It is in the nature of owner/operators to go it alone.It's the attitude of resilience, resourcefulness and indeed courage, marking the truly independent among the trucking professionals in this countr...
It is in the nature of owner/operators to go it alone.
It’s the attitude of resilience, resourcefulness and indeed courage, marking the truly independent among the trucking professionals in this country. Many operators know they could earn a comparatively good living as employee drivers, but still choose to take the hard way. However, taking the hard way doesn’t have to be the inefficient or unprofitable way, since profitability does not depend entirely on working longer or harder.
It really depends on working smarter. In today’s business environment change is rapid. Keeping up with that change is not always easy, but knowing the best practices will advance the profit margin for owner/operators all across Canada. These common business practices are the foundation for sound decision-making, which is crucial to the success of any endeavor. Owner/operators can minimize their exposure to financial risk if they have the proper tools and training to handle their businesses. They and their families contribute significantly to the modern industrial economy.
It’s because of them the Owner/Operator’s Business Association of Canada (OBAC) was formed.
The impetus to unite in OBAC took root in late 1999, early 2000, when the National Truckers Association (NTA) among other fledgling organizations and associations nation-wide, attempted to tackle the fuel price crisis and other industry related issues.
While these groups of truckers took aim at various issues affecting owner/operators and drivers, the process revealed the need for a unified national association for the owner/operator and driver community in order to deal with similar issues. Indeed an organization that might credibly speak as a single voice representing the more than 50,000 O/Os and 200,000 drivers all across Canada. Provincial and federal governments were approached for funding for such an initiative that would take the issues facing owner/operators and place them in a wider, national context. This plan recognized the fact trucking is part of a cross-country activity whose participants share many of the same concerns. If success were to be achieved on several key matters, then only a nationally recognized organization would have the credibility to speak with one voice in order to earn the respect of members of industry, government and the motoring public.
This past March, several dedicated individuals met to discuss incorporation of The Owner/Operators’ Business Association of Canada (OBAC), the first organization dedicated to the needs of trucking owner/operators and drivers across Canada. By agreeing to offer one-time start-up assistance to this fledgling effort, both Industry Canada and the Ontario Ministry of Enterprise, Opportunity and Innovation, have placed their support with the thousands of owner/operators across Canada who work largely without any back-up.
Although the motor carriers and shippers maintain associations to address their own issues, owner/operators have been reluctant to embrace a forum, which would discuss, debate and then advocate on their behalf. They have been disappointed too many times and so have earned the right to be suspicious of well-meaning advocates who promise them everything, but deliver very little.
It is OBAC’s intention to overcome this resistance by demonstrating the advantages of a common cause, non-confrontational approach to the issues facing the nation’s trucking sub-contractors.
Education is key
OBAC has identified several key areas where owner/operators could benefit from the association’s expertise. These can be divided into matters regarding business and financial issues, transport regulatory and compliance issues, operational decisions and public image concerns. Education is the key here.
OBAC has committed to taking a leadership role in providing opportunities for its members to have access to the most relevant information available to enhance not just their financial position, but also to widen their overall understanding. Issues such as the Multi-Jurisdictional Vehicle Tax, the International Registration Plan and the Workers’ Compensation Board all come to mind. OBAC will also conduct research and establish focus groups to investigate matters like the cost of insurance, the nature of the typical carrier-owner/operator contract, the implications of the ever-changing hours-of-service regulations, while highlighting the many opportunities that exist to form partnerships with groups within the industry sharing common goals and objectives.
OBAC believes recognition of apprentices in the trucking industry is a long overlooked aspect of the necessary training that every driver must undergo. Most owner/operators began their careers as company drivers and many company drivers cherish a dream to one day own their own trucks. With this in mind, OBAC will represent the interests of all drivers with a view toward those who eventually take that next step in their careers.
OBAC sees one of its largest roles as an advocate for the owner/operator community before government, industry and the media. Owner/operators generally have not fared well in promoting their interests. By establishing one voice which speaks for its members, despite their various individual activities, OBAC will succeed in one of its most important objectives: to make the owner/operator a force to be reckoned with, not just a resource to be used and then discarded when ‘the rush is over.’
OBAC will be establishing a Web site providing members and the general public with information about the association’s activities. An online presence is considered crucial. With the increasing reliance on electronic data transfer, more owner/operators access the Internet on a daily basis. OBAC intends to offer them a ‘go to’ site, which will display timely and relevant information, provide opportunities for online self-tutoring and establish links with government and industry sites.
In addition, a monthly newsletter is being established which will be available by subscription and at truck stops throughout Canada.
See you at the shows
OBAC’s initial presence will be at the two autumn truck shows, Truck World in Toronto and Truxpo in Abbottsford, B.C.
Owner/operators will have their first opportunity to meet OBAC representatives at these heavily attended events. It is expected that vigorous discussions will take place as truckers decide whether to throw their support behind this new national association.
OBAC is fortunate to have secured the enthusiastic services of a board of directors drawn from across the country and every part of the road transport community. These individuals are committed to establishing OBAC as the foremost group advocating on behalf of owner/operators in Canada. Through their efforts and with the growing participation of owner/operators and drivers, there will be added emphasis to OBAC’s motto: “On Your Own – But Not Alone!”
– A long-time owner/operator, Mike Smith is a member of OBAC’s board of directors. He can be reached at email@example.com.
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