Private fleets meet to learn and honour

by Bruce Richards

The 2013 annual conference of the Private Motor Truck Council of Canada, which took place in June, once again proved to be the single best educational and networking forum for the private trucking community.

The agenda featured knowledgeable speakers on a host of important topics, the PMTC awards for individuals and fleets, a well-attended exhibitors’ showcase, and, in a departure from the entertainment sessions of previous years, a dinner speaker that captured the attention of everyone.

PMTC members understand that one of the most important benefits derived from their membership is the opportunity to learn and to share information and ideas with other fleet operators. This conference provides those opportunities.

The exhibitors’ showcase was just one example of information sharing in an informal setting. Once again the exhibit space was filled with a wide variety of service providers with whom participants visited during specially arranged receptions.

The conference seminar program featured well informed speakers discussing important issues in the trucking community. A regular feature in the conference seminar program is the fleet operator panel, during which PMTC members discuss their approach to specific challenges, and take questions and comments from the assembly. This year’s topic was Driver Selection and Retention Programs that work, and our panel described their in-house programs and the successes they have achieved (see story, pg XX).

Keynote speaker, Meg Soper, delivered a customized motivational message combined with humour. She has used the experiences of her former life as an operating room nurse – a very stressful environment – to build a very successful speaking career. Those experiences taught her that laughter can be the best way to deal with everyday stress and she is adept at delivering both the motivation and the humour.

In addition to all of the above, this conference allows us the opportunity to honour and celebrate with their families some real professionals in the world of private trucking. The induction into the PMTC Hall of Fame for Professional Drivers, sponsored by Huron Services Group, is one such opportunity. The number of inductees is limited to four individuals each year, so given the number of exceptional drivers in PMTC member fleets those that are inducted are truly at the top of their game.

This year the committee selected four drivers for the Hall of Fame.

Jeff Foell is in his 26th year of accident-free driving for Patene Building Supplies in Guelph, Ontario. He has logged in excess of 2.5 million kilometres without any driving violations. His employers describe Jeff as an exceptional, dedicated, and safe driver and his record supports their view.

Michael Demone has been driving for Home Hardware Stores for 31 years and is based in Wetaskiwin, Alberta. He began driving professionally in 1971 and has travelled coast to coast to coast, accumulating over 6.5 million kilometres accident-free. His company sees him as a “great ambassador for Home Hardware Stores.”

James (Jimmy) Peters began working for Huron Services Group over 30 years ago and has driven over five million kilometres accident-free. Jimmy began his career with Dupont’s Quebec operations, and subsequently transferred to Ontario. He delivers bulk dangerous goods including hydrogen peroxide and corrosive acids.

Richard (Rick) Packham began driving for the John Deere fleet in 1992, and has hauled a wide variety of equipment through most of the continental United States and Canada. Over that time he has driven over five million kilometres as part of the Huron Services Group team servicing John Deere.

These four professionals represent some of the very best in Canada’s driving force, and are important contributors to the fleets for which they drive. PMTC is honoured to have inducted them into the PMTC Hall of Fame for Professional Drivers.

The Private Fleet Safety Awards, sponsored by Zurich, recognize excellent fleet performance over an extended period of time. Three PMTC fleets were recognized for their achievements in developing, implementing and maintaining stringent safety protocols.

The 2013 awards were presented to Praxair Canada, TDL Group, and Hensall District Cooperative.

Praxair has operated its private fleet for over 50 years, and it currently consists of over 100 power units and numerous specialty trailers running over nine million kilometres per year. The fleet distributes industrial, medical, and specialty gases in a variety of forms and containers, including cylinder, cryogenic tankers and bulk liquid.

The TDL Group has operated its private fleet for over 24 years. Currently there are 255 people attached to the fleet, which consists of 98 tractors and 192 trailers. Last year the fleet operated 13.5 million kilometres.

Hensall District Cooperative has operated a private fleet for 32 years. Although Hensall is an agricultural based cooperative the fleet is quite diverse, serving its 4,400 co-op members, a feed division and an energy division that delivers petroleum and propane based products.

The Hensall fleet consists of 60 tractors, 141 trailers and 54 straight trucks and accumulated just under six million kilometres in the past year.

Each of these award-winning fleets incorporates extensive pre-screening, background checks, personal interviews, and road tests into their hiring process. They also include in-house training, and mentoring programs, along with regularly schedule safety meetings. Each has a written safety manual that is kept current.

The PMTC’s first statement in its goals and objectives, written in 1977 and still applicable today, is to “Promote safety in private trucking,” and both the Hall of Fame and the Private Fleet Safety awards exemplify our commitment to those goals.

At the PMTC we are proud of the efforts of our association and grateful to the award sponsors that support safety in private trucking. And we are as proud of the recipients of these awards as they must be themselves.

Congratulations to all.

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