TORONTO, Ont. — The Ontario Trucking Association (OTA) once again took time during its annual convention to recognize the contributions of some special drivers and a long-time associate.
Driver of the Year
Jim Coles of MacKinnon Transport in Guelph, Ont. was presented with the 2009 OTA/Volvo Trucks Canada Driver of the Year Award. Coles has racked up 2.6 million accident-free kilometres over his 32-year career.
The former Road Knight has frequently been the first to lend assistance at accident scenes and holds many work-related certifications including Natural Resources Canada’s Smart Driver designation.
“Jim Coles exemplifies qualities of a professional truck driver both on and off the road,” said OTA president David Bradley. “It is a great honour to present him with this prestigious award in recognition of his achievement.”
“It is the safety of road users with whom I share the road that pushes me to be the best I can be,” the winner said. “I will not lower my work ethic or standards because of time constraints or rush loads, there is no room for complacency when safety is involved.”
Bridgestone Canada Truck Hero Award
Another driver to receive kudos during the OTA convention was Robert O’Brien of Newfoundland. He was named the Bridgestone Canadian Truck Hero for his selfless actions when he came upon an accident in the Northwest Territories on Feb. 14, 2008.
O’Brien, who works for ECL Transportation, was driving along Hwy. 1 north of Enterprise, NWT on Valentine’s Day when he came across a vehicle that had hit black ice and rolled over into the ditch. The driver escaped, but struggled to free her twin nine-and-half-month-old children from the wreckage.
O’Brien called 911 and then began digging the children from the vehicle, made difficult by the packed snow that surrounded the vehicle. Once the children were saved, O’Brien welcomed them into his truck so they could warm up while waiting for paramedics to arrive.
“Truck drivers are often unsung heroes,” said Jim West, general manager, commercial products, Bridgestone Bandag Tire Solutions, a division of BSCA. “Our company has been honouring heroes like Mr. O’Brien since 1956. It takes an extraordinary person to do what he did, and we’re proud to present him with this award.”
O’Brien won a trophy and $3,000 and Bridgestone will donate another $3,000 on his behalf to the charity of his choice. More information on the award is available at www.truckhero.ca.
Service to Industry Award
A long-time industry veteran and former OTA staffer was named the recipient of the 2009 Shaw Tracking/OTA Service to Industry Award. Barrie Montague was surprised by the announcement which was made during the OTA dinner Nov. 19.
“Few people have contributed to the Ontario trucking industry and to the success of OTA in so many ways as Barrie Montague has,” Mike Ham, vice-president business service of Shaw Tracking said while presenting the award.
During his career, Montague has served as CEO of a trucking company, as an executive committee member of the OTA board of directors and as vice-president of the association. He’s now a consultant to the association and carriers.
Montague’s roots date back to his time with a United Kingdom-based global company that transferred him to Canada some 40 years ago. He became president of that company which was later bought by a Quebec-based tank truck carrier. Montague served as that company’s executive vice-president for five years.
Montague joined the OTA staff in 1994, occupying various positio
ns over the next 15 years.
OTA remembers Bud Barr
In other news from the convention, the OTA took a few moments during its convention luncheon to fondly remember the contribution of the late Bud Barr to the association and specifically the OTA Education Foundation.
Both OTA chair Julie Tanguay and Education Foundation chair Scott Smith of J.D. Smith & Sons made heartfelt tributes to Barr before making a toast in his honour.
“He was someone who loved this industry, loved the friends he made and certainly the opportunity convention brought to renew those friendships and strengthen them. Bud will be missed and certainly not forgotten,” Smith said.
Smith also commended OTA members for raising 60% of the Education Foundation’s fundraising goal despite trying economic times.
“In spite of the tough economic times confronting our industry, we were able to raise almost 60% of our donation target”, said Smith. “To those companies who helped us celebrate our 50th anniversary by generously sending a donation our way, I would like to say thank you. Your generosity has helped us to continue our work of disbursing scholarships to students of parents who working the trucking industry.”
Debbie Virgoe, widow of heroic truck driver David Virgoe who died while avoiding other traffic when street racers wreaked havoc on Hwy. 400 a couple year ago, also chipped in by donating $7,000 raised through her memorial golf tournament.
For the 2009/2010 academic year, the OTA Education Foundation handed out nearly $45,000 in scholarships to university and college students with ties to the trucking industry, Smith announced.
To make a contribution, visit www.ontruck.org and select Education Foundation from under the Training link.
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