Having a corporate executive claiming that the classic-style conventional truck is “dead and gone” is really no surprise. Apparently that executive doesn’t realize that the classic-style conventional truck, to a professional driver, can be equated to the corner office of the corporate executive. That big office certainly is not as “efficient” as a small cubicle, but it does incentivize and motivate, as does the classic-style conventional truck.
The “efficiency” argument against long, tall trucks is usually measured in terms of mpg. Now, certainly in the hands of an unskilled driver, those trucks can be real fuel-guzzlers, but operated by a seasoned professional, that argument loses a lot of merit. But just like the corner office, efficiency does not have to be their greatest asset.
The classic-style conventional truck has been an industry icon for decades. It’s an image that children dream about, it’s what old professionals brag about, and it has been a targeted goal of new drivers and owner/operators. Those classy trucks were the reward of excellence to the professional driver during a time when cabovers dominated the industry. Traditionally, becoming a profitable owner/operator driving a classic-style conventional truck was the pinnacle of success, and the top of the ladder for the professional driver.
Tragically, that ladder was inverted during an industrial growth period that began in the mid-90s and continued through to about 2006. It was a decade or so that was focused on aggressive recruitment. Transport companies started offering preferential runs and classic-style conventional trucks, no longer as rewards, but as enticements to attract new hires. Unfortunately, that strategy also hijacked the incentive that motivated the driver to become a professional.
Imagine a corporate office that has everyone from the clerical staff right up to the CEO, all working for the same rate of pay and functioning out of the same sized cubicle. Arguably, that might be “efficient” but certainly not attractive, and yet that is what a driving career has become these days. It’s a flat line with no ladder to climb and very little incentive to improve. Drivers are all paid the same, and incentive bonuses are subjective at best and they neither elevate nor motivate. Little wonder that morale has been tossed out the window like those little bottles that litter the landscape nowadays.
Those big shiny classic-style trucks are nearly the single remaining source of pride for an occupation that is faced with ever increasing condescension. So, are those “big fancy trucks” dead and gone? I hope not, but if they are, so is the incentive and pride of the professional driver. Ironically, their fate is being determined by corporate executives in “big fancy” corner offices.
Peter Rintoul Via e-mail
Truck News is Canada's leading trucking newspaper - news and information for trucking companies, owner/operators, truck drivers and logistics professionals working in the Canadian trucking industry. All posts by Truck News