The training is one month long and you do NOT go over the road with a trainer (this is what attracted me to them in the first place) you go home daily during training. That’s all I know right now.