Liberty Linehaul founder becomes OTA chairman

TORONTO — Brian Taylor, founder and president of Liberty Linehaul Inc., has been named chairman of the board of directors of the Ontario Trucking Association (OTA).

Taylor, who joined OTA shortly after forming Liberty Linehaul in 1987 as an LTL and truckload carrier specializing in international freight between Canada and the U.S., will serve for the 2010-12 term.

Liberty Linehaul now has a fleet of 48 tractors and 95 trailers operating out of its Ayr, Ont. terminal. In 1997, a subsidiary company, Liberty Linehaul West Inc., which operates out of Montebello, Calif., was established.

One of Taylor’s first roles with OTA was helping to formulate a response to the “wheel-off crisis” of the mid-1990s, drawing on his background as a former mechanic. Shortly after that he was elected to the OTA board and was ultimately appointed to the association’s executive committee. In recent years, Taylor has also become a member of the Canadian Trucking Alliance (CTA) board of directors.

“I have always felt it is important that carriers support their industry through OTA,” he said. “As a small carrier I was pretty intimidated when I was first elected to the board; but the rest of the board — including the big carriers — was very welcoming. I remember feeling somewhat amazed that my opinion counted and still does.”

OTA president David Bradley said Taylor impressed everybody right from the beginning and earned their respect for his balanced, thoughtful and progressive approach to issues.

Taylor doesn’t consider himself to be an advocate for small carriers, since most of OTA’s members are small carriers already but said he’s living proof that “it is not how many trucks you have that determines your influence, it’s what you have to say and your commitment to improving the industry that counts.”

“There are some small carriers out there that may have some preconceived notions about OTA that are simply not reflective of the reality,” he said. “Everyone has a voice at OTA.”

He also said that “having the opportunity to network with so many successful carriers – small or large — has certainly helped my business, no question.”

As for his chairmanship at OTA, Taylor plans to continue the agenda the association has staked out over the past several years. “I think the policy groundwork has been laid,” he said. “The pursuit of measures to make all operators accountable in terms of safety and practical actions to reduce GHG emissions through improved fuel efficiency will continue to be a key focus. OTA will be pro-active both provincially and with CTA in helping to shape the new EOBR standards, GHG reduction regulations, etc.”

Taylor wants to concentrate on improving the relationship between carriers, shippers and 3PLs and the obligations of the parties to each other. “I believe strongly that where third parties add value to the equation in terms of cartage services, warehousing or other value-added services, then everyone benefits.” He said his company has fostered excellent, long-term relationships with those sorts of 3PLs. However, he says “where the 3PL’s role is purely transactional, there simply isn’t enough profit in the system to warrant more fingers in the pie.” He is also concerned about “the lack of balance in many current contracts and the disrespect afforded the conditions of carriage by some shippers.”

Taylor also said he intends to continue the dialogue on what needs to be done to recruit and retain quality people in the industry. “At Liberty we have many long-term customers because we strive to give them more than they expect in terms of service and we accomplish this by hiring and training the best people available. We provide our drivers and other employees with the best equipment maintained to our exacting standards. We realize the value of great people. We commit to give them a safe, clean work environment where they will receive fair compensation, realistic assignments and recognition for good performance,” he said.

“For the industry as whole, I really think we have a great future. As the economy turns back up, I think there is a lot of opportunity for people and businesses in our field,” he said.

His wife, Lorna, is a former trucking company owner. They have four grown children and five grandchildren.

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