I've been with these guys over a year now and I figured I'd give an overview of what I've found here. First of all, USA is a mega carrier but I've actually had a better experience here than other megas I've worked for.
Equipment is mostly newer and relatively basic. Kenworths and Internationals with Cummins engines and automatic transmissions, a handful of older Freighliners still floating around but they're disappearing fast. They seem to keep trucks longer than other megas, I've seen some with over 600k miles on them.
The big thing here is last year they turned all company trucks up to 70mph and they're happy to let you do it. There's no speed limiter being tied to safety or fuel mileage or any of that. You'll get a phone call if you're doing 70mph in a 55mph zone but they aren't exactly consistent. Don't make a habit of showing up on safety's radar and they won't bother you over the little stuff.
Trucks are all loaded with the nanny cams and beepers. Driver-facing cameras, lane departure warnings, adaptive cruise, etc.
Older trucks have Thermo King APUs. Newer trucks do the opti-idle thing where it will idle below 35 degrees and above 67 degrees. Opti-idle trucks have an auxiliary heater that works great, set the temp you want and it does the rest.
So here I'm a little bit of a special entity inside the company. I don't answer to their main Arkansas dispatch center. I'm dispatched by a small regional office in Texas. It works very well and word is that they're trying to do more of this. I've heard mixed reviews about the main Arkansas people. The Texas people are some of the best in the industry! They are 100% of the reason I'm willing to deal with all the nanny cams on the trucks.
Now for the big one. THEY HAVE A COMPANY DRIVER LOAD BOARD. Yes, you read that right, certain people are put on a fleet where company drivers pick their loads like owner operators. Word has it that this has been a great success and they're looking to do more of it. I haven't personally tried it but the guys on it all swear by it. It has some stipulations where you need to keep a couple preplans stacked up on yourself, you have to maintain 2000 miles a week (dude you've got a 70mph truck so you better be doing 2000 miles), and don't hit anything. For a mega carrier, these guys are actually really good about leaving you alone and just letting you do your job.
Ok so straight up, you better like the midwest and east coast if you're working here. Everything west of I35 is handled by our brokerage offices (minus one dedicated lane from Dallas to Denver) and goes to guys with their own DOT numbers. With my previous company I never went east of Texas, so a lot of times the brokerage needs a company truck to cover a western load I'll get a phone call. This is unusual and the best majority of our company drivers have never been west of Texas. To my knowledge, I am the only company truck that keeps snow chains.
I do a mix of regional Texas runs and covering OTR loads in the middle of the country. Dallas, Memphis, Chicago, Kansas City, etc. I actually see a lot of down and back runs from Laredo to southern Mississippi and Mobile. We handle a fair bit of general freight going to Walmart DCs which is all 24-hour drop and hook. We also do a lot of paper loads for Georgia Pacific and Kimberly Clark. Most of our stuff is heavy, most of the time the only light loads I see are either appliances coming out of Laredo or hazmat.
Being a mixed OTR/regional guy I see about a 50/50 of drops versus live loads/unloads. I tend to handle mostly stuff under 800 miles. The only 1200+ mile runs I see are usually hazmat. The OTR guys get longer runs but they're usually going to New Jersey, Massachusetts, or New Hampshire. I heard we were picking up some Laredo to Quebec lanes but they don't send me to the eastern time zone unless it's a hazmat run to Louisville.
My division works on a sliding scale. Base rate is 40cpm, 2200 miles is 42cpm, 2400 miles is 44cpm, 2600 miles is 46cpm, and 2800+ miles is 48cpm. Even being regional I routinely hit the 2800+ mark. Again, 70mph trucks here. Unless you're broken down it's not hard to get the miles.
Benefits are pretty decent. Multiple health insurance options including a very reasonably priced BCBS PPO (my mother is a unionized state government employee and our plans are similar in coverage and price). Retirement plans and other stuff are all industry standard for the megas.
This company does optional per diem. Last month they just increased the tax-free amount, however they take a small percentage to do it. It pisses me off but you get to pick your own loads as a company driver and get a 70mph truck so I guess in the end it could be worse.
As we all know, the terminal locations give you a good idea of where a company operates.
Laredo, Texas (trailer repair only)
Waxahachie, Texas (south of Dallas)
West Memphis, Arkansas (casino across the street)
South Holland, Illinois (south side of Chicago)
Tipp City, Ohio (just north of Dayton)
Carlisle, Pennsylvania (avoid)
Atlanta, Georgia (never been there but virtually every horror story I've heard about a USA shop began in Atlanta)
Van Buren, Arkansas is our corporate HQ and used to be a terminal. They closed the driver facilities and shop but you can still use the lot to park if you're in the Ft Smith area.
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If you have someone looking for a Texas regional gig this could be a good option. The Texas fleets are the golden boys of this company because our three fleets are the top three fleets in the company every month without fail. Hiring area is the whole I35 corridor in Texas and Houston where we have a drop yard, except the shuttle fleet which you have to live in Dallas area or Laredo.
The shuttle fleet runs out of Waxahachie and Laredo. Drivers meet in San Marcos, swap trailers, and go back to their home terminal. They run day and night shift, drivers are home daily, flat rate CPM and 2000 miles a week. I've covered it before and can say the guys in charge run a smooth operation. They also have another shuttle that leaves Dallas and meets up with drivers from Kansas City but I don't know much about that one.
The second fleet is Texas short haul. They handle mostly short hops around Texas and immediate surrounding areas. Lots of live loads and unloads, flat rate 50CPM, usually home weekly and sometimes more if you live near a terminal. I know live loads and short hauls sounds miserable but I'll swear the guys on that fleet love it and claim they're making good money.
The third is the hybrid regional/OTR fleet. We spend a lot of time going to and from Laredo, Dallas, and Houston. When we leave Texas usually within the next 1-2 loads we will be coming back. The Dallas and Laredo guys are consistently home on the weekends unless they want to stay out, sliding CPM pay scale, and they do a pretty good job of keeping us moving. I basically spend me life running between I35 and I65. I've seen Ohio twice in over a year and PA once because I requested to do a 34 there to visit my parents.
I'll give an example of this past week so guys can get a good feel for our Texas regional. This is what I would consider a more chaotic week than is typical
Take preloaded from Laredo to drop in Dallas. Sent to north of Ft Worth to find an empty. Deadhead to Paris for preloaded. Load not ready due to plant shutdown from snow storm last week. Deadhead back to Corsicana. Paid stupid amount of empty miles. Take preloaded from Corsicana to live unload in Jackson, MS. Deadhead from Jackson to Monticello. Preloaded to Laredo not ready until 3am next morning. Receive layover pay. Live unload in Laredo (very fast place). Live load literally at the building across the street from my unload (I actually walked over and checked in while they were unloading my truck haha). Drop that off in Dallas. Deadhead to Paris. Preloaded not ready until next morning. Receive layover pay. Drop at Walmart DC in Sealy. Deadhead into Houston for fast live load. Drop that off at the Laredo yard. Home for the weekend.
Drove for them when I started , quit as soon as I gained 3 months experience . I wouldn't recommend but hey its been almost 4 yrs since I drove for them . I know 2 lease guys that had bad experiences with USA and both returned trucks back to them . I ran out of TX btw .
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