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Industry leaders, workers honored

TORONTO, Ont. - Each year, Ontario uses National Transportation Week to honor the men and women who keep Canada's primary economic engine running. At the 33rd Annual National Transportation Week Ontar...


TORONTO, Ont. – Each year, Ontario uses National Transportation Week to honor the men and women who keep Canada’s primary economic engine running. At the 33rd Annual National Transportation Week Ontario Awards, a large part of this group of outstanding individuals who earn their living in the trucking industry were recognized. Master of ceremonies Mike Filey, a Toronto Sun columnist, made the presentations.

The newly created Al Palladini Transportation Person of the Year Award, eyed as the top honor of the ceremony, went to Challenger Motor Freight’s president, Dan Einwechter.

Recognized for his role as a tireless advocate for the industry having served as past chairman for both the Ontario Trucking Association as well as the Canadian Trucking Alliance, Einwechter started Challenger Motor Freight with no trucks at the age of 20. Armed with a pager and a handful of rented trucks, his company grew into its present size of 900 power units and 2,300 trailers and operates four terminals across Canada.

“I actually had an opportunity to work with him (Al Palladini) on more than one occasion on some industry issues,” says Einwechter.

“For me it is a special moment to get this first ever award.”

Driver John Goodings of J.D. Smith and Sons was given the Truck Hero Award for his part in saving the life of a woman injured in a collision on Hwy. 7 near Vaughan, Ont.

“He witnessed a collision occur between two cars on the road ahead of his vehicle,” explains Filey. “John stabilized one of the victims and performed first aid until the emergency services arrived. He was credited with saving the life of the woman.”

Every year the Colonel Robert Hardie Award is presented to Canadian business leaders whose careers reflect constant dedication to the field of transportation and include significant contributions to the industry. This year four individuals were deemed deserving of the honor.

Trucking executive Peter Lobraico, president and chief executive officer (CEO) of OK Transportation was recognized for his more than 30 years of dedication to the industry.

Lobraico joined OK Transportation, a company founded by his grandfather in 1919, in 1969 at the age of 19.

“Peter has always downplayed his role in the company, always giving credit to the team for its success.

“His fairness and honesty have won him the respect of all members of the OK team as well as suppliers, industry peers and the community,” says Debra Rose, director of organizational development at OK Transportation.

Roy Curran, president of Roy Curran Transport, made his way into the trucking industry at the tender age of 10 when he would often drive trucks (always accompanied by his father) on job sites with the family business.

He bought his first truck in 1952 and added a second a year later.

“He started Roy Curran Transport with one pumper truck and two drivers – himself and his younger brother,” explains Filey.

Today Curran has 14 trucks, 26 drivers as well as an office staff of eight.

He was recognized for his more than 50-year contribution to the industry.

Doug Smith, chairman and CEO of Manitoulin Transport purchased his parents’ business, Smith’s Wholesale (Manitoulin) Ltd., a wholesale grocery business running between the Island and Toronto.

After buying them out, he changed the name to Manitoulin Transport and started carrying a wide range of commodities.

“Over the last 40 years Doug has grown the company into one of the industry’s most prominent LTL carriers with more terminal locations than any other carrier in Canada,” says Filey.

Smith was awarded for his more than 40 years of service.

Trucking pioneer, Ron Guest, owner of Inter-County Milk Transport gave more than 70 years of his life to trucking and also received the award for lifetime achievement.

“He began his career in the trucking industry in, get this, 1929,” explains Filey.

“He began hauling ice and coal with a 1921 Model T Ford. The truck had to be started with a hand crank and could only carry two-and-a-half tonnes.”

After moving to Arthur, Ont. in 1946, he launched Inter-County Milk Transport Ltd. – today the fleet consists of a combination of vans, flatbeds, dumps, walking floors and tankers with milk transportation accounting for more than 50 per cent of its business.

The recent recipient of the Volvo Fleet Maintenance Manager of the Year award, Bill Dinino of OK Transport, was named Freight Transportation Employee of the Year for demonstrating an outstanding commitment to his profession and enhancing the company and industry he has worked for, for the past 39 years.

The Ontario Airbrake Endorsement Program, which the OTA played a key role in developing, was selected as the Transportation Program of the year.

Both the OTA and the Ontario Ministry of Transportation worked closely together to develop the new 12-hour air brake course, a new Official Air Brake Handbook and new knowledge-based and practical tests.

The OTA also received an award of excellence for its Career Highways video series.

The 11-video set is part of a campaign to encourage young people to consider a career in the trucking industry.

The in-depth series includes an overview of trucking as well as profiles of specific jobs. The series is rounded off with a music video dispelling the myths about the industry. Additional information for teachers and guidance counselors is also included in the activity guide.

“The OTA has made the video series available to Ontario secondary schools throughout the province at no cost,” explains Filey. Rebecka Torn, manager of communications for the OTA, accepted the award.


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