Thomson’s Castaneda named Ontario Driver of the Year

Thomson Terminals’ Diego Castandeda has been named the 2021 Ontario Trucking Association – Volvo Trucks Canada Truck Driver of the Year.

The 35-year industry veteran has traveled more than 3 million miles (close to 5 million km) without a preventable collision.

The honor was presented on Thursday night during the association’s 95th annual conference.

Diego Castandeda
Diego Castandeda watches a video tribute to his career as the Ontario Trucking Association names him Driver of the Year. (Photo: John G. Smith)

“Diego personifies the Canadian dream,” said Peter Currie, regional manager at Volvo Trucks Canada. “His co-workers and the customers he delivers to simply love him and look forward to seeing his smiling face every day. He is so much more than an amazing truck driver. He is also an exceptional human being.”

Castaneda emigrated from Columbia as a teenager, and opened a family restaurant after graduating. And he says the work taught him a lot about business and himself, before he began to work in transportation as an office clerk and manager.

At first, he limited his driving to a bit of driving and parcel delivery, but the pull of the road led to a full-time career.

“He loves trucking. He really does,” says Diego’s wife, Viviana. “His work, besides his family, is everything. He loves his work.”

Jim Thomson, president of Thomson Terminals, says Diego was instrumental in supporting key cross-border accounts during the height of the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020.

“He never refused. He was out front when people were masked up; when people didn’t want to interact. And that spirit will carry forward with him. It’s magnificent,” says Thomson. “Diego is apinnacle player.He comes to work every day to play and he is a shining example and the difference maker.”

He has also been involved in fleet charitable initiatives, volunteering for the Santa Claus Parade, Walk for MS, and delivering goods for Metro Toronto Police charities, Canada Food Banks, and Toys for the North.

There’s even been time to coach soccer and hockey, or shoveling the walk for the elderly in his townhouse complex.

“The kids he coaches … he was like a father figure for some of them. Many are grown men now. They still love him,” says Viviana. “He is always there for everybody. He is the neighbourhood caretaker. He is friend.”

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