TORONTO, Ont. — Doug Smith, founder of Manitoulin Group and a true trucking pioneer was recognized by the Ontario Trucking Association (OTA) last week as the latest recipient of the OTA-Trailmobile Service to the Industry Award.
Smith received the award at the OTAs annual convention in Toronto. The OTA claims the award is the highest honour bestowed on an Ontario trucking executive and is presented each year to an individual who has made an outstanding contribution o the development and success of the trucking industry.
The Manitoulin Group of Companies operators LTL and truckload services as well as warehousing, air and ocean freight forwarding, a truck driving school and fuel distribution and logistics services. Smith grew the company over 50 years through strategic acquisitions and lane expansions. The company now operates more than 60 terminals throughout Canada.
Smith, however, has always operated the head office from the small town of Gore Bay on Manitoulin Island. Smith has grown the company from a single truck which operated for the family business Smiths Wholesale beginning in 1957. The truck was used to transport food products from the Ontario Food Terminal in Toronto to the Manitoulin Island region. In 1960, Smith had sold the food wholesale company and purchased Hills Transport, renaming the company Manitoulin Transport.
As owner of a fledgling company, Smith was responsible for loading the trucks with furniture, driving them and also maintaining them. He quickly gained a reputation as an innovator, and became known for his use of Supertrucks; cabover tractors with a 13-foot dromedary box. The box allowed him to transport temperature-controlled freight to Northern Ontario while also pulling a stake and rack trailer. He could also haul heavy products such as lumber and steel south with the unique configuration.
Smith was ahead of his time when it came to achieving good fuel mileage, governing his trucks at 90 km/h in the early 1980s.
Today, Smith continues to live and work in Gore Bay. As part of the award, he received a charcoal portrait of himself.
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