TORONTO, Ont. – The Ontario Trucking Association’s 90th annual executive conference was one for the books.
The double sapphire anniversary was a special one for the association, and it marked the occasion with a star-studded list of speakers, a touching heritage exhibit and a surprise award given to its long-time president, David Bradley.
As usual, the event was held in downtown Toronto at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel. Speakers of the day included Michele Romanow of Dragon’s Den and six-time Olympic medalist and mental health spokesperson, Clara Hughes. And while attendees took a networking break between speakers, they could visit the OTA’s heritage exhibit, a 350-sq-ft multi-panel display where visitors look at a time capsule of the trucking industry’s legacy throughout the years. (To view the exhibit in 360 virtual reality, click here.)
Of course, what most looked forward to from the event was the annual Awards Gala and Dinner that followed the informative sessions of the day. This year was slightly different as the OTA organizers had a trick up their sleeve for surprising their president, David Bradley.
Before dinner commenced, the OTA/Shaw Tracking Service to Industry Award was announced, and while normally, the award is announced after dinner, the OTA switched it up so Bradley’s family could join the dinner.
After his name was revealed as the winner of the Service to Industry Award and a heartwarming video of Bradley’s colleagues, associates and family was shown, an emotional Bradley took the stage to accept the award he didn’t see coming.
“I picked this year’s winner and it wasn’t supposed to be me,” he joked. “To my sweetie here, my wife, I couldn’t have done it without you…I tell people that I work for the world’s biggest bike gang in the best possible sense…you didn’t have to pay me all these years. It was nice, but I loved every minute of it. I was very fortunate to work with and for some of the greatest people in the world and to have everyone I care about here tonight and you got me good. Thank you all very much.”
Bradley is set to retire at the end of 2017 and filling in his role is OTA’s Stephen Laskowski.
Other award winners of the day included Bison Transport’s Jack Fielding who was crowned the OTA/Volvo Trucks Canada National Driver of the Year. Every year the award is given to a truck driver in Canada who has maintained a collision-free driving record and demonstrated exemplary professionalism both on and off the road.
The winner of the national award is selected among all of the previous year’s provincial Driver of the Year recipients by a panel of judges made up of representatives from Transport Canada, the Traffic Industry Research Foundation and the Canada Safety Council.
Fielding has driven for Bison for more than 18 years and has driven professionally for more than 40 years. He has accumulated more than 3 million accident-free kilometers.
“Jack is the kind of driver we’d like to clone,” says Norm Sneyd, Bison’s v.p. of business development. “When we have a special situation that requires immediate attention – something that requires the Fielding touch – we bring Jack in and he gets it done every time.”
The OTA/Volvo Trucks Canada Provincial Driver of the Year award went to Justin Martin of International Truckload Services.
The award is given to a driver who represents the utmost professionalism, dedication and commitment to the industry. Martin has been driving for more than a decade and has amassed more than one million accident-free miles.
And finally, this year’s OTA/Bridgestone Truck Hero of the Year award went to Travelers Transportation’s Paul Fredrick who has saved many motorists lives by pulling over and helping those who have been in collisions and vehicle fire. The award is given to an Ontario truck driver who demonstrates courageousness and integrity in the face of an emergency.
“I’d like to say thank you to the OTA and Bridgestone,” said Fredrick who has been driving for more than 53 years. “I’m very honored to receive this award, it’s something special that I’d never thought would happen to me. To the men and women and children that I’ve save, I hope they’re having a wonderful and happy life.”
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