Going for the ‘dogs

by Dean Askin

Ernie and I have reputations. I’m not talking about Ontario Premier Ernie Eves. I mean Ernie the hot dog guy, who has been selling ‘dogs and sausages to Ryerson University Journalism students for more than 20 years. Yep. He and his cart have been a fixture on the corner of Victoria and Gould streets since September 1982.

Me and some of my editorial colleagues first encountered Ernie in 1985, when we were all in J-school together. Faithfully, day after day we stopped by Ernie’s cart to grab a ‘dog on the run.

All of this came back to me recently. A few weeks ago, I had to stop by the Ryerson Book Store to pick up some reference books that are essential to an editor. I did a double take. There was Ernie under the umbrella of his hot dog cart on a bleak, chilly, rainy November morning. I couldn’t believe he was still there.

In a wave of nostalgia and adrenalin, I bought a hot dog from Ernie. It was getting close to lunch time, anyway. And so we chatted while I waited for my ‘dog, both of us remembering how so many of us from the Ryerson Journalism class of ’86 made a ritual out of lunching on Ernie’s ‘dogs. Ernie says his best customers are still Journalism and Business students.

Now, it’s not that Ernie’s dogs are any better or worse than those you can get at any other hot dog cart in downtown Toronto. It’s the experience of being one of Ernie’s customers that keeps you going back, even after 20 years. Ernie delivers service with a smile and a positive outlook on life and the world. Quite simply, Ernie makes you want to be a customer. He has built a business with longevity based on customer relationships, and he has a deserved reputation.

And how exactly does all of this relate to trucking? If you’ve built a successful operation that you’re proud of, you’ve probably done it – at least you should have – in part by building relationships. With everyone who plays a key role in your company’s success. Good relations breed loyalty to your company and therefore long-term mutual success.

Wait a minute, I said off the top that I have a reputation, too, didn’t I? I’ve always worked hard in my career to do the best that I can, and build really good working relationships with the people around me. I love what I do and yeah, I’ve won a couple of awards that I’m proud of, but I know having long-term, good relationships with some key players helped make me the new editor of this magazine (gulp).

I’m an honest kind of guy, so I’ll be honest and say that until diving into producing this month’s issue, my knowledge of trucking was pretty much limited to knowing that you need to be able to see the driver’s West Coast mirrors in order for him to see you. Although I do know about the tools and equipment that heavy-duty technicians need to keep trucks rolling and therefore trade moving, plus smoke meters, and diesel fuel system cleaning units. I spent nine years as a staff writer for an automotive aftermarket company.

Okay, I’m a writer/editor, not a trucker. But I learn fast. Let me put it this way: I learned a lot about lift axles in a few days, in preparing one of this month’s cover stories. And I’m still committed to developing those all-important relationships.

My goal is to not only carry on the reputation of Truck News with solid, accurate, interesting editorial content but also to build strong working relationships with you in the industry who play a vital role in the success of this magazine.

‘nough said…I made my point. I have a reputation for going long in my writing, sometimes, too.

– Dean Askin can be reached by phone at 416 442-2091 or by e-mail at daskin@trucknews.com.

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