How a Career Change Took Him OTR, But Closer to Family.
For over 30 years, Craig and his wife Jodi owned a small business renting offices and small apartment buildings. But, after devastating business losses, overwhelming stress, and a health scare, they knew it was time to liquidate and make a change.
They adopted two small children (a 2-1/2 year old boy, and his 9 year old sister), and decided to spend some time focusing on them, their 5 grown daughters, and their grandkids.
But full retirement was not to last. After many conversations with his wife, Craig decided to follow his boyhood dream of becoming a truck driver. Craig weighed his options (for more than 6 months!) before he enrolled in a CDL training program here at Heavy Metal Truck Training.
Craig qualified for a job retraining program through the State of Minnesota which helped cover the cost of his CDL training. He also utilized HMTT's Job Placement program which put him in touch with the driver recruiters at Transport America. After a company tour, and a lot of online research, Craig accepted a driver position and has been driving for Transport America for over 18 months!
[caption id="attachment_1408" align="aligncenter" width="263"] Photo courtesy of Transport America[/caption]
Craig graduated from HMTT in July 2015. Taking a chance and making a career change has paid off for the Hunter family. Craig and Jodi are no longer tied down to their real estate properties, their stress level is reduced, and Craig often includes his family as part of his driving adventure. He recently took his 12-year old grandson out on the road with him for 2 weeks, and calls his wife and kids every night from the road.
Thank you for helping me with my career change. I can honestly say that I use skills I learned at your school everyday as an OTR driver. -Craig Hunter
Are you ready to take a chance at a new truck driving career? Let us help you get on the road! Give the school office a call today at 651-528-8994 to find the CDL program that fits your needs, and use our job placement assistance to get pre-hired before you even begin your training! Read the full article about Craig's career change on the Transport America website.
As a professional truck driver, you'll travel across the country, and drive though towns and cities you never knew existed, let alone thought you'd have a chance to see. You'll probably see more sights and scenery than you ever thought possible...but can you actually gosightseeing as a professional truck driver?
In short, yes - it just requires a little extra planning and effort on your part.
First, check with your carrier. Every company has different rules on bobtailing on personal time. A bobtail truck is a semi truck that travels from one point to another without a trailer.
If you are required to leave your truck in a "safe haven" while on reset, another option is finding a cheap car rental to enjoy the sights and the local restaurants. If you know where you're headed, stock up on local road maps to help you out in a pinch.
You can also use a trip planner like Roadtrippers.com to find attractions that are accessible by public transportation, or even within walking distance of your tuck terminal. You might even find some offbeat, strange, and unusual places to visit!
The amount of sightseeing you can do on your down time depends on the rules your company sets. But if you can, do a little planning and take advantage of your resets and days off!
If you want to see the sights as a truck driver, your first step is becoming one! Enroll at Heavy Metal Truck Training where we have state-approved Class A CDL programs and provide drivers with a well-rounded education. So, what are you waiting for? Take the first step and start your classes at Heavy Metal Truck Training.
The road is calling - grab your keys, and head to HMTT!
Without a doubt, truck drivers are the life blood of the nation. They transport everything from the latest Smartphone to fresh produce. Truckers keep this country rolling. While a lot of people consider truck driving as a potential career path, too many let faulty information discourage them from going trough CDL training.
If you’re considering pursuing a career in the trucking industry, we've got some things that may be good to know about earning a living as a truck driver. Here are three common misconceptions that we'd like to clear up:
"It’s a Big Investment. You Need Your Own Rig."
It’s true that many truck drivers have their own outfit. They tend to buy rigs after years of driving. Like anything, they enjoy being their own boss and are able to negotiate higher rates. But, in reality, the vast majority of truck drivers work for companies that have their own fleet.
To break into the industry, you just need to undergo truck driver training, earn your CDL license and fill out job applications.
"It’s Hard to Get a Full-time Job Driving."
The changing economy over the last 10-15 years has had a profound effect on the trucking industry. More and more products are off-loaded from ships and go right on tractor trailers. The demand for qualified truck drivers has risen dramatically each year and there’s a huge shortage of drivers.
Between increased work and retirement-age drivers, there was a driver shortage of about 48,000 in 2015. That number is expected to grow significantly over the next decade. The industry could hire close to 900,000 truckers during the next 10 years.
"The Pay Isn’t Very Good."
For people who have just finished truck driver training, first-year salaries average about $45,000. Once you gain some experience, there are numerous opportunities to earn OT (over time) and bonuses that can pump that number up quickly.
You can also pursue being a “dedicated driver,” which means working for a major chain company. Their average salaries tend to run $45,000 to $65,000.
If you have a partner for long-haul runs, team drivers can pull down upwards of $150,000 and split it. If you get to the point where you do want to become an owner-operator, $100,000 per year is common.
Simply put, truck drivers make good money.
The demand for hauling goods has never been higher and the shortage of qualified drivers will likely lead to even higher salaries. If you’re considering earning a Class A CDL license at Heavy Metal Truck Training in Minneapolis, the future of the industry looks very promising.
Being a solo OTR truck driver means you might find yourself on the road, and away from home, for weeks at a time. But what if you had a buddy to keep you company during those hours behind the wheel? No, I'm not talking about Team Driving. I'm talkin' about pets!
For some truckers, being able to take a pet on the road can make the truck driving way of life even more rewarding. While not every trucking company is pet friendly, many are updating their policies and letting drivers take a pet or two on the road with them!
Trucking with a dog. Or cat. Or...duck?
Many trucking companies are allowing drivers to bring along a 4-legged, furry companion. But what about a duck?!
Those in the Twin Cities metro might remember Frank the duck. Back in 2008 Boyd Huppert introduced us to Frank in his Land of 10,000 Stories: Duck in a truck story. Frank rode along with his human, Joe Mansheim, as he delivered construction materials across the Twin Cities.
Here's the story, originally aired in 2008:
On Monday, Kare11 updated their viewers that Frank the duck died last week, on his 9th birthday.
Pet Friendly Trucking Companies
Riding a long with a feathered friend might be out of the normal, but not out of the question. LTI Trucking Services gave one of their drivers permission to bring his talking parrot along. The bird sat on his shoulder while he rolled down the road!
It's important to know that not every trucking company is pet friendly, and some are more friendly than others. Be sure to ask important questions, like what their pet policy is, what breeds are allowed, and if there is a deposit or other requirements.
Roehl Transport Inc., H.O. Wolding, US Xpress, and Stevens Transport are just a few of the trucking company HMTT partners with that allows pets. TruckingTruth.com has an updated list of trucking companies that allow pets, but for the most current information, talk to a company recruiter!
If you’re looking to start your trucking career and want to bring a pet along for the journey, your first step is to start here! At HMTT, you'll get the CDL training you need, and we can connect you with pet friendly trucking companies though our job placement and pre-hire program!
We all love our GPS systems. But we can't forget that road maps are still very important. GPS systems have changed the way truckers navigate the open roads. However, car-based satellite mapping systems don't always work for truck drivers. They don't take into account the important things truck drivers need to know, like restricted routes, low clearance, and weigh station locations.
On April 5th we’re celebrating “National ‘Read a Road Map’ Day!” because we know that map reading is becoming a lost art, that folding a road map should be considered a sport, and that you really can travel without satellites beaming directions to you from space (science!).
THE LIMITS OF GPS AND OTHER TECH SYSTEMS
GPS and other tech systems will get you where you need to go, sure. But the experience of listening to a robotic voice does not compare with pulling out a paper map and marking your own route. Maps also make great keepsakes and serve as great reminders of past trips and the beautiful parts of America that you have visited. Driving over the road and long-haul as a CDL driver is a wonderful way to see a lot more of this magnificent country that we call home.
SEE MORE OF OUR BEAUTIFUL COUNTRY
The United States is a vast land that was made to be driven, and our roadways through the heart of the country are second to none. Even though you can get the info that you need from your smartphone, or in-cab GPS system, it is always fun to pull out a road map and relive the navigation process of a bygone era.
On a more serious note, map reading is an essential skill to have if you are out of range of GPS service. Having updated road maps for your travel also provide a back-up. Luckily they require no connection or power source, other than your own brain. Of course, the most challenging part of using an old style road map is folding the darn thing back up when you are finished with it!
Looking for a truck driver specific maps with updated restricted routes, low clearance, and weigh station locations? Check out these Motor Carrier map books from Rand McNally!
A NEW CAREER IN TRUCKING
Choosing a new career as a trucker can create a lot of opportunities in your life, and to reach your full potential, a strong training foundation is essential. Truckers have a large amount of independence, are paid well, and enjoy seeing the heartland of America. If you pursue a career as a local driver, you will learn a lot about your own area that you would never know about otherwise. Trucking is also a great way to meet a lot of different people and you will enjoy the camaraderie of your fellow drivers.
Contact Heavy Metal Truck Training to learn more about our Minneapolis training facility, and how we can teach you all of the important trip-planning skills necessary for a successful trucking career!
Percy the cat clings under a semi - and lives to tell the tale
If cats have nine lives, then Paul Robertson's feline friend has eight left.
The St. Paul long-haul truck driver recently lost his cat, Percy, while recovering from a bout of food poisoning at a rest area in Ohio. While Robertson was sleeping in the bed of the truck, Percy stepped on the power window switch and escaped. Devastated, Robertson posted about the incident on Facebook.
Robertson, 57, created a map to show his location, and his Facebook followers sprung to action. Some shared the post and offered prayers and tips on how to get Percy to come back. Others began calling nearby animal shelters looking for Percy. One friend showed up to help Robertson search the rest area in the rain and lightning, and another created a Go Fund Me account to raise money for a reward.
When Percy got out, his words spoke so deeply to all of us, especially ones that have been in that position of losing a beloved pet," said Jennifer Smith, a close friend of Robertson's. It might just be him and his kitty in the truck hauling down the road day after day, but when he logs onto Facebook, they have an entire extended family online, new and old, looking forward to hearing about their day's adventure."
By night's fall, there was still no sign of Percy. Robertson left Percy's litter box and food, and a pair of dirty socks outside the truck to lure Percy home. Still, no luck. A winter storm was moving in and Robertson would soon need to move on. He had a load to deliver and a deadline.
After more than 24 hours of searching, Robertson regretfully left Percy behind, then posted the saddest Facebook update ever.
"I felt hollow and low and terrible," Robertson said. "But I couldn't be days late because my cat went missing."
The next 400 miles were the worst stretch of travel Robertson had experienced in his six years of driving semi-truck.
But then, the unthinkable happened. Shortly after arriving to his destination, Robertson saw a cat emerge from beneath his semi-truck. It was Percy. Robertson detailed the reunion through - what else – a Facebook update.
"This is the feel-good story of 2017," Robertson said. "If ever a moment felt like a gift from God, it was then."
Aside from needing a warm bath and a trip to the veterinarian for some medication to heal an eye infection (likely from the dust and salt endured on the long trip), Percy happily reclaimed his co-pilot status after his daring adventure.
And Robertson promptly MacGyvered the window switches so that Percy isn't tempted to take a joyride again.
Article reposted with permission from Aimee Blanchette, Star Tribune