Reflecting on my favorite industry event of the year, the Truckload Carriers Association annual convention, held this year in Grapevine Texas at the Gaylord Texan. As usual we had a blast catching up with old friends and meeting new ones. On the meeting new folks front it sure didn’t take long, we had just got settled into our rooms Saturday morning and decided to look around when a gentleman came up to me and said “ hey I know who you are you write for some of them magazines” he had a great big grin on his face and a company shirt on from SLH. I must admit at this point I was scrambling to identify who this fellow was, I assumed he was top management by his confident demeanor and professional appearance, and I was certainly glad to see a fellow Canadian so soon. It wasn’t more and a few minutes before Terry introduced me to Roxanne his beautiful wife and I learned that Terry had been nominated for the Owner Operator of the year award. What an impressive couple, outstanding ambassadors for the Trucking Industry. These folks were everywhere I looked at convention, it didn’t take me long to understand that they were determined to take the experience in to it’s fullest and good on them. Terry was of course awarded first prize, I’m sure the judges were as blown away by Terry as I was.
Sunday morning I was in the general ballroom where I was to meet a sponsor to rehearse an award presentation, the Lee Crittenden for outstanding service to the Professional Truck Drivers Institute, on Tuesday we presented it to an old friend of mine Mr. Terry Burnett. I am a proud past recipient of this award, there is nothing receiving recognition from your peers, well earned Terry. At the end of our rehearsal for the presentation I heard the singer start practicing the American Anthem so I stood in an almost empty room and listened. When the singer finished the Stars and Stripes he busted right into Oh Canada and right then who is standing right beside me with hand on shoulder is Mr. Jack Fielding from Bison two proud Canadians shared a moment, cool. Jack was nominated for the Driver of the Year award and is another outstanding ambassador to this great industry and I am glad to report the 1st place winner also. Along with bragging rights and the admiration of the industry these two-award winners are also waiting patiently for their brand new Cummins powered 2500 Ram pick up trucks to arrive, nice touch TCA.
As part of the convention agenda I was asked to moderate a panel of carrier representatives that were reflective of small, medium and large carriers. They included Mr. Barry Pottle of Pottle’s Transportation with fewer than 200 units and under 20% turnover, Mr. Garth Pitzel of Bison Transport Under 20% Turnover with 1250 drivers and finally with over 5000 units Prime represented by Mr. Darrel Hopkins, Prime is over 60% but last year they were over 90% so impressively heading the right way. The panel topic was “Creating a Driver Centric Culture In Your Company” we discussed a number of programs that these carriers had developed to ensure their culture was driver centric. Topics included, safety programs, payroll innovations, communications, equipment specking, home time, respect, how they addresses individual issues of the drivers and we also went into some depth on the subject of Health and Wellness.
London’s own Healthy Trucker was prevalent at the event and well represented with the TCA officers taking past in a TCA Challenge to see who would win the prize for the most steps walk throughout the event, they were outfitted with Fitbits and this little competition took on a life of it’s own. Congratulations to Aaron Tennant of Tennant Truck lines as the winning officer category and Kathy Penner of Truck News for winning the overall delegate competition.
Our first session was on Sunday afternoon it was well attended, went smoothly, and was well received. We repeated the session on Tuesday morning at 7:15 and I thought I might be standing there with my panel and two or three hung over truckers in the audience. To my surprise it was a standing room only session, and as is usually the case with these things the second session was a better ran event, which received outstanding reviews. I began by suggesting to the audience that this format was very much like a hallway chat where I was going to get these folks stated on a subject and then invite the audience to participate and pick the brains at 3 of the most admired fleets in North America. Whether you were a carrier want some inside information or a vendor wanting to know what motivates a buying decision these folks were nothing less than totally open and forthright with their information, that’s what makes TCA special and the best value for any carriers association dollars.
Congratulations goes out to all the award winners this year with a special shout out to those who placed in the “Best Fleets to Drive For” completion presented by Carriers Edge. They include Brian Kurtz Trucking Breslau ON, Bison Transport Winnipeg MB, DJ Knoll Emerald Park Saskatchewan, Kriska Holdings, Prescott ON, Trimac Transportation, Calgary Alberta, and TransPro Freight Systems Milton ON. A final shout out to the winners of the prestigious National Fleet Safety Awards, small fleet division going to MacKinnon Transport and large fleet once again going to Bison Transport. So there we were, fifty to sixty proud Canadians, basking in the adrenalin and celebration of so many Canadian winners during convention and we broke into a rousing rendition of Oh Canada in the lobby of the Gaylord Texan around midnight on Tuesday evening after the awards banquet, Priceless!
I know I have said this before but TCA has it figured out when it comes to networking with your peers in between breakout educational sessions general sessions and sponsored receptions, one is given every opportunity to introduce ones self to folks from all over North America. There is no class system supplier and truckers are each treated with the utmost respect and appreciation for their membership dollars. Try it some time, trust me you’ll wonder why all association events don’t mimic this outstanding event.
Take Good care and
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