BANFF, Alta. - With more than a century combined of dedication to trucking, Ernie Figol and Al Foder were recognized by the Alberta Motor Transport Association (AMTA) for their decades of hard work....
BANFF, Alta. – With more than a century combined of dedication to trucking, Ernie Figol and Al Foder were recognized by the Alberta Motor Transport Association (AMTA) for their decades of hard work.
The two industry veterans were recognized with the Golden Achievement Award, which honours individuals with 50 or more years in the industry.
Figol first attempted to gain his Class 1 licence when he was just 15 years old. After being turned away for being too young, he returned a week later and convinced the officials he was 16.
In 1956 he attended the University of Alberta and graduated with a degree in engineering before returning back to the fold of his father’s trucking operation.
“I was born into the trucking industry, my father started his company in 1928,” explained Figol.
His father went on to sell the trucking operation in 1977, but Figol regained control of the company in the 1980s as the sole shareholder. Figol spent time as director of the original AMTA during the 1970s and remained involved with the organization for a 30-year span.
Foder began his journey in Alberta’s trucking industry by establishing Coaldale Transport in 1955. He sold the company in 1966 and worked as an owner/operator for a few years before buying into H&R Transport in 1972. He now serves as chairman of the company; but with his sons now serving in senior administration roles he plans on taking it a bit easier.
“It’s been quite a journey no question about it,” he told the crowd. “We do run at a rapid pace and technology changes are all around us. What will continue in the next 50 years, will only get better.”
Foder took the opportunity to thank his wife Alice and recognize constant support of his whole family.
Even with his extensive tenure in the industry he’s not ready to walk away just yet.
“Yogi Berra says it ain’t over ’til it’s over; and I hope it’s never over with,” he concluded.
The two were presented with their awards during the AMTA management conference on April 22 in Banff. During the weekend the AMTA took the time to pay homage to a number of other individuals worthy of recognition.
Safety Person of the Year
Henry Ridders of Gibson Energy (Canwest Propane) was recognized as the Safety Person of the Year, sponsored by Bow Valley Insurance Services.
Ridders comes from a family of truck drivers, but health issues forced him from the driving job he loved. Still wanting to stay close to the job he left behind, Ridders took up safety as a career and has since turned down management positions to stay close to the action.
He has spent time on numerous safety committees with the AMTA and co-chaired regional safety councils. Ridders is currently assisting in developing a load securement course for the Propane Gas Association of Canada.
“It’s nice to look back on your work and see that you’ve made a difference,” said Ridders after accepting the award.
Once while travelling in Saskatchewan, Ridders came across an accident between a truck and a car; without regard for his own safety he pulled a lady from the car and sustained burns himself.
“I am very honoured to get this award and am almost speechless,” he said. “It came from peers and employers which makes it so special to me.”
Driver of the Year
Ivan McIntosh of Rainbow Transport was rewarded as Driver of the Year, sponsored by Volvo Trucks.
McIntosh hauled his first commercial mile at 16 years of age and in his 51-year career he was never involved in a chargeable accident.
He retired from driving for a brief time, but returned to his spot behind the wheel this winter to help his former employer at Rainbow Transport.
Rainbow’s vice-president Wayne Schneider says the hard working Ivan is every employer’s dream driver with his over-the-road work, city work and paperwork, while always keeping safety at the top of his list.
McIntosh credits his exemplary safety record to always staying calm behind the wheel and not getting upset while driving his truck. Over the years McIntosh has driven for a number of different carriers and also spent time as an owner/operator.
“It’s a great honour to be standing here tonight,” he said tearfully, after accepting the award. “I’d like to thank the AMTA for choosing me for this prestigious award and also thank my wife and children.”
In his spare time, McIntosh enjoys camping, hunting and updating his stamp and coin collections.
Service to the Industry Award
The Trailmobile Canada Service to the Industry Award was presented to Wayne Pedersen of Pedersen Transport.
Traditionally, the Service to the Industry Award goes to an individual who claims he or she is not deserving of this very special recognition and that was the case again this year.
Upon hearing he was the 2006 honouree, Pedersen said he was humbled and added, “There are so many people out there doing wonderful work who go unrecognized. Why single me out?”
As a grade one student 40 years ago, Pedersen spent countless hours hanging around the dock of his family’s trucking operation. He would pass the time talking to drivers, loaders, dispatchers and anyone else who loved the place as much as he did.
Around the dinner table the conversation often turned to trucking and the industry soon seeped into the young man’s bloodstream.
Pedersen invariably moved into the family business and after serving in different capacities took on an ownership role. Today he remains co-owner of Pedersen Transport alongside his cousin Troy Pedersen.
Very early on in his career Pedersen became involved with the AMTA, when it was still the Alberta Trucking Association.
It is a lesson he learned from his father who believed in personal and professional growth, as well as strength in numbers.
As the new millennium neared, Pedersen sat on Task Force 2000, a committee charged with the task of looking where the provincial association had come from, where it was at the time and where it should be going. From that year-long exercise, the AMTA was created.
Pedersen credits his parents for teaching him about not only trucking, but also about living and treating people the way he wanted to be treated.
He also credits his partner Troy and all the staff of Pedersen Transport with working extra hard to enable him to commit to his AMTA duties.
“One person can not take full credit, there are many people behind him helping them do all the things they are able to do,” Pedersen said upon accepting the honour.
Many of the people Pedersen credited for his success were his family. Most notably he thanked his wife of more than 20 years, Teresa and his four children.
Dispatcher of the Year
Doug McDowell of McMillan Transport was awarded with the inaugural Dispatcher of the Year Award, sponsored by Cancom Tracking.
The dispatcher began his career with McMillan in the late 1950s as a driver, but soon moved into dispatch where he has been working for more than 40 years. McDowell believes his success is the result of the people around him, which includes the management team, the drivers, the maintenance department and the customers.
Rod McMillan of the transport company said that McDowell is excellent at what he does and is an instrumental cog in the wheel.
“Many of the company drivers say they were raised by Doug,” said McMillan. “Doug has been talking retirement lately, but thankfully for the company’s sake I find I’m getting hard of hearing. We don’t want him to go anywhere.”
McDowell humbly accepted his award in front of the breakfast crowd and thanked the AMTA, his family and McMillan for keeping him around for all these years.
This year’s recipient of the General Motors Historical Award went to Bill Sokil of the Sokil Group.
Sokil has spent his entire working career in the trucking business, which began in 1949 in Edmonton. Over the years he turned a two-truck operation into an established group of transportation companies.
In 1954 he joined the AMTA and chaired a number of committees before being elected as president in 1971. In 1979 he served a second term as the AMTA president before moving on to the national stage, serving as president of the Canadian Trucking Alliance in 1995.
Sokil said the formula to his success was to treat people well, whether they are employees or customers, and that is how they will treat you in return.
Sokil is no stranger to being recognized for his dedication.
He was presented with the Service to the Industry Award in 1972 and again in 1995.
And in 1994 he was chosen as Northern Alberta’s Transportation Man of the Year.
As well as his extensive work throughout the trucking industry, Sokil made sure to give back to his community over the years.
He has worked with Edmonton’s Crime Stoppers and served as a member of Edmonton Economic Development’s transportation committee.
He also sat on the Urban Transportation Committee and the Heavy Industrial Transportation Committee as a member of the Edmonton Chamber of Commerce.
Upon his acceptance of the award, Sokil stressed the importance of family throughout his life recognizing his business partner and brother, Russell; his sons Greg and Rob, who are carving out their own paths as leaders of the industry; and his wife of 52 years who recently passed away.
Associate Trades Award
Bill Davidson of Advance Engineered Products was presented with the AMTA’s Associate Trades Award.
Davidson began his career as the person in charge of the Great West Transport shop in Winnipeg. But his dream was to work in the area of transportation refrigeration, so he resigned his post and enrolled at the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology in Calgary.
Upon graduation Davidson spent the next 18 years with Thermo King, before moving into trailer sales with Advance Engineered Products, where he has spent the past 13 years.
Davidson at one time sat on the Apprenticeship Board for the Transport Refrigeration Association and began his involvement with the AMTA about 20 years ago.
Since that time he has devoted countless hours to truck roadeos, annual golf tournaments and the Calgary Draw Down Dinner.
Davidson emphasizes the importance of teamwork in these projects, knowing nobody can do it all and everyone has to pull together despite being busy at their jobs.
Bill noted his efforts over the years wouldn’t be possible without the others that sit with him around the committee tables.
When asked why he gives so much of himself, his answer is brief and to the point.
“It’s the industry I work in, it’s only right that I give something back.”