Falcon Transport, Co. - Youngstown Oh.
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Just finished orientation in Gary In...
You are expected to have taken your drug test prior to coming. Keep your receipt and bring it with you. You will need your long form. If you don't have this as a fresh out of school student, have your school fax it to Falcon. Bring tuition receipts if your looking for reimbursement.
Day 1. Catch shuttle from hotel to class. Hotel is decent, nothing special. Breakfast consists of egg's and sausage. Oj or coffee. waffle maker on site. You will be sharing a room with another student. Day one consists of paperwork, (tons of it.) Vids concerning logging. instruction on paper logs. (This is hammered in you all 4 days.) 1st drive evaluations. Some standing around doing nothing. (With only two driving teachers to do the evaluations, the rest of the class is told to go to a dilapidated old truck and pre-trip it. it has up to if not more than 50 issues lol. but it's a junker so to be expected.) Long day. 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. Personality's of the instructors are varied. From silent to in your face hardcore. You will be given several quizzes concerning course material. Including a 36 question test concerning log books that will be due before you finish on Thursday.
Day 2. Get's in deep on company policy's. Safety videos, basic instruction on people net. (You won't use it once out with a trainer for at least 3 weeks. They want you logging paper at first.) There is a heavy focus from this point on concerning safe use of the vehicles. Pre-trip is hammered into your head. It seems to be the focal point of most of the day. They review their high scores and credit it a lot to driver laziness on pre-trips. (Not getting into the debate of Driver vs Bad looking equiptment. It's been stated they are updating the fleet.) You are told to refuse to drive if you feel the tractor/trailer will not pass inspection. (How this plays out once in the real world remains too be seen.) You are given the chain of command and told who can and who can't tell you what to do/not do. Backing practice and some otr driving for those that need it. Trip planning is heavily pushed later in the day. And students are given routes to plan as a test/practice. This is another long day, ending around 7 p.m.
(It should be noted, Falcon feeds you fairly well. Breakfast at the hotel, lunch and dinner. If you go there broke. You won't starve.)
Day 3. Trip planning, more trip planning, Hazardous conditions/materials, log books, some more paper work. Your logs are being looked over. This is how you will be getting paid, by turning in a neat and correct log book. Day 3 was rushed for us as two out of the four instructors were leaving for a meeting in Youngstown on day four. So a lot of info is thrown at you concerning many different subjects. As always. pre/post trips are hammered into you as very important. You also go out on the road again for a final evaluation. Day 3 had a lot of talk about driver safety. As Falcon had a driver roll over in the rain storms early in the week exiting an off ramp too fast in the rain. Chuck was very passionate in his instruction concerning driving safe and pre-trips. What too expect when being inspected by d.o.t. is gone over. (They do not hide the fact you will be subject to several inspections due too their scores.) A lot of the instruction seems to be focused on turning this around. Wednesday is a catch all from my experience. You are given homework, a trip plan that is a pain in the ###, work on it as a group or you'll be up late. Lots of subjects are hit on. It's another long day. Back in the hotel around 7:30/8 p.m.
Day 4. Graduation day lol. You've made it this far, you're in. Skype call in the morning with the training manager. You'll get your trainers number and where to meet him. You'll also find out if your recruiter lied too you and what route you'll be on. After this you are given your employee number, paper work for your trainer, phone numbers of important people to contact for issues. Final signatures on your paperwork, There is also a few more tests and vids gone over. But it's an early day. You'll be on the way home shortly after lunch time.
Falcon has 3 levels of new hires. students, fresh from cdl school (like me), pay is $40 a day for orientation. :Apprentice students, who I believe get $70 a day (min 6 months experience verified.) And experienced, who's pay I do not know. Experienced drivers were not required to be there the full 4 days. Many were on the way by day 3.
Overwhelming majority of my class were sent to the dedicated GM accounts. We had one guy going command, (OTR), and one other going flatbed. The rest of us were van guys. The instructors seemed surprised on Monday with the amount van drivers. I guess the push has been for more flatbedders.
The instruction lagged in a few areas. I believe this was due to my class size. But was over all well put together and deep enough to just get the basics down, the rest to be learned in the trainers truck.
I have no point of reference to compare my experience with other company's training programs, as this is my first company in my new trade. But I felt It was a good orientation despite the low pay and long hours.
*Some things I forgot to add*
Training pay: $70 + $20 per diem for food. Kicks in your SECOND week with trainer. Bring cash or grocery with you for week one otr.
If your recruiter told you your trainer would be out of your home terminal, he lied. Two guys from my class got that. The rest of us had the option to take greyhound or personal vehicle to trainers home terminal too meet them. Falcon pays for hotel stay. But no meals. Average distance from home to trainers home, 5 hour drive with my class.
Trainer trucks are most likely not duel sleepers. Falcon puts up for a hotel during 10 hour break. Depending on trainer. You may get the room and he/she sleep in truck, you may share the room, or you sleep in truck while they in hotel. Depends on your trainer. Falcon does not team drive anymore. (At least with trainers/trainee's).
That's about it. I'll come back to this thread once my training is done for an update if there is interest.
I have been with Falcon for a little over 2 months. I was a fresh from CDL School grad as well. Your write up of orientation is pretty spot on. What trainer you get depends on where you live. If you live near a major terminal like Gary, Nashville or Youngstown and there is a trainer open, your golden and will have a trainer close. If you only live near one of the drop yards then you are gonna have greyhound it. Oh, and unless you are flatbed, you are almost guaranteed to be a "floater", no matter what your recruiter promised you. My orientation class had 12 new guys in it and 8 of us were assigned as floaters after training. But you should get an assigned route pretty quick.
The two biggest problems that I have had with Falcon at this point is the equipment and the fact that you can almost never reach anyone on the phone. Us new guys get the older equipment. I am on my third truck in 1 1/2 months due to major issues. And the new ProStars Falcon has bought and assigned to the older guys are being wrecked at an epic rate. Every terminal I have been to so far has at least two wrecked new trucks, sometimes more. It wouldn't supprise me if management says screw it and stops buying them. So, if your recruiter tells you that Falcon is buying all new equipment, that may be true but you will almost certainly not be getting one any time soon. You may get to drive one with your trainer but I wouldn't get used to it.
And as for reaching someone on the phone, good luck with that. We are supposed to contact our DM to let them know when we are arriving and leaving a customer and when we start and finish our days. I sat on the phone listening to it ring for 20 minutes last week. And I watched a mechanic today wait on hold for 30 minutes waiting for a PO# so I could get a new windshield for my truck. I think Falcon really needs to hire some more people in the front office.
Don't get me wrong. I am not saying someone shouldn't drive for Falcon. They are not a bad company. My DM is great and does everything she can to make my job easier. I like the new dedicated run I am on and my latest truck seems to be in fairly good shape. Just know that more than likely there are going to be issues come up that you will have to deal with. I look at it as character building.Allthebestnamesaretaken Thanks this.
Home for the weekend after my second week of training. Going to post a brief write up of the past two weeks.
As a trainee, I have homework even during the otr time. Nothing major, a detailed trip plan per week. Transflow sheets. And log books are gone over thoroughly.
Week one requirements: a minimum of 10 hours behind the wheel, at least four on the job back ups under trainer supervision. I live near Gary terminal, but due to a lack of local trainers I was sent to southern Indiana for week one. Pretty light work. GM was in a shutdown so my trainer was running a route that he normally didn't do. Parma OH to Corydon IN. Back and forth a couple times during the week. Stayed in hotel for 10 hour breaks due to single sleeper. Trainer was new, unsure of his duties. Did the best he could without direct instruction. Trainer was a good dude. made things fun. Truck was a POS. Had a brake chamber leak, then blow in my first 30 mins behind the wheel. Fortunately, it happened close to an off ramp with a Loves and a mechanic on duty @ midnight. (Not really lol. he had just left for the night but lived 2 miles away. The manager called him and asked him if he would come back. He did. Very cool.) I got the truck into the truck stop feathering the gas too keep the air pressure up as best I could. I kept it at about 70 psi with light engine revs and even lighter brake use. (Truck is an automatic. No downshifting to bleed speed.) It was loosing air pressure fast. Parked truck in a cloud of smoke and a cherry red brake drum that was very close to catching fire. Trainer handled the details with the mechanic and breakdown dept. He was kinda pissed they only authorized a brake chamber replacement. Preferring he take the truck to Nashville for a drum/pad replacement. Whelp, we still had 17 good sets of brakes lol.
Near the end of the week he let me know the training dept had found a Gary trainer for me. I left the first week with 13.5 hours on duty driving. Around 800 miles.
Week two: Needed 20 hours behind the wheel. Meet new trainer. He's running a GM dedicated to Kansas City KS. Ok guy. friendly, cautious about me on day one but he warmed up after I proved I wasn't clueless. This trainers done it a bit, much more detailed in the passing of knowledge. Not as fun as my last guy though lol. His truck is mechanically better than the last truck I drove. 10 speed manual. He's trying to brake me of my double clutching from cdl school with only slight success. Truck has a few issues that should get fixed this weekend. I got a lot of drive time this week. About 29 hours and about 1.7k miles running Gary to Ohio back to Gary then to KC and back.
Not much more to say. So far the experience has been good. My trainers have been decent people. Clean and hygienic. My training DM has been very cool and informative. Answering my noobish questions quickly and thoroughly. I haven't had to wait on hold for anyone for longer than 2 mins or so. My only concerns are the obvious ones, the equipment. I have little doubt I will be roadside rationing the little food and water I bring with me someday. But I haven't met a trucker yet who hasn't broke down at some point in their time on the road. I compare it to riding my motorcycle, two types of bikers, those that who have dumped their bikes and those that will.
I'll post a recap when finished with training.
I came in as an experienced driver, so I don't have the training that allthebestnamesaretaken is describing. I had a two day orientation instead of four. They gave me a short road/skills test. If I had failed it (twice, they give you one do-over) then I would have been in the same training the others are describing.
As it turns out, I passed the skills test and got my own truck right away. I got out of orientation on a Tuesday and was in a truck on Thursday. I'm in the automotive division, which means I have a dedicated run. Mine is from Detroit to Dallas and back. I run it once a week, and I'm pretty happy with it.
The equipment is old and beat-up. Some previous driver of my unit installed custom CB equipment, which he later ripped out. I have no functioning antenna (but three antenna cables hanging down!), so I can't install my CB. That's got me a little hacked off, but I can live with it.
My truck has an automatic tramsmission. That's the killer. I'd rather be stabbed in the eye with a shrimp fork! I have no control over the truck at low speeds. I never know when it's going to shift on me and give me a sudden surge of power. I'm hitting loading docks so hard it makes my teeth hurt!!
Three weeks into this job, I have little complaint with Falcon. I knew about the old equipment going in, and they keep it safe and running well. The other drivers at my terminal (Romulus, MI) have told me that the mechanics are quick to jump on anything you mention to them. I haven't had a reason to find out personally, but it's good to hear it from others.
So, if Falcon can switch me out of that dmned automatic, I'll be happy to retire my resumé and hang out where I'm at for a few years. Until then, I'm still looking. (Yes, the automatic is that bad.)Last edited: Jun 2, 2014
I have been at Falcon for 5 years, out of Romulus. I do the Canada to Texas run.
I agree with you 100%, the Snatch-O-Matics really suck. Talk to your driver manager
about it. If that doesn't work, call and talk to the equipment manager at Falcon.
One thing about Falcon, if you ##### loud enough you get oiled : )
Ask them to get you into a new 10 speed as soon as one is available, because you don't feel "SAFE"
in this old P.O.S. automatic! And as we all know "Safety" is Falcon's number 1 concern.
Best of luck to you Driver! Do us all proud! Truck 1615.
Finished with training.
Last two weeks were a little messed up. Loads canceling, delays at GM out of spite. Minor truck issues.
Week three: Started fine. Monday load to Kansas. Ran just fine. Along the way back trainer got message he was required to be in Gary on Friday for a train the trainer class. Trainer wanted his two loads a week for the money so had the DM give him new pick up. Our pick up time had changed from early afternoon to a 3 am on the same day. I argued there were not enough hours to do this and be on time. But my trainer wanted those two loads so off we went. Due too us having to take a ten hour in Kansas. We were not going home but running right through to meet the pick up time. We didn't make it. Drove for eleven hours then stopped for our ten hour in Ohio. Got too shipper about an hour late, simply no hours to get there on time. Got lucky and dock was open and they loaded us. Now it was turn around and run balls out to Gary to sneak in a ten hour at home. After doing the math in Gary. no matter how we worked it. We would not be in Kansas on time. Our route was a 9 hour run with a mandatory 30 min break. When we left the Gary yard, we were already an hour late. The timing of the ten hour ending gave us 8 hours to get to Kansas City. We informed dispatch and were assured they knew this already and had been in contact with KC, letting them know and there was no problem w/being an hour or so late...
We modified our route, shaved 45 mins off the run, were still running about 15 mins late. Then were forced into the 30 min break. Made another call to night dispatch to be sure they contacted KC. Were again reassured everything was cool. We got to KC @ 6:20 am. 50mins late to our 5:30am window. We were then informed they had heard nothing from Falcon concerning our time, and they would "fit us in" when they could. We got unloaded @ 2:30p.m. Despite open bays, half hour stretches of no trucks in the docks. We had logged into sleeper for 2 hours. Knowing we were f@#ked. But still had to take the next 8 on site. Two sizable dudes in a single sleeper truck does not a peaceful days rest make. For the first time in my life, I almost fell asleep at the wheel on the way home. We leap frogged the drivers seat on the way. One sleeping while the other drove, just to make it home.
Week four: Started with me ######## about the last week. And if we did get a cancel, we were not going to take the first run offered and run half a week late. (Yeah I'm a bit of an prickish trainee. And not all that shy about expressing my displeasure.) Trainer agreed it was a messed up situation. No hard feelings, we were off to Ohio. Flawless running, Ohio and back in the day, ten hour @ home. Off to Kansas again on Tuesday morning. Smooth, last week is fading to memory. Then we get a cancel again for next day's Ohio run. Fortunately, it switched to a later run, giving us a bit more hours to complete. It just screwed with our sleep schedule. Making me drive tired for the next 3 days into Saturday morning. (By week four, the trainer is supposed to just observe. No driving for him, no talking to dispatch ect.) Sometime during the run we got a pretty bad air leak on our trailer emergency line. Put in a call to breakdown and got the truck into a T/A for a line replacement. What should have been a 15 min fix took over an hour due to the mechanic being a freakin idiot and not having tools, and having to borrow from other guys working there... We grabbed a hotel, took our ten, and went home.
So now I'm good to go. Trainer reviews were good, I passed. I'm taking a run out tomorrow for my first solo run. Just a quick Indiana to MO and back. They don't have a truck for me yet so I'm taking a loaner from a guy with the day off for personal business. Supposedly, they have over 25 trucks being refit for us new guys. And supposedly taking delivery of part of the 100 new trucks soon. I have no hope for a new truck, but I am Irish and lucky...
Final review of Falcon training program from my experience: Over all good from the trainee side of things. Trainers tried hard to teach. Were serious when needing to be and light hearted when pressure was off. Communication between trainers and their training coordinator seemed hap hazard at best. The biggest complaint I heard was a lack of quick responses to questions as they came up on the road. Falcon is revamping their training system, and as more folks get in the train the trainer things should balance out.
I hear a lot of horror stories, I've experienced very little. Everybody's different but for the most part your fellow drivers will try and help out, answer questions when you come across them out on the road and in the truck stops. My experience with dispatch besides the noted example above was good. I hear there are some real bad ones, but haven't really dealt with any yet. As a new driver fresh from cdl school, it might be a good fit. people do learn your name here. And things are not as regimented as I've heard other starter company's can be.
So I'll see you all out there someday,
Yess Yess Yess, good ol' Falcon, I've been with them almost a year, I'm the switcher at the Orion GM plant, only complaint is the equipment, but the check is there, and I'm home every night lovin it! You can make good money if you are willing to do extras when asked, our D.M. for this acct. is on the ball with paying for everything you do so i have no complaints in that respect. Sometimes I call in on Wednesday to see if I can do like a Lordstown run on a saturday, heck im not doing anything usually anyway lol
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