MacKinnon, Southwestern to merge

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GUELPH, Ont. – Consider it a marriage that follows co-habitation – a seven-year hitch, if you will. MacKinnon Transport and Southwestern Express, which have shared a common facility since 1992, will officially merge as of Jan. 1.

The new entity will operate under the MacKinnon name.

MacKinnon Transport was established in 1929 and operates a fleet of flatbed trailers in central Canada and the north-central U.S. Southwestern Express, born in 1985, is a van-based operation that rolls throughout Canada and the U.S.

Evan MacKinnon will act as chief executive officer, with his father Bill as chairman. Ray Haight will be the president and chief operating officer. Jim Pinder will work in a newly created role as manager of fleet assets. But the company continues its search for the key role of operations manager.

“I think we’ll gain a lot of efficiencies,” says Haight, referring to advantages the companies have found as they draw ever closer. “It was a real us-them thing in the beginning.”

Southwestern would even rent trucks from Rentway while MacKinnon tractors may have been parked against the fence, he recalls. There were even separate Christmas parties.

“It’s very positive as for where we’re going to position the company,” says Evan MacKinnon.

Both fleets already have a high profile in Ontario, and Southwestern Express has won its second Division 2 safety award (for 5 to 15 million miles) from the U.S.-based Truckload Carriers Association. In 1997 it recorded a mere .97 accidents per million miles. That ratio dropped to .74 in 1998.

(“They’d never seen numbers that low,” Haight adds.)

But there are no plans to change the pay structures, which see MacKinnon truckers earning a percentage, and Southwestern drivers paid by the mile. n

Carriers honored in annual safety competition

TORONTO, Ont. – Once all of the judging was done, a trio of companies was selected to receive the prestigious 1999 Royal & SunAlliance National Fleet Safety Award.

TST Overland Express and Trimac Transportation Services tied for top honors in the more-than-18-million-miles category.

The award’s title sponsor said both fleets were recognized for their numerous and varied safety initiatives within their specific sectors of the industry.

Canadian Freightways was also a grand prize winner, capturing the 3-million-to-18-million-miles division. Royal & SunAlliance explains the company was selected because it extensively involves its drivers in safety initiatives as well as taking a leadership role in various industry-wide safety activities.

“The Canadian trucking industry takes the issue of safety seriously,” said Steve Hammond, of Royal & SunAlliance. He adds of the winning carriers, “They have all worked very seriously to improve the level of safety in the industry.”

Also recognized as finalists in this year’s competition were Cavalier Transportation Services and UPS Canada. n

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