Looking into this as well as a couple other companies. I am only 30 miles from their Joplin Yard. I cannot find what they drive, what is standard inside the trucks or what routes the new guys get.
I really do not care too much about the trucks as they belong to CFI and they have to maintain them. As long as the trucks run and are not stuck broke down, I can deal with most anything else. Fridges are a big thing along with APU/Inverters. I am an older guy that wants to go solo and does not need a lot of comfort. A good drivers seat and I am happy.
Manual vs automatic matters little as industry looks like it will be mostly autos with the megas soon.
Routes look mostly southern which I like accept Mexico. WIll not go there ever. Too many issues not worth talking about. Lived in Los Angeles and had many good times crossing the border, but things have changed.
WHat the new guy gets. The big question. As long as miles are high I could care less. Home time is not real important right away. I used to work 6-7 days a week 12-16 hours a day. I love to drive and i need to boost Social Security points over the next 7-10 years. Yes at 58 this is important. getting stuck with a company that cannot keep me dispatched with loads will hurt me more than helping. I need as close to 65k a year as I can get. If I can make more after a few miles all the better.
I was supposed to go with another company but got dropped before application was finished. The delay with shut down and cdl testing had something to do with it. I have my permit and medical done. TWIC and HazMat are on delay until June due to the shut downs in Missouri.
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T680. Inverter, no APU. Fridge if you buy one. Forced dispatch. Run 48 states if you like the miles - regional gets significantly less. All trucks automated shift. 10k miles per month is pretty easy to get if you don't take much hometime.
You ain't gonna get 65k your first year if you are just getting your cdl. Maybe try to be younger and get a college degree in computer science if you'd like better prospects for first year pay. Second year, $60k is possible.
You can take one day hometime per 7 days on the road (if you don't like money) and I think they expect you to stay out 4 weeks at a time.
Put your thumb on Detroit now put your thumb on Laredo.
Now put your gas station hot dog between your thumbs give it a good roll around 500 miles off that line.
.....that's where cfi runs.
Well I can say now OTR is not all roses and Wine. The life is different and some things cannot be changed. I hit all 4 corners of the US and started with over 3000 miles a week. As soon as I went solo it went downhill. Like most companies some dispatchers really micro manage your hours. I would not care but they messed my hours up so bad I could not get any long runs. They liked that as short runs were plentiful.
I started this with the idea of I drive whatever they had I haul what ever they contracted and went where ever the loads needed. This should have taken out most of the complaints truck drivers had. I even cleared HAZMAT endorsements before starting. From day one I had to fight almost anything. Need my access card activated, took weeks and at least a dozen calls and messages. Finisher driving is 7500 miles period no ifs ands or buts, well actually it is 25 days give or take. I did 26 days and over 12000 miles. My finisher had to fight to get us back to Joplin so I could test and go solo.
First few loads I could not get dispatched to. Preplans sent but no details. Once started only some of the files would be sent and little information regarding the load the pick up and the appointment times given. Call message argue fight and once 28 hours later while trying to out run Hurricane Hanna finally dispatched when I had already driven 2/3rds of the way to the destination. Who's fault? Of course they argued it was my fault. With each load the dispatch problems became worse. I do not have the hours. You have to accept the load. I will be late. Manage time better. Is the yard a drop and hook or scheduled dock time. Don't worry just get there. Start at midnight but you have to pick up at 4pm. That's 16 hours? Manage time better.
When I gained control of my hours and could drive, I would go 3-5 hours averaging 60MPH (trucks governed at 65), take my 30 to gain time, drive another 3-5 hours take quick rest stop break to drain the radiator usually less than 5 minute stop then finish out the drive. Many times my day would be 10 hours driving on a 10.5 to 11 hour day. All my cooking and playing time was at the end of the day. After 3 weeks driving my clock was so messed up even using recaps, I could only get an 8-9 hour duty day. Without a 14 hour clock everything cuts into drive times, fuel bathroom inspections scales everything.
Finally I sent a very blunt message to an advocate but I did not realize emails thru the message system can be read by everyone. Oh well too bad. Things started to get better but now my scheduled home time was getting adjusted without them telling me.
I do not want this to become a "Try this" thread. I am only saying this so everyone can see some of the side challenges of OTR driving even with a good company. I still believe CFI is a good company and many have great Fleet Managers that keep the busy and support the needed miles. My experience was adversarial from day one. I am too old to fight and just do not care for the fights anymore. Friday I turned in my truck as it was due for a trade in. I was supposed to get a new, actually newer, truck. This is a way to tease one into thinking they care. Some do care but I found just one bad Load Planner or Dispatcher can change the entire drive.
At the basics of a dispatch someone plans a load and that load is sent to an available truck. More important all the needed information needs to also get to the driver. Where to pick up the load. When, is is an open lot 24-7 or a dock with a live load? Where to deliver the load and when. Again a good address as well as the difference between live unload and drop and hook is needed. Many times I had to adjust from midnight starts to 5-8 am starts just to meet a scheduled dock live unload only to find out it is a vacant yard drop with no guard or check in. Then I would have to adjust my start time again to meet the next pick up with the same problems. My end of the message system had limited information but when I asked dispatch they have complete files and knowledge from prior contract as to what the load conditions will be and if it was a 24-7 yard or scheduled live load/unload times.
Be careful when chosing a company. Even the best will have bad support employees that make the job impossible. We have a slogan, "Captain of the Ship". If it is not safe or if it is illegal do not do it. Well I can say I was right on the very limits of legality on many runs. Using PC to get away from the docks when I knew the day before I would have to use PC to move. I even bought a parking space once ahead of time knowing the truck stops filled up before noon.
For me the fighting was more than I wanted. Truck is turned in and I will meet with HR somehow as COVID has closed the building to see what we do next. Most likely as a bigger company I will be turning in my ID and gate card. Then I have to find something in SW Missouri my CDL can make money with. Only having 16000 miles OTR over 2.5 months will make this hard. Fortunately I am almost dead at 60 so I may have to just adjust my living expectations or be a Walmart Greeter.
I loved the driving and had few problems with this aspect. Trucker Babies in the shower drains, black greasy shower floors, Urine bottles stacked around the trash cans at the yards....... YUK. Food was amazing in my truck once I went solo. A microwave, small fridge strapped to the top bunk, and a 12 inch copper skillet. I ate like a king. I even lost 5 more pounds. Driving and seeing the sunrises while listening to the best country music on SirusXM really was nice. Seeing the country from the highway also nice. A lot of peace while in between dispatches. The challenges of backing into some places pickups were tight in made it all the better.
Chose wisely. Talk to others that have a great Fleet Manager and signup with the agreement you can share the same FM. Remember there will be at least one bad dispatcher making your life hard.
I think it's funny we all lost weight while working for these guys
Yeah I got a bunch of those "how to respect your coworker" CDs they would mail you as discipline.
Cat still enjoys using them to poop on an incline.
It's sad you have to battle with them to get what you need. Oh well
Go get a better paying job like the rest of us. Ain't hard to find.
Last edited by a moderator: Nov 8, 2020
Reason for edit: fixed quote
It is now December 2021 and I have tried 2 small companies and a mid sized company. I am now with a small Ryder group with 20 trucks. The loads are pretty good seldom over 15,000 pounds and the trucks run 70 easily. Still there is that one place that is supposed to be Drop/Hook but is a 9 hour live load on the dock. I also see back hauls that have more rules than the Military. Nothing is much different from my point of view between small and large. As long as the trucks run and get maintenance when needed I am good. Speed, I have run 64mph and an open throttled long nose Pete. Neither mattered one way or the other.
Loads are good and bad. Docks are good and bad. Unfortunately so are bosses and dispatchers. They all have different names but the one you call when there is a problem needs to be premium. Then again they too have issues with that driver or that company and this load manager did not do this. When it comes down to I am not rolling so I am not making money just like you. That is where it makes all the difference. My son is with Crete and most the time his manager takes care of him but stuff still happens.
Would I go back to CFI? Just as soon as I think I will try I hear another, weekends suck they screw it all up. It is all the same. Some drivers seem to handle the drama better than others. If you can average the money over a larger timeframe it seems good. Take the good with the bad. For this old fart I seem to think it would be easier to live with less money in retirement. The glory of listening to old country and seeing the sunrise and set does not overcome the filthy showers, nasty stops and irregular hours. My body does not adjust as well changing shifts every other day.
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