Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Four Years in Review

So today, August 10, 2011, is my four year anniversary with Schneider National. It definitely has been an interesting four years. We have had major ups and downs as a company.
2007 and 2008: I started Schneider National at 21 years old. I was assigned to the Walmart dedicated account in Washington Court House, Ohio... where I remain. When I first began, we had a little over 200 drivers and we pulled 90% of the freight. We were always extremely busy. Schneider Washington Court House had the reputation of "the money making Walmart" because we were always able to get a ton of miles. We ran a much larger area. The states I ran primarily in those years were Michigan and West Virginia. More so Michigan than West Virginia. We had a ton of backhauls that we would get as well. In late 2008, the economy took a major dump and Walmarts business was not running like in previous years so they started sending more and more of their own private fleet from their General Merchandise distribution centers to their Grocery distribution centers. Slowly, started losing more and more freight to the Walmart private fleet drivers.
On a personal level, I almost lost my job in 2008 because I still wasn't as mature as I am now. I didn't really know the responsibility it took to keep a job. I slacked big time... my boss noticed it and put me on a 6 month probation. Needless to say, I got my act together!
2009: Walmart did a major overhaul in 2009. It was so major that Schneider National was no longer pulling the dry grocery freight out of the Washington Court House distribution center. Since this happened, Schneider laid off a TON of drivers. We went from about 200 full time drivers to about 75. We had two driver managers and one of them were demoted and eventually quit. From what I understand, we were having a hard time keeping up with the freight we had because we didn't have the drivers to pull the loads. It was a great time for me though because I was making a lot of money.
In late 2009, Schneider National did more restructuring of the company and they ended up firing the Team Manager of the Walmart Washington Court House and Walmart Wintersville operations and putting one guy in charge of the two operating centers. Walmart Wintersville.... I tell you... the operations of that distribution center is a mess. The operations of Schneider there isn't really any better. I feel bad for the drivers that stick with it there sometimes. They have a terrible time keeping drivers there. Personally, I think as big as a company Schneider National is, they need to offer some type of incentive for working that particular DC. I digress though. Going back to 2009, towards the end of the third quarter, we started to get a bunch of help from OTR Schneider National drivers and also, an outside company that Schneider National hired. We made it through that holiday season pretty stable.
2010: In January of 2010, we got word that we were getting back 30 % of the dry grocery freight. That was a good sign to me because that let me know that Walmart was happy with our services. Well what ended up happening was we ended up getting back about 10% of the dry grocery freight. Pretty much, the only dry freight we got back was dry freight that did not include backhauls. When this first began, again we were having trouble with capacity because we still didn't have the drivers to pull the loads. According to my boss, Schneider wasn't letting us hire anyone new onto the Walmart Washington Court House account. Now I don't know what happened but in early March, we finally got new drivers... and a TON of them, too!! I almost immediately felt the impact of it because I all of a sudden was not getting the miles that I used to. The miles that I was getting got so terrible that I considered going to another company. As summer approached, it finally started to balance itself out.
Winter in 2010 was probably one of the worst I have ever experienced. I know 2011 was pretty bad but 2010 had EVERYTHING! Ice... Snow.... Flooding Rain.... Hell, I came the closest to getting into a major accident in 2010. I was leaving the Walmart in Summersville, West Virginia, heading towards the Walmart in Fayetteville, West Virginia. The roads were snow covered but nothing I couldn't handle... or so I thought. I drove south on US 19 for about 3 miles and then out of no where, the wind kicked up and visibility went from to about a mile in front of me to about 2 feet in front of me. I was caught in a dilemma. I wanted to pull over but A) I couldn't see the road and B) if anyone were to run into the back of me while i'm pulled to the side, i'd still be at fault. So it's like a catch 22. You drive and get in an accident... it's your fault. You pull over and get hit... it's your fault. I decided to drive. At first, I could see the guide rail on the side of the road. Then out of no where, it disappeared. I said "okay, then I will follow the rumble strip". Well seeing that this is a road in the State of West Virginia, the road was not particularly straight. I started out following the rumble strip on the right side of the word which for about the first 15 minutes was working out for me. Somewhere along the line, I lost track of the rumble strip because next thing i knew, I looked outside of my driver side window and saw me two seconds away from slipping into the median ditch! I yelled "OH SHIT! OH SHIT" to myself and came to a complete stop... in the middle of the 65 mph highway, lol. I think what saved me from falling into that ditch was the fact that I was driving like 5 mph down the road. Once I got myself calmed down and focused, I continued on. I didn't realize this at first but eventually, I noticed that I had like 20 cars following me... as if I knew where in the hell I was going, LOL. I drove a little farther down the road and someone FINALLY passed me and I was able to follow their tire tracks to Fayetteville. It was definitely a terrifying time but I made it through safely.
2011: This year started out pretty well. We weren't having as many problems with capacity as we did in the past. I started the year making very good money. The year progressed and things began to get rocky. I started getting that "i need another job" thought in my mind again. I finally reassessed where I was at the beginning of the year and where I was in April of 2011. I finally came to the conclusion that its time to start moving up. So in April, I went and asked my boss about becoming a training and to my pleasant surprise, he told me that I am able to be one... and ever since then, he has been helping me become one. Now I am here in August. This year so far has been interesting and it's just only going to get more interesting here in the next few weeks when I am officially a trainer.
So to wrap this blog up....
I have been with Schneider National today for 4 years. In four years, I have 0 tickets.... 0 accidents.... 0 DOT inspection failures.... 0 LOMH... If I can toot my horn for a second (and I will cause it's my blog!), I am a damn great driver. I am the example of what drivers should be! I am a soon to be "Million Mile driver"!!
Happy Anniversary to Me!!

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