These are the up and comers, the ones to watch, and the faces and names that you will start to see and hear more and more often.
Our Next Generation Class of 2016 is strongly comprised of successors to the throne – the youth who have seen the paths blazed by their parents’ footsteps and noticed room for their own. Many are helping to usher family businesses into the digital age, whether it be telematics, electronic logs, or simply ensuring their company has a sleek website or a passionate voice on social media.
If our 2016 Class is any one thing it’s versatile. They are learning about all aspects of trucking, all the time. Nearly all of them say, without prompting, that what they love best about the business is how every day is new. It’s something that’s very important to the millennial generation, as they try to continue challenging themselves, and pushing even beyond their own boundaries, because they know that’s how to get better. By doing.
By doing, after all, is how they’ve found success so far.
One For Freight
Title: Human resources coach
After finishing her Master’s Degree in classical archaeology, Stephanie Carruth was itching to begin her professional career, and decided to join her father and uncle in the family business at One For Freight.
“I like the idea of having to fight for my success,” says Stephanie, who knows she won’t be given any shortcuts.
The fleet needed a human resources coach, and Stephanie was eager to craft new policies that could really make a difference for some drivers overextending themselves. She wants to help them find new work-life balance.
Stephanie has also joined Trucking HR Canada’s Youth with Drive committee to help attract young people in trucking. “There are just so many office opportunities available in trucking, and people don’t even realize they’re there,” she says.
Title: Director, auto hauling and roll-tite divisions
As one of 14 grandchildren, the odds didn’t seem in favor of Sara Mackie getting into the family transportation business. But after Sara’s uncles got out of the business, it was just her dad left as owner, so the timing seemed just right.
“I knew I would have much more of a say at that point,” says Sara. “Being smaller, the business suddenly had more of a family feel.”
Over the last year, Sara and her brother have been undergoing successor training, learning some of the strategic ins and outs of Mackie Transportation.
But nothing was handed over easily to Sara. She drove truck for the company as an owner-operator into her mid-20s for nearly seven years before she decided to give the office environment a try.
Nowadays, Sara is the company’s director of special services. One of her main interests in the job is analyzing drivers’ trips for efficiencies.
“We can drill down the trips and see if they’re making money,” says Sara, who lately has been seeing more trips to New York that are returning empty.
When Sara isn’t learning how to run her family business, you may find her out an event as a director of the Toronto Trucking Association.
Saskatchewan Trucking Association
Title: Member liaison coordinator
A single social media tweet from 2015 can best encapsulate what Nicole Sinclair does. Previously, the Saskatchewan Trucking Association had received complaints from the City of Saskatoon about illegally parked trucks on the side of a roadway near a Tim Hortons. “It was a jumping off point to understand why they were parked there. They were parked there because there was nowhere else to go. These are human beings who need to eat and use the bathroom,” says Nicole, whose tweet about the issue garnered major media attention on the parking shortage issue.
Under new leadership, Nicole says the association has been working hard to get back into the spotlight to work with its membership. “It’s really time for people to find out who we are,” says Nicole. When an issue arises, she can search a member database to find out who might be affected, then work with that member to solve the issue. “People have no time for information that doesn’t affect them, and I try to make sure they don’t get it.”
Paweldeep and Evandeep Singh Sandhu
Cargo County Group
Age: 18 and 20
Title: Chief Executive Officer and Chief Financial Officer
Paeldeep and Evandeep Sandhu are not old enough to drive in the U.S., but that is hardly slowing them down in plans to expand their cross-border fleet. The respective Chief Executive Officer and Chief Financial Officer of Cargo County Transport in Brampton, Ontario now oversee refrigerated loads traveling between Ontario and California.
It is a decidedly family affair. Their dad, a former owner-operator, oversees maintenance. Mom offers office support. Uncles serve as mentors. But the 18- and 20-year-olds stress their active roles in daily operations. During a broad discussion, they drop references to third-party logistics, load boards, safety ratings and onboard diagnostics. And how they are focused on growth. Cargo County’s four trucks in 2014 expanded to seven in 2015. This year they have more than 15 power units and 20 trailers, with subcontracted drivers at the wheels.
Their business training involves more than the school of hard knocks. Evandeep is earning a bachelor of commerce. Paweldeep has designs on a CCLP designation for logistics professionals. Because they have plans for the future.
“At this age, it’s time to develop yourself into the person you want to become,” says the elder brother. “I want to be the next Challenger [Motor Freight] in the next 20 years. It has to start now.”
Seth and Thomas Keenan
Ayr Motor Express and Keenan Truck Repair
Ages: 34 and 27
Titles: Director of operations and fleet maintenance manager
“The work is endless, and this industry is a demanding one, but maybe that is part of the reward – making accomplishments in such an unforgiving business, persevering when others gave in,” says Tom Keenan.
The fleet maintenance manager oversees 33 mechanics and is responsible for ensuring Ayr’s equipment is fully operational on the road, driving on-time performance continually upwards. As director of operations, his brother Seth leads a team of 30 planners and dispatchers that have helped make Ayr Motor Express Inc. the winner of the Purolator Carrier of the Year for three years.
Ayr was established in 1990 by their father, and current owner, Joe Keenan, who would be the first to tell you that his sons have worked hard to be where they are in the company today.
Seth was only eight when Ayr Motor was incorporated and Tom was just a baby. Seth started working in the shop in 1996 when he was just 14, sweeping floors and cleaning trucks; Tom did the same in 2004 at 15. Once they were able to obtain a driver’s licence, they moved up to running parts, which gave them an opportunity to learn more of the maintenance side of the business.
Title: Transportation supervisor
Mike Colwell, 39, may be on the higher end of the 20 Under 40 age spectrum, but he’s also the director of the Young Leader’s Group for the Private Motor Truck Council of Canada. It’s an organization that aims to connect generations within an industry struggling to attract youth. “Find a big project. Get them involved. Push. They need to be challenged,” says Mike about youth in trucking.
Mike is now in charge of seven sites and 45 drivers at Praxair. He started out in dispatch with the company around 2002, testing out a number of different roles like logistics.
Title: Fleet manager
It was a bitter pill to swallow when Daniel Barbu came to Canada in 2009 and couldn’t get a job that recognized his university training in Romania as an automotive engineer. Desperate, he tried to find work as a truck driver, but nobody would hire him without experience. Daniel’s saving grace came when he learned of Quebec’s Andy Transport, owned by the Crisan family, who are also Romanian. The company helped Daniel earn his CDL and become a driver. But it wasn’t long before the Crissans noticed that Daniel really knew his way around a truck.
“I was always taking care of the fleet, and I could tell them that this or that was wrong with the truck,” recalls Daniel.
When Andy Transport eventually opened up its own mechanic shop, owner Ilie Crissan took a chance and turned to Daniel with the opportunity of a lifetime.
“He offered me fleet manager. I answered him the very next second and said, ‘I’ll start right now,'” recalls Daniel
Andy Transport sent Daniel off to become certified at the University of Wisconsin, and the rest is history. Now, Daniel manages three shops, 38 mechanics, and more than 800 power units.
“I love mechanical things. It’s what I do. I love to see what’s new and choose the specs,” he says.
Title: Finance assistant
After honing her finance skills out in the business world for eight years, Katelyn Driedger is bringing her skills back to the family business. Once her husband took on a role as technician with Portage Transport, the future seemed clear. “We talked about me coming on, and if that worked out we’d take the plunge,” says Katelyn. With her mom transitioning into retirement from being the company’s CFO, Katelyn has been busy learning the ropes as much as she can. In her spare time, when she’s not with her beloved dogs, she’s even studying business administration.
Working the ports is a very tough job. It can mean 14-hour days, six days a week. Angena Kalhar estimates that more than 90% of these port workers are East Indian with very strong work ethics. In fact, more than 90% of the drivers for Angena’s company are East Indian, and she has 173 trucks.
Angena’s father started the business in 1988 with just two trucks. They expanded to warehousing in 1995, when the company also switched from five-tonne to larger trucks.
“I was born into it. Even at 10, I was doing some billing.”
With a passion for photography, Angena studied fine arts in university. But still, she had a feeling her course may change.
“It was always something in the back of my mind that I wanted to come back to this,” she says of the trucking business.
Now, Angena says she feels immense satisfaction when she sees her own trucks on the road. “When it all gets delivered, that’s the real rewarding part.”
When Angena’s not working, she’s likely to be found skiing or hiking because she loves the outdoors.
Title: Health coach
Andrea Morley is proudly following in the trucking footsteps of her father and brother, but with a spin … or a stretch. She’s a health coach for the growing organization known as Healthy Trucker, which means she counsels fleets, drivers, and all levels of staff about the importance of fitness and healthy eating, especially for those behind the wheel of a truck all day.
“But there are similarities between someone behind the wheel of a truck all day, and someone in a desk all day,” reminds Andrea.
NAL Insurance, Healthy Trucker’s parent company, was frustrated by the number of insurance claims. Many of the individuals that needed surgery were too obese, or were smokers with other bad habits that had compromised their immune systems, leading to complications. Healthy Trucker was born.
Andrea had studied nutrition and was looking for a place to explore her love of food and fitness. When the job opportunity came up in London, it seemed as if it were designed just for her.
“I wanted to get drivers healthier and back to work sooner,” says Andrea.
She coaches fleets over the phone and online about how to pack for the road and make sure drivers are fully surveying all their food and drink options when working.
“A healthy driver is a safe driver,” says Andrea.
“I started right from the bottom doing maintenance and polishing at 13. It’s in our genes,” says Kyle Attard, now 23.
Kyle learned how to drive around the yard at S&S Transport at 16, and soon grew to love being behind the wheel. In fact, Kyle loves being behind the wheel so much, and has seen so much of North America, he doesn’t intend to stop driving anytime soon, even as he becomes more responsible for the day-to-day business of the company.
“Even though I have my own family in the business, we’re all one big family,” says Kyle.
Title: Vice president
“When other kids were going to summer camp at 14, I was sweeping up the shop,” says Adam, now 32. He’s since worked his way up to vice president of the family business at TFX International, which specializes in ground transport for fine cars that run the gamut from Ferrari to Lotus and Maserati. “It’s a car show here every day,” says Adam. “We’re just like the customers out there. We love these cars and understand the care they need.” The company has 30 trailers, each capable of holding six cars. Not only are they shipping cars to dealers, sometimes they’re shipping cars out to exotic locations for photo shoots, or out to auctions for the Barrett-Jackson Auction Company. “We’re like ground zero for stuff that can’t get screwed up,” says Adam.
Title: Dispatch/customer relations
McKenzie McConnell heard about the family business around the dinner table every night. She never thought it might some day be all she would talk about too. “I’m learning the business by going through all the departments,” says McKenzie, 24. “I don’t want to just dive in.” First, she started in human resources, which she also studied at Acadia University. From there, McKenzie switched to safety and compliance. Now, she’s learning the ropes of dispatch. She says that getting to know the more than 100 drivers has been one of the best new parts of the job. “I love putting a face to a name, so they’re not just a truck number,” says McKenzie.
Title: Team driver
“We’ve created a whole universe for ourselves out here,” Alex Bolton says about himself and his dad, team drivers working in the isolation of Canada’s Far North.
For seven years now, the Boltons have been moving groceries into cities like Inuvik and Whitehorse for Manitoulin Transport. Alex drives through the night, while his dad takes the wheel of their new Peterbilt 567 during the day. “I won’t see daylight driving the truck until March,” says Alex.
Both men learned truck maintenance during their time in the logging business. And it’s a good thing, because when they’re 500 kilometers from the nearest signs of civilization, nobody will be fixing that truck but them. They need to be utterly self-sufficient in every way. Food? They carry enough for two weeks at a time.
“I don’t know if there’s too many other people I could do this with,” Alex says of his dad. “It’s like living in a closet together. I guess that’s why I see lots of teams come and go. You
need to be able to argue and let it go.”
Sometimes, when the winter weather blows in hard, or they’re broken down on the side of a deserted road for three days, there’s nothing much else to do but talk.
For the Boltons, each trip is an adventure with new challenges. But in the end, it’s all about planning for their family’s financial future. They’re paid a premium, which makes the long separations from family in Ontario an easier pill to swallow – knowing that they’re literally pulling their weight and more.
FGM Truck Lines
Title: Vice president
“Trucking’s in my blood. I’ve lived it, and it’s the only road for me,” says Gord Mizzi, 39, who took a chance with his dad in 1996 to start their own trucking business. Gord’s dad wasn’t so sure at the time. He’d been part of the trucking game for awhile, and was tentative. “He said, ‘You’ve got one year to make this fly, then after that I don’t want to hear about trucking again.'” After the first year, FGM Truck Lines barely broke even, but the guys soon found their footing. The secret? Gord says success has been all about placing the right people into the right roles, whether it’s mechanics, drivers, or office support staff. They’ve since worked their way up to 30 trucks and relocated to Bolton, Ontario.
T&S Transportation Systems
Title: Logistics and operations coordinator
Amit Sandhu would often go to the ports with his dad when he was a kid. Trucking was in the family, and how goods moved was always an interest. Now, at 26, Amit has been running logistics and operations at T & S Transportation Systems for four years.
“Creating a roadmap of how to move things around was fascinating. No day is ever the same,” says Amit, who has a 58-truck fleet.
Lately, Amit’s been prepping the company’s fleet with electronic logging devices for its vehicles headed to the U.S. He’s also working on adding other onboard systems that help him track drivers’ habits, like fuel use.
“Understanding expense per mile was built into me a young age,” says Amit, who says the company will likely be expanding into warehousing in the near future.
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