I started with these guys in 2002, and back then, they couldn't be beat. That has quickly changed, especially over the last two years.
Truck top speed has been cut back from 72 to 68 and last year down to 65. With the way their trucks are spec'd, I have seen very little improvement in fuel economy, even between 72 and 65. What's worse, they have a program that turns your truck down to 62 if you idle longer than they want. Some of the trucks have APU's, but this program is so touchy that sitting in stop and go traffic or even backing into a tough dock with several pull-ups can shut your truck down to 62 MPH for almost a whole day.
Kenworth's new "Klean Power" system is useless in hot weather. Sit in hot hot asphalt parking lot for more than 6 hours and that cooling gel thaws, forcing you to idle if you want A/C, and again, forcing you to drive a 62 MPH truck. And the stuff is only designed for 10 hours anyway, so if you have to layover for a day, the verdict is get a hotel, try to find idle air, or drive a 62 MPH POS and have Swift, Schneider, Werner, JB and the like pass you like you're standing still.
There is also a lot of favoritism between dispatchers and certain drivers going on here. I was to the point last winter where I was happy to go to NJ/NY/CT/MA just because it payed miles. I really didn't care where I ran. There are a group of guys here officially known as the "West Coast Click" or "w\West Coast Crybabies". They disappear from radar until a nice long gravy run to Phoenix, LA, Washington or Oregon shows up. So if you manage to get planned on one of these loads, you can bet it will be-- cough, cough-- "canceled", while one of these brown-nosers sneaks out the back exit with your trailer. Or the dispatchers simply hide these loads until their buddies show up. AKA "under the table" loads. For anyone who doesn't believe me its a well-known fact that one of our dispatchers was caught doing this last summer, and forced to take an unpaid one-week vacation. But that hasn't stopped this from continuing. Now that frieght has dried up, the West Coast crybabies have fianally figured out the world is still round east of the Mississippi River, and they pillage any load with miles. I was willing to run wherever for the past seven years, when these guys would stand at the window and cry until a load to California shows up. Now all of a sudden they are given first choice for any long run that comes up, while the rest of us starve to death.
The same thing goes for backhauls. They are hard enough to come by with this outfit, but you can bet if someone from the West Coast Crybaby Click wants to get moving, He will have his gravy load while you get beep on the Quallcom saying "preplan cancelled" and a fake "yeah we're sorry, The load fell apart on us, we're looking for something" message.
Speaking of layover, that's about all I did with these guys my last few months there. They have $75 a day loyover pay for sitting over 24hrs, but they try to cheat and come up with every reason they can think of not to pay it. So they began putting many of us on backhauls over the weekend, 3-4 days to drive 600-700 miles. And they would try to tell drivers they were only eligible for 1 day layover. I've gotten into several shouting matches with various dispatchers over this. I ended up taking it up with upper management and winning every time, but it shouldn't have to come to that to begin with.
They also got rid of all their reefers too. In my opinion this was a huge blunder. I know reefer is not the freight of choice for most people but at least they would have freight if they had reefers at the moment.
There was still money to be made with their Polaris Deck Division, but with a bad back that does me no good. You practically have to be a contortionist to climb up and unload some of those things. Also higher paying loads comes the favortism, and many of us once again got the shaft.
Also, "run 100% legal" seems to be their new motto, rubbing the Quallcom in your face and threatening you with fines after audits. They would rather have 400 castrated chicken drivers run 2000 miles per week than the 175 or so they had not too long ago that got the job done the right way. This is the same disease that afflicts nearly all companies that become too big too fast. In early 2008 Halvor line bought out Timberline Express, a smaller outfit right across the street. When they were seperate, there was competion and a reputation for both to maintain. Now the motto seems to be "We're big now and we don't care, no one up here can mess with us anymore"
The motto on the back of the trailers says "our family cares about your family" That used to be true. But today "our family cares about our family's money" would be much more fitting.
Give me the load, I'll get it there on time. I'll stay out of trouble, you don't ask me how or why it got there and I won't tell you. That is how I've always done it and will continue to do it.
Driver base pay has also not increased for almost 5 years to the best of my knowledge. So turning my truck down from 68 to 65/62 Also forces me to work up to an hour longer every day with no increase in pay. Base pay for company drivers is only $.31/mile for 1 year experience. After that its .01 per mile more for every year at your current job. So you could have 8 years experience like me, and have worked 3 jobs in nine years, and they would still start you out being paid like a rookie. There is a .03 per mile safety and performance bonus for safe driving and achieving over 30,000 miles in a quarter. This quickly disappeared for many drivers as the economy turned sour and Halvor lines became more greedy. Also if you so much as put a hairline scratch on a truck or trailer and they get wind of it, there goes your entire bonus for a quarter. Also any ticket or DOT documented warning will cost you the entire bonus. You see, there are virtually no trucking comapnies around in the Duluth-Superior area, the ones that are left are starving to stay alive. What more reason to take advantage of the driver.
While this company is still not nearly as bad as the big nastys (Swift, Werner, Covenant, Schneider, Prime, US Express, JB Hunt), they are heading down that same road. I hear the train a' comin. While this may be a good company for a rookie to start out with, There is no real incentive for anyone with real experience to work here. While the economy is bad, there are still jobs out there if you are qualified and know where to look.
As for me, I've moved on to smaller and better things. Smaller meaning an outfit with no Quallcom, and one that lets me do my job the right way, in a truck that can at least to the speed limit in all states. I used to take pride in driving a Halvor Lines truck. Now I laugh every time I see or pass one.
Halvor Lines, Superior, WI: No longer worth it
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Our trucks are set to 56 mph in Illinois and 60 anywhere else. Real fast.
Nice post. Good details. Seems like you got out at a good time. It's sad to see a company you worked for that you once thought was good turn sour right in front of your eyes. Hard to swallow. Happened to me once. Not a trucking job but q great paying factory job.
As for favoritism there is a little bit of that everywhere in this world.
The reason I left was simply because they were always out of freight and I got tired of starving, not to mention the slow trucks. Other than that they treated me fairly well for two years. Halvor Lines put all their assests into a few big shippers. When these companies struggle, so will any trucking company that hauls for them. This is a mistake a lot of trucking companies, big and small, have made over the past few years. Monson, who I also used to drive for, is doing even worse from what I've heard._ton bundle Thanks this.
Thanks for the info. I think that they regret buying Timberline. It really didn't make much sense for them to do it and the timing ended up being pretty bad.
I think you are right, they just got too big too fast and don't really have their lanes figured out yet. That 250-500 truck size is just a tough number to manage. It's too small to serve the really big national supply chains and too big to keep every truck moving by sourcing backhaul. Plus, Halvor puts their trucks into some really tough spots to get back out of.
Also, I think that their dispatchers have too many drivers to manage and they seem a little disorganized. Like you said, they aren't a dishonest company, just a little over their heads right now. I agree with you that they were a better company a few years ago.
There are a lot of good companies to work for in the MN/WI area, so there is not really a reason to work for one that is not working well for you.
I think that's another one of their drawbacks. Unless you break down all repair work and services MUST be done in Superior. When they bought Timberline Express it nearly doubled the size of their fleet. Today, trying to get even a simple repair done there can turn into an all day affair.
With as much freight as they haul between the Twin Cities and the East Coast, I see no reason they couldn't have built a couple more actual terminals (with shop, office, phones, showers, etc). If there was a Twin Cities Terminal I probably never would have left. One in the Twin Cities, one in Chicagoland, and one out east (NJ, PA, NY) probably would have worked out great.
Yeah I also believe the owners are generally good and decent people. But I do agree that it got more disorganized after they bought Timberline. I heard they got rid of the reefers because of some emmisions standards with California. There's a simple solution for that, don't go to California. That's one thing I agree with the orignal poster about. If they had reefers they would have more steady freight. Most of their drivers claimed they didn't miss the reefers, but I bet they're missing the paychecks they once had.
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