When is a dry van not just a dry van? I would say the obvious answer is when it is a “wet van” of course…but that was a couple blog articles ago! All kidding about the obvious aside, there are instances when I have seen people let endorsements fall off their license when they think they don’t need them anymore. Whether it is having a hazmat, doubles/triples, or tanker endorsements, these endorsements add diversification to the jobs a trucker can actually do. One particular dedicated haul we have is one that shows that with the proper endorsement, a dry van can double as another kind of trailer entirely!
For about the past year, I have settled in on a dedicated haul that works in pretty well to get me form the Long Beach basin back up towards home. Being that we pull dry boxes, it never really dawned on me until hauling this, how important it actually was to keep endorsements even if you don’t think you need them anymore. Having not technically pulled tankers or doubles/triples since 2010, I always just kept these endorsements as a way to keep freight variety open, should I ever need to haul those types of units again. When pulling a non-haz dry van for a living, most would think just a basic Class A license would suffice, but this haul I landed upon would not be mine had I not kept the tanker endorsement I thought I didn’t need.
Being that this particular customer ships two commodities on our trucks, liquid refined glycerin and palm kernel oil, they are shipped in giant plastic bulk totes. These bulk containers range from almost 3000 lbs. each (glycerin) to 2200 lbs. each (palm kernel oil) and ship as 15 and 18 totes respectively. Being that we have to even out the weight between the entire length of the trailer, the totes have a sloshing motion similar to that of a baffled tank trailer. It is because of this behavior that the shipper requires anyone hauling it to have their tanker endorsement, so that the driver is educated in the way liquids move during transport. Although many would not realize it at first, surge really is felt in the dry van with this stuff in it when you approach a stoplight, or have to take off from a dead stop!
There may be a time in your trucking career when you come to think of an endorsement as unnecessary to have on your CDL simply because of its lack of use. Keeping it on may prove to come in handy when you don’t expect it though. Even just being a simple “door swinger” pulling around a dry van, I never gave much thought to special freight like bulk liquid totes and other special commodities. Since coming across this customer a little over a year ago, I have actually had several shippers that require this same endorsement for transport of their commodities as well. Having kept this endorsement and making sure my drivers have it has helped give us an advantage that others might not have, which also helps to command a more premium rate for its transport. So remember this little lesson when you think that a dry van is nothing more than just a dry van, since with the proper endorsement can make it a dry van in disguise.