BANFF, Alta. - Take a gorgeous mountain setting, add nearly 180 participants, sprinkle liberally with information sessions, awards, networking and fine food, and you have the 2010 Alberta Motor Transp...
BANFF, Alta. –Take a gorgeous mountain setting, add nearly 180 participants, sprinkle liberally with information sessions, awards, networking and fine food, and you have the 2010 Alberta Motor Transport Association’s Management Conference at Banff’s Rimrock Resort Hotel.
And while the typical southern Alberta springtime may have thinned the crowd a little, it didn’t stop the event from going forward successfully.
“We were hoping for more (people),” admits Mayne Root, executive director of the Calgarybased organization, “and we actually had more registered, but the weather scared some people off.”
Root was referring to a major blast of Old Person Winter the day before the conference kicked off that wreaked havoc on southern Alberta highways, causing major angst for anyone trying to move around the region -though it also provided fodder for good-natured griping from those who braved the elements.
“It was too bad,” Root says, “because when you actually got to Banff it wasn’t bad at all.”
The annual affair has been held at the Rimrock since 2004 and Root reports that “Everybody had a good time, everybody was relatively well-behaved, and the events worked out well.”
The conference featured an address by Alberta’s Deputy Minister of Transportation, Gary Boddez, who outlined the province’s highway construction plans for 2010 and touched briefly on some industry issues -such as the Transportation Routing and Vehicle Information System (TRAVIS) project and onboard recorders -the province is either looking at or working on currently
Other events included a panel discussion on the 2010 engine standards populated by representatives from Volvo, Cummins, Detroit Diesel, International, Mack and Paccar.
The panel answered questions about what companies can expect in the way of cost, durability, warranties, and the training required to bring drivers up to speed with new technologies and methodologies. The upshot: more money, but not a lot more hassle.
A Saturday morning session from Markel Insurance outlined how companies can help minimize the impact of high-risk drivers on their operations (see pg. 8) and a casino night allowed the assembled multitude to lose their shirts virtually, thanks to copious amounts of funny money created for the occasion.
Speaking at Saturday’s luncheon, former Banff park warden and current motivational speaker Michael Kerr outlined the importance of humour in the workplace and, to howls of laughter from the audience, outlined many ways in which it can be accomplished both with and without funny hats and props.
Several awards were handed out over the course of the April 30-May 1 event, including the Service to the Industry Award which, as is the AMTA’s tradition, went to Richard Warnock as the outgoing president. The honour was sponsored by BFL Canada Insurance Services Inc.
Warnock, who in “civilian life” is president of Westfreight Systems of Calgary, has been in the trucking industry for 45 years and still keeps his Class 1 licence current. Once in a while, he even climbs up behind the wheel. He turns over the reins of the AMTA to Lethbridge Truck Terminals’ Dean Paisley.
Other honours bestowed over the weekend included the 2010 Associate Trades Award, sponsored by the AMTA, which went to Sherry Orr of BFL Canada, a national insurance brokerage and risk management firm. Orr was cited for, among other things, her devotion to and tireless support of the AMTA.
The 2010 Driver of the Year award, sponsored by Volvo Trucks Canada, went to Cornelius ‘Corny’ Wiebe, of Bison Transport who, it was said, may be winding down his wide-ranging career but who has been able to live his dream through that career.
Wiebe got the driving bug at 16, while still a schoolboy, as he ogled the magical gravel trucks passing by on the highway. His career took him to a variety of companies and even included a stint selling trucks.
The 2010 AMTA Historical Award, sponsored by the Alberta chapter of the ATHS, went to Canada Safeway’s long-time driver and safety manager George McLaine.
Though retired now, McLaine grew up in the industry in Prince Edward Island but, by 1974, was running between Edmonton and Calgary for Safeway. He retired in 2007, but still does some consulting (for Britain’s Clean Power Technologies) and volunteers for his church and the annual AMTA Truck Roadeo.
Don Chapman of Canadian Freightways was named 2010 Safety Person of the Year (sponsored by Bow Valley Insurance). He was credited with being intimately involved with such safety-related issues and initiatives as the Fatigue Management Study, the adoption of Canadian Freightway’s Certification of Recognition, its own PDIC presentation, the PIC standards committee, the Alberta and British Columbia LCV Task Force and the AMTA’s Collision Review committee.
An important part of the weekend was the AMTA’s Annual General Meeting at which a new Board of Directors was elected, mostly by acclamation.
A new board
Outgoing president Warnock kicked things off with a look back at an eventful year that saw the organization take up residence in a new building on Calgary’s southeast corner, and he reminded members they’re welcome to take advantage of the training facilities offered there. Warnock also thanked outgoing board members Jean Kipp and Trevor Fridfinnson for their hard work during their terms.
Past president Greg Sokil, as chair of the Nominating Committee, then presented the new board:
Dean Paisley, Lethbridge Truck Terminals -president
Richard Warnock, Westfreight Systems -past president
Carl Rosenau, Rosenau Transport -president-elect (acclaimed)
Darren Smith, Rosenau Transport -southern regional director (second year of two-year term)
Don Jackman, Envirosort Inc. -central regional director (acclaimed)
Ed Pierce, Capstan Hauling -northwest regional director (second year of two-year term)
Jo-Ann Gunn, Robyn’s Transportation -Calgary regional director (acclaimed)
Dan Duckering, Duckering’s Transport -Edmonton regional director (second year of two-year term)
Rod Shopland, Night Hawk Truck Lines -Northeast regional director (acclaimed)
Bob Hill, Hill Bros. Expressways -director at large (second year of two-year term)
Gene Orlick, Orlick’s Transport -director at large (second year of two-year term)
Greg Sokil, Sokil Express Lines -director at large (acclaimed)
Jeffrey Readhead, Canadian Freightways -director at large (acclaimed)
Upon taking the gavel from Warnock, incoming AMTA president Paisley kicked off the new year by outlining some of the organization’s upcoming challenges, including the need to find a new executive director to replace the retiring Mayne Root.
Search is on
“They’re going to be huge shoes to fill” he said as he recognized Root’s contributions and thanked him for “an excellent job.”
The announcement came as an apparent bombshell to many attendees, which Root found surprising when interviewed later.
“I thought I told people way back before Christmas,” he says, “but I guess it didn’t get out there as fast as bad news does.”
Root began with the AMTA as manager of compliance and regulatory affairs upon his retirement from the Calgary Police Service in 2002.
“I retired Jan. 4 and started this job on Jan. 7,” he says.
The biggest challenge Root says he faced over his eight years with the association was “To help re-establish the credibility and relevance of the association with government and our members,” something he says he and his staff have managed to accomplish, helping put the association in “a really good position.”
If he has any regrets about his time with the AMTA, Root says it’s “The lack of expertise I have in getting the message of (the AMTA’s) value across to the industry. I feel like I was inadequate in that area and still am to a degree.”
Luckily, he says, everything has worked out and the organizatio
n has come along well. “We’ve come a long way, but it would have been a lot quicker if I’d had more expertise in those areas,” he says.
There’ve been many changes to the industry during Root’s tenure as executive director. He cites the effect of amalgamations as one example.
“We have organizations made up of many companies now that were independent before and so there’s different challenges in dealing with that side of the business,” he says.
“And of course the economy, going from the boom to the bust certainly has changed the face of the industry in many ways, in the need for manpower, being able to maintain rates and those kinds of things.”
Once he hangs up his AMTA hat, Root says, he intends to keep busy with other things, perhaps including some contract work with the Calgary Police Service. He and his wife, Rosie, also want to do “some travelling, service for our church and other things.”
There’s no official final date set for Root’s last day behind the wheel of the AMTA.
“I gather it will be at the end of the year or early in the new year,” he says, “whenever we can make the transition so it works best for the organization.”