BTC Memphis, TN orientation and trainer experience blog.....

Discussion in 'Motor Carrier Questions - The Inside Scoop' started by ybfjax, Feb 27, 2008.

  1. ybfjax

    ybfjax Light Load Member

    Jun 30, 2007
    Builders Transportation of Memphis, TN. I had looked into several companies and had started a thread about Maverick's orientation. Now I am here at BTC. I'm so busy these last 2 days, I could barely get this thread started, which I meant to do yesterday. Well, so far, so good.

    They run your DAC before you come there and they consider you hired when you show up Monday. They have orientations just about every Monday. BTC orientation is 2.5 days and the 2 days are LONG. They cut out all the fat and tell you just what you need to know to get you to a trainer as soon as possible. You will be with a trainer for 4 days to 6 weeks depending on your category:

    Student - recent CDL grads, no or insufficient OTR experience.
    OTR experience, but need 4-5 day flatbed refresher.
    OTR experience, 6-12 months or more flatbed (you can get your own truck out of orientation)

    BTW, this is not a lot of info for what it covers, so please be patient.

    Normally, about 15 people are in their orientation class. But we had 9, and one didn't return today (Tues). So 8 out of 9 wasn't bad. They say their orientation turnover rates are fairly low, as most of the people who get kicked out lied on their app or hid something that is usually discovered within a week or so.

    A cab picks you up from Greyhound and takes you to the hotel, if you took the bus. If you drove (not recommended unless you live close by), they reimburse mileage.

    They put you up in the Fairfield Inn and Suites (Marriott) in SouthHaven, MS . This is about 20 minutes from the BTC yard in Memphis, TN. The rooms are very comfortable IMO, and there is a superwalmart, Target, Kroger, Best Buy and about 20 chain restaurants literally within a 1 mile radius. They let you drive the company vehicle to pick up stuff if you need to. But you will more than likely be so busy, you won't have time to do much but grab the essentials, maybe something to eat, and go back to the room.

    Day 1 Monday

    Morning: Be there before 7am. Namecards are placed where our assigned seats are. We start on the application paperwork. And drug screens are done as well 2 at a time while applications and new hire paperwork is filled out. This takes up about 2-4 hours. Once started, you CANNOT take a smoke break until your app is completed. Other than that, they usually take a break about once every hour or so. We take photos for our company file. Brief talk about trainer pay.

    We do an ability test which consists of picking up a 80 lbs tarp, lifting it onto a trailer, placing it back on the ground, then picking it up and walking to the other side of trailer without dropping it, place it on the trailer again, then carry it back to the starting point without dropping it. Don't stress it, it is simple. You also have to climb on a trailer from the back using 3 points of contact, walk across some straps, turn around and step back down using 3 points of contact.

    Lunch: Lunch was Pizza. Lunch is around 11am I know TMC (and other trucking training staffs) may sound shocked when I say this, but can you believe that the secretary of BTC had the nerve to ASK us is there anyone who has special dietary preferences (no pork or no meat or no dairy or etc) in which they needed to grab a special or alternative plate? PRIOR to ordering the pizza? Oh my!!! How courteous.:biggrin_2559:

    So after lunch is spent talking about safety and I met a guy who came from Maverick after being there for 5 years. I didn't get a chance to talk to him one-on-one. Safety and more safety. Know the difference between a priority and a value.

    Then, the Accident investigator comes in and talks about logs and she was a former DOT officer. She is really nice to get along with. She feeds us dinner, so don't mess with her. After logs and exchanging examples of what to log, what NOT to log, etc, we have to do a defensive driving class called the Smith System. Same instructor teaches this.

    Dinner: Dinner is around 5pm . She brought Kentucky Fried Chicken and a few sides. We watched Smith System video, went through the slideshow and then she took us all in the van (regular company van, not the commercial one) and did a demonstration on the smith system. We didn't get done until after 9pm, then you have to drive 20 minutes home.

    Day 2 Tuesday

    Morning: be there before 7am. Met with CFO of company and he briefly talks about being safe, and expectations. Applications that had errors had to be corrected. Direct deposit info turned in. BRING VOIDED CHECK, OR have something from the bank on bank letterhead or with your bank logo that has your acct # and routing #. Secretary also takes orders for Bag lunches we will receive on Wed (tomorrow) i.e. they gave us a choice as to what kind of meat, if any we wanted on our sandwich. (are you listening TMC?). We get into load securement part 1 slide show presentation.

    Lunch: We are taken by company execs and instructor to the Holiday Inn and they have a nice all-you-can-eat buffet. Not bad for the second day. There was a salad bar and veggies; there was a station where they will prepare a pasta dish "live"; and the meats that day was beef lazania, fried chicken, salsbury steak; and they had a desert station, which was various cakes. I heard their carrot cake was good. Didn't try any.

    Afterwards, we went into part 2 of load securement slide show. Then we talk to benefits co-ordinator about health, life, short/long term disability, and 401k. Ok, health is via Blue Cross/Blue Shield of Tennessee. I wasn't too impressed with the rates (and I'm single), but better than nothing and Blue Cross is all over. 60 day waiting period. Short term Disability is 12 week waiting period, long term disability is 180 days. 401k is available after 1 year with company.

    We talk to fleet manager. Older guy and it seems like it is just him. He has a bunch of dispatchers who work for him.

    Shop (mechanic) boss comes in and talks to us about equipment and basically don't trash it. He takes us outside and allows us to tour the truck. Yes, we can have inverters. You can have the shop install it for you no charge.

    I'm surprised they didn't have their payscale written down somewhere. Payscale is discussed. I'll cover that in a separate section.

    Dinner: Barbecue beef and pork sandwiches. This was so-so.

    Now we watch a video on the Smith system. Then we go out in the company van and actually get roadtested using the smith system. Basically you have to give commentary while you are driving and tell the instructor all of what you see and what you are anticipating happening. No one really fails. But be careful. Memphis drivers are..........:biggrin_25513:. The key is that you must keep the commentary going. Don't just drive and not talk and think you're going to get away with it. After each person is done, you go home. We finished at 830pm, which was GOOD time.

    Equipment: Super 10 freightliners. Mercedes-Benz engine with exhaust brakes Trailers are 48' aluminum. No dump valve (they are disabled). Yes, you can have an inverter installed for you, but you must supply the jumper cable. Yes you can put just about anything in them (refrigerators, tvs, etc). NO pets. Qualcomm.

    The pay benefits were summed up fairly well in this post by Barry714, but I will reiterate below:

    Orientation: pays $50 a day for first 3 days. This goes for EVERYONE while in orientation. Students with trainer continue to get $50/day which = $350 a week.

    Experienced guys who go out for the 4-5 day refresher after orientation get $100/day.

    Payscale: Pay periods close Tues at 10pm CST for pay that same Friday. You must turn in your paperwork within 24 hours via transflow after reporting empty.

    New drivers start at 0.35/mi.

    Experienced drivers .37/mi. and up, depends on experience.

    Tarp pay: $25; Each additional stop: $25. Minimum pay per load: $125 + tarp pay = $150.

    Bonuses: There are weekly bonuses and quarterly (13 week) bonuses ALL drivers in their own trucks are entitled to:

    : .03/mi for all miles that week if you meet these requirements
    1) All Paperwork properly turned in on time (transflowed within 24 hours of reporting empty)
    2) Pickup/Delivery is on-time (communication is the key)
    3) mileage/revenue: 2,200 miles/wk OR $3500 in load revenue.
    4) mpg/fuel: 6.5 mpg OR less than 40% idle time

    : Pretty much the same as the weekly. If you meet the minimum qualifiers: No freight claims, no chargable accidents, no worker's comp claims, and 30k mi/quarter OR $40k in quarterly revenue.

    Then you get .01/mi for all miles of this quarter for each of the following:

    1) safety: no overspeed violations (going over 68mph - trucks governed at 65mph), no tickets, no DOT writeups, no missing/false logs.
    2) service: on time pickup and delivery.
    3) maintenance: no purposeful neglect of truck.
    4) fuel economy: 6.5 mpg or greater.

    So that's .04/mi possible there, plus a bonus of .01/mi if you hit ALL FOUR of those stated criteria. So a total of .05/mi extra possible for the quarter.

    layover and breakdown pay: they avoid answering this question specifically. I guess I should have asked the fleet mgmr when he was there. But he did mention it was a case-by-case basis.

    Now I did luck out and ended up getting a trainer that is 2 hours away from my house. Another guy lives about 15 minutes from the Memphis terminal, so he is probably even luckier. Your trainer is assigned to you by Tuesday so that you can check out Wed morning. Most people will NOT be that lucky. You will be put up in a hotel room while your trainer is home that weekend.

    Wed morning is physical load securement outside all morning. A cold front has moved in, so it will be very chilly.

    This blog to be continued as I get a chance to update. Feel free to chip in. But since their orientation is so short, this is the meat of their orientation.
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  3. TexasMike

    TexasMike "Big Tex"

    Jan 28, 2008
    Dallas/Ft. Worth
    This sound great Ybfjax, I enjoyed reading your Mav blog and I'm sure to follow this one closely. I'm hoping to go flatbed after I get a year of van underneath my belt.
  4. ybfjax

    ybfjax Light Load Member

    Jun 30, 2007
    Ok, Wed orientation

    We cover load securement outside until lunch. Straps, chains and tarps. And it was cold, too.

    Lunch: Sandwiches ordered from yesterday. Chips are the same for everyone, but each cookie is different, so ask your classmates and trade out.

    After lunch,

    1) those experienced guys with sufficient flatbed experience get assigned their own trucks. They will either be in memphis, TN or Birmingham, AL. You get a thick packet, maybe speak with a dispatcher, and you are gone.

    2) Those experienced but not enough flatbed experience go out with a local trainer for 4-5 days # $100/day. These students are done for the day.

    3) Students still have to do a 2 hour trip planning (map reading) class. Then we are done for the day/waiting for trainer.

    Evening: There is no evening. If student trainer did not come, then you will be placed in a hotel and will more than likely meet up with that trainer Thursday morning. I met up with my trainer around 4pm. We exchanged words, swapped a trailer, and went to a truck stop in West Memphis, AR. This is where Roadmasters Driving School is. (I-55 and I40 meet near Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.)

    And this "completes" the classroom part of orientation. You are technically in orientation/training until you are assigned your own truck.:biggrin_25526:

    A few notes:

    - BTC has around 400 trucks. Another person said 500. so for now 400-500 trucks.

    - I lost my trainer that lives about 2 hours from home because they got hung up. My new trainer lives about 11 hours from home. About an hour from the memphis terminal.

    - He seems like a nice guy, though. Maybe I'll get to go through the house sometime in my 4 week stint. I doubt it, though.

    - Buy a sleeping bag for your trainer. Many of them do not idle their trucks. You can pick one up at the stores when you get here if you are already packed up.

    - On Monday, there is a trip for the students to go purchase boots. They get you $150-200 boots for $84. They take $42 the next paycheck. Then if you say for 12 months, the other $42 is waived. Otherwise $42 will be taken out of your final paycheck . I forgot to mention this above. I have so many pairs of steel toe shoes from the military, I figured I could keep $84. So you can decline this purchase. If you want to, you can go back to that same store at any time and purchase boots at the discounted rate, but you will pay out of pocket.

    - You will be given gloves, a neon orange reflector vest, hard hat, safety glasses.

    I suggest long johns or second layers of clothes, jacket, hand warmers, sleeping bag, face mask, etc anything to break the cold weather in the northern states, as you will most likely have to travel out of there at some point. Read BTC website and look at what they tell you to bring with you. A deluxe rand-mcnally trucker's (motor carrier) road atlas will come in handy. The deluxe one ($30) will be laminated and will last longer. Consider a set of dry-erase markers.

    I thought BTC had a page of what to bring. The recruiter will have a list. But bring toothbrush, set of sheets, pillow, several sets of underwear, Steel toe boots, etc. Try to keep it down to 1-2 bags. Remember, you are taking up YOUR space that you are allowed, which isn't much because the trainer already is taking up most of the space.

    - You normally do NOT run teams, but as I'm about to find out, when you get in the trainer truck, the "official" rules change to reflect the real world. I kind of laugh when I remember one of Maverick's instructors repeating every 15 minutes or so: "You will log what you do at Maverick.....You will log legal....."
  5. ybfjax

    ybfjax Light Load Member

    Jun 30, 2007
    Good to know my efforts are appreciated. I figured if it could help someone else, why not. If we had just a few more of these for each company, we could make some more informed decisions.
  6. Harley

    Harley Light Load Member

    Jan 13, 2008
    I have been following your blog on BTC because they might be the only flatbed company that will hire me.
    I called BTC and told the lady I was talking to that I had a misdemeanor possession charge in July 2004 and she said she didnt see where that would be a problem. Do you know or have you heard anything that backs-up what she said. I would hate to go to orientation and then find out that they do have a problem with it.
    Any input you can give me, if at all, will be appreciated.
  7. ybfjax

    ybfjax Light Load Member

    Jun 30, 2007
    BTC tends to be more liberal with their applicant's criminal behavior. It is handled on a case-by-case basis. If I am not mistaken, there was a guy who had a felony at Roadmasters (not sure how long ago or what the charge was for), but he got in. If you lie and they catch it, you're gone. But they do seem to have a high orientation pass rate. Now once they get in the trainer truck, that's a different story.:biggrin_25512: So if you told them, and they checked it out on your DAC and other reports, and they still gave you an invite, then it's legit. If you really want it, go for it. The sooner you start, the sooner you will be finished.
  8. Truckerjo

    Truckerjo Road Train Member

    Sep 5, 2006
    Any post reporting good or bad information are appreciated.. This is the only way to get the correct information about a company cause you sure are not going to get the truth from a recruiter...
  9. Lonesome

    Lonesome Mr. Sarcasm

    Dec 15, 2007
    Northern Indiana
    Great thread! Keep up the good work! :biggrin_25519:
  10. Harley

    Harley Light Load Member

    Jan 13, 2008
    Ive been straight with the companies Ive been applying at when trying to get a pre-hire letter. By the way, will BTC send out pre-hire letters?
    If Im gonna lie I'll lie to the government like they do us. LOL
    Im scheduled to start CDL school here in Missouri on March 24. I would have liked to start sooner but have been trying to save up some money to cover the bills while Im in school. I'll keep following your blog so I'll know what to expect in case they do hire me. I appreciate your detailed info, it will be very helpful later on, I hope.
    Strange how some companies will hire someone that did a 20 year stretch for murder but yet frown on a misdemeanor possession charge.
  11. ybfjax

    ybfjax Light Load Member

    Jun 30, 2007

    With Maverick, TMC, and BTC, I didnt get much fluff. Especially Mav. They tell you exactly what to expect. My recruiter at Mav went out of her way to get the answer if she didn't know. I don't see what there really is to lie about in flatbed, except the pay or just outright screwing their drivers. People should know to expect work. When you go to Maverick for orientation on day 1, Kurt is going to lay it ALL out on the table in their Trucking Lifestyles class. BTC gets you in and out of orientation (classroom) fairly quickly and get you with a trainer. They didn't have much time to fluff you.

    TMC they dont really tell u much. You are just a # there. Their Des Moines, Iowa location I heard was very large and they have nice facility there. Sure wouldnt want to train during the winter, though.:biggrin_25513: They tell you once you get there.

    I am typing this from my trainer's truck. We have a load going to Virginia, It's almost 600 miles from where we started. 4" pipe no tarps. He's going to show me how to "legally" complete this load in the logbook.

    Man, it is impossible to "log what you do" and get anything accomplished. I don't mind 11 hours with a 10 hour break, but the 14 hour rule kills you. The 70 hour limit also is kind of wack.

    With my trainer, he gave me the upper half cabinet worth of space. We have the raised roof model (all trainers have it for more top bunk space). I found that both my duffel and small suitcase fit in there. My laptop bag will go at the foot of my bunk. You're good other than that. My trainer will have me in a hotel for the weekend when he goes home.
    So that will be Friday and Saturday. (usually).

    Every quarter, the trainers

    Their trainer pay is actually very good if the trainee stays. They get paid an extra .02/mi on their regular rate. Then, when the trainer completes training, they get .02/mi for every mile for the first year that the [former] trainee runs in their own truck. And if I make my quarterly bonuses, they get an extra .01 or .02/mi for those miles. So the trainers typically want
    you to be successful.:biggrin_25525: This incentive-based trainer pay I haven't seen at other companies.

    Layover pay is $40 and Breakdown pay is $175/day, not including weekends. Wasn't able to get the specifics of the exact minimum criteria. I got these # direct from the Fleet mgr. Perhaps when I pass through the office again or I should have grabbed his e-mail addy.

    Oh, and I may be eligible for OJT pay from M. GI Bill. I could use an extra $800.

    All things considered, BTC handled themselves quite good. They had an extra room already booked, so they put us up in the holiday inn last night. So I didn't stay in my trainer's truck but tonight I will have my first taste of it.

    I wonder if there is an electronic motor carrier atlas. Not necessarily a GPS unit. Just the Motor Carrier Atlas, but electronic.
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