VAUGHAN, Ont. — Nineteen-year-old Mustafa Tursun will be starting a trucking company with his father. He wants to do specialized freight, flatbeds and heavy equipment, he explains. When they start, they’ll have one truck, but having just graduated from Avaal’s Trucking Dispatch Specialist course, the young man exudes the confidence of someone who’s running a fleet of 50 trucks.
Zain Murtaza, meanwhile, has been driving for seven years. While he enjoys the “hands-on of driving,” he wants to “grow more.” He has dispatching experience, but not with loads. “You need more information to dispatch loads, there are more regulations and laws. This course helped me to understand that in detail so that if I do want to open my own business in the future, it’ll help me avoid getting tickets and violations,” he says. For now, though, this is Murtaza’s next step in helping him graduate from driving to the office.
Harpreet Lidder’s father told him about the Dispatch course. Lidder decided it would be a good way to get his foot in the door.
“This was the best place for me to get the most knowledge, especially from Dara Nagra,” he says of Avaal’s CEO and president. “He’s got the first-hand experience and the connections, and he teaches you everything inside and out. And that’s what I wanted.”
All three young men are standing in the Avaal office, drinking wine and champagne in between posing for photos. The office is packed, not just with recent graduates from the Dispatch Specialist course, but with Nagra’s friends and family and business partners, who all came out to celebrate the 100th class to graduate from the program.
In addition to providing training and education programs, Avaal also offers consulting services and software programs for the trucking industry. It started out with one office in Vaughan, Ont., and now has offices in Surrey, B.C., Winnipeg, and a recently-opened one overseas in India.
“I feel very proud, man,” Nagra says. “Sometimes I have to call and talk to customers and the person that answers the phone says ‘Oh, do you remember me? I was in batch 29.’ It’s a great sense of accomplishment and it also feels good that this course was able to create a lot of opportunities in the market. People are not only successful themselves, but they are also creating other opportunities. You see in some classes they are an owner/operator working for someone else, then after doing this course they start their own trucking company. And once they do that, they hire their own drivers.”
TransCore Link Logistics has been partnered with Avaal since day one. Sunday, TransCore’s general manager Claudia Milicevic was also on-hand to celebrate the milestone. “He’s been training people on how to run a successful company since day one on our Loadlink program to enable them to find loads,” she says.
In fact, that’s one of the unique aspects of the program: students are learning in real-time, in the real-world, via TransCore’s Loadlink program.
“Dara teaches them the right way to run a business and how to be successful as opposed to somebody that’s just going out on their own and doesn’t know what they are doing,” she says.
So what is the right way?
According to Nagra, one of the major issues is that people confuse driving with trucking.
“Driving to me is a totally separate profession than running trucking as a business, as a dispatcher job or as being a part of the backbone of the business. They have to understand trucking from a business point of view. So that’s what we highlight. Trucking is not about moving freight from A to B, trucking is a business and it’s about how to keep your customers happy, how to provide customer service, how to keep your customer informed. So this communication, this extra gear that they learn here, is what makes them successful.”
The other aspect says Nagra is teaching students how to work smart. “Today is very technological, so we train them how to apply tools, techniques and software and work smart.”
He says he goes to many trucking companies that have paperwork all over the place, and then “audit comes and they panic because they can’t find any records. With technology right now, you can make everything paperless, you can organize everything and you don’t have to struggle.”
It’s those organizational skills and applying technology that Nagra says they are trying to teach. “If students can get that from this course and apply that to their carrier or start their own company, I think there is no reason they won’t be successful.”
Jason Rhyno is a freelance writer and editor and often likes to go on Twitter and talk trucking. Follow him @jasonrhyno to see what advice people gave to Avaal’s new graduates on making it in the trucking industry.
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