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Private Links: You Really Should Have Been There

If for some reason you didn't make it to the 2004 Annual Conference of the Private Motor Truck Council of Canada in Niagara-on-the-Lake in June you missed a very educational event. The accolades from attendees keep coming in (and we love to get th...

If for some reason you didn’t make it to the 2004 Annual Conference of the Private Motor Truck Council of Canada in Niagara-on-the-Lake in June you missed a very educational event. The accolades from attendees keep coming in (and we love to get them).

The guest speakers were a very polished and professional group, and the fact that the seminar rooms were full confirms that the AGM Committee did a great job with the selection of topics.

That particular committee devotes a lot of volunteer time to discussing and selecting topics that they believe fleet managers and industry suppliers will find of interest. And they are the experts – all directly involved with fleet operations.Then we find the best available speakers on the chosen topics.

The subject matter is often quite varied – geared towards management concepts that are moving the art of fleet management forward, but also dealing with issues facing operators in the here and now.

This year’s topics maintained that philosophy and the speakers delivered messages that commanded audience attention.

Roy Craigen of Transcom led off on the subject of building a professional driver team and his comments garnered support from everyone in the room. Roy has extensive experience with developing drivers and is currently the chair of the Canadian Trucking Human Resources Council, so it’s easy to see where his heart lies.

Roy’s presentation has been delivered in a number of western Canada venues and within minutes we were able to see why it is so popular. He delves into the philosophy of respect for drivers, offering encouragement, and working with them to ensure that both the company and the drivers benefit from the working relationship.

One of the 2004 inductees to the PMTC – Cancom Tracking Hall of Fame for Professional Drivers happened to be in the audience and he was a vocal and enthusiastic supporter of Roy’s ideas. Positive feedback is common for our speakers – simply because they know what they’re talking about and communicate clearly.

Next up, Jim McKay of Praxair Canada and Jim McSheffrey of 3M Canada explained the Six Sigma philosophy and how one private fleet gained some significant competitive advantages by implementing the program.

Their enthusiasm for their topic was pervasive.

Many people in the room were unfamiliar with Six Sigma but were converts by the end of the presentation because, in part, it went beyond the philosophy and explained how it delivered benefits to a private fleet operation.

Dawn Stevely and Glenda Prudhom from Ontario’s Ministry of Transportation did a fine job explaining the new Hours of Service and Trip Inspection rules before breakfast on Friday. Both subjects directly affect fleet operations and our practice of providing the Ministry with the opportunity to explain and answer questions continues to work.

It is the most practical way for us to ensure that fleet operators are kept informed. We also took a little break from the hotel and visited the nearby John Deere parts distribution facility. This tour gave us a glimpse of a well-run distribution centre and a private fleet that is a critical component of the John Deere business.

Harry J. Haney III, associate director transportation operations for Kraft Foods came in from Wisconsin as a special guest speaker and provided some interesting views on how the private fleet fits into Kraft’s corporate strategy. Harry has extensive transportation experience so his views on the role of private fleets and his thoughts on the future were well-received.

And the awards luncheon, with audio/visual handled by 3M Canada’s team of experts was everything we’ve come to expect. There were the private fleet safety awards sponsored by Zurich North America Canada, the four inductees to the Cancom Tracking Hall of Fame for Professional Drivers, and of course the 19th annual Vehicle Graphics Design Awards sponsored by 3M Canada. You can see some photos of the event including the recipients of the different awards by visiting

Conferences such as this one, hosted by associations that are dedicated to the trucking community are the most worthwhile and cost-effective educational events that fleet managers and industry suppliers can attend. Scheduling the time for education and meeting other fleet and industry professionals should be part of any transportation manager’s job description.

If you weren’t there you might ask yourself ‘why not?’ You should also consider making a point to be with us in 2005.

– The Private Motor Truck Council of Canada is the only national association dedicated to the private trucking community. This column presents opinions on trucking issues from the perspective of private carriers. Comments can be addressed to

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