Let me start off by making it clear that I have zero intentions on moving over to Heavy haul until next January at the very least, more likely around march of '16 if anything. I just moved companies back in August and don't even want to think of packing this truck up.
I spoke with an ATS recruiter, two actually. I gave both of them just a verbal description of my experience, driving record, ect and both responded that they would likely place me in either tier 4 or 5.
I am currently a flatbedder but have only been one since August- it's going well. Been a driver for what is rapidly approaching 3 years now.
With that in mind, both recruiters did explain there tier system, and I got the gist that every five loads on one tier, you come in to "test" out of that tier and into the next one. Both reps made it sound like this would only take 10-14 months all the way to tier 10. I ain't buying it, frankly. How do you take someone with only a year of flatbeding and only a little over a year later he or she is pulling windmill turbines?
It's not that I don't have faith in myself, but rather that sounds like a lofty promise that I doubt they can follow through on.
short and skinny-
how does the tier system work. What would I pull between tiers 4/5-10, or rather what sizes on the individual tiers.
How long does it really take to get up through the tiers.
How is the lease purchase situation, I heard something about the owners of ATS going to bat on financing for the truck at the end of lease for balloon payment.
don't want lease bashing talk here, take it elsewhere.
How does the tiered system work at ATS?
Page 1 of 2
Ok first, it's been several years since I was there.
As for class rating, with the little time you have in you will start at what they call class 4.
You will only be allowed to pull up to I believe 10' w and legal hgt.
Then after so many of those lds. done with no issues, then you can ask to be moved up a class. Then I believe it will be 12' w and 14' hgt.
Then after so many of those lds.you can ask to upgrade to class 2. Then you do so many of those lds.
Then to move up to class 2 I think you need to go in for an interview and test. Not sure now as it's been awhile since I was there. Then you move up to class 1 later baring any issues. Then class 1A the top. Woo hoo..
Me I started right at class 1A as I had proof of my heavy hauling
But I know things have changed and some people get bumped up some times because they were in a bind and needed the ld. covered.
Who knows with them now days. six months from now you could be lead driver on the 19 axle trks...
First things first...I want to make sure you are as successful as you can be every company has their system. You have to learn their system and their freight lanes. The freight lane changes as you move up in class. Are you leasing one of their trucks? I myself bought my own truck in. Because of that, I didn't have the weekly expense that the majority of their drivers do. The thing is, some of their lease drivers do pretty well AFTER they figure out the freight. You see them advertising how much money you can make here, and yes, you can make a bunch of money, but 1.) you have to be the sharpest knife in the drawer 2.) no one in the office can tell you how. You are thrown to the wolves.
You have 168 hours a week to make something happen. Time is more valuable than money. Whether you sit or whether you move, your expenses are still going to hit at the end of the week. If you pick your loads on location alone (moving from good location to good location), you will do fine, you will make money. If you're doing a lease, you have to move. I can run up and down 35 and 55 and 65 and do just fine. However, I will not run northeast and northwest for the same money. Do not run out to Colorado for the same money that you go to Indiana. Freight is extremely cheap in dead zones. If you go to Laredo, they will have loads going to Davenport,IA and Peoria,IL. Take it! Great locations. You can make that run in a day and a half legally, and unload and reload. 1-2 punch. Don't sit in Laredo...move!
In order to move up in class quickly, you will have to stay under an Rgn. That's really hard to do when you are starting out on the bottom. You will not see the load offer for the bigger loads. What I did to move up quickly was hang out in John Deere territory and move combines. Combines are cheap, but if you want to jump 2-3 classes in a month, that's how you do it.
To get to class 2, you're going to have to take a test. Open book test. Bring whatever you use to do the job in the office. They give you some hard to read maps, a handful of permits from drivers that screwed up and hit bridges or went way off route, and you have to highlight the correct route on the map. Easy, right? Well, they turn the pressure up on you. Your dispatcher calls you with a money load that has to be picked up by 3pm, and the pressure is on to finish the test. A third of the drivers fail the test.
Another part of the test will be about loading a multi axle and pilot cars. You will find a driver that will give you all the answers to the test, but after you finish, the guy that keeps looking over your shoulder to check your progress is going to interview you and go over your answers. He doesn't really care where you got your answers from as long as you can explain to him how you came up with that answer. If you can't explain it, you don't know it, right?
i know it may sound tempting to get the answers and speed through the thing, but I don't look at one load, I look at all the future loads. You would only be cheating yourself, pulling a load that you know nothing about. See, after class2, you start pulling loads that require escorts. You're thinking, "hey, I have a pilot car! This should be easy!" Read up on pilot cars in the HeavyHaul forum. If your pilot car screws up, it's YOUR ticket! I have never seen the pilot car that didn't screw up. If your permit is voided, those tickets are HUGE!
If you're ever in a restaurant, you will see a heavy hauler sitting in there. You will hear drivers talk about heavy hauling, but you can instantly tell the real from the fake. As you move up the ranks, and those loads get bigger, wilder and more expensive, you learn patience. You're not chasing miles anymore. It's no longer " I gotta go go GO!" It's Tuesday, and you have a Friday pickup (which means if there's a problem with permits, you don't move out until Monday) and you don't panic. A real heavy hauler is patient. Has to be. Part of the job. The people in the office know this much. Just keep that in mind when dealing with the desk jockeys.
I forgot to mention this...
where you get in trouble is with dispatch. Sometimes, they will need a garbage load moved. So, you pull a step out of Houston to Indianapolis. Next load needs a Stepdeck. You bounce to Gary, grab a step, take it to Savannah. Next you need an Rgn. Then a flat. Then a step. It always seems as if you have the wrong trailer. Don't do it. You don't have to. It's not forced dispatch. The load offers will have the dims of the load and whether or not it is preloaded. Grabbing a preloaded was a last resort at the very end of the week to squeeze an extra load in.
I appreciate the informative responses. I'm pretty highly anticipating getting over there, but not overly looking forward to changing companies, relearning support structures and freight lanes. It gives me a headache just thinking about it.
Worth mentioning I am a lease op now and pulling in very respectable pay for a guy my age, so I'm competent enough to manage it I think.
I found the niche I like in flatbeding but just don't wanna do the same ol same ol. I get to pull equipment loads every so often here and love it every single time. Lumber and pipe not so much, but it still beats the hell out of pulling van or reefer.jomar68 Thanks this.
Dude are you in for a shock.
i have hauled mineshaft elevators, fighter plane parts, boats, buildings, observation labs, electric motors, oversized engines, airport walkways...
Some of the high end loads are like, "Driver, take this load to X company, and let them play with it and when they get done, bring it back here." You want to pay me to sit and wait 4-5 days on your dime? You got a deal.
starting out, you won't see stuff like that. But there's tons of crane moves. On the crane booms, they're anal about those...just secure the way they want it. Probably your first time to a wind farm will be on a crane move or pulling in a container. Don't think of it as less important and don't allow anyone to talk down to you because you're carrying a legal load. It's important.
I always recommend drivers to pull the challenging loads. Had a driver call me about a load selection. One of the loads was an overheight going from Garland,Tx to downtown Austin. Money was just okay. He said, that's a pain for the money. I told him to take it, because it will put him on the map if he delivers that load without incident. He took it, got it delivered. Next load was paying out the nose to take an overheight load to Boston. My buddy was nervous...first time running behind a height pole. Somewhere up in Mass, he got the call he was dreading, "Stop. Hit the bridge." Full panic. He called 911. 4 squad cars came zooming in on him. (That's actually embarrassing, but he didn't know what to do. Just make sure if you've never pulled an overheight to ask what to do BEFORE pulling the load, okay?)
Page 1 of 2