ETOBICOKE, Ont. - Jobs for life are rare in any industry. My dad worked 30 years for Massey-Ferguson, but my last three trucking jobs have ended suddenly: Eaton's went bankrupt and the other two fleet...
ETOBICOKE, Ont. – Jobs for life are rare in any industry. My dad worked 30 years for Massey-Ferguson, but my last three trucking jobs have ended suddenly: Eaton’s went bankrupt and the other two fleets I drove for both got the outsourcing bug.
For the last five years, I’ve been driving for a giant Canadian bakery out of an Etobicoke, Ont. distribution centre.
About 40 of us made pretty good coin and benefits, until last month, when we found ourselves staring at a termination notice.
The company was closing its transport division a month before Christmas (one of my colleagues had just clocked some 40 years driving time).
But truckers are nothing if not resilient. Ray St. Dennis, a fellow driver from Orangeville, Ont., met me at the fuel pumps one morning. “I’ve applied to two good companies, SLH and Canada Cartage,” he said. “I’m going with the first one that calls me.”
Another driver, Mark Habel of Mississauga, also found a P&D job quickly with an Ontario carrier after turning down a position with a large courier fleet.
“I asked them to tell me, honestly, how long before I get on the day shift? And they said 25 years. Well I haven’t got 25 years. My daughter is 16 now and I want to see her once in a while.”
Habel has the right approach – making a checklist of what you want is a good idea. You should select a job that suits your lifestyle rather than vice versa.
Among the questions you should consider: Do you prefer city or highway work, short or long haul, afternoons, nights or days? The current driver shortage means qualified drivers with a couple of years experience and a good driving record can pick and choose.
Perhaps this is the time to broaden your horizon and take on a new challenge like flat decks or some kind of specialized equipment. Car haulers, for instance, are still among the highest paid in the industry.
If you enjoy variety you might want to apply at a driver service. Some drivers prefer working at different contracts and enjoy the flexibility of agency work. Sometimes agency drivers accept long term assignments and are indistinguishable from company employees, except that their rate of pay might be different.
Usually, driver services pay your WSIB while charging a premium to the client for each hour you work. One driver I know went directly to the customer and asked to be paid the same premium as the agency. He got it, too. He now drives company equipment and invoices them at $25 per hour, while paying his own comp and taxes.
Trade magazines like Truck News and daily newspapers are good places to look for driving jobs. But don’t ignore the Internet as a job search tool. One site in particular, www.jobsintrucking.ca caters specifically to the trucking industry.
“Rather than going to someplace like Workopolis or Monster which have tens of thousands of listings, you can come directly to our site and find trucking-related jobs. Most are for drivers, but we have jobs for dispatchers and others,” said marketing coordinator Tamara Jong.
Jobs In Trucking gets thousands of hits a week, is affiliated with 109 other sites, and has an 800 number (1-866-562-7321). They will even help you with your resume, which you can post online for no charge. “You should be able to show them (a prospective employer) what you’ve been doing,” said Jong.
Driving jobs may be plentiful, but great jobs are less common. If you’re trying to get hired on with a particular employer, you should make yourself attractive to them.
A driver who has safe driver awards, first aid and defensive driver training is more enticing than one who doesn’t.
A forklift licence and related experience may also help you land a specific job.
Or you may stumble across a fabulous employment opportunity by accident, as Frank White did.
The Bradford, Ont. man was fed up with his last employer and was driving around his home town wondering if there were any good jobs locally.
“I saw this Service Star Freightways truck and I followed it to its terminal in Bradford. I wrote down the number, called them up and they hired me.”
Service Star Freightways has found a niche running freight from southern Ontario to West Coast Canada and the U.S.
The company specializes in loads to Denver, Col. and operates a small cross-docking facility in that city.
White drives a 2003 Freightliner Classic and couldn’t be happier. I caught up to him in Davenport, Iowa on his way to Brampton, Ont. with a load of pet food.
“Service Star has nice equipment and they’re not too big or impersonal,” said White.
“It’s a very open sort of place and you know everyone. Benefits start after three months which is important, too.”