MONTREAL, Que. - Jean Pisarski, of St. Bruno, Que., was the toast of Expocam, as he collected the prestigious 2001 Owner/Operator of the Year Award.Co-founding sponsors Cummins, Freightliner and Goody...
DYNAMIC DUO: Noella and Jean make a great team – he does the trucking, she does the books.
LONG HAUL: Pisarski and one of the many friends he made in Alaska.
MONTREAL, Que. – Jean Pisarski, of St. Bruno, Que., was the toast of Expocam, as he collected the prestigious 2001 Owner/Operator of the Year Award.
Co-founding sponsors Cummins, Freightliner and Goodyear joined with Truck News in making the presentation to the owner of Montarville Laser, Inc., who has racked up more than two million accident-free kilometres in his career. While this may not sound like much in the way of mileage, Crazy John – as he is known on the CB – has run every one of those clicks since turning 60 years old.
A full life and trucking, too
Born in Belgium, Pisarski immigrated to Canada at the age of 17 after WWII. Once here he studied hard and became an electrical engineer. This is when his entrepreneurial spirit first took root, inspiring him to open Montarville TV.
Pisarski owned and operated the television shop for more than four decades. When it came time to retire, Pisarski wasn’t ready to slow down just yet, so he got his licence and set out trucking.
A couple of years later and he bought his first rig. Today he owns a 1995 White GMC with a Volvo VED12, 425hp engine.
Pisarski typically hauls paper and magazines to Pennsylvania and the mid-western U.S., but does go everywhere from Florida to California.
If you ask him why he started investing in iron relatively late in life, you get the same answer as when you ask him why, in 1983, he hopped on his Ski-Doo and went 8,000km from Montreal to Fairbanks, Alaska.
“I love to travel,” he says.
For Pisarski, who is still working as he approaches 70 years of age, there is no doubt what life is all about: Family. Along the way, he fell in love with a beautiful young French Canadian girl, named Noella.
The two wed and together raised three children: two sons, Andre and Michel as well as a daughter, Danielle. With six grandchildren around, Pisarski has plenty of reasons not to push his miles too hard and take time to stop and enjoy life with his family.
“My boys are my best friends,” he beams. This is a point illustrated by the fact Andre, who became an owner/op at the same time as Jean, nominated his father for the award.
“We’ve had a running competition since he was nine and got his first Ski-Doo,” the sire of the Pisarski clan says chuckling. “Now he has to wait for me at all of the intersections so he doesn’t leave me behind.”
A word from the sponsors
Pisarski’s unusual career path certainly caught the imagination of everyone on hand for the ceremony. And the award’s key sponsors were no different.
“How could you run a successful business for so many years, retire and then go drive a truck?” questions Alasdair McNellan, the Canadian general manager of Cummins Diesel Canada.
Unspoken thoughts of, ‘I wonder whether I have what it takes to do that, will I have his energy and lust for life?’ whirled about the crowd.
“Freightliner Trucks salutes Jean, his wife Noella, their three children and six grandchildren, and all the owner/operators out there like him,” says John Cecconi, Freightliner’s Canadian vice-president. “He is a model for others to follow and we wish him every success in the coming years.”
It’s people like Pisarski who touch the lives of every Canadian in some shape or form, explains Stephan Marcoux, truck tire sales manager with Goodyear Canada. “It’s people like Jean who take road safety and the business of trucking seriously,” he adds. “And, it’s people like Jean who should be recognized for their efforts day-in and day-out.”
Contracted to Transport Mirald of Boucherville, Que. – a company with about 125 power units and inked to about 10 to 12 O/Os at any given time – Pisarski never fails to impress the fleet’s operations manager, Stephan Beliveau.
“He’s a model for all truck drivers to follow,” he explains. “He’s always very polite with customers and willing to fill in if we’re stuck with a load – even if it’s heading to Jersey.”
Beliveau insists it is Crazy John’s attitude that sets him apart from a lot of the folks in the industry.
“Never complains and loves being on the road,” he adds. “When he takes a vacation, he’ll get us to find him a load to Florida so he and his wife, Noella, can ride down together. A week or two later, we get them another one heading home.”
Don’t call him a hero
The ever-modest Pisarski once rescued a man in New York, but insists it’s not worth mentioning.
“He fell asleep at the wheel coming through the Catskills and rolled his car four or five times,” he says. “He was hanging upside-down from his seatbelt. I ripped the door out and pulled him out. No big deal.”
But in these days since the death of the White-Knights-of-the-Road image once enjoyed by truck drivers, is this truly, “just part of the job,” as he insists?
As part of the extensive prize package – including a diamond ring, a Registered Education Savings Plan and a host of other accolades, the 69-year-old owner/operator will get to take a luxurious trip for two to any destination of his choosing.
“My wife Noella and I will probably go to see Belgium one last time,” says the victorious O/O. “This is so wonderful to be chosen out of all Canadian owner/operators … Canadian truckers are the best in the world.” –