Brimming with passion and enthusiasm for all things trucking, Alberta’s new Road Knights can hardly wait to take their message to the province’s youth.
Miles McNabb, Henry Wolf, David Horst, and Sergio Hernandez were named to the Alberta Motor Transport Association’s (AMTA) Road Knights team in early January, and for McNabb, it has been quite the journey to get to this point.
First behind the wheel at the age of nine on his family’s farm, McNabb’s admiration for the industry was engrained at a young age. But as with many love stories, there are ups and downs. After a 20-year stint in the financial and real estate sectors, McNabb finds himself back in the industry he loves hauling fuel and propane for Westcan Bulk Transport.
“I said if I ever got the opportunity to get back into it, I would,” McNabb told Today’s Trucking during the team’s first interview as Road Knights. “I just love the adventure and being your own boss and everything on the road is up to you, to solve problems and all the rest of it. It’s fantastic.”
A lot, however, can change in 20 years, which is not lost on McNabb, who said coming back into an industry that had evolved so drastically was “almost like a punch in the face.”
McNabb has seen both positive and negative changes during his time away from trucking, with better oversight of driver logs and hours-of-service being one of the more encouraging steps forward.
“That has been such a monumental shift,” he said of the difference between his first eight years driving and his current three. “Back then, the most important thing was getting the job done. How you got it done was not relevant…now the pendulum has swung completely.”
On the other hand, McNabb has seen the pendulum swing in the wrong direction when it comes to camaraderie and respect between drivers.
Back in the day, he said, if a driver was in trouble, there would be no shortage of fellow drivers stopping to provide assistance. Now, that amity has all but disappeared.
“Each driver is concerned about themselves only,” McNabb said. “There’s no stopping and helping the next guy. Nobody is waving at anybody anymore and we used to be a team out there.”
Wolf can also see how the industry has changed over the years, as his story is similar to that of McNabb’s.
Growing up on a farm and driving at an early age, Wolf headed for Calgary after farming was no longer a career option. Working in sales, Wolf could not stay away from trucking for long, and found himself being pulled back to the open road.
“For me, road trips were always the time I looked forward to. Even driving in my personal vehicle, I love the open road,” said Wolf. “It’s being out there on the road, seeing different parts of the country, seeing different people, and seeing from a flat prairie to the Rocky Mountains.”
One of Wolf’s earliest childhood memories was sitting in the passenger’s seat of his father’s truck, and he recalls how much his dad loved being a driver. A commercial operator for 12 years now – currently working for Canada Cartage – Wolf has a strong desire to engage with Alberta’s younger generations so they see trucking as a forethought, rather than an afterthought.
“A lot of people say they have nothing else so I’ll try trucking,” he said. “To get the younger generation interested ahead of time and say this is viable number one choice for me, it doesn’t have to be something down the road.”
Horst agrees. And with industry experience stemming back to 1987, he is a perfect fit as a Road Knight.
“There are a lot of great opportunities out there in trucking,” said Horst. “There’s always a chance to move up in trucking, whether you want to be on your own and run your own business.”
Horst’s family has a lengthy history in trucking. His father works in the industry, as do his brothers. Prior to getting behind the wheel, Horst worked in Alberta’s oil and gas sector. But with its economic peaks and valleys, Horst entered the more stable trucking industry, and has never looked back.
With an eye now on his future as a Road Knight, Horst says he hopes to change public perception of the industry by getting the right information out to young people in search of a rewarding career.
“I’m hoping we can change that with positive attitudes,” said Horst, who is a driver with the Ledcor Group.
One person who was looking for a better life and never thought they’d find it in trucking is Hernandez.
Originally from Chile, Hernandez worked as a machinist operator for many years, including when he first came to Canada. Then came this new and exciting opportunity that swept him off his feet and into the driver’s seat.
“I decided to be a truck driver because I was getting tired being in the shop,” said Hernandez, who works for Trimac Transportation. “I like to be in different places every day to see the country. I love what I do. I love the freedom when I’m behind the wheel.”
As a Road Knight, Hernandez would love to teach Alberta’s youth how to be better drivers, which he hopes will bring out their passion for the industry.
That passion is also what McNabb aims to tap into when it comes to his main goal as a Road Knight – bringing all drivers together as one, much like he remembers from his time in the industry over two decades ago.
“Hopefully this gives me a platform and an opportunity to bring what I see from the past that was good, forward,” said McNabb. “It would be nice to get all the truck drivers out there, everybody gives each other a big hug, now we’re all buddies and now we’re all looking out for each other out there rather than just being individual guys.”
McNabb, Wolf, Horst, and Hernandez will serve a two-year term as Road Knights, bringing their 57 years and more than 4.5 million kilometers of experience to a role aimed at advocating for an industry in need of a better public image and a younger workforce.
“The AMTA Road Knights are industry ambassadors,” said AMTA president Chris Nash, “and I am looking forward to seeing what this group will accomplish during their term.”
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