The Rea Deal, For anyone that is interested in training.
Pros: good place to learn, good equipment
Cons: bad place to work. bad management
First let me tell you that this is a review of what to expect if you are interested in working at Stevens Transport. This is plain and simple what you will get from working with Stevens. I'm going to focus primarily on the new driver as that is how I got started with Stevens.
I'm sure experience drivers will already know all about Stevens Transport as their reputation echos in just about every Truck Stop, Truck Shop, Distribution Centers and even on the bathroom stalls. So you are on your own!
For the Newbies...
- If you don't have a CDL and have never drove a Big Truck, I would say this is a good place to learn and get your CDL.
- They do have a great skill course in their facility with probably the largest amount of space dedicated to train that I've seen compared to other CDL schools.
- For the CDL School...you will get 3 weeks of schooling with an average of 8-12 hrs a day in a mix of classroom and actual driving, THIS WILL INCLUDE SATURDAYS!
SHOW ME THE MONEY!!!
Be prepared to go thru hard times during the first months of your training. Stevens pays you only $350 a week during all your training, This is basically "Survival Pay" because after normal income tax deductions that will come down to between $300-$320 a week depending on your deductions and if you are single or married. Don't forget to deduct the $22 for the CDL School and your pay can be down to $280, after that comes in the portion of the "loan" for the bus ride to Dallas and the money for meals you got during school and that will bring your check down to as little as $250 a week. If you are single and you – more... have no one to feed other than yourself you are good, but if you are married and have children like I was then figure that most of that money will have to be sent home and you have to decide how much (or how little) you will need to "Survive" on. Food at truck stop is more expensive than at the regular strip mall places, some of these places will charge a premium on the food because they figure truck drivers get paid well and they can afford to pay high prices. If you happen to go to a truck stop in New Jersey and they have a Burger King there, don't get scared if the cheapest combo costs $12 with tax. Add it all up at 3 meals a day times 7 days a week and you may be out just about your entire paycheck if that is all you spend it on.
-Best thing to do is to convince your trainer to stop at a "Wally World' (Wal-Mart) and stock up on stuff you can afford. Cup O' Noodles are cheap and will fill you up. So bite the bullet and keep it under $40-50 a week because you will still get tempted for hot fresh food some days and you have to basically give yourself a budget or you will not make it.
- Most truck stops have microwaves and Water and Ice is always free if you bring your own cup. If you don't mind drinking the sodas, the BIG thermos cup they sell there are worth the price because refills are only a buck and some places like LOVES offer a free refill when you get fuel.
- Ask your trainer to stop at the Truck stops that have McDonald's or Subways and buy from the value menu. You might just get them to buy you a meal on them if you get a good trainer.
- Once you finish all your training you will go back to the Yard to graduate which consists of a driving test (to make sure your training was done) and some additional classroom training. Then you will get your truck assigned and ready to roll all by yourself.
- Before you get you truck assigned you may ask for time off because by now you have earned several days off (one day off for every week worked). I suggest you take the time off because it may be a couple of months before you get to ask for time off again after you get your truck. Going home for time off is on you, meaning that you pay for the cost to go back home. So if you don't live in Dallas, you can still ask to get your first load near you home and after delivery take your time off, but be prepared to get routed a long way around until you land something close to your home, and don't get surprised if they take the load trip away from you during the way there as "Driver Managers" are very "Re-Power" happy (load exchange with another truck). If you get a call to do a dispatcher a favor to Re-Power your load just say NO. Driver Managers constantly will ask you for favors but never return one so don't think they are on your side, if you got the load and you got the time to deliver it, just tell them NO, believe me it will not change your future loads because those are routed thru a different department out control of the Driver Managers.
- Truck Assignments are not instant and you may have to wait several days to get one depending on their supply.
- You will not get a pretty truck, after all you are a newbie and they will assign you an old truck that has gone thru several other drivers and may look like it should be put out to pasture.
- I suggest getting the truck in Dallas. They got a Detail shop that will clean the truck inside. They got a truck wash so you can get the truck shiny before you go out. You can also exchange mattresses for new ones so you don't have to sleep in someone's sweat and body odors. Plus you can have any mechanical issues fixed there at the shop so you don't break down in the middle of nowhere.
- At this stage you will earn 26 cents a mile with 2 cents raise at 9 months of working and 1 cent raise at one year. You will get sh!tty loads at first because they are testing you and will not give you the good ones until you prove yourself, so don't mess around and be "ON TIME" follow all the rules and drive EXTRA safe.
Basically I recommend getting your one year deal done so they don't come after you for the CDL school fee's and then get out. Stevens is one of the worst paying companies out there and it is just not worth staying there longer that your "Sentence".
- Don't do the 401K as they it doesn't not vest until after 5 years, so it is not worth having them dock your small paycheck for them to use for their own purposes, plus you don't have that option until 9 months in anyhow and by then you will see how bad they do get giving you loads.
- Don't fall for the Alliance Program juice (Leased purchase). It is a ripoff and you will go broke before you know it. That program works only for the trainers that get paid the student miles. They Bambozle you into thinking that you will better loads (which you don't), and they nickle and dime your expenses to death. By the week's end your payment can be as high as a thousand dollars and if you get the average 1500 miles a newbie gets at the rate of 89 cents a mile that's just around $1300, take out the thousand for the least, the Insurance, the Plates, the Qualcom, the Pre-Pass, the Toll Tag, the TransFlow, Escrow and Fuel and you get around $300 left to your name. God forbid your truck breaks down but their "Payment" still continues so you will fall on the RED real fast!!! Take it from me, this program is meant for YOU to pay for THEIR truck, because at the end of the lease you don't get to keep the truck, you just start all over again and that truck you just paid for goes on to make them more money with another sucker! I've seen this happen to too many good drivers so don't fall for their lies.
Just finish your YEAR of experience, there are plenty of good companies that will gladly take you with one year experience and you will make way more money. Plan your budget while you are at Stevens and don't think you will make the suggested "Up to 65K" in your first year, if you are lucky you will get half that at best, but the training you gain will pay for your second year profit which for me was about 58K and got home every weekend. today I enjoy the fruits of my experience and I am an Owner Operator doing local runs making over 100K a year net, and being home every night. Just to think it only took 5 years to get here, but if you put your mind to it you can do it probably even sooner that I did. – less