One of the highlights of this job, is having the opportunity each year to reward a deserving professional driver.
We at Truck News used to do so as part of our long-running Owner-Operator of the Year award, and now we have teamed with sister publication Today’s Trucking to present the Highway Star of the Year award.
Trucking can be a thankless job, and to be able to present a winner with a check for $10,000, a trip to Truck World in Toronto, and an assortment of other prizes, is a real honor. Choosing a winner for this award is not a task that any of us on the selection committee take lightly.
With so many deserving candidates, you do worry about the implications of getting it wrong. But within minutes of meeting this year’s winner, Douglas McGowan, whose story you can read on the cover of this month’s issue, there was no question we got it right.
And why wouldn’t we? Military veterans make great truck drivers. They’re disciplined. Independent. They’re problem solvers. They take direction well. These are all attributes that make for a good professional truck driver. In the U.S., this is well understood, with many large fleets implementing formal programs to attract returning military veterans as they transition into civilian life.
And here in Canada, some fleets have undertaken similar efforts. But apparently, too few.
McGowan explained how he – despite having a clean 25-year military career and receiving the highest security clearances available from the Canadian government – struggled to get so much as an interview when he began his transition to civilian life. He sent out 101 resumes – about 40% of which went to trucking employers – and was offered not a single opportunity. This, despite having driven just about every piece of heavy equipment operated by the Canadian military, in extremely challenging conditions.
It wasn’t until McGowan relentlessly pursued a job hauling propane in Western Canada that he finally was given an opportunity to demonstrate his skills. McGowan, in his interview with Truck News, suggested there is a stigma in Canada against hiring ex-military personnel.
And yet, this industry bemoans the fact it can’t find enough talent to keep the wheels turning. As an industry, I feel we owe it to our military veterans – and to ourselves – to give them a chance when they come knocking. I’m sure there are other Highway Stars among them.
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