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Finest Honoured At OTA Opening “Do”

TORONTO, Ont. - Five of the trucking industry's finest were honoured during an awards ceremony held during the opening ceremony of the Ontario Trucking Association's annual convention in November.The ...

HEROES: Paul Pelletier (left) and Clifford Ripley.
HEROES: Paul Pelletier (left) and Clifford Ripley.

TORONTO, Ont. – Five of the trucking industry’s finest were honoured during an awards ceremony held during the opening ceremony of the Ontario Trucking Association’s annual convention in November.

The 2003 Dispatcher of the Year award was presented to Randy Humes, a dispatcher with Highland Transport for eight and a half years.

The Dispatcher of the Year award is sponsored by Cancom Tracking and was presented by Mike Ham, who remarked dispatchers have become the backbone of the industry and now, more than ever, are the most versatile people within an organization.

Humes, a night dispatcher for Highland, was selected to win this award because of his outstanding ability to look after the company’s customers and drivers, said Ham.

Customers appreciate Humes’ quick response to delivery issues and seemingly flawless problem solving ability, which has resulted in countless successful rescues of JIT loads, said Ham, as he relayed messages given by drivers who work with Humes.

Humes is also a source of comfort to Highland’s drivers as they know he is always monitoring their progress, no matter where they are in North America, Ham said. He never hesitates to dispatch a truck to go look for a specific unit just to make sure everything is ok, and he never leaves his post until all of his JIT drivers get to their destination, no matter what time they get there.

The 2003 Volvo Driver of the Year award was given to Gerald Billing, a driver with MacKinnon Transport, who has driven over 2.7 million accident free miles during his 15-year professional driving career.

The award is sponsored by Volvo Trucks of Canada and was presented to Billing by Brent Weary.

Billing hauls general freight throughout all 48 states and all 10 provinces. He is one of the first to earn the designation of Road Master Driver, a program operated by MacKinnon Transport, and is a senior in-cab driver training coach for MacKinnon as well.

Earlier this year, Billing was invited to serve on the prestigious OTA Road Knights Team for a two-year term. The Road Knights are a team of drivers who share their knowledge of how all road users can be partners in safety with transport trucks.

As part of this endeavor, Billing steps out of his truck several times a month to make presentations to service clubs, community groups, career fairs, business organizations and driving schools.

The 2003 Service to Industry award was presented to Cecil McKay, president of D&M Transport.

This award is sponsored by Trailmobile and Bert Clay was on hand to make the presentation to McKay.

According to Clay, who spoke about the recipient prior to making the presentation, McKay began working in the trucking industry at age 12, helping his father load trucks during the summer for his company, Gordon McKay Transport. At age 19, McKay officially started his career as a driver, and today, he can still be found behind the wheel of a big rig from time to time.

McKay started D&M Transport with a partner in 1964 and he and his wife, Marjorie later opened Sunova Transportation Services which is Ontario’s largest propane hauling company.

He has been an active member of the OTA for quite some time, serving on the Board of Directors and its executive committee. He is the past chair of the Dump Truck Division and currently sits on the Board of Directors for OTA Education Foundation.

Bridgestone/Firestone sponsors the Canadian Truck Hero Award and David Scheklesky was at the convention to make the presentation to the winners.

This award is presented to a professional truck driver (or drivers) who has shown incredible courage, integrity and quick thinking in an emergency situation.

This year is the first year in over a decade that there have been two recipients of the Canadian Truck Hero Award, Scheklesky pointed out.

Clifford Ripley of Spruce Grove, Alta. and Paul Pelletier of Saskatoon, Sask. were this year’s winners of the heroism award.

Scheklesky explained the event that led these two gentlemen to winning the award for heroism and bravery.

On Nov. 14, 2002, the two drivers rushed to help Anthony Ishmael to safety. He was trapped in a burning vehicle on Hwy. 17 near Wawa, Ont. The drivers were unable to open the passenger door, so Ripley grabbed a chain and attached it from his truck to the van door, wrenching the door open. Both Ripley and Pelletier then cut Ishmael free from his seatbelt and pulled him to safety only seconds before the vehicle burst into flames, said Scheklesky.

Pelletier and Ripley were also recognized by the Ontario Provincial Police and were awarded the Commissioner’s Citation for Lifesaving.

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