Life after MacKinnon

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I think it’s a darn shame that MacKinnon is going through financial straits and has let go the van division. The flag hasn’t fallen since it’s regrouping and concentrating on its speciality flat deck operations, but the shock still reverberates. This company is an industry stalwart with tremendous loyalty among its employees and partners.
I struck out to find some former drivers and ask them how they felt about the change. My first target was a veteran trucker, a walrus-like fellow, dropping a trailer in the Puro yard in Rexdale. He explained he was working for a broker and had a steady Quebec run. He was succinct enough about the takeover by Contrans. “It doesn’t matter to me. As long as I can keep working until I retire. I’m sixty-two and I’ve only got a few years left. The only difference is I’ve now got an on-board computers now and the yard is just up the road from the old one.” (I didn’t have the heart to mention that the Harper government is looking at making us work until we’re 67–it would destroy him).
I next pulled up beside a newly-minted Laidlaw broker at the dock waiting for a Montreal load. I didn’t get his name but he was friendly enough, and told me he’d been with MacKinnon for 19 years. “We’re all just waiting to see what’s going to happen. So far it’s been OK. Actually the pay is a little better by two cents a mile. And the fuel surcharge is a little better too.” Was he surprised by the NOI? “Completely, had no idea this was going to happen. But I’m happy as long as I can keep doing my run.”
But not everybody stuck around. Joe Tavares took his seven trucks and went over to Scott Lynn Transport out of Simcoe, Ont. I talked to him on cellphone while he was loading in Quebec. “The first couple of weeks were a little rough. But everybody’s working now. I’m not interested in that short stuff, most of my guys want to run long. My guys are happy, they’re busy now running California and Vancouver.”
Did he have any idea this was going to happen? “I’ll tell you, two weeks before we had a safety meeting and there was no mention of anything. We got the message over the satellite. But this didn’t happen overnight.”
What about the hold backs on the seven trucks, any hope of recuperating that money? “Evan (MacKinnon) told me that he might be able to give me something in March. I don’t know what it will be, 10 maybe 12 cents on the dollar.” There’s also money Joe put into a maintenance fund, about $9,000, he says. “That money is gone, too.”
But is he daunted by this set back? “No way. I’m a fighter,” he says. “I’m back in business.”

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Harry Rudolfs has worked as a dishwasher, apprentice mechanic, editor, trucker, foreign correspondent and taxi driver. He's written hundreds of articles for North American and European journals and newspapers, including features for the Ottawa Citizen, Toronto Life and CBC radio.

With over 30 years experience in the trucking industry he's hauled cars, steel, lumber, chemicals, auto parts and general freight as well as B-trains. He holds an honours BA in creative writing and humanities, summa cum laude.

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  • Seven trucks leased to MacKinnon and he is allowing them to hold onto HIS money! Obviously not in an interest bearing secure escrow account. Couple that with a (hypothetical) $2,000 holdback per truck. Evan got rich off of this guy!

  • Harry why don’t you verify the comments of this former Owner Operator by calling Evan to get the real truth before posting?

  • Hello BK, are you saying that this isn’t accurate? Actually I talked to another owner operator who is in a similar position with his hold backs. And the hold back was more than $2,000 per truck, I just didn’t get specific. My friend Joe is a straight shooter and I have no reason to doubt him. The NOI was sent by satellite and I have confirmed this from more than one source. I welcome any correction by Evan or anyone else but I don’t think I’ll see any. Actually I’d love to know what went down with that company. I’m not sure we’ll ever know the whole story. Blogs are generally more opinion than anything else, but I stand behind what I posted. I do know and believe that Contrans now has its foot in the door, a fresh pool of drivers, and would love to acquire the deck division. So what is the real truth BK? Feel free to enlighten us.

  • Standard holdback in the industry when an O/O leaves a company is 45 days. Sounds like everyone is doing just fine at Laidlaw and MacKinnon is back to the successful business of Flatbed work that they have done well for over 80 years.