When you need to choose a trucking company to work for, it is our belief that the size of the company DOES matter.
There are significant differences you should know between large trucking companies and small trucking companies.
Your decision on which carrier to work for will depend on your personal preferences.
We take a look at the advantages and disadvantages to working at large trucking companies and smaller trucking companies, to help you choose a carrier to work for that is to your liking.
Big Trucking Companies vs Small Trucking Companies
10 Advantages to Working for a Large Trucking Company
- Variety. Big carriers often run a variety of freight lanes and have different divisions. There is much more diversity in the work available. For example, you become tired of running dry freight loads to the Eastern seaboard states. You could apply to switch it up from the carrier’s dry freight division to their tanker division which runs to the southwest U.S.
If you’re the type of personality that gets bored easily, you can switch it up by changing to another division within the company, rather than job hopping to a completely different carrier.
- Stability. A large carrier with a good reputation, can be much more stable than a smaller unknown outfit.
- Drop + Hook. Pin to pin work is pretty common at the big carriers. They often have pre-loaded trailers of freight at their customers. This can make for nice easy pick ups without any muss or fuss. Smaller trucking companies with limited equipment resources don’t have equipment to spare to drop at a customer. At a smaller carrier, live loads are often necessary where you may not get paid to sit and wait will the customer live loads the freight.
There can be a great deal of flexibility for scheduling fo a drop and hook loads as opposed to live loads, where the driver needs to fit into the loading docks’ schedule.
- Lots of Equipment. Big companies have lots of equipment. There is never a shortage of trucks or trailers. This can be a huge perk. Missing a scheduled run at a small carrier because your truck is in for repair can affect your income, a definite disadvantage.
- Easier to Book Time Off. At larger carriers, there’s a huge driver pool to cover loads. At smaller companies, not so much. They may run a driver much harder than he cares for. Getting time off can be a challenge as they rely heavily on their small pool of drivers.
- Conveniences. Big companies have perks such as their own repair shop, corporate accounts with other repair shops, hotel chains for driver layovers , accounts at major truck stop chains. This is an advantage for the driver also for the sheer convenience and also no out of pocket expenses to wait for reimbursement.
- Terminal Facilities. Big companies often have facilities at their terminals especially for their employees, including their drivers. Some drivers see this as a great perk and do take advantage of these kind of facilities. Some terminals have restaurants, gyms, driver lounges, swimming pools.
My beef with this is that truly the driver is helping to pay for these facilities indirectly. Most drivers I know would rather have the extra money in their pocket rather than a fancy driver’s lounge with a pool and big screen tv’s! Smaller companies are often more conservative in their spending.
- Distance From Home. Big carriers often have all of OTR, regional and local truck driving jobs available. At certain points in your trucking career, there may be times at which a trucking job which runs you within a short distance of your home may suit you best.
- Less Drama. There can be less drama among drivers. Most drivers don’t know each other as they do at a small carrier.
- Benefits. Big carriers have greater buying power for personal health benefit packages.
The Disadvantages of Working For a Big Carrier
- Nobody Knows Your Name. No one knows who you are and you are truly a number to them.
You will work with a handful of people who you will get to know, like a dispatcher or load manager and most likely someone from middle management. Some drivers function just fine at a large company this way. Others, not so much so. It is a personal preference.
- Lack of Recognition. Most likely you’ll not be recognized as the guy who always delivers on time, or who never turns down a load. Big carriers have a lot on the go and when you do your job and even when you do your job well, you’ll most likely go unrecognized.
- Lack of Respect. One of the biggest complaints we hear from drivers who have worked for the mega carriers is the lack of respect shown toward their truck drivers. Some of these carriers don’t pay their drivers very well, expect them to do hard work for not much pay and talk to them in a demeaning way. There are drivers who tolerate this treatment. Some however will not. If you’re one of them, you may wish to steer clear of the huge companies.
Working For Smaller Trucking Companies – The Definite Perks
- Owner is Accessible. At a smaller to medium sized company, as a driver you will more than likely be able to meet with the owner should the need arise. In most cases, the owner will definitely care about any issues you are having that need resolving. After all, he has a big investment and he’s interested in you.
If you’re doing a great job, the owner will most likely know it. This will definitely be to your benefit, should a regular freight lane become available or a new truck arrives which you would be the first choice of the owner to put in the seat.
- Fewer Overhead Expenses. Smaller to medium size carriers tend to have lower overhead expenses and general overall costs. This can in turn translate into allocating more money to their drivers, which tend to be their greatest and most valuable assets, rather than fancy glass terminals with a huge staff of employees and executives.
- Local smaller carriers. If you find a job with a small local carrier, which ships all over the US and/or Canada, this will in turn benefit your local community.
- Nice Trucks to Driver. Sometimes, small outfits run a fleet of trucks, that are above the average standard of truck you’ll ever drive at a large carrier – a small fleet of custom Kenworth or Peterbilt trucks.
Big Carriers or Small Carriers – Which is Better?
We’ve outlined the main differences for working at big and smaller carriers.
Think carefully about each of the choices. It ultimately boils down to what you want from your truck driving career and your personal preferences.
Take your time when deciding and make a good choice. It will pay off.