Ask The Trucker

Raising the Standards of the Trucking Industry


Jobs and Careersotr truckingTruck Driving Jobstrucking companiestrucking life

Why Bad Trucking Companies Will Never Change

Sep
23,
2010
22
Bad Trucking Companies

Bad Trucking Companies

Veteran truck drivers know the good trucking companies from the bad.  New drivers just starting out have no idea which trucking company is considered a good one and which companies should be avoided.  A big problem among truck drivers, both newcomers and even many veterans, is that we all have a tendency to develop tunnel vision when it comes to choosing employment with a motor carrier.  There are those big name carriers out there that we all know and our single-line vision will cause us to see only those companies.

The trucking companies that are most well known for training and accepting recent CDL graduates are what I call the “starter companies.”   There are good trucking companies which offer their own CDL training program and who hire CDL graduates, but they are few and far between.  They are not considered “starter companies” in my book of trucking terminology.  The real starter companies are those that we all know and which have become known through-out the industry as the bad trucking company.

Despite their eye-catching advertisements, drivers who have been in the game long enough fully understand which trucking companies are truly the bad ones.  The sad part about this is that the newcomer to long haul trucking will have to find out the hard way by paying their dues for at least one year, until they have accumulated enough driving experience in order to leave the starter company and move on to better employment.

Without these starter companies, new CDL graduates would have no way of entering into truck driving as a career.  With the exception of a few companies, most of the well known good trucking companies do not hire nor accept new, inexperienced drivers.  The only way for a recent CDL graduate to land a job in truck driving is to be accepted by one of these starter companies operating in over the road.  With very few exceptions, this is how a career in trucking will begin.  Because of this, these starter companies do have a place in trucking employment although most have the reputation of being a bad company.  As a new driver just starting out in a career of truck driving, you most often will have no choice but to accept your first truck driving job . . . with one of these “bad” starter companies.

Bad trucking companies are known for:

  • Dispatching poor miles
  • Paying a low cents-per-mile rate
  • Cutting your miles down so far until you have no choice but to quit
  • Forcing a turn-over of drivers in order to maintain a driver pool of cheap labor
  • Continually hiring new, lower pay drivers to receive Government subsidies with no intentions of keeping them on as employees . . . and many other scams.

I am always being asked, “How can these companies keep getting away with this?” The answer is simple and is the reason for this post.  This is how OTR trucking works and it will always be this way because the bad trucking companies will never change their mode of operation.  Therefore, it is time to fully address this question and explain why bad trucking companies will never change.

Before the recession hit, truckers were known for job hopping from one company to the next.  This turn-over rate had increased to 128% among drivers and as the recession unfolded and jobs became more scarce, the turn-over rate dwindled and settled around 56 percent.  There are hundreds of thousands of trucking companies across the U. S. and not just the well-known starter companies are bad.  I worked for a small company out of Ocala, Florida for three months, running on 3-4 hours of sleep per day.  My last day there, I ran for a straight 36 hours with the understanding that it was my responsibility to make the logbook accurate.  In a five day period, I had worked a total of 91.25 hours, received a pay check for $540.00 and turned in eleven days worth of logs for work done in five . . . bad company.

Many truckers will believe that the grass is always greener on the other side, but the problem is that there are many bad trucking companies out there and the reason they will never change is because they do not want to change.  This is how they operate and is how they have their business model set up.  There mode of operation is to abuse the driver in anyway possible in order to increase their profit margin.  They have no concern if the driver quits because there are always drivers waiting in line, looking for that next and “better” job.

As one 2006 article pointed out:

“Even though trucking companies are in desperate need of good truck drivers, trucking companies that don’t live up to their promises will always exist. These trucking companies might as well have revolving doors because truck drivers are signing on and quitting on a regular basis. The fact is, these trucking companies really don’t care. They have recruiters in place whose job it is to hire new truck drivers on a regular basis.”

The best thing truck drivers can do for their careers is to understand that these companies will never change because what is being done to drivers is intentional.  Be prepared to stick it out for one or two years, build up the driving experience needed and then accept the fact that these bad trucking companies will never change their operation and move on to a better company that treats their drivers as professionals. 

© 2010, Allen Smith. All rights reserved.

Technorati Tags: , , , , , ,

FacebookTwitterGoogle+TumblrStumbleUponDeliciousDiggShare This!

Previous

Next

By: Allen Smith

Allen Smith is a 34 year veteran ( started at an early age in family moving business) of the trucking industry, many of those years spent over the road. He has been an owner operator, company driver, operations manager, and has owned and operated a moving company, taking many of the long haul moves himself when needed. One thing though that most will say is that the reason and motivation behind the author, Allen Smith, is the fact he is driven by the desire to help others succeed within an industry where injustice, unrewarded sacrifice, and lack of respect and recognition exists. As you read many of the blog posts you’ll discover that he is opinionated and speaks openly about the ongoing issues of the trucking industry. He supports other fellow advocates who are also stepping up to the plate to help those who are in need of honesty, guidance and direction. The list of supporters and like minded people grows daily and their ability to network together and share their thoughts and ideas for the betterment of others within trucking, has allowed the forward movement of... "Raising the standards of the trucking industry"

View all posts by Allen Smith →

Tagged: , , , , , ,

22 Responses to Why Bad Trucking Companies Will Never Change. - Post a Comment

  1. TJ

    I agree 100% with you … however, if a company treats a driver poorly and encourages a driver to violate the regs … or worse … fires, retaliates or punishes a driver because that driver complained about safety related violations … then it is the driver’s obligation to report it and contact The Truckers Justice Center, http://truckersjusticecenter.com/ , so that Attorney Paul Taylor and his group can determine if an OSHA complaint and suit is warranted.

    Most drivers are not aware that that they are protected in certain activities as a truck driver, especially when it comes to safety related issues.

    If more drivers did this … there would be less bad companies.

  2. Allen Smith

    Hi TJ:

    Companies have been going through these lawsuit rituals for years and still the bad companies continue to operate. I agree with the rights of truckers under OSHA and more drivers are becoming aware of these rights.

    However, with 750,000 companies dotted across the USA, I believe there will always be “bad” companies, all for the reason I mentioned: They will never change, because they do not want to change.

  3. Tim Brady

    I refer to this a driver churning not turnover. The reason many of these Starter Companies like the churning of drivers is they are more in the business of suckering drivers, particularly new unsuspecting drivers, into their lease purchase traps where they not only make money off of what you haul but profit directly from the selling of services, the withholding of earning and to beat all getting the driver to pay for all the expenses related to the trucking operation.

    There is even one company that charges an over mileage fee to lease purchase operators for any thing over 3,000 miles per week. They just add it on to the amount due at the end of the lease. many of the companies that pay a percentage of Line haul are set up with a brokerage arm that brokers the freight to their hauling arm at a heavily discounted rate.

    (Example you get 72% of the LH. The brokerage arm has freight at 2.65 per mile they broker it to the hauling arm for 1.90 per mile so in stead of the trucker receiving a 1.90 per mile on the actual freight he’s receiving 1.36 per mile. and you don’t even have to be lease purchase to be taken advantage of.

    According to ATRI the research arm of the ATA in 2009 the average per mile Break-even point for truckload freight was 1.83 per mile.for a single truck. So it isn’t as if these Starter companies don’t know that they are paying their lease operators sub rates that don’t even meet the BEP of the operation.

    Allen you are correct if you are going to get ahead as a new driver in this industry become a company driver at one of the starter companies for two years. work on your driving skills and understanding the industry bu avoid at all cost any an all lease purchase opportunities. then when you have the 2 years verifiable experience look for a quality carrier that will appreciate you skills. and still stay away from lease purchase programs.

  4. Jan McCarter

    “BAD” companies? There’s alot of them alright. Very few ever get told by the government to close up either. Most of the time, they are fined and go on their merry way, make a few changes for a little while and then end up practicing the bad habbits once again.
    Take for instance the driver who hit the school bus in ocalla fl 2 years ago. Multiple violations were found with the company, including out of service violations, log violations and a lack of policy for dealing with offenders and a lack of training for the office personell on how to handle certain problems. according to the reports, the drivers tractor should have never been on the road and he was way over his HOS. A life was lost, they were fined, the driver went to jail, but the company is still in business and I’d be willing to bet that they will be back to their old ways in no time. I have a friend that works for a LARGE O/O carrier that was audited last year and heavily fined for log violations. All the drivers were on high alert for about a month having to run “LEGAL”. It didn’t last long though. As soon as they were cleared and the fines were paid, it was back to running the drivers like outlaws.
    Maybe now that there is supposed to be clear policy in place with CSA2010, some of these companies will get shut down, but I seriously doubt it.
    Jim & I just advise people to do their homework. new drivers need to be attentive to the comapanies that run legal and stay away from these outlaw companies. The money isn’t going to matter if you end up killing someone and go to jail!

  5. Allen Smith

    Hi Tim:

    Churning or turn-over, to me, same thing. Your comments add reinforcement and confirmation to why bad trucking companies will never change … I just said it in simpler terms! LOL

    Thanks

  6. Allen Smith

    Thus my point again … been going on for years and these companies will dodge around any circumstance that comes their way, such as the audit that you mentioned, just long enough to get back to operation as normal.

    I will predict that CSA will have some effect, but companies will find ways to “dodge” around much of this as well.

  7. TJ

    Allen, maybe you should ask Sue Dietz, HR Manager at Marten Transport, if Marten hasn’t learned their lesson in the “Theron Carter Case”, http://tinyurl.com/285ucra . Read the decision and the award to the driver. That case cost Marten Transport over $300,000 in awards and fees, (including their attorney’s fees). Plus, they were required to post the decision in conspicuous places (drivers lounges) so that drivers were aware of their protections.

    Go ahead, ask Sue Dietz if Marten Transport hasn’t learned their lesson.

  8. Loy C

    So, who are the good Companies for starters or drivers coming back into the industry?

  9. Allen Smith

    Hey TJ:

    You are missing my point completely. I agree with you. I’ve been fighting for drivers rights for 5 years now and totally agree that one of the biggest problems is that drivers will not stand up for their rights.

    It is just who I am. I’m a realist, and reality is that there will always be bad trucking companies and for the new driver just coming into the industry, they will have to understand this. I know too many drivers who have been and still are struggling to make it in this industry, even after being in it for years.

    Your comment which I did not approve, by saying that “I am part of the problem”, is disturbing to say the least. I am more confused that in your first comment you say, “I agree with you 100%”

    Other than hiring an attorney, what else can drivers do? To fully change these “bad companies” would take more Government and legislation which will not happen. And who needs more, bigger Government?

    I will just leave it at that. I am not one to get into a huge battle over a little post, but I am accustomed to those supposed supporters waiting for the right moment to discredit me.

    It will not change what I do.

  10. Allen Smith

    There are many, depending on your geographical location and what it is you are looking for. Every company will always have bad comments from drivers, just the nature of the industry, but other companies will still stand out: Crete Carriers, Heartland Express, Shaffer, Roehl, Millis, Hunt Transportation, Core Carriers out of Kansas.

    Here is a list of the top companies to work for from 2010, rated by drivers:

    http://www.bestfleetstodrivefor.com/winners_2010.html

  11. TJ

    Allen says …

    “Other than hiring an attorney, what else can drivers do? To fully change these “bad companies” would take more Government and legislation which will not happen. And who needs more, bigger Government?”

    TJ says …

    Allan, in another blog posting you talk about driver training. Each of us within the trucking should be able to read. Each of us in the trucking industry is required to pass the CDL tests. Each of has a RESPONSIBILITY to be a “PROFESSIONAL DRIVER”, when we accept a CDL. (Remember, driving is not a right, it is a privilege.) Each of us knows what is right & wrong under the FMCSR’s.

    You ask what a driver can do … other than contacting an attorney?

    First of all, a driver has a responsibility to be educated (and I’m talking about being informed and self-educated) when it comes to entering this industry.

    Its no longer like it was when I entered the industry in 1992. Today, we have the Internet, with discussion boards, blogs (like yours) and even SaferStats, where drivers can become more informed about the industry and specific companies than ever before. (One would not just go jump into a new career without becoming informed in another high paying profession, would one? (And yes I’m saying high paying, for within 3 years of being in the industry a driver should be earning in excess of $45,000 … even in today’s economy.))

    It is the lack of personal responsibility on the driver’s side that allows the “sweat-shop” mentality and work environment to continue. Every driver knows it is a violation to run in excess of 11, 14 and 70 hrs. Yet drivers say … “OK, I guess I gotta do it … I need a job”.

    Every driver knows how to properly perform a full pre-trip and post-trip inspection of his/her eqiuipment.

    Every driver knows that an air leak, an oil leak or brakes out of adjustment is a safety issue that can effect not only his/her well being … but also the safety of the motoring public.

    It is that lack of self-discipline, self-worth, character or integrity that the trucking industry is banking on when you talk about “bad companies”.

    You ask what I driver can do when he finds himself in a situation that puts him in violation of the FMCSR’s .. he simply says NO !!

    He documents the occurrence and quietly finds a quality carrier to work for.(And yes there are quality carriers to work for.)

    If every driver said NO when a carrier requested, inferred, or directed a driver to violate the regs, … or look the other way when it came to safety issues … or told the driver to “just shut-up and drive” … your issue of bad companies would not exist.

    Those bad companies would not be in business, because NO DRIVER WOULD WORK FOR THEM !! Or better yet, they would have changed their behavior … but you have all but given up on that concept. (No wonder you think the war on battling bad trucking companies is lost … you’ve surrendered.)

    • Allen Smith

      TJ,
      YOU ARE WRONG!! You don’t get the post because you are fixated on defining “bad companies” as “illegal companies”
      When drivers come into the industry, they are in a position to take a job with a training company-One which will hire new CDL graduates. Because they are limited to who will hire them, they are vulnerable and in a position to be exploited and abused. If they quit they will not be hired again PLUS will have ( most likely) something negative posted on their DAC report
      Bad companies are exploiters and abusers, mostly of new CDl drivers ( less than 2 years experience) It has nothing to do with pre trips, air leaks, going over thier HOS, looking the other way for safety violations, etc… It has all to do with: low pay, poor loads, low mileage, and psychological testing of drivers. There is nothing you can do about this. This is how they choose to operate.
      Unless a driver lands a good job with a GOOD company training program, he/she is FORCED to stick it out for1- 2 years until they get experience.
      IF that company ALSO requests a driver to perform or overlook illegal activity, then it is the responsibility of that driver to report it….but that was not what I was talking about.
      We all know that we should do things legally. That’s why I mentioned that I quit because I was expected on that very last day to do things illegally and refused!!
      Your response was inappropriate and not fitting for the post.

  12. TruckerDesiree

    TJ you say you agrees 100% BUT and then you go on to disagree about areas that Allen did not include in his post.

    Slave labor, Cheap Labor , Indentured Servitude is as old as civilization. The biggest cost in running a business is labor so trying to force, intimidate, trick or coerce someone to do it for free or for less than the labor is worth is CAPITALISM!

    Anyone starting out in any business should expect to start at the bottom, do grunt work BUT training wheels companies do indeed delibrately churn / turnover drivers to generate a constant cheap labor force. This business model is used in many industries in fact I watched a show on the Whaling Industry last night & it specifically detailed how owners of ships hired capitains who would provoke sailors to jump ship once the holds were filled with whale oil. Sounded pretty familiar to me!

    The first part of the OTR scam is the loan selling from CDL Mills who entice applicants with things that are simply untrue like what Allen details above. You might not have a wife and small children at home, but for a guy that does or even a gal who sends money home this is a huge gamble! To take out a $5500 loan or take the workforce voucher and go away from home for months, leaving your family only to make a $250.00 per week paycheck that barely covers you road expenses to eat and pay for a cell phone. The pay fluctuates so much it makes it very hard to plan. One week you might have bigger paychecks than others but for someone trying to adjust to this rollercoaster of change it can be difficult.

    I saw a guy on facebook yesterday saying “I got my CDL but no one will hire me!, What about this driver shortage I hear so much about?”

    That’s the first part of the OTR scam, people who now owe for a loan and they cannot even get hired, many times at an ridiculous interest rate and as it we see, the CDL mills own the paper! Big Scam!

    The next part is realizing the recruiters tell them they would be making much more than they are for a lot longer AND that 3-6 months in these conditions is ALSO a LIE!

    Better companies want 1, 2 sometimes 3 years experience, accident free.

    NO ONE tells you that and even people at the training wheel companies do not tell you that. They say “well, you can always quit, there is a drivers shortage so you can get rehired right away” FALSE!

    Since I came to driving I cannot tell you how many drivers quit after 3 or 6 months only to find no other company would hire them.

    Students entering trucking need to know they won’t make but about $33K to $35K per year NET NOT GROSS! and they should expect to have to staying in these conditions to get stabilty experience and during this time they need to make sure they learn.

    Being forced to roll which violates the law, in bad weather which is unsafe or in shut down conditions is another topic. Granted, the image is truckers are tough guys who never say NO to get the load there. Well times have changed! Breaking the law ends careers and no fleet manger is going to come to court to defend you when your are losing your license! Low pay is not illegal though so these are different topics.

    Last night I was called about a female student who was thrown off her trainers truck in New York and told by her fleet manager she was on her own but she lives in Alabama! She had complained about her male trainer and was told to “suck it up”. Now this really make me angry but there is more to know about the details before I would advise getting into litigation.

    Doing things that are illegal gives a driver some ammunition to fight back for lawsuits or to try your case in the court of public opinion like I did.

    Things to consider though are if you have a family counting on you. Can you afford to take on such a task? Are you highly detail oriented to tackle such a beast as big trucking? Do you keep your nose clean? Logs, appointments on time,clean DOT?

    I hear a lot of people throwing the “I’m going to sue you” words around and they frankly do not have their act together enough to pull it off OR they simply must keep a paycheck coming in to feed their kids, buy school clothes & pay bills.

    The Marten case is good to have out as a motivator for drivers who are looking for ways to combat these problems in their companies that understand better the ins-and-outs of the law BETTER than a student truck driver will.

    Allen writes primarily to help students make better choices from day one. Encouraging them to get involved in a lawsuit when they can’t make heads or tails of their logbooks for several months is really not prudent.

    I think it is more helpful to define bad from illegal.

    One thing I liked about Covenant Transport is if we feel unsafe about weather we send a macro on the qualcomm and shut it down. If other trucks in our fleet have reported extreme conditions they shut down our entire fleet in the area. We are forbidden to roll on ice.

    As a student this was a great comfort to me because I did not know what to expect and I had to fight with some co-drivers who wanted to break company policy and continue to roll when it was unsafe.

    Each company has it’s particular issues. The team driving for a single women is esspecially an issue.

    NOW, Thanks to Allen and Donna, serious students have something they DID NOT have when I started and that is enormous information to help them make better decisions on what training wheels company they will choose and understand they will NOT be making $45K the 1st year and probably not in the 2nd year as most experienced drivers have had several unrestored pay cuts and have been stuck in their training wheels companies because other companies up the food chain are still not hiring.

    Team drivers with 8 years experience making 18 cpm and experienced solos making 27 cpm and no end of this in sight.

    Understanding and accepting that is the first part of entering trucking is very helpful. Allen does a great job helping students learn this.

    Thanks Allen!

  13. Allen Smith

    Hey, Desiree – thanks for the info.

    As I said before, I deal with reality, not a whimsical pretty little picture seen through rose colored glasses. The fact is, this is reality and cdl students and new drivers have got to receive the right information if they are to succeed in this business.

    When I write an article, post or do a talk show, I do not consider for one minute if everyone will agree with me or disagree. I draw on my 33 years of experience and share on what I have seen and have learned from this industry. When I am asked a question, I give my honest opinion, and do not sugar-coat the answer in order to give the person the answer they want to hear.

    The real facts about the OTR industry is what these newcomers really want to know, not some fantasy-filled answer. We’re talking about people’s lives and finances here.

    thanks . . .

  14. Eskimoe Joe

    If an entry level driver were to sue the company, I imagine they might win the lawsuit but lose the career. DDDDDAAAAACCCCC

  15. Allen Smith

    That’s a problem … most suits fail because these companies are smart. They know how to get around the liability.

  16. DBergmann

    Thank you for this post:

    I am considering entering the industry as a first timer, so I’m reading as much about trucking as I can. My reservations about the industry are as mentioned by several of you that there are unscrupulous companies out there ready to take advantage. Trying to report them is like cutting the hand that feeds Washington D.C. with millions in lobbying money: they have power, some are sheltered by law, but you could get lucky with a good lawyer who knows how to fight them successfully.

    The problem I see is a systemic economic problem that has plague this entire country—Greed! But this is not new. Our founding fathers lived in a time were indentured servitude and later slavery was an acceptable practice towards wealth/prosperity. In fact, and sadly, slavery (without Constitutional rights) built this nation. Now we have it again in its many manifestations, which include globalization, outsourcing, labor union bashing, intentional turnovers, ageism, etc. I think this trend reared its ugly head when unions were once a powerhouse in the US, and therefore a perceived threat by American corporations, which then lead to a political backlash against organized labor.

    I do not have answers other than standing united against a system that
    has strayed away from decent human values.

  17. Allen Smith

    Join us on October 11-13 in Kansas City, MO at Harrah’s for the 3rd Annual Truck Driver Social Media Convention. Concerned drivers are attending and learning about how to get things done.
    This years issues include the Truck Driver Shortage and Driver Wages and The Truck Parking Shortage

  18. Jeffrey Torsrud

    HI Allen:

    We have spoken on several times and to update you on my status and information on BAD COMPANIES AND THEIR ANTICS! You can redact the company from this post if you want!

    I quit working for US Xpress, Inc. in February and have hung up my driving gloves for good.

    US Xpress is one of those starter companies and as such is a BAD BAD Company. They will never change since it is to their benefit to force good drivers to quit and keep hiring drivers from these FLY BY NIGHT truck driving schools in this country.

    Now, I have a perfect driving record and have been on the road for a short 2.5 years. The main reason I quit USX was due to poor pay, and as always HOME TIME issues.

    USX has started a new Internal Scam. We all know about CSA and CSA points a driver accumulates for violations and tickets. Well, USX has now implemented an Internal CSA program, not linked to the Federal CSA program. If you are working for USX and acquire a mere 20 points on their internal program, you most likely will be fired. USX has established an internal 9 member panel to evaluate drivers who get 20 or more CSA points. I call them the USX GESTOPO! You see USX has a very high Unsafe Driving Basic and is under the FMCSA intervention program. At last look their Unsafe Driving Basic was 66.7 percent. Which as you know remains with the company for 24 months. However, their new mentality is to just get rid of drivers who get violations and hire new drivers with good records. The average turn over rate for USX is between 100 and 200 driver per week, yes per week!

    Good driving habits are by choice! You and I both know that there are many BAD DRIVERS out their and the only way you become a GOOD Driver is to make a BEHAVIORIAL Change!

    Regards to USX, they figure they can lower the UNSAFE Basic by firing the BAD DRIVERS. But, you know it doesn’t take much to get 20 CSA points. Some kind of twisted thought process or a KNEE JERK reaction to the FMCSA’s intervention. Their UNSAFE Driving Basic will never improve since they are hiring so many inexperienced drivers, most of who can’t even read a Road Atlas, READ OR Understand ENGLISH. (Case in point, I was training a new student (from Somalia), who could not read or understand English, could not read Road Signs, did not know anything about Scale procedures and could not read or understand a Motor Carrier Atlas. And did not even have basic truck driving skills.) I had to wonder how he got a CDL. I reported him to USX as an UNSAFE Driver and had him removed from my Truck. Last information I had on him before I quit was he somehow got qualified and it now out on our Highways!

    Drivers or Driver Wanna Be’s need to just stay away from USX!

    As I said at the beginning, I have given up on Truck Driving, but I want to get the message out about these BAD Companies. New Driving School Graduates should do their homework!

    Thanks Allen for your good work.

    Take Care.

    Jeff

  19. Dick Kisinya

    TAD TRANSPORT, LLC
    DOT#: 2120118 MC# 738941
    Based in PA.
    Gypsy operation.

  20. mike jonz

    Wow pure idiots youd rather sit at a stop and talk routes and be all gay than run like the real men of trucking used to.The bad companies who pay 40 cents and let you run 5000 is 2 g a week compared to a dollar a mile and 1000 a week payments is like 1500 a week morons.And it isn’t safer to be video gaming and driving then steady driving and taking a few days off.Its guys like that thatll make it impossible to get 80 hours passed by congress.

  21. Dale Setzer

    I am enjoying reading about bad trucking co.Thank you for giving some of the guy’s that need it a little step up on how it really is.I can tell you from my 50 years out here that they are all over the place,and all have a pie in the sky pitch!!! You need to take you time and research them,at great length or you will lose a lot of money.You want to get payed a fair wage for for and honest day’s work.I worked for a few good one’s and changed to a bad one for some DUMB reason.So take head and Good Luck

What do you have to say about this?

To the top