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Ontario Trucking Association names new chairman, board

TORONTO, Ont. -- Jeff Bryan, president and CEO of Burford, Ont.-based Jeff Bryan Transport, has been named chairman of the Ontario Trucking Association. The announcement was made at the association’s 86th annual general meeting in Toronto...

TORONTO, Ont. — Jeff Bryan, president and CEO of Burford, Ont.-based Jeff Bryan Transport, has been named chairman of the Ontario Trucking Association. The announcement was made at the association’s 86th annual general meeting in Toronto yesterday.

Bryan’s stepfather leased him his first truck in 1989 when he was 19 years old, and he found himself initially hauling pallets and topsoil.

Today, Jeff Bryan Transport provides dry van and temperature controlled trucking service across North America (in addition to its main terminal in Burford, the company also has a terminal in South Carolina) as well as international freight forwarding.

“We’re still a small company in rural Ontario,” says Jeff, noting the company currently has about 50 trucks in total. “And, we like it that way; it allows us to adhere to our values, to maintain a personal touch with our customers and manage our business.”

But Bryan says the company’s size hasn’t affected its innovation. “We are entering a new age in the industry, one that will be driven by technology as much as anything,” he says. “We believe we and the industry have a responsibility to run safely and in a way that is most friendly to the environment,” noting that his company’s vehicles are equipped with stability control systems (ESC), a collision warning system, and anti-idling technology.

“Speed limiter activation, EOBRs and ESC; they’re all the way of the future and they are all good for business. I’m a small carrier and I don’t buy the argument that small carriers can’t afford this technology. You’ve got to be receptive to it.”

Bryan says he will bring his openness to new ideas and new ways of doing business to his position as OTA chair. “I have learned so much in the time I have been involved in OTA – it has really opened my eyes to a lot of things,” he says. “It is such an honour as a small carrier from rural Ontario to be asked to take on the job.”

In addition to embracing innovation and technology to improve the industry, Bryan says he believes he can make an impact, if only through leading by example, by encouraging small carriers and the next generation of trucking company leaders to get involved at OTA. “I was a little intimidated at first as this young guy from rural Ontario. I recall going to my first meeting and there were all these people who were legendary in the industry there, but they welcomed me, provided me with advice when I asked, and they listened to my opinions too; it is a great association. I could not have found a better training ground.

“It’s also fun,” he says.

Bryan says the value of membership became most poignant late in 2011, when a fire destroyed the company’s Burford terminal. “The support I got from the members, many of whom are competitors, was fantastic.”

Over the years, Bryan has served on the association’s board, executive committee and convention advisory committee (as vice-chair). He currently serves on the OTA group benefits committee and is an OTA delegate to the Canadian Trucking Alliance board of directors.

In addition to electing Bryan as chairman, the OTA also elected a new executive committee of the board for the 2012-14 term. The new officers of OTA are:

• Vice-chairman: Scott Tilley, president, The Tandet Group, Oakville, Ont.

• Treasurer: Rob O’Reilly, president, TST Overland Express, Mississauga, Ont.

• Secretary: Steve Ondejko, president, Onfreight Logistics, Tecumseh, Ont.

The at-large members of the executive committee are:

• Mark Bylsma, president, Spring Creek Carriers, Beamsville, Ont.

• Wendell Erb, president, Erb Group of Companies, New Hamburg, Ont.

• Rick Gaetz, president, Vitran, Toronto, Ont.

• Gord Grant, president, Grant’s Transport, New Liskeard, Ont.

• Jeffrey Hall, president, J R Hall Transport, Ayr, Ont.

• Mike McCarron, partner, MSM Transportation, Bolton, Ont.

• Natalie Meyers, chairman, Meyers Transport, Gloucester, Ont.

• Dave Pogue, president, E.G. Gray Transportation, Peterborough, Ont.

• Gord Smith, president, Manitoulin Transport, Gore Bay, Ont.

• James Steed, president, Steed Standard Transport, Stratford, Ont.

• Steve Thibert, president, Tibbs Transport, Kemptville, Ont.

• James Thomson, president and CEO, Thomson Terminals, Toronto, Ont.

In addition, all former OTA chairmen who are still active in the industry have a seat on the executive committee as does the association’s president and CEO, David Bradley, who says the new executive committee reflects “the diverse make-up of the industry with individuals of many talents and backgrounds who will bring new ideas and vitality to the association.”

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