How do you get started in the car hauling business? How much experience is required? What can you expect as a newbie? Is the business predominantly owner ops, or are there good companies to work for?
Starting out in the car hauling business...
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I'd like to respond and say something helpful but after thinking about it for a minute (and having trained many in my day)...I may not be the right one to tell you. I started out by eating the eggs and bacon that a car hauler worked his tail off for and provided for a herd of his own lil soon-to-be car haulers. I washed the Dayton wheels on his truck before I could get up to the rest of it. Changing oil, springs, tires on 3-piece rims...in my case, that's how I started. I know you're looking for a real answer for today's niche but I never really had to think about anything else or seek out someone to work with me to get into the job. It just happened.
I know some of the companies may have training programs but from what I can tell by loading and unloading beside them at the various places I deal with...they didn't get a lot of quality training. I constantly have to deal with guys asking how I do this or how I do that...aren't you supposed to pull that one on instead of back it? How can you get that down? How tall are you gonna be? That'll never work. Then when I get loaded and snug it up, out comes the cameras and heads start shaking. Don't get me wrong...I love to help others and I still love the job I do. Sometimes I want to get home more than I want to stand in a loading yard having discussions with hardheads and 2 year know-it-alls.
I had a Sunday School teacher way back that had this saying..."If you want to get into farming and you don't know a thing about it...go find you a farmer that has his fence rows clean and his cows is fat." I guess that's sound advice in this instance too. A company training session is not going to be the end all for your carhaul career. There are too many variables...every load is different and a puzzle. With experience you will be able to walk up to a list of 10 mixed cars, vans, SUV's, etc and sort it in your head in a matter of seconds. I personally picture the load on my wagon before I ever start. I have favorite positions for certain units according to size, length, weights, drive on or back on, etc. Lots of variables and you'll never learn that at a school.
The ideal way to get in would be to find the right person to take you under his wing and live it until you knew it. Dad did me and the brothers...and I miss him every day now that he's gone...but I was fortunate to know him. I don't know where people like him are nowadays. Seems to me there just are not any real men left today. 100% of the true carhaulers I know across this country that can get the job done without tearing something up, have come up in a similar way. Not saying it can't be done from the outside but those that did will tell you the same story about what a hard job it is...but they love doing it.
I've heard it also helps to be a little crazy too. Anybody in their right mind would surely not want to do this.
Anything specific...ask. If I can help, I certainly will.
Well put Truckist, I will add, you really NEVER stop learning, it is what makes the job enjoyable. If you don't enjoy challenges and take satisfaction in over coming them you would be better of in another trucking field. JMHO.
To me (although I no longer have this type of equipment) it is almost like playing billiards, you survey the table, decide which order to proceed, figure out which shots are going to be trouble and figure it out before you ever take a shot.
Also to the OP, be a little more specfic, are you talking about starting from scratch? Do you drive now? Are you planning on jumping in with both feet as an O/O? Or are you looking for company advise?
StanSQ609 Thanks this.
O.K. gotcha, THIS IS JUST MY OPINION, but if I was in your shoes I would try and get on with a small auto carrier first and learn as much as you can.
Trying to jump into AH as an O/O right off the bat might be a steep learning curve for some.
Where do you live? We are probably going to add a driver or two in 2012, if you are interested, clean cut and a "self-thinker" drop me a line.
I say this just because you have much more to worry about when you're navigating a load of cars down city streets. That branch that thumped against the roof of your truck last week just damaged one or more vehicles on your load. If you're lucky, it's just a scratch, but could well be dents and/or broken glass. That corner you took yesterday; the one where you had to cut a bit tighter than you initially thought? You may well have damaged a car or two because our turning radius can be very limited with a big load.
Throw in that you can't just park anywhere in a truck stop, you don't dare leave the rear car where someone could back into it, and you're longer than just about anyone else, as well. And you're going to be tired; there's a lot of physical work to do this job, especially if you're doing short/regional hauls.
It's enjoyable work, an appointment is a rare thing for pickup or delivery. You won't have someone telling you,"We don't have a door for you right now." Getting a big multi-pick/drop load on the truck while minimizing reloads will give you some mental exercise as you figure the best way to do it. You'll soon be strong as a mule, between the climbing, walking, and chaining.
Just be ready; because if you think navigating a semi for the first time was taxing, you ain't seen nothing yet! Good luck to ya!
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