I received the following note the other day about the loss of industry pioneer and well-respected businessman Vic Pettigrew. While I didn’t know Vic personally, I thought I’d turn this space over to Bill Cameron of Parks Transportation, who wrote this thoughtful eulogy. Over to you, Bill…
On October 9, Victor Pettigrew passed. He was previously the third generation owner of Millers Garage, Owen Sound’s International dealer. At the time of his retirement just a few years ago, the company had been operating over ninety years.
Victor had a well-earned reputation as one of the more obliging, nicest people you could do business with. Over the years, more than one brand new truck was ordered with nothing more than a handshake for a down payment. His Yellow Pages ad always had his home phone number, as well as at that of at least one parts staffer. After hours parts availability was, in his opinion, a necessity.
“We’re under no obligation to be here 24/7,” he told me once, “but we damned well better be available 24/7.”
This was mentioned during one of many long conversations I had with him over the years – conversations that occasionally actually concerned business. If he knew you, and you had time and an inclination to solve the world’s problems, he was game.
I’ve seen more than one farmer or small contractor bring an old truck into the shop, only to have Victor do his best to convince them the vehicle was not worth repairing. It didn’t matter that his shop wasn’t particularly busy that week; his integrity didn’t have a dollar figure.
My well-worn story about the man is not a rarity. Countless other small operators can tell a comparable tale. A few weeks after we started in business, our 20-year-old truck had a rear differential give out. Victor’s full shop, and busy mechanics, suddenly, like magic, had a space and mechanic for our truck (this was a common occurrence).
We had been in business long enough to accumulate a stack of fuel bills and toll receipts, but not long enough to have many receivables flow in. I sheepishly asked if I could take the truck away, even though I couldn’t pay for a few weeks. He just laughed and said “You can’t pay my bill if you’re not driving it, of course you can take it.”
They don’t build trucks like that old 4070 COE anymore, and they sure as hell don’t make businesspeople like Vic Pettigrew anymore either. Bill Cameron
James Menzies is editor of Truck News magazine. He has been covering the Canadian trucking industry for more than 15 years and holds a CDL. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter at @JamesMenzies. All posts by James Menzies