TRANSPORTATION JUNKIES: The transportation industry's old boys club gathers every month to get caught up with each other and maintain their connection to the industry they grew to love.
ETOBICOKE, Ont. – They may be retired and they may go by the name GOATS but this group of ex-transportation professionals refuses to be put out to pasture.
The group acquired its name – Grumpy Old Administrators of Transportation Services (GOATS) – in 1992 when five founding members decided to hold monthly lunch meetings as an excuse to get together, drink beer and eat sandwiches, and keep in touch with friends from the industry.
Altogether these gentlemen GOATS have over 1,800 years of experience in the transportation sector – with each member having served an average 40 years in the industry, on land, at sea or in the sky.
Needless to say they’ve seen a lot of changes over the years.
“Any one of these guys will tell you that the transportation business today isn’t what it used to be,” said GOATS president, Gordon Bremner of Bremner Warehousing in Scarborough, Ont. Bremner doesn’t look his age (he’s 68 but he’s got a full head of brown hair) even though his surroundings do. The basement of the Canadian Legion in Etobicoke where the group meets is furnished with wooden chairs and long tables – nothing fancy – and not much on the walls, save a legion coat of arms over the table where they’re sitting.
Members drift into the room one by one, most pausing to buy a plastic wrapped sandwich and a can of beer at the counter positioned near the door.
But even though the decor is Spartan, the members appreciate having a gang of people to reminisce with, said Bremner.
“It’s nice to be able to meet up with the fellows we used to work with and tell lies,” laughed Don Hughes of Hughes Consulting Services in Mississauga, Ont., the secretary for GOATS and one of its liveliest members.
The meetings still go on the last Monday of every month and usually draw about 25 of the 45 members to the Canadian Legion in Etobicoke, Ont. for lunch and a chat.
Truck News attended a GOATS meeting on Oct. 25 to see what it was all about.
Bremner began the meeting, as he always does, with member announcements such as deaths, birthdays and any other special anniversaries. One subject of discussion (and a moment of silence) at this month’s meeting was the passing of member Charlie Randall (80 when he died) between this latest meeting and the last.
Also on the agenda were a number of socials and outings the group was organizing, including a Christmas party, trips to transportation-related outfits like the Downsview War Museum or the Beaches Seaman’s Club, and two annual golf tournaments.
GOATS also has an interest in education as members discussed raising money for a Humber College scholarship as well as tutoring and presentation opportunities.
“Proper education about the transportation sector provides a good foundation,” said Bremner. “Today a lot of people just aren’t educated enough about transportation in general, regardless of the mode they are interested in working with.”
After updating the group on this year’s Christmas party progress and telling a few jokes, the socializing began.
“When you’ve been in the business a long time, it gets into your skin,” said Bob Vernor, a jovial chap, who served in a number of roles within the industry for 48 years and still works today with U.S. Traffic in administration. “It’s nice to be part of a group like this because it gives us a sense of camaraderie, something that we all had when we were working full time.”
Vernor’s daughter, Karen Mianowski was also in attendance at the October meeting to keep this Truck News reporter company.
“I realized after we talked that you’d be sitting here all alone with a group full of men,” she said when she arrived.
Mianowski was brought up learning about the transportation industry and is currently an account manager for Midland Transport.
“I think it’s great that a group like this exists because it shows the longevity of the careers in our industry,” said Mianowski. “Many of these guys have had their entire career in the same industry and with young people today transportation has become a forgotten industry. So it’s nice to show how you can have a nice long career like my dad has had.”
GOATS members’ storied pasts suggest the transportation industry is quite small.
“Anyone who said they knew what they were getting into when they joined the transportation industry is lying,” said Don Hayles, the past president of the group and still a strong presence at the group. “We have so many ties to each other, in fact some of these guys even gave each other their starts in the transportation field.”
Strangely enough, said Bremner, the majority of the members made their start in the transportation field with one of the two major railways in Canada.
GOATS is always looking for new members, and the only requirements is that you be retired and have worked in the transportation field. For more information or to become a member, contact Don Hughes at (905) 279-9710.