MISSISSAUGA, Ont. — Jason Makin is just another good Kingston boy.
Nine years ago, after a career as a technician with the Canadian Forces followed by some time at Toyota Motor Company, Makin and his wife decided to return to their hometown in Eastern Ontario. He took a job as the fleet maintenance manager with Cruickshank Construction.
Nearly a decade later Makin is the Volvo Fleet Maintenance Manager of the Year for 2018. Makin made the drive to the Canadian Fleet Maintenance Summit (CFMS) to be presented with the award.
Although Makin knew he was nominated for the honor, the award was meant to be a surprise to its winner until the moment his named was announced. When he reached the stage, Makin said he was suspicious when he saw his son – also a technician – at CFMS, but also seeing his wife was a dead giveaway.
The die-hard Leafs fan says it was a learning curve returning to truck maintenance on the Cruickshank fleet after spending years at the Toyota plant, but he says he wouldn’t do anything else.
Makin says it’s the people that make the difference for him every day, but it’s Makin that makes the difference for those around him.
Leading by example and with his trademark sense of humor, Cruickshank technicians say the manager creates a positive work environment by making them feel cared for on the job.
Fleet owner Steve Cruickshank said there was no one more deserving of the award than Makin.
He is responsible for much more than just the fleet of 140 heavy trucks in the Cruickshank fleet. He is also responsible for the acquisition, disposal, and maintenance of the entire fleet and company facilities – including 20 pits and quarries, six office and shop buildings, 100 half-tons, about 70 pieces of heavy equipment, and three asphalt plants.
But despite the everyday challenges of overseeing such a diverse fleet of equipment, Makin said his biggest issue today is finding technicians.
“The biggest challenge right now is people,” he told Truck News in an interview. “The availability of technicians, whether apprentices or trained technicians. I think it’s a systemic problem in the industry.”
Makin manages 26 technicians and says he makes an effort to get to know them personally, and to offer as much flexibility as possible in their jobs. He also keeps the lines of communication open by regularly hosting roundtable discussions in the shop, including technicians and management.
Grateful for the support, Makin says he feels lucky that he could work in a job doing what he likes, while living in a place that he loves.
“Having Susan there, and being able to recognize her in the award speech was important to me,” Makin said of his wife. “Whether it was when I was in the military, my time at Toyota, or at Cruickshank, she’s been the backbone of the family. Bills wouldn’t get paid and I’d be living on the streets without her. She manages the home, and she works herself, raising the boys and giving me support to be able to rise up through the ranks. You don’t do that without strong support at home.”
Makin’s son Mitchell is an apprentice under Makin at Cruickshank’s Kingston shop, and he and Susan have a second son named Matthew who is studying biomedical science at the University of Ottawa.
A more in-depth profile of Makin will appear in the summer issue of Truck Tech, and its digital edition on www.TruckNews.com.