Westcan turns to messaging, truck choices in bid for drivers

by Steve Bouchard

Westcan is receiving its first Mack Anthems. Mike Royer (left) and Howard August have received a lot of positive feedback on the trucks.

EDMONTON, Alta. – Westcan Bulk Transport knows it isn’t alone in the search for drivers in the midst of a booming economy. But it’s looking for ways to recognize the all-important people who turn the wheels.

Formally recognizing the fleet’s drivers will make a difference in fighting the driver shortage, says Howard August, vice-president of Canadian operations for RTL Westcan Group of Companies.

A branding and recruitment video called Meant for the Road at https://youtu.be/6x29fdfUi2I is one of the related initiatives it has introduced.

“We wanted to address the misconception of drivers being disconnected. They are connected in many ways now,” said August, who wants to highlight drivers as ambassador of road safety — and to position Westcan drivers as a group of elite, trustworthy and skilled role models.

“On social media, trucking is often seen as one of the worse job in the world. We try to bring truck driving back to where it should be. It’s a great industry.”

Recognizing professional drivers also involve supplying them with trucks that focus on their needs.

“Mack came to the table with a tractor that truly delivers on the regular feedback we have provided regarding what we want to see in a fleet tractor,” said Mike Royer, vice-president of fleet services, during a media event coordinated by the manufacturer. “We always liked Mack products. Their trucks are sturdy and stand up to the elements in Western Canada.”

Canada is now the 10th-largest market in the world for Class 6-8 trucks, out of 180 markets overall, said Jonathan Randall, senior vice-president of North American sales and marketing for the truck maker.

“The order intake is extremely strong and the backlog is high, including for Canada,” he added. “North American sales forecast is 300,000 units in 2018, next year being equally strong, if not a little stronger.”

About 80% of Westcan’s fleet includes Mack Trucks, and the company just took delivery of the first batch of 50 Anthems, giving it the chance to compare the units to Pinnacle models already on the road.

The fleet relies on 13-liter MP8 engines with 505 hp to haul its typical weights of 63,500 kg, most often with Super B trailers.

“We don’t see issues with [a 13-liter] engine pulling those loads, but we see good fuel economy. It’s lighter, which is important given what we haul, and the [automated] transmission is very robust for what we do,” said Royer.

By 2023, the average truck in the fleet will be no more than two years old. That’s part of a commitment to reducing maintenance-related downtime, integrating technology, and ensuring the all-important drivers have the best equipment to do their jobs, including features like collision mitigation, adaptive cruise control, and lane departure warnings.

Says Royer of the technology: “Once the drivers get used to it, they really appreciate it, especially in places like Toronto.”

  • This article has been updated from a previous version, reflecting that Canada is the 10th largest market in the world for Class 6-8 trucks overall, and not just for Mack.



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