Autumn is a special time for the Canadian trucking industry. The season kicks off with two of the industry’s key national events – the National Truck Driving Championships and National Trucking Week.
That is followed up by several important events including a number of association conventions.
In some parts of the country, economic conditions are such that it may seem like there is little to celebrate this year, but perhaps a change in the season will also bring a change in prospects.
Every challenge presents opportunities.
And, as we know full well in the trucking industry there is never a shortage of challenges.
You have to look for the opportunities and stay positive.
For me, there are and always will be lots of positives and lots to celebrate.
Here are some of the things that I love about trucking:
Tenacious: Is there an industry whose people are more tenacious or work harder?
I don’t know of one. When the times get tough, this industry shows its true mettle.
Resilient: Few industries are as susceptible to the winds that blow through the economy.
Think about it. The dollar. High fuel prices. Tightening credit. Stagnant demand. Capacity and balance issues.
Changing international supply chains.
While the road may be rocky and while the risks are sometimes significant, this is an industry of survivors.
Underdog: It can seem like the cards are always stacked against truckers. Think how many times over the past couple of decades some people have been prepared to write-off the Canadian trucking industry.
There is always someone (competitor, shipper, supplier, government) bigger and more powerful, but trucking always seems to win at the end of the day.
Competitive: If there is an industry more competitive than trucking, I’d like to know exactly what it is.
With such low concentration and low barriers to entry, this industry is a case study in textbook 101 competition.
As an association person I am always struck by how cut-throat competitors can still come together through their associations and work towards common goals.
I can tell you this doesn’t happen nearly to the same extent in associations where there are only a few major players.
Knights of the Road: Okay, it’s not the 50s or 60s, and there are lots of reasons why it’s not always feasible or safe to stop and help by the side of the road anymore. And, there are some drivers who give everyone a black eye.
But, for all the criticism that is thrown their way, there is no class of driver or vehicle that is as safe, responsible, skilled and productive than the Canadian truck driver and the Canadian fleet of heavy vehicles.
They are the best.
Innovative: To the ill-informed, trucking is as simple as moving goods from A to B. But to those of us in the industry we know it’s much more than that.
Even with some of the restrictive regulations that the industry must comply with, (ie. vehicle configurations, systems or strategies) some of the most innovative people in Canadian business are found in the trucking industry.
No job too tough: This is an industry that gets it done. That’s the bottom line. Trucking is the definition of service.
Go for it: Trucking is one of the last great bastions of Canadian entrepreneurship.
This is not an industry for the timid or feint-hearted. What’s more this is an industry where if you’re going to do it, do it right – the first time and every time. Spare no effort.
It is often said that the trucking industry is an easy one to get into, and a hard one to get out of. That once you are in, there may be easier ways to make a living, but the diesel fuel gets in your blood.
That may be true, but for me it’s the people that make this industry what it is and why so many of us want to work nowhere else than in trucking.
– David Bradley is president of the Ontario Trucking Association and chief executive officer of the Canadian Trucking Alliance.