I just returned from the annual Ontario Trucking Convention where as usual the agenda was full of valuable management information and training sessions. I must admit that since stepping away from a day-to-day administration role at a trucking company, I find it more and more difficult to get overly excited about these types of agendas. The primary motivation for most delegates at the event and I believe 99% of the delegates at all trucking events, is to get reacquainted with folks they haven’t seen in a while, to see old friends and mentors and to possibly gain some type of alliance for future business opportunities.
As many of you know, for years I have been attending and taking leadership roles in the US primarily with the Truckload Carriers Association. The advantage that the TCA has as an association is that it actually polls its membership; so they knew early on that the networking aspect of joining an association was paramount to people feeling that they received value for their membership dollars. The other advantage that TCA enjoys is a relationship with their allied trade membership that is valued and coveted. Ask any non-trucking member of TCA who does business in the US & Canada where they get the best value for their membership dollar and 99% of them will tell you that they are thrilled with TCA’s value proposition.
Congratulations to all award winners at the Ontario Trucking Convention who were recognized at this year’s luncheon – I want to give a shout out to two special folks. First, Mr. Al Boughton, leader of Trailcon, who received the Shaw Tracking-OTA Service to Industry Award for 2012. I know Al to be a tireless, outspoken advocate for the industry and this award was well earned and deserved. I would also like to recognize my good friend and partner Mr. Kim Richardson who had a very good 7 day stretch going for him last week, when he was recognized by his community for his many contributions and is to receive the Queens Jubilee Award on November the 17th. During the same week he was asked to accept the role of Chairman of the Allied Trades Division of the Ontario Trucking Association. To cap all this off, Kim’s son Matt Richardson played in the Yates Cup game as the captain of the offensive line. Not a bad week Kim, congratulations and well earned.
The portion of the OTA convention that I enjoy the most is the awards luncheon and specifically the Bridgestone Highway Hero award. This year’s recipient was Mr. Christopher Fulton. Christopher made the ultimate sacrifice when he gave up his own life to save three other folks. As I sit down to write this article it is Remembrance Day, November 11th and I am reflecting on the type of courage that it takes to put oneself into harm’s way to the degree all heroes do. When I think that I probably wouldn’t be sitting here writing this article in my cushy home were it not for someone else’s sacrifice all those years ago, it is humbling to say the least. I know that there are three families in Peru who will remember what their hero did for them and I am sure they will pray for Christopher Fulton and his family’s sacrifice for decades to come.
What type of courage does it take in that split second; to perform a selfless act such as the situation Chris found himself in on that eventful day back in February? All drivers and ex drivers such as myself have to ask ourselves whether we have that same instinct. As we all know, accident free driving is not putting yourself in harm’s way. The realistic among us also know that, at any given time through no fault or action of the driver, and in a split second, a situation as tragic as what Christopher faced could present itself to anyone sitting behind the wheel.
That’s powerful stuff and it is what separates some men from being drivers into the special category referred to as a Highway Hero. It is what gives us hope and makes us all feel safer for the simple fact that folks like Christopher walk among us in this industry and move the freight that needs to get to the folks who are expecting it. When I hear people diminish the role of the driver or suggest that for many, driving a truck is just a stepping-stone for a better job down the road, it sickens me. It diminishes the memories of Christopher and the many Christopher’s who have gone before him. We do not want, need or should ever tolerate this type of attitude. I rant enthusiastically against substandard truck driver training schools that dupe unsuspecting citizens into their webs of deceit and I rant against them for this very reason.
I know that this is a free country because of veterans that walk among us, those veterans that we lost because of conflicts going on right now and those that we lost during conflicts from our past. It is now 9:51 and I am keeping my eye on the clock for 11am when I will lower my head and think of the sacrifices of the folks who gave their lives for this country. I will also save some time to think of Christopher and his sacrifice and thank him for giving me hope for the future, for knowing amazing everyday people just like him that make up the nucleolus of this great industry.
Mr. Ray Haight has enjoyed a successful career in transportation starting as a company driver and Owner Operator logging over one million accident free miles prior to starting his own company. After stepping down from a successful career managing one of Canada’s 50 largest trucking companies, Ray focused on industry involvement including terms as Chairman of each of the following, the Truckload Carriers Association, Professional Truck Drivers Institute, North American Training and Management Institute and the Ministry of Training Colleges and Universities voluntary apprenticeship of Tractor Trailer Commercial Driver, along with many other business interests, he enjoys a successful consulting business, also sitting on various Boards of both industry associations a private motor carriers. He is also Co-Founder of StakUp O/A TCAinGauge an online bench marking service designed to assist trucking companies throughout North America focus on efficiency and profitability within their operations. All posts by Ray Haight