Tuesday, September 13, 2011

This'n'That; September Thirteenth #1; YUP, True!

Ref: The Sunday 'Report;' 09/04/2011
    I remember the referenced article clearly (and fondly); it dealt with my chosen career:  an over-the-road truck driver!  The 'google' query--from Charlotte, N.C.,--most probably was concerned over the earnings claimed by the subject: Jeff McGee, 37, who earns ~~$160,000/year.
    I can't speak directly to Mr McGee's annual earnings; he's in a specialized segment of the the trucking industry:  He picks up brand-new road tractors (singularly, or in groups like 2,3,4), and delivers them to trucking companies or truck retail sales companies.  I was an over-the-road driver from July, 1995 to January, 2006.
  The industry:
**The most notable distinction is that practically everything in any American's daily life was on a truck at some point!   Railroad tracks don't go the local Walmart's back door!!
**The O-T-R driving career is quite segmented:  longhaul (coast-to-coast); regional (like Northeast: New England, New York, New Jersey, etc); dedicated (hauling for a particular company like: the auto manufacturers, General Mills or John Deere, and related suppliers) as well as other segments I'm not familiar with.
    Each segment has it's pluses and minuses like:
~Some pluses in longhaul  are:  You wake up each morning in a locale you've probably never been before; you see sights others pay 'tons 'a' money' to visit; you will meet some of the nicest folks on the planet, etc.
~Some of the minuses in longhaul are:  most companies require an 'away-from-home' period of at least two-weeks;  extended periods away from home and family; the stress involved in meeting loading and delivery appointments;  the stress involved in traffic and construction conjestion; you'll meet some of the biggest a'holes and bullshit artists on the planet; the stress of dealing with company dispatchers and their road-service departments.
The other segments have pretty-much the same pluses.  The minuses:  Regional-travelling the same routes time-after-time; Dedicated:  To-the-minute delivery appointments;  constant load scheduling, little time between loads.
    My history:
**In early June 1995, I was laid-off from a boring, dusty, piecework,  manufacturing job; later that month, I went to the C-1 Drivers School in Indianapolis, Indiana.  After a 17-day course--classroom, range and highway time--I graduated on July Third.

**On July 6 or 7th, I reported to my first company, Transport America (TCAM, Eagan, Mn), in North Jackson, Ohio.  I was assigned to a company driver/trainer and spent 8 weeks driving with him, earning a flat salary of $250/wk (I think).  I stayed with TCAM until the Fall of 1998.  My perception was that my dispatcher had slighted me over some detail of my next load; I got pissed-off somewhere in Indiana and bobtailed (no trailer) back to the North Jackson terminal (at my expense-I bought the fuel!); turned in the truck and the keys, unloaded my crap and went home to Cohocton, N.Y.  When I was initially assigned my own truck I started earning 23.5 cents-per-mile (CPM).  I finished with TCAM earning 34.5 CPM.
**After less than a week, I was certifiably 'stir-crazy!'  I had bullshitted with some Crete (Crete Carrier Corp[CCC], Lincoln, Ne) drivers earlier, and decided to call the company for an interview. 

CCC had several benefits others didn't offer, like their--at that time--exclusive 'Load-Select' system.  Upon delivery, the company offered up to three trips-driver's choice!  Those trips were usually in different directions; with different lengths, so whether the driver wanted to 'see the country' or 'get some miles,' the choices were there!!  Another great advantage--businesswise--is, CCC is a privately-owned company-owned by the Dwayne Acklie family.  Everything the company has is wholly owned--they essentially don't owe nobody, nothin'!!
Freightliner Crete Carrier Corp on US 222 outside Lancaster, PA.After an interview and road test at CCC's regional terminal, McGungie, Pa., I drove in a rented car to orientation at their Linoln, Ne., headquarters.  I drove with a company driver/trainer for 4 weeks and then was assigned a truck of my own with an initial--as well as final--payrate of 30CPM.  I was a CCC company driver for about a year before I bought my own truck and became an 'owner-operator.'
**In October 1999, I bought a 1998 Freightliner FLD120 (a basic, off-the-rack model).  The truck only had the basics, but with 106,000 miles-in the industry, that's "just barely broke-in!"  I leased the truck to MS Carriers, Inc (MSCC), Memphis, Tn., a the 'empty-and-loaded' rate of 65CPM, which went up over the course of the lease(s).  MSCC was an 'alright' company; I leased onto them to get the 'home time' I wanted, I was dating a Dallas-area actress at the time.  I stayed with MSCC until they were near finalization of a sell-out to Swift Transportation, Phoenix, Az.  I knew from experience that we would NOT be a good fit: a the time, Swift castrated (demanded they be governed) owner-operator trucks to 65MPH!  It's my truck, I'm payin' for it, I'll drive it as fast or slow as I want to!!

**In the Summer of 2001, I returned to CCC, leasing my truck under their sliding-pay-scale, plus 65CPM-empty.  The shorter the trip miles, the more CPM and the converse.  I stayed with CCC as an owner-operator until September 2005 when I sold my truck (at that time, the truck had 843,000, very profitable miles!!).  I then became a CCC company-driver until January, 2006, when "The Young Miss Lovely" made the decision that I should sleep in our bed more than just every-other weekend!!
 Crete Carrier
    In conclusion, YES-the basic facts of what I've presented here are the truth as I remember them.  One should not consider--or enter into--the trucking industry, lightly!  It can be a hell'uva stressful job; it can be the most rewarding job you will ever have!  It worked well for me; I had no wife or girlfriend at the time I became a trucker; my kids were all grown with families of their own.  I was--and will always be--a nomad!  I loved the job so much that--during a couple of years of my owner-operator days--I wouldn't see 'the homestead' for three months at a time; if money is your goal, that's one way it's done.  With fuel prices being what they are; with the fluxuation they suffer, I'm not so sure that owner-operatorship is the way to go.  Company-driver pay has gone up in the past few years; one can make a very comfortable living, with every-other weekend at home.  This career is certainly 'worth a look' for practically anyone: man, woman, the retired, the retired-and-bored former professional, the returning veteran-anyone!  I've met all kinds of people out on the road: retired doctors, lawyers, accountants; some of the nicest ladies anywhere; just the average 'joes' trying to make a living!
  For further information, check some of the sites below, among others.  I've included a couple from OOIDA (Owner-Operator, Independent Drivers Ass'n, Grain Valley, Mo.).  OOIDA is the only organization that TRULY has the drivers' best interests at heart.  I've been a life-member for years, back to when I first bought the Freightliner.
  Hey YOU!!  That 'googler' from Charlotte:  if you see this, I hope it helps to answer some of the questions you may have!!
Til Nex'Time....http://c1training.com/



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