SMALL TRUCK, BIG DREAMS: Jacques Auger proudly displays a miniature Kenworth W900L that’s been put to work for a good cause -raising money to help kids with cancer.
LAURIER STATION, Que. – Five years ago, Jacques Auger, president and founding owner of Transport Jacques Auger had an employee who lost his son to leukemia.
Auger wanted to show his support for the employee and he also wanted to build a mini-truck for a local parade in Laurier Station. By combining these two dreams he succeeded, with the help of friends and sponsors, in creating a one-of-a-kind, 29-foot drivable replica of a Kenworth W900L tanker which has since allowed him to raise $225,000 for the Leucan Fondation.
“At the beginning we (Auger and his longtime buddy Donald Gingras) were building the truck for a local parade in Laurier Station where I live,” explains Auger. “It was just going to be a golf cart with a hood on it. But then we realized we could use it to raise money to support research and families of children with leukemia, which made us want to do a much better job of it.”
What began as a project in his home truck garage in March 2007 was completed in September 2008 for a total cost $130,000 and 2,000 man hours, says Auger. The engine, a Cummins A 1700 37 HP 1.7L, normally used for generators, was donated by Cummins Eastern Canada division.
The four-axle tanker trailer was built and donated by Remtec. And the suspension and cab, including fully-operational hood, windows, doors and windshield with wipers, was built and assembled in Auger’s home truck garage, where he parked his trucks during the early days of his business.
“I had a neighbour with the machinery to make the wheels, and we built the mould for the fibreglass cab, then applied the layers of fibreglass and finished it in my garage,” says Auger, who paid many of those who worked on the project.
The mini-truck is a one-of-a-kind replica, says Auger, adding he has yet to discover anything similar.
“I’m getting a lot of requests to build another one but there’s no way I’m doing this again,” jokes the veteran trucker, who incorporated in 1986 with one truck and two employees (including his wife, who worked in the office) and rapidly expanded, acquiring petroleum hauling contracts (the mini-truck is a replica of one of Auger’s own tankers) and other companies along the way.
A team effort
Auger attributes much of the truck’s construction to the generosity of suppliers such as Cummins and Remtec, as well as the genius of the people who helped build it. Much buzz was created in Auger’s small community as the truck neared completion, “in fact a lot of people saw it as it was being built,” recalls Auger.
Still, the unveiling of the vehicle at the company’s annual truck ride event in September 2008, was a smash.
“People just couldn’t believe it,” says Auger, who has refused, so far to let anyone but himself and Gingras drive the truck (it goes 65 km/h). “No speed limiters on this truck,”Auger jokes.
The veteran trucker is understandably possessive of the replica and would refuse any offer to purchase it, although he has allowed prominent Quebec trucker Claude Robert to display it in his truck museum.
“That thing is going into the grave with me,”Auger jokes, while admitting he may leave the replica to his son, 19, who is currently learning the trucking business from his father. (There’s a long tradition of trucking in Auger’s family -his father was a gravel hauler).
In the meantime, Auger has plans to raise even more money for childhood leukemia at his company’s sixth fundraising ride in the parking lot of Les Galeries de la Capitale in Quebec City, on Saturday, Sept. 12, from 9 a. m. to 4 p. m. (To make a donation or to sponsor the event, visit www.tja.ca.Sponsorships are available for $5,000, $2,500 and $1,000. Top dollar will get you a logo on the mini-truck’s trailer for a year).
The event offers truck rides to children and their families and will showcase the mini-tanker. “The kids just love the replica and so do their parents,” says Auger, adding he aims to raise $80,000 this year at the very least. (Last year’s event raised nearly $66,500 bringing the five-year total to $225,000).
For those unable to make it out to see the truck in Quebec, Auger may just end up bringing it to Ontario.
“It’s not comfortable enough to drive from here to Toronto,” Auger admits. “But I may be able to get it to Fergus.”
And as for further add-ons to the replica, Auger says he and his buddies are working on getting the tank to dispense drinks.
“We’re looking at making the tank capable of dispensing lemonade. Maybe we’ll even do beer,” says Auger. You can almost hear him winking over the phone.