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Ontario Trucking Industry Celebrates Its Best At OTA Convention

TORONTO, Ont. - Luke Langlois, a driver with Kriska Transportation, was named the 2008 Ontario Truck Driver of the Year at the Ontario Trucking Association's annual convention Nov. 20.

TORONTO, Ont. –Luke Langlois, a driver with Kriska Transportation, was named the 2008 Ontario Truck Driver of the Year at the Ontario Trucking Association’s annual convention Nov. 20.

The driver, who has racked up two million collision-free miles in his 20- year driving career, was presented with the OTA/Volvo Trucks Canada Driver of the Year award during a luncheon. He received a trophy, a cash prize and a trip to the OTA convention.

“Truck driving is not a job; it’s a lifestyle,” an appreciative Langlois said. “Truck driving has provided me with a great life. It is an honour to encourage highway safety and treat people the way I would like to be treated. For me it’s about being happy, enjoying the journey and being the best you can be.”

“Luke Langlois exemplifies qualities of a professional truck driver both on and off the road,” added OTA president David Bradley. “It is a great honour to present him with this prestigious award in recognition of his achievement.”

In addition to his safe driving record, Langlois has helped out at accident scenes many times. Just this past January, Langlois helped rescue a driver from his rig after it was blown over onto its side on the Johnstown, Ont./Ogdensburg, N. Y. International Bridge during a wind storm. Langlois lives in Brockville, Ont., with his wife Claudia who also happens to drive team with him.

Dispatcher of the Year

Bill Temple of the Manitoulin Group was named the 2008 OTA/Shaw Tracking Dispatcher of the Year at the OTA convention.

“The award goes to a dispatcher who has demonstrated outstanding commitment to customer service, safety, driver well-being, courtesy, team work, problem solving and community service/volunteer work,” said Bradley. “Dispatchers perform a critical role in the supply chain and it is a pleasure to recognize one of the best.”

“Unlike any other program of its kind, the Dispatcher of the Year Award is a strong testament to hard work and dedication from the people who matter most -customers and fellow peers. The evaluation process of this award is based on ongoing commitment to customer service, safety, driver well being, courtesy, team work, problem solving, and community service/volunteer work,”added Mike Ham, vice-president business services, Shaw Tracking.

Temple has been dispatching trucks for Manitoulin for 30 years now. He began his career in trucking 38 years ago, loading trucks for JET Transport which was later purchased by Manitoulin Group. Currently, he dispatches loads to more than 100 drivers who haul to points throughout North America. Temple won a cash award as well as a plaque.

Service to the Industry

Meanwhile, industry veteran Vernon Erb, founder of the Erb Group of Companies, was presented with the Trailmobile Service to the Industry award.

The award is considered to be the highest honour bestowed on a trucking executive. Erb has been trucking since 1956 and purchased his first truck in 1959. He began by hauling everything from eggs to feed, eventually settling into hauling refrigerated cargo in 1965.

He developed key relationships with customers, which enabled Erb to grow the business in prosperous times and maintain his customers when times were tough, according to the OTA. Over 50 years, Erb grew the fleet from one truck to more than 700 power units and 900 trailers operating out of 10 terminals in Ontario, Quebec, Manitoba and Pennsylvania.

The OTA said Erb enjoyed taking his own company truck on runs with his wife, Viola. Over the years, Erb has won some prestigious awards, including: the 1991 Citizen of the Year Award for Community Service, Wilmot Township; the 1993 Governor General’s Commemorative Medal; the 2003 Colonel Robert Hardie Award of Lifetime Achievement from the OTA;as well as an induction into the Waterloo County Hall of Fame, which came in 2003.

Erb handed the reins of the company over to his son Wendell in 1999 and a third generation of Erbs now works at the fleet. These days, Erb can often be found working at his farm, which he initially left to pursue a career in trucking.

Canadian Truck Hero

Conrad Henry was named the Bridgestone Firestone Canadian Truck Hero at the OTA convention, for an act of bravery that saved another driver’s life.

Henry was presented with a $3,000 cheque as well as a trophy. Bridgestone Firestone will also make a $3,000 donation to the charity of Henry’s choice.

Henry came across a smoking vehicle on the side of the road near Munroe, Ohio on Oct. 6, 2007. He noticed a small flame underneath the vehicle and stopped to investigate.

The car quickly became engulfed in flames, so Henry called 911 and grabbed the fire extinguisher from his cab.

He was shocked to find a person still in the vehicle, slumped over the steering wheel.

Henry was able to pull the disoriented driver to safety despite the fire.

Police that responded to the scene told Henry his quick thinking probably saved the driver’s life.

“Truck drivers have a long history of heroic acts,” said Jim West, general manager, commercial products, Bridgestone Bandag Tire Solutions. “Since 1956, our company has made a commitment to honouring people like Mr. Henry who go to extraordinary measures to help a fellow motorist in distress. Stories like Conrad’s show what it takes to be a true hero.”

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