Passion for the industry and a penchant for honesty

BANFF, Alta. – Outgoing Canadian Trucking Alliance (CTA) president and CEO David Bradley didn’t mince any words nor hide his passion for the trucking industry when he addressed attendees at the Alberta Motor Transport Association (AMTA) Leadership Conference April 30.

Bradley, who has been a staple in the industry for several decades, wore his heart on his sleeve when he spoke of the accomplishments and challenges he has faced while with the CTA.

He said that when it comes to dealing with government, it’s not always easy, as he believes that politics in Canada is ‘old-fashioned and unproductive,’ and, referring to the federal government’s recent review of the Transportation Act, what Canada really needs is an economic policy that shows that without transportation, nothing works.

“We weren’t even sure we’d get much mention in the report,” Bradley said, adding that the report said all the right things, but didn’t propose any solutions to the current problems, and didn’t have much of any impact on the trucking sector. “I don’t think a thing is going to change…it’s every man for himself right now.”

Asked about the US’s role in trucking in Canada, specifically the issue of in-transit shipment rules, which the US changed after 9-11, and Canada did not, Bradley again voiced his candid opinion, saying that Canada must learn to play hardball with our neighbours to the south, and though he respected the US’s desire to win, Canada must adopt the same mentality.

Staying with the American theme, Bradley said the US election was one that he believes could have an affect on specific industry sectors, like softwood lumber, but that regardless of who becomes the next US president, the country’s ‘protectionist sentiment’ would always be present, and that Canadian trucking business people must remember that rhetoric during a campaign does not often carry over once a person is elected.

Much of Bradley’s emotion surfaced after being asked how much finding a new president and CEO would end up costing the CTA, which opened the door for some history on how the alliance got to the place it is today.

Bradley said the CTA was bankrupt when he came on board 20 years ago, and that now the numbers could speak for itself. He added that he feels his role, and that of the CTA as a whole, is to focus on achieving victories for trucking in Canada, and that he always tried to put the industry on the national stage.

“I don’t know how to run a trucking company,” he said, “and I don’t think any companies know how to run an association.”

Bradley admitted that he ‘hates to lose,’ and that trucking was a ‘fragmented industry,’ that seldom comes to any kind of consensus agreement on the issues.

“It’s like herding cats to get all you guys to do things,” Bradley bluntly told attendees, adding that he would stack the CTA’s recent record up against any trade organization in the world.

Bradley also addressed several issues in the trucking world that the next CTA president and CEO would have to face, including the imminent ELD mandate, something he said companies should get on top of right away before they are implemented into law; the environment, and continuing to reduce greenhouse gas emissions with ongoing mandated technologies that would help do so; wide-based tires; and the impending driver shortage.

Bradley said Canada needs a strong Alberta for the country to prosper, and praised AMTA executive director Lorraine Card for the job she has done over the past year to bring the association to the high level it’s at today.

In the longer-term, Bradley said with new technology, it is a really exciting time for the industry, but that government regulations have failed to keep up with what is currently available, and that technology must be viewed as not a denigration of the truck driver, but rather a supplement to the skills they have already acquired.

He also said that Canadian trucking companies really don’t know how good they are at managing their businesses in the challenging and tough environments seen today and during other periods of time.

“No trucking industry anywhere around the world,” Bradley said, “is better at managing issues than the Canadian trucking industry.

A university graduate with a degree in English, I have worked in the media and trucking industries as a writer, editor, and now as western bureau chief of Today's Trucking and I have several years of management experience in journalism, as well as hospitality, but am first and foremost a writer, both professionally and in my personal life, having completed two fiction novels.

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