In a video posted on YouTube by his employer Rush Truck Centres of Canada, Manjinder Bajwa passionately explains the features of a 2020 International LT Series truck.
Frequently switching between Punjabi and English, he tries to convince potential buyers that the truck they are looking at right now is much better than the rigs they have seen before.
But if you thought Bajwa, 42, is a typical truck salesman, you got it wrong.
That is because selling is just the latest in a string of trucking industry gigs he has worked on – driver, dispatcher, third-party logistics worker, and now account manager looking after sales.
Bajwa said that experience as well as his background as a computer programmer helped him a lot in dealing with customers.
“I can tell you one thing: When you’re a programmer, you do things in a logical way,” he said.
That is especially helpful when spec’ing trucks, he said.
Surprisingly, Bajwa believes selling trucks is more stressful than driving them.
“Because we have goals, we’ve to fulfill those goals. Trucking is less stressful. No one bothers you. The level of stress is totally different. When you’re selling, you have to look after each and every one.”
Bajwa’s trucking career spans some 20 years.
After graduating from Guru Nanak Dev University in Amritsar in 1999, he did what most young people in Punjab, India, aspire to do: Head to North America, looking for a job.
With a bachelor’s degree in commerce and an advanced diploma in computer programming, his natural choice was the Silicon Valley in California.
But he had a decision to make: Go to the U.S. on a two-year work permit and to an uncertain future, or go to Canada and get permanent residency in just a matter of years.
Bajwa chose Canada, but the timing was terrible.
Soon after he arrived in Toronto, the IT industry began laying off people in their thousands, dashing his hopes of finding a job in that sector.
“Many of my friends at the time urged me to go to trucking, where you could make good money.”
Bajwa also estimated that upgrading his computer skills would cost him tens of thousands of dollars, while learning to drive trucks even at the top institute would be much lower.
“As a commerce graduate, I calculated my investment vs. my return, and decided to go for trucking.”
So, Bajwa ended up at Lambton College from where he received his AZ licence.
“If you want to become a professional, you’ve to learn from professionals,” he said.
Bajwa started out as a long-haul driver, but soon realized that he liked city routes more, and opted for that.
His brothers are also in trucking, running their own logistics company. One of them also worked as an enforcement inspector.
And talking of enforcement, Bajwa thinks many small, independent companies in with five to 10 trucks are not taking safety seriously.
“They are hard workers, but they don’t pay much attention to safety.”
He also thinks many drivers are not fully aware of all aspects of a truck operation. For example, he said, some truckers don’t even know how an emissions control system works.
“It is all about education. Right now, the problem is that the emissions system is not in the curriculum,” he said.
“When I am selling trucks, I try to educate the customer telling them ‘Hey, you have to keep these little things in mind.’”
Another problem is the driver mentality, with many truckers from the South Asian community lacking a passion, Bajwa said.
He said more than 50% of drivers are in the industry for the money.
“When the passion is not there, and when only money is there, you’re not putting your 100% in it.”
As someone who loved driving trucks, Bajwa clocked about 800,000 accident- or ticket-free miles in 10 years, of which he is very proud of.
Another thing he is proud of is his collection of designer pens.
“My hobby is collecting expensive and good-looking pens,” he chuckled, adding that he has close to 100 pens, worth about $10,000.
Bajwa lives with his wife Kiratpal and 13-year-old son Gurjaap in Brampton, Ont.
Profile by Abdul Latheef