ST. JOHN’S, Nfld. – Nearly 400 delegates congregated at the Fairmont Newfoundland Hotel in St. John’s, Oct. 22 through Oct. 25, for the Atlantic Provinces Trucking Association’s (APTA) 53rd annual convention.
This convention marked the APTA’s return to Newfoundland after a 13-year absence, but organizers say it won’t be that long again before the convention goes back to the Rock.
“I would say it was a nice return to Newfoundland and we had a surprising number of people who came who had been there previously and we also had a number of new faces too,” said Ralph Boyd, president of the APTA. “It’s a bold statement, but I doubt very much that our association will be able to stay away from Newfoundland for another 13 years, I would suspect we will be there again within the next three to four years.”
The convention kicked off with a session featuring renowned speaker Dan Baker, of Bulverde, Tex. Baker is a teacher and a consultant for the trucking industry. He spoke about driver retention and the people side of trucking. His underlying message to the delegates is that if a company cares about its employees, it will see results.
Speaker Donald Cooper opened day two of the convention by addressing the importance of the “little things” when running a company. He said it is critical to observe how your company and its employees interact; that way you can see where the gaps are that you have to fill.
Sticking with the driver care theme, Janet Hull and Christine Heggelin, of Smart Benefits Inc., gave a talk on the “most valuable and scarce commodity – healthy truck drivers.”
Their argument was that lost work time could often be attributed to difficulty handling stress, family concerns and the physical condition of the driver. The top driver wellness issues, they said, are respect and working relations, the ability to handle stress and the driver’s diet and exercise.
Other speakers included Roger Flood, the new president and CEO of Marine Atlantic and Captain Sidney Hynes, past president and CEO for Marine Atlantic, who together gave an update about what has been going on at Marine Atlantic this past year.
MP John Efford spoke briefly about the present economy in the province of Newfoundland and Labrador, and having been the Minister of Transportation there for three years, he also talked about what good transportation means to the province.
Boyd said he felt the convention program included a little bit of everything.
“We had some really excellent speakers and I think the program was well rounded. We misjudged our numbers on a few of the events and had more than we expected but that is a good thing, it was an indication that the people who were there were interested in and willing to participate in every session and I think the dialogue among the attendees was good,” he said.
The Canadian Trucking Alliance and the Canadian Trucking Human Resources Council were also on site, to hold their annual meetings in conjunction with the convention.
Both David Bradley, CEO of the CTA and Linda Gauthier, managing director of the CTHRC addressed the APTA group with updates on their associations’ activities.
Another special guest at the convention was honourary director, Arthur Howard. This was Howard’s 51st APTA convention – quite an accomplishment considering the association has been in existence for 53 years. Howard resides in Cornwall, P.E.I. and previously worked for Day & Ross Transport. Prior to that, he owned his own trucking business.
“We have seven honourary directors on the board and it was a treat to have one of them with us this year,” said Boyd.
An honourary director title is a lifetime appointment given to an individual who has devoted substantial time and commitment to the association. Honourary directors are invited to the convention as special guests every year, said Boyd.
As part of the APTA’s annual meeting, a new board of directors was elected, including the association’s first chairwoman in its 53-year history.
“LeeAnn McConnell of McConnell Transport was elected chairwoman and she will do a tremendous job,” said Boyd. “She has a ton of support from the membership and the rest of the board and the past chairperson, Donnie Fillmore Sr. of Fillmore Trucking. I think we will be turning some new, important corners.”
The APTA also recognized the industry’s best at its annual awards ceremony. This year’s Driver of the Year Award was presented to Georges Leblanc, a driver for Armour Transportation Systems for his entire 32-year career. He has driven over 3.5 million accident-free miles in that time. Leblanc resides with his wife, Jocelyne in Memramcook, N.B. The Driver of the Year award is sponsored by Volvo Trucks Canada and was presented by Ted Booth.
The 2003 APTA Safety to Motor Transportation Award was presented to Diana Ross, who has served in the safety and compliance department of Clarke Road Transport in Halifax, N.S. for the past five years. The Gays River, N.S. native is a key volunteer for the Atlantic Professional Driving Championships and is a member of Loss Control and Occupational Health and Safety committees. The Safety to Motor Transportation Award is sponsored by Markel Insurance Company of Canada and was presented by Blake Edwards.
Lewisporte, Nfld. native, Wilbert Collins was awarded the 2003 Good Samaritan Award for his outstanding leadership role in organizing the Teddy Bear Convoy for the Janeway Children’s Hospital in St. John’s, Nfld. Collins invested a great amount of his time and money to establish a truck convoy of over 60 trucks which raised over $16,000 for the hospital. Collins is a driver for Tramsco Inc., and a member of the Newfoundland and Labrador Carriers Association. His colleagues describe Collins as a person who has a genuine concern for the people who share the highways and offers assistance without expectation of recognition. The Good Samaritan Award is sponsored by Marine Atlantic and was presented by Roger Flood.
Glen Dowden of St. John’s, Nfld. was presented with the 2003 Dispatcher of the Year Award. Dowden has been a dispatcher with East Can Transport Services of St. John’s, Nfld. for the past 11 years. He treats everyone with the utmost respect and consideration and has earned the respect and cooperation of his entire fleet as a result. He is dedicated and committed to his drivers by being available to them 24/7, and goes well beyond the call of duty for them. The Dispatcher of the Year Award is sponsored by Cancom Tracking and was presented by Mike Ham.
The 2003 Service to Industry Award was awarded to Randall MacIntee, president of R.E.M. Transport of St. Stephen, N.B. This award is given annually to an individual who has made an outstanding commitment to the well being of the trucking industry over the past year. MacIntee has been actively involved with the APTA for a number of years, and continues to be an active partner in the trucking industry. The Service to Industry Award is sponsored by Trailmobile Canada and was presented by Bert Clay.
The APTA’s 54th annual convention is slated to be held in Charlottetown, P.E.I., Oct. 28 through 30, 2004.
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