Ten years. Wow. Where does the time go? My 10-year anniversary at Truck News would have come and gone unnoticed had I not received the unexpected certificate and the bonus week of vacation.
When the reward crossed my desk March 1, I took some time to reflect on my first decade covering the Canadian trucking industry. My first assignment, as a freelancer living in Calgary, concerned the humane transport of livestock, an issue that’s become significant to me in subsequent years. As a keener, I decided the best way to get a captivating photo was to crawl up into the hog trailer and take photos from within as it was being loaded.
As the driver opened the gates, I was suddenly rushed by not one or two, but an entire herd of toothy porkers and I found myself in a rather precarious position as I madly clicked photos (on my camera that used real film, if you can believe that). ‘This,’ I thought at the time, ‘could be a rather unceremonious end to my truck writing career before it even begins, not to mention an incredibly ridiculous way to die.’ Pigs look more menacing when they’re charging at you and you are crouched at their eye level with no means of escape. But fortunately, no harm came of me, and I’m still writing about the diverse world of truck transportation today. Really, I can’t imagine doing anything else.
This industry is constantly evolving and is never boring. Les Wakeling, this year’s Canadian Fleet Maintenance Manager of the Year, says in this month’s cover story that ‘When you like equipment, it’s not a job.’
I feel the same holds true for those of us writing about the profession as for those who are turning the wrenches. The other thing that makes this industry so compelling to be a part of are the people; people like Les, whose forward thinking and philosophical approach to truck maintenance flies in the face of public perception that this is an industry that is slow to evolve and technologically retarded.
Of course, my own 10 years in the truck reporting biz is barely noteworthy in an industry that is comprised mostly of veterans who have diesel running through their veins, some since before I was born.
The Canadian Fleet Maintenance Seminar itself celebrated its 48th year in May and many of the folks who attended the first of those seminars were there once again this year. The CFMS is a Canadian institution that struggles to stay relevant, as information has become so readily available in the Google age. What Google can’t replace, however, is the face-to-face interaction that takes place at events such as CFMS. Some get it. Others don’t.
Former Fleet Maintenance Manager of the Year Jim Riddle passed the mic around the Open Forum session at CFMS so attendees could share what keeps them coming back. Everyone who was there gets it. The challenge is reaching out to those who don’t. As an industry, we need to embrace the events that have played such a crucial role in the evolution of the trucking industry throughout the years.
Maybe Les said it best when he accepted his award: “I think even though the Internet has brought a lot of good tools, we’ve lost the ability to network with people,” he lamented. “This is a tremendous place to come. Even though technology is good, I hope we don’t forget to come to functions like this and meet face to face.”
I do too. And I say that as one who makes a living providing information in print and electronic formats.
One final note on CFMS. Thanks to our good friend Bruce Outridge for providing the cartoon images of Kathy Penner, Doug Copeland and myself that we’ve incorporated into this month’s issue. I can only speak for myself when I say, I think it’s an improvement!