In the spirit of several threads on Truckers Report that highlight great companies to work for, I thought I’d finally get on board and share my experiences with Kivi Bro’s trucking out of Duluth Minnesota with you.
Kivi is a midsized national company specializing in open deck with regional logging and intermodal operations predominately in Minnesota. With yards in Duluth (the headquarters) Blaine, MN and Harrodsburg, KY Kivi is a growing open deck company seeking to maintain their small company feel while providing enough gravitas to have freight to keep drivers moving. With divisions in flatbed/stepdeck/connestoga, heavy haul we have something for nearly every open deck driver.
You be hired need 2 yrs experience with a clean CSA driving record, they’re not as interested in your DAC, Kivi focuses on your actual public driving record. We take drivers with little to no open deck experience, training will take place the week following orientation and you will use your assigned truck to follow a trainer and complete actual loads, if you’re experienced or comfortable with securement you are dispatched immediately following the 4 days of orientation. You can live anywhere in the USA, we haul everywhere except for Hawaii.
Interestingly Kivi rents you a car from wherever you live so you can bring your belongings with you to orientation and immediately head out in your truck. All orientation takes place in Duluth MN so plan accordingly regarding the month you join lol. Our trucks are predominately Peterbilt 567 Heritage models, although we also have Kenworth W900 aerocab flat tops too. These trucks have 13 spd manuals, your driving test will take place on an 18 spd manual and you have to demonstrate your ability to use the splitter. In addition to the Peterbilts, we have Volvo 740’s and Western Star 5700’s though it’s not likely these will be offered as your first truck.
Unless you hire on into one of the specialty divisions, you will most likely be pulling flats or steps, mostly new trailers (53 foot) with closable spreads. We also have conestoga’s some that are even assigned to dedicated freight. All basic securement equipment is provided although you’ll always want something you don’t yet have in open deck lol. Each yard maintains replacement equipment so when something becomes worn or simply breaks you replace it at the next yard visit.
The money, Kivi pays percentage, 26% with monthly fuel bonuses and yearly raises based on your safety stats. We also pay holidays and pay a weeks vacation after the first year. There are a number of health plans offered as well as a 401K plan. Hometime is negotiated with your driver manager, there’s no set rule for days off per days worked, and some drivers go home nearly every week and choose to run a more regional schedule.
I have to say my fist year with Kivi has flown by – and yes that includes the fist winter of tarpping and dealing with frozen straps. Interestingly I don’t really find myself tarpping all that often which I’m completely OK with – my loads vary between our staples of hauling cable reels to equipment and lumber and the occasional cheap load of insulation. We have agreements with construction companies to move their equipment and supplies, and some drivers take temporary assignments supporting jobsites and are paid hourly to move equipment. Dispatch is well flexible depending on what you want to haul and how hard you want to work. Don’t get me wrong, as a company driver they expect us to understand they have to pay for the trucks and need you to move, however, if you develop a reputation for being a good runner, they are OK with you declining a load to wait potentially wait for a higher grossing load from time to time. Each yard has their own set of driver managers and I work out of the Harrodsburg KY yard. I really like my DM and have no problems getting home when I need to and making the money I expect. I make my own delivery appointments (unless a crane is involved) and keep them updated on my plans. Personally I sit most weekends to get a 34, but that’s my choice, others run slightly harder and end up using recaps.
In summary, if you’re looking for a good company to continue your career and enjoy or have given thought to open deck I strongly recommend including Kivi on your short list. Given the way things are headed, I know I’m enjoying driving a 13-speed manual and being treated like an adult, and hope to be here for quite some time to come…