Why I stay with USA Truck

Discussion in 'USA Truck' started by chemsoldier1, Feb 16, 2013.

  1. chemsoldier1

    chemsoldier1 Medium Load Member

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    I'm rapidly approaching my 2 year mark with USA Truck. I honestly didn't think I would stay this long when I started. To tell the truth, it was so miserable with ratty equipment at the beginning that I didn't even think I would complete a year and had actually started to feel like it would be worth paying the school debt and finding other work. Gradually things turned around until they've reached a new high point this week. Over the last 2 years I have met many people, made friends, and seen many faces come and go. To my knowledge, I'm the last of my C1 class still employed here and one of only 3-5 out of my final orientation group of 40+ still employed here.

    I have trolled these forums probably far more than I've posted and the one thing that is always resoundingly clear from many veteran truck drivers is that the goal of any rookie for the long-term should be to eventually become an O/O, or if you prefer to stay company then ditch the megacarrier launch pad and find a small outfit. Well, I took that advice in hand this week when I went home for some court issues. There is a small trucking company in my home town (200-300 trucks) that I had always had my eye on. I've known several friends who worked there over the years and they employ quite a few of the local O/Os in addition to their company fleets. I went over and put in an application and had an interview with one of the ladies from Safety Dept.(who also happens to be a recruiter). They operate a dry van fleet, flat-bed fleet, pneumatic, container, and logging fleet. I was most interested in dry van but they were pushing towards flatbed or container.

    As it turns out, I was not impressed with their equipment nor their pay/benefits. At USA Truck I currently make $.34/mile with $.37/mile on HAZMAT loads. HAZMAT is important to me and it continues to be a great portion of my loads throughout the year, often keeping me moving when other drivers are sitting. This carrier offered me their standard starting rate of $.32/mile and they do not carry any type of HAZMAT. When I asked about mileage, I was told that the driver average for OTR was 1500-3000/week. Thats the most definitive answer the recruiter would give me. At USA Truck, I currently average about 2650/week. Quite a risk to take for reduced pay with no opportunity to earn HM. I was also told that I would be eligible for a $.01/mile increase after 6 months depending on performance. Home time at USA Truck is 1 day earned for ever week out with minimum 2 weeks/2 days off. I routinely stay out 4 weeks and take 4 (sometimes 5) days off. When I asked about home time policy, the recruiter said they didn't have a "defined" home time policy but they encouraged you to stay out at least 2 weeks. Ultimately it was up to your dispatcher depending upon freight and location. Too nebulous for me.

    Equipment was mixed. Dispatch with this company is telephonic versus QC with USA. Many older drivers still resist QC dispatch but I find it convenient. However, they did say that due to many of their O/Os trying to run "outlaw" that they were beginning a 2 year transition to E-logs. Ugh. USA has stated several times to drivers that they will maintain paper logs until mandated otherwise. At USA Truck I currently run a 2012 Cascadia with a 70 inch sleeper and an APU. This company is entirely a Peterbilt fleet which may be impressive to some but is not to me. The trucks are 385s, 386s, some 387s, and some 379s. The year models run from 2005-2009. Aside from the 387 condos, the trucks mostly have 48inch sleepers with the exception of the 379s which have coffin sleepers. I believe their 379s are mainly used for the logging fleet though so I guess a large sleeper is unneccesary. Two plusses on this end is that the trucks are all governed at 65MPH which I was told is about to increase to 68 or possibly 70 due to Texas speed limits increasing to 75. USA Truck fleet standard is 63 (mine is set at 65 due to being on a special program though). They also allow drivers to idle the trucks during sleep periods. Whether or not that would be appealing to me I don't know. I've actually become accustomed to the quiet hum of the APU and I've become almost obsessive with saving fuel. Trailer and equipment maintenance has earned the full attention of DOT unfortunately and she told me that the company does not run Prepass unless individual drivers get their own accounts. She said they were on a 1 year turnaround program and have mandated safety inspection lanes and its now company policy for drivers passing terminals to stop for inspection and repairs if necessary. While that sounds like a good attitude, I'm not sure if I want to put my clean MVR and CSA score of 14 at risk for a currently high profile carrier.

    Ultimately, although I passed the interview and was told I would be passed to the GM for final approval before given an orientation date, I told the recruiter that I would prefer to wait until May before I made a decision. Bottom line is, I don't think I will be leaving USA Truck for this carrier. While USA Truck has its flaws (as does any other commercial carrier I'm sure), they have improved enough to warrant my staying on at least another year for now. Additionally, my FM was able to route me home for court on short notice this week by way of a 1000 mile HAZMAT load from Indiana to Houston. I was off for 2 days and then returned to work yesterday to pick up a 1300 mile HAZMAT load from Houston to Detroit which will delliver Monday morning and fall within the same pay week. Once again a good reminder of why I choose to continue climbing into a big white truck with an Air Force logo on the door each day! Happy trails guys!
     
  2. drvrtech77

    drvrtech77 Road Train Member

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    Houston,Tx
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    Well...good for you,you did your homework...while USA truck may not be the glamour of the industry...you decided running for a company who's pay was shoddy and the home time was very questionable and last but not least...bad csa score just wasn't worth making the change!

    if more drivers would take the time like you did to do their homework...more of these type of companies would fall by the wayside.
     
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  3. bob the trucker

    bob the trucker Bobtail Member

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    the one thing i discovered i worked for a 100 unit company for 21 months and quit to take a better paying job with different company only to be told after arriving at orientation and passing dot phys. that because of herina i have had since birth i wouldn't be hired/ rather than go back to former company took a job driving for a local trucking company with 8 trucks. i started applying for other driving jobs but was turned down several times,turned out after quitting the company i worked for turned in negative dac report with wrong information. am now working to get report corrected before quiting any driving job talk to safty and asked what kind of report they are turning in when you quit. why stay with usa when a lot of companys will give you more than that? with hazmat you should be in the 40 cents plus area.
     
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  4. rachi

    rachi Road Train Member

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    SoCal
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    Sometimes things get better when you stick it out. You learn how the company does things making it easier on you to make money. You learn what you can get away with and what you can't. You learn where they run, and how the company works, and they learn how you operate. The dispatchers and planners know who you are and trust you to get the job done. But we all know that there are some companies where no matter what you do it just ain't gonna work out.
     
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  5. chemsoldier1

    chemsoldier1 Medium Load Member

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    Apr 10, 2011
    Lufkin, TX
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    You are probably absolutely right. I had considered that. However, most of the companies I've looked at lately that are interested in me for HAZMAT are specialty carriers. Tanker outfits mainly. While they do pay significantly more, I just guess I've also become conditioned to the dry van lifestyle. General freight has made me mentally lazy I suppose. Not that I'm physically lazy, just that I guess I'd need the right excuse to move on besides potential higher earnings. I can't really complain about my treatment here. Well, I suppose I could. I'm like everybody else....I'd love to be home every night or every weekend but its just not in the cards right now. Hell, Borden Dairy wanted me to run local either combination or straight truck out here. Harder work and less pay but home every night (or day if night shift). I guess everything is a trade off. We shall see.
     
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  6. chemsoldier1

    chemsoldier1 Medium Load Member

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    Apr 10, 2011
    Lufkin, TX
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    Also correct. I've told many a new hire at USA that before. Ran out of toes and fingers for each time a new driver has been outside a terminal lounge griping about low or no miles, having to drive nights, or something else. Then when I ask how long they'd been here it was usually 2-4 months. They often don't understand that they 1.) Are a rookie with all the reputation that rookies have with dispatchers, 2.) Are a name and truck number on a screen with 40 other names and truck numbers for a dispatcher. He hasn't even had the time to memorize their name, let alone get to know them or where they are from, habits, etc. 3.) Have not even proven to planners that they can time manage or deliver critical loads in adverse conditions with delays and other things yet they are demanding loads from Florida to California. 4.) Complain about getting grocery warehouse loads instead of drop and hooks when the best backing they can do is at 1500 straight backing in the far rear row of the truck stop by themselves.

    Its all about paying dues with the c r a p. I learned that early on. Its not about earning the respect of other drivers, which I think too many newbies (myself included at the time) think they are trying to do. Its about earning a self respect of the dangers and difficulties of this job every single day in all conditions. Many have an inflated image of what a trucker is. Its like "Alright I graduated CDL school! Now I can put on a stetson, boots, and a duster and ride around the interstate chasing waittresses and talking like CW McCall on the radio!"
     
  7. Va/Ky Driver

    Va/Ky Driver Bobtail Member

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    Jun 12, 2012
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    I drive with Borden Dairy. How much was the pay in Texas? Just curious. I left Big Orange after 16 years and I love it here. Making the same money if not more,depends if you get overtime. Home every night,plus I get lots of exercise at work.LOL! Just kidding it's not that bad or strenuous. I got an assigned route I run. But just curious what they were paying there in Texas. Thanks. :thumbleft: P.S. I did the same thing you did in the beginning. That 1st year is rough. But in the end I was happy with my decision. But being home everyday took some getting used to. You would think it wouldn't but it does. Go figure. :)
     
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  8. WRIGHTRACING

    WRIGHTRACING Heavy Load Member

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    Well I guess you did stick it out...long time no chat:p

    I started there a couple years back and couldn't stand the BS from dispatchers trying to shaft me every other day. I shorted my 1 year and headed to USX. Ran teams, made good money, then had a chance to work a small outfit in the Oil fields of ND. Working for a friend didn't work for me, and I had to look to get another job. Looked at a local flatbed company here and was thinking the same thing. Everyone mentioned how great small companies are, but then they had all this BS of calling in for fuel, getting approved for it. And a laundry list of other BS stuff that just made the job harder. Not to mention that they monitored your speed, and you were charged $25 for every time your truck was pinged going over 75 MPH(regardless of the speed limit).

    Another small outfit running dry vans promised I'd be home every weekend and make $70-80k. Then when I got to talking to the guy, it would be running outlaw.

    So I was gonna take the local flat-bed job, as much as I was dreading it, then finally got the call back from Averitt. The FB company called me 7 times the first day I didn't go back up there, and 3 times a day for the rest of the week. Been at Averitt since July of last year and couldn't be happier. Make same or a little more than I did at USX teams, and in the oil field(although it was 2 weeks on and 2 weeks off-pay was close to what I make now). Some days I look at those jumping jobs as a bad thing, and I'm sure if I had landed another job I wasn't as happy with, then I'd be making my work history look even worse. But now that I'm here I couldn't be happier. The best thing is to find a job you're happy with, because if not every day will just be miserable. I was happy at USX teaming with a friend, but they had some things that annoyed me, but they all do...so I could deal with it. I think it got worse after I left there though, so I wouldn't really want to go back.(Turning jake brakes down, and stopping idle in certain temps, but no APU's).
     
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  9. jtannillo

    jtannillo Medium Load Member

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    Every experience is different. I have always told people that leaving your current OTR company just to go run OTR for another company is not a smart move. Unless the other company clearly has a much better driver environment. This is not the small OTR companies though. Bigger companies will always have the better driver benefits. If you are averaging 2650 on the miles consider yourself lucky. Just like I told Sarge, its a blessing. The company wide average is still under 2000 so if you are above that than you are lucky.
     
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  10. chemsoldier1

    chemsoldier1 Medium Load Member

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    Apr 10, 2011
    Lufkin, TX
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    I called somebody on the 1-855-MILK-JOB that they are broadcast advertising on radio in Houston area. They wouldn't commit to anything firm without me coming in but they said it would range from $12-15/hour depending on type of truck and route. I told them I would get back with them.
     
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