HAGERSVILLE, Ont. – A Canadian rookie driver represented two minorities in trucking when she attended the Great American Trucking Show in August. First, at the age of 21, she was a young driver, and second she was a woman.
Chantelle Bomberry, a driver with Contrans, attended the show – her first truck show ever – as a finalist for the 2015 Mike O’Connell Memorial Trucking’s Top Rookie Contest. The contest, according to a press release, is to increase pride and professionalism among new drivers and to promote truck driving as a career choice during the shortage. The annual contest is reserved for drivers who have been driving professionally for less than one year. Employers and driving schools submit their nominations for who they believe to be the most deserving new driver, and then judges at GATS pick a winner based on the rookie’s safety performance and customer service efforts they’ve demonstrated so far in their young career.
Bomberry got started driving for Contrans in January 2015 after completing driving school. She told Truck News that Contrans nominated her for the award and that she was humbled by the whole experience and definitely did not expect to be a finalist.
“I didn’t really ever think about that sort of opportunity,” she said. “I guess hard work does pay off.”
She said her first truck show experience was a good one, and she especially liked meeting the other nine finalists.
“It was my first truck show I had ever been to,” she said. “A lot of the guys that were also nominated had some really unique experiences as well. They had been through a lot. It was kind of cool to see what other jobs they had. We were all drivers, but everyone does something a little bit different, so that was neat to hear about.”
Unfortunately, Bomberry was not the winner of the contest, but she did take home some prizes. Namely $1,000 in cash and a GPS system. And for being the only female finalist, she also got a year-long membership in the Women in Trucking Association.
Bomberry said she got interested in the career after buying her first standard car in May 2014 and working at a restaurant. “Last May I got my first car and it was a standard and I was just learning how to shift and I kind of wanted to try a little more,” she said. “I worked at a restaurant where there was a lot of trucks going by and I was kind of looking at them all the time and I thought to myself, I kind of want to try that.”
Today, Bomberry is a local driver for Contrans out of its Hagersville terminal and she says she couldn’t be more excited about her career choice.
“I would definitely recommend driving as a career, especially if you’re up for a challenge,” she said. “The only thing is, it does take a lot of time out of your day. My favourite part about it by far is the people that you get to meet. You get to meet all kinds of people and you have co-workers all over the place, so it’s kind of cool that way. I also like the different challenges it brings, like different roads I have to travel on and the different places I get to travel to.”
“We are very proud of everything that Chantelle has accomplished and are delighted to have her as a part of the Contrans Team,” said Contrans of Bomberry’s accomplishments.
The winner of the Mike O’Connell Memorial Trucking’s Top Rookie award is given a $10,000 cheque and prize pack.