The FFE being described by the previous posts in this thread no longer exists. FFE now is only an LTL company which also has the oil field contracts. Paul L. has been gone for more than a year.
If you go to the "FFE" driver academy, you might get trained by an FFE driver, but you are most likely going to be a KLLM employee or contractor when you are finished. That means you are going to spend your 6 weeks of training going to FFE terminals and using Peoplenet. Then, when you get your own KLLM truck, you are rarely, if ever, going back to an FFE LTL terminal. You will also be using Qualcomm. Your 6 weeks will have been spent making your trainer a hell of a lot of money, without teaching you most of what you need to know.
I talked to Sal (the guy who does the road test after you get out of training), and his biggest complaint was students who can't back. Their trainer's excuse is always, "We didn't have enough time." That's laughable considering they spend 4 or 5 days driving non-stop from terminal to terminal, and then they would sit on their ### doing nothing for three or four days straight.
When I went through the academy, in July 2012, there was a 6 month OTR requirement before you were qualified to drive in the oil fields. That did not mean you would get hired after 6 months, it just meant you were qualified. You had to wait for an opening and then apply for the job. They may have recently shortened the requirement to 3 months, but you still have to wait for an opening. There might be openings today, but that does not mean there will be 3 months from now.
As a student, with a trainer, you might drive 3000 to 3400 miles a week; but, as a solo driver, you won't even come close to that. Plan on an average of 2200 to 2400 miles a week. Yes, you might have great weeks where you get 3000 miles, but there will be weeks where you might get 1800. All the forecasts are predicting a really strong Spring in terms of freight. Business will be there, but sometimes you might get stuck on a load that has 4 days for 800 miles. As an employee, you have to take that load. As a contractor you can turn down those loads, but you are still going to have slow weeks. It's just the way the business works.
As a contractor for KLLM, my fixed costs are $672 a week. I have a 2013 Cascadia, and the payment is about $485 per week. If you get a 2014, you will pay about $25 more per week. Your insurance costs might be higher or lower as well, so an estimate of $650 to $700 per week in fixed costs will work for most people and most vehicles. The fixed costs for Prime are anywhere from $900 to $1100 per week. They pay more per mile, but you will still end up taking home about the same per week. Yes, their trucks have all the bells and whistles, but their lease terms are for three years. With KLLM, their lease is longer, but at the end of the lease you can buy your truck for $1.
Prime also governs their company trucks at 59mph and their lease trucks at 65mph. Their recruiters say the average mileage per week is 2200 to 2400, which is about the same as KLLM.
Here's something most drivers don't consider. The Prime weekly fixed costs are $900 to $1100 per week. With KLLM, fixed costs are between $650 and $700 per week. Because of the difference in pay per mile, a driver who drives 2500 a week for Prime is going to make the same as a driver who drives 2500 miles a week for KLLM. But here's where KLLM drivers have the advantage. Let's say that two drivers, one who works for Prime, and the other who works for KLLM both drive 2500 miles a week, on average, and they both take home $1250 per week. That take home is after each company takes out their fixed costs. That means the KLLM driver grossed about $1900, and the Prime driver grossed about $2200. The gross really does not matter. What they took home is what matters, and because their miles were the same, their net pay was the same. Now, both drivers want to take an entire week off. At the end of that week, the KLLM driver only owes between $650 and $700. The Prime driver owes between $900 and $1100. Since they both net the same amount, $1250 per week, the Prime driver is paying more of his take home pay than the KLLM driver when he/she wants time off.
I am not 100 percent happy with KLLM. There are still lots of issues being worked out, and I have posted my some of my issues in other threads. Regardless of what anyone tells you, no company is perfect. Some drivers may think Prime is perfect, while others have nothing decent to say about it. The same goes with KLLM and just about any other company. The only exceptions are CR England and Knight; I can't find anyone who ever has anything good to say about them.
With KLLM, the first thing you are going to discover is that they are constantly dispatching loads that are late. If you get a load that is late, talk to your DM and find out if they can make another appt, or find out what's going to happen when you arrive. Don't go to a shipper or receiver unprepared. It's gotten to the point where I just call the shipper or receiver myself if I have questions. It has been working out pretty well. KLLM says not to do that, but when KLLM doesn't have the information I need, or it's not correct, there's not much else I can do.
I hope this post helps.
One last thing. I am headed home now, but up until last week, I bumped up against my 70 every single day for a week. The only reason I got a break was because I couldn't pick up a load during the shipper's hours and had to give it up. I did a reset and then kept going with another load. Yesterday, I went from Edwardsville, IL to Lancaster, TX in one day, and then had to IC with another driver because I could not get to the receiver in time. I picked up at Hospira in Austin, and there were KLLM trucks everywhere picking up loads. There were also about 10 more loads waiting to be picked up. Business is good. If a driver is not making money right now it's because he/she won't drive or can't pick up or deliver loads on time.
I can't wait to get to FL. It's going to be in the 70's and 80's while I am there. This Winter has sucked even though I have been lucky to stay out of the worst of it. I can't imagine how bad it's been for the people working Chicago LTL.
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Good `ol bend over an smile FFE is gone.
Now it's bend over, smile and grit your teeth from what I hear.
Paul, L was an amazing DM.
I'd gratefully trade my current local job to be OTR with Paul as my DM again, in a heartbeat.
I read through your information, just wanted to throw in a couple pennies regarding the pros/cons of Prime vs. FFE- and I've gotta say as a companied driver; I'd stick with Prime all day.
Save your monies, drivers.
glad to see i wasn't the only one that jumped ship. funny though, i also had Paul as my dm for the last 3 weeks i was there. he was just training and to be fair the damage had already been done by my previous dm (came to find out later he was a former swift driver that wanted to be a dm. he lasted a little over 2 months before he bailed.)
pick a school and get your cdl and at least 3 months of road time then leave. they will come after you for the $ for the school. i settled for .50 on the dollar and just paid it.
if your located in central texas i haven't heard to many terrible things @ millis to get your cdl and road time.
good luck where ever you end up.Night Prowler Thanks this.
Honestly, after doing otr with FFE for first 2 mo. I was taken care of very well for miles and I had a good running truck. After 6 mo. otr, I thought I had made a huge mistake and was considering quitting due to low miles and horrible NE runs. That same week, the Chicago ltl terminal offered me a position and I so I decided to try that out. I have been ltl for 7 mo now, and they have kept me busy and have had better paychecks than otr. Ive had a few issues with Dallas but whatever the problem is the terminal mngr in Chicago will make it right if you come to him. As far as the company being bought out by KLLM, it has not effected me whatsoever. My only true complaint is that the company trucks are too slow and the trailers are old beat up DOT traps, and the terminal is too small to house the amount of freight that comes through (Chicago).Last edited: Feb 22, 2014
jomar68 Thanks this.
that sounds about right, there's been a couple of time where i will be calling for a good 45 minutes never get in touch with anyone, then say to myself it's either pay for it myself or run out of hours relatively close to the terminal. boy did they hassle me trying to create a p.o. to get my money back. don't do that anymore
Just as an update, I did end up going to FFE/KLLM. So far, I have been pleasantly surprised. I went through the refresher course in Fort Worth, and (as someone who got their CDL from another mega carrier) I found the training to be very thorough. They seem to take good care of their students (free breakfast and catered dinner every day), and the instructors are very knowledgeable.
I'm currently about halfway through my phase 2 (OTR) training, and we have had very little downtime, as we've been running pretty much nonstop with preplans at nearly every turn. I haven't encountered a lot of the issues outlined in some posts, but that's not to say I won't when I'm on my own. Also as a nice bonus, the weekly pay for trainees was about $115 more than we were told it'd be. All in all, I have been very pleased thus far. I came from a much bigger mega carrier, and the experience has been 10x better than what I had there. I guess on the plus side, if it turns to crap when I'm on my own, I only have a six month commitment for the refresher. /shrug
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