Good for you? Good for me!

Discussion in 'Transport America' started by Outdoorsman, Feb 9, 2013.

  1. Outdoorsman

    Outdoorsman Light Load Member

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    Oct 24, 2011
    Ravenna, Ohio
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    Check out my personal blogs, if you want to know more about the company.

    I'm a new driver. I trained at TDDS Technical Institute in Ohio. I started with Transport America, and have nothing but good things to say about them.

    I've been running solo, over the road, since January 3, 2013. It's now February 9, 2013.

    Is this company for everyone? Answer: no.

    If you already have your hazmat - that's a good start. If not, the company doesn't 'require' it, but does 'encourage' you to get it. By that, I mean - you're better off having it, than not having it, if you want to keep moving. Yes, you'll still get loads, but the company hauls a lot of FedEx loads, and in the spring and summer, hauls products like paint and fertilizer for stores - so if you don't have the endorsement, you're limiting yourself and the company as to what you can haul.

    Every driver -- experienced or student driver, goes through a 3 day orientation. I went to Fort Wayne, IN, and thought it was very organized and well planned. You will spend the bulk of the time going through video training, which covers Hazmat and other topics.

    The company requires every driver to spend the first 2 weeks (usually a minimum) doing paper logs for practice. You'll have to submit them to the company - so they can review them - and check them for errors (violations) - just in case the Qualcomm goes down. Legally, you'll be on e-Logs. The paper logs are only for the company - not DOT.

    As a student, without experience, you'll go out with a trainer for the first 21 days. Then you'll get your own truck (unless you have serious problems during the first 21 days). Their website says '3 to 6 weeks' - but you can count on 3 weeks if the trainer feels you're ready. Personally, I had 3 different trainers, and with some gaps in between, it took about 4 weeks total, to get 21 days of training - and I think I got some of the best training I could have gotten.

    After training, student drivers are placed on a 'Transition Board' with other new drivers - where the fleet managers and staff have fewer drivers to work with, and can answer questions / solve problems, and help a new driver 'figure things out'. I can't tell you how much this has helped me! I've had to ask a LOT of questions - and more than one were probably 'dumb' questions, but I never had any one treat me like it was a dumb question. From the transition board (about 3 to 4 weeks) you'll be placed with a regular Fleet Manager.

    Experienced drivers will typically get their own truck, right after the 3 days of orientation, and be placed with a regular Fleet Manager.

    About 3/4 of their trips are around 500 miles or less, with the other 1/4 up to 1100 miles.
    In the time that I've been on the transition board, the longest I've had to wait for a load, is about 4 hours... and that was a welcome break.

    So, is this the company for you? I don't know. But it is for me!
    I like to work. I like to run. I don't screw around, and I like to get the job done on time (or sooner). That means that (most of the time) I don't stop to eat lunch or dinner... I stop to use the bathroom grab a cup of coffee and get moving... from the time I get up, to the time the load is delivered.

    If there is going to be a problem getting the load to the destination on time, I let the staff know as soon as I know.

    Whenever I've had a problem with the truck (it went in for repairs) or a trailer (flat tire at a shipper), I've gotten support from Emergency Road Services right away. The company is serious about keeping its equipment up and running, and operational.

    In my first month, I've hauled Hazardous Content (non-placard), Hazardous Materials (placards), and been into Canada twice... once with a HM placarded load. I look at the transition board as kind of a proving / testing ground... to see what you're made of - and find out what you can handle. They want to put you into as many different situations as they can, get you ready for your full-time Fleet Manager (who is working with more drivers) and can't spend as much time answering questions / solving 'newbie' problems.

    Those are just the 'business' side of the operation... there's a lot more to it than that.
    All I can say is - I'm really glad I chose this company - and I haven't regretted it for a minute.
     
    pattyj, ATM OTR and Bigdubber Thank this.
  2. 232trucker

    232trucker Light Load Member

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    Jul 19, 2012
    Queens, New York
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    Hey Outdoorsman..Congrats On Your Accomplishments.. I Am Lookin For Info On Tdds, I Start In March And Wanted To Know How You Liked The School, The Training And Instructors....How Is The Housing Do You Have A Roommate. I'm Hearing That Its Only 4 Days A Week What Do You Do For Ths Other 3. Are There Any Food Restaurants Around The School.. Any Info Will Help.. Thanks And Best Wishes..
     
  3. ATM OTR

    ATM OTR Bobtail Member

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    Feb 5, 2013
    Omaha, NE
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    I might sound like the newbie I am...but. Is this Trans Am (Olathe KS)
     
  4. pigpen84

    pigpen84 Light Load Member

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    Jan 15, 2013
    Peterborough, ON
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    Hey outdoorsman im in week three at tdds, i kinda had a change in plans hopefuly i can get on with transport, by chance are u one of the mill guys, there are several in my class now
     
  5. Outdoorsman

    Outdoorsman Light Load Member

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    Oct 24, 2011
    Ravenna, Ohio
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    232 Trucker...

    Sorry, I didn't stay at the dorms... I paid for the school out of pocket, but got reimbursed through a new program for veterans.

    But, as I understand it, you will be paired up with another student and share the room for the duration. The days you're not in class, you are free to do whatever you want (or can). If you have a car, there's places to go to eat in the area. If not, I guess you can order Pizza? The school doesn't provide food, although there are machines in the break room. I don't know if there are refrigerators in the dorms or not? You should ask someone at the school.

    The purpose of the school is to help you get your CDL Class A license... period.
    Everything they do, everything they teach you, is guided by that one single goal.

    You'll start with classroom instruction, for the first 4 weeks - to help you get your temps / any endorsements you want.
    They'll teach you what you need to know to get any of the endorsements you want - I got all of them.


    After the first 4 weeks, you'll spend the next 6 weeks learning how to go forward, back up and park - while idleing - to learn each of the maneuvers you 'might' have to do for the test. One maneuver will lead to another. They build on each other.


    The trucks are all really old - even the 'newer' ones - that they use for the road - but that really doesn't matter... you're learning.
    The instructors there, really know their ####. Listen to them. Pay attention to what they tell you. Ask questions when you need help.

    It will get boring and monotenous at times - and when it does - test yourself. See if you can do something the first time you try it, without practice. You won't get practice on test day. In fact, you might have a gap of 5 or 6 days out of the truck, before you take the test.

    I thought the school was excellent - as were the instructors. You have enough time and repetition to learn everything you need to pass the test. Just make sure you are there every day, on time, pay attention, do what you're told, work hard at it - even when it seems boring - and keep an open mind. Listen, learn and apply what you're taught.

    I failed the test the first time, on the maneuvers - I failed the Alley Dock maneuver.
    The 2nd time, I got the same maneuvers I had on the first test - and the Alley Dock - but I got through it.
    That was the only thing I had trouble with, even during the practicing / yard work.

    If you're having trouble with a maneuver - if you can't nail it every time - ask for tips from the instructors.
    Don't keep trying to do it by yourself. They can see things you can't. Always ask for tips / advice. You'll get it!
     
    232trucker Thanks this.
  6. Outdoorsman

    Outdoorsman Light Load Member

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    Oct 24, 2011
    Ravenna, Ohio
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    ATM OTR...
    No, our company is Transport America. Headquarters is in Eagan, MN.
    I'm based out of North Jackson, Ohio (near Lordstown, OH).
     
    ATM OTR Thanks this.
  7. Outdoorsman

    Outdoorsman Light Load Member

    138
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    Oct 24, 2011
    Ravenna, Ohio
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    pigpen84...

    What do you mean, you 'kinda had a change in plans'?

    I don't know what you mean by 'are u one of the mill guys'?
    So, I guess that means 'no'?
     
  8. 232trucker

    232trucker Light Load Member

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    Jul 19, 2012
    Queens, New York
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    Thanks Outdoorman... that was very helpful. i am so excited cant wait to start.. When you started the school have u ever driven a truck before? i have never driven a truck before hopeing the school will teach everything i need to know. All i am gonna do is listen, learn and practice. thanks again..
     
  9. pigpen84

    pigpen84 Light Load Member

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    Jan 15, 2013
    Peterborough, ON
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    well my plan was coming into all this i wanted to drive a tanker truck, but after hearing what susan had to say last week i kinda like what she had to say, when i asked if you were a mill guy i meant RG Steele, i meant nothing negative by it, im not a mill guy though them going under was one of many factors that got me laid off, a few of the mill people said one of the mill guys that graduated a while ago said he wasw driving for Transport and i thought maybe it was you
     
  10. Outdoorsman

    Outdoorsman Light Load Member

    138
    60
    Oct 24, 2011
    Ravenna, Ohio
    0
    Nope - never drove a truck in my life. The school will teach you everything you need to pass the tests - to get your temps, endorsements, and license. Nothing can really prepare you for the job itself, other than doing it. There's really no way to be totally prepared for what it is going to be like, once you are in the truck and working for a company.
     
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