How I Got Better-Than-Free CDL Training
How I Got Better-than-Free CDL Training
By Daniel Walton
Roehl Transport Driver & Certified Driver Trainer
I started my journey with Roehl Transport in July of 2018, making July of 2022 four years. My previous work experience was in marine transportation. I have found success in my life by looking for three key ideals. Free or paid training, highly supportive and safety focused work cultures, and merit based pay structures. I found all three at Roehl Transport.
While in the Merchant marine I started at the bottom, entry level, ordinary seaman. By the time I retired I was Master Upon Oceans. Again this was due to paid training programs and support.
Upon retirement, I was looking for opportunities to travel in the United States. My search was based on a systematic approach that had clearly served me in the past. Find a safe and reputable company who offers tuition-free CDL training. After searching Roehl Transport kept showing up in my results. I checked out the website and immediately saw aids and information prompting me to apply.
After I applied to the CDL training program, I was given a detailed interview, where I was challenged by very good questions designed to make sure I understood the commitment required to be a truck driver. Questions about if I had thought about how I would handle bills if I was gone for periods of time. Did I have family and spousal support? The Roehl recruiter took time to get to know me and make sure I was a good fit for their team. Looking back it was one of the first signs of the level of support TeamRoehl tries to bring to all drivers.
Daniel Walton at a trucking show.
So I was in, now I had to complete a physical and get my Commercial Learner’s permit. I was nervous. Sure, I had taken many tests in my life, but this was new and I will admit I worried. Enter TeamRoehl again with supportive videos and tests (Free CDL Practice Tests) on the website. I passed my first try.
Now, I had to leave home. It was real, I was leaving for Marshfield Wisconsin. I had been all over the world but the United States was a mystery to me. I lived in Mississippi, down the road from some famous Green Bay Packer but that was all I knew of Wisconsin.
Our first day, we were welcomed, tested and by the end greeted as full employees. Our first assignment was to study and pass our CDL test in three weeks.
I was assigned an instructor with three other students. I was by far the most inexperienced and worst of the group. No lie, I practiced every day on a chair with a plunger in my hotel room just to get shifting and clutch rhythm. I will never forget the day everything began to come together on the training course. My turn came to drive and the instructor sat in the passenger seat. My fellow students, always encouraging, were waiting for another grinding experience in the backseats. Then I was off, as I went through all the starts and stops, the turns and maneuvers it was almost magical as I continued to do each item flawlessly( ok, almost flawlessly) I could not stop smiling, my fellow students erupted in the back as I neared the finish. Everyone in that truck on that day knew I had passed a tipping point. I still had work to do to be sure but I will never forget the feeling of “finally getting it.” Even now as a driver trainer, I relish those key pivotal moments when what I have been teaching about Roehl policy or safe practices come alive with that clarity of understanding. It brings me back to that first time for me.
After my passage and return home to get my state's CDL, I was assigned a driver trainer. This was a key to much of my success and future choices. Having received my Tuition-Free training, my trainer did an excellent job of bringing all this to life in practical hands on action.
I happen to be assigned to a trainer from Arizona. My first trip was a flight to Phoenix, Arizona. I want to comment that this was my first interaction with the operations side. We use training fleet managers for students and fleet managers for drivers. The first lesson was the example my trainer presented with his interaction with his fleet manager. He had cultivated a relationship of mutual trust by being open and honest. This was a key concept that continues to serve me and now my students. I made friends in Arizona that truly contribute to my success to this day.
So here I am with my trainer for three weeks. He poured out so much, I was kinda overwhelmed but in the best way. He was patient and generous. He focused on the why of many of our actions that have really contributed to me being profitable today. I got to travel all over the West and the Rocky Mountains. I soaked up as much as I could and started building my process.
Daniel completed Roehl's Two-Year Apprenticeship Program.
The process if you don’t know is your methodology of work. How you attack the obstacles life just throws at you. You cannot control what happens in life but you can control your response and your process.
This goes into the third ideal I look for in companies. Merit based pay, means you do the work you earn the rewards. You work your honed process, success and rewards, compensation follow.
When I went solo I applied all I had been given by my first instructors, by my trainer, and even by my training fleet manager. I worked my process to ensure I was on time and my loads were secure. I drove the Roehl way, Driven to Protect those around me. I had a few setbacks and lessons to learn but with the continued support and development Roehl offers I kept getting better.
Daniel is a flatbed truck driver for Roehl Transport.
I am always working on my process, sharpening my saw to be the safest best driver I can. Now I try and teach new GYCDL graduates how to get the strongest start and be safe and profitable. Lessons from my success and challenges.
If you think a tuition-free CDL training program that makes you an employee Day one is for you. If You value Safety and want a career with a company that truly trains you to be the best and backs it up with real support. If you know working hard and smart reaps rewards then Roehl is the kind of place you will shine.
How do I know? Because it has done that for me and I see it in many others on my team.
About Daniel Walton
Daniel Walton is a former ship captain who got tuition-free CDL training through Roehl Transport's Get Your CDL Program. Daniel is also a Certified Driver Trainer and was honored as a finalist in the Trucking's Top Rookie competition in 2019. Daniel appeared on the official Roehl Transport podcast - you can listen and subscribe to Daniel's Keeping it Roehl podcast episode here.
Daniel Walton was a Trucking's Top Rookie Finalist.