TORONTO, ON – The Ontario Trucking Association (OTA) honored leading drivers and its Chief Executive Officer during emotional presentations at the group’s annual convention on Thursday night.
A tearful Bradley, who retires from his executive role at the end of 2017, was clearly shocked when presented the annual OTA/Shaw Tracking Service to Industry Award.
“I picked this year’s winner and it wasn’t supposed to be me,” Bradley said with a laugh, after an emotional video retrospective. Family members and past chairmen representing several decades of association work joined him on stage in the surprise tribute. “I tell people that I work for the world’s biggest bike gang in the best-possible sense,” he added. “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.”
“He will be a part of this association … for a long, long time,” said his successor, president Stephen Laskowski. He compared Bradley’s legacy to J.O. Goodman, who was the association’s senior staff member for 44 years and earned the Order of Canada for his service. Bradley has worked for the association since 1985, and was promoted to the lead staff role in 1990. (For a video retrospective of his career, click here.)
The association itself was celebrating its 90th anniversary this year, and conference attendees had the chance to walk through an extensive display showcasing a timeline of accomplishments. “As I look around this room, one of my favorite pictures in our archives of about 2,000 photos going over the years is of a room in the 1930s of this very same evening. But it’s all guys. It’s all old guys,” Laskowski said. “We have evolved where there are so many women here, and an important part of this industry.”
“The constant is we’re here, we’re powerful, we’re important, and I am very honored to be trusted with the responsibility of carrying that tradition on,” he added.
The OTA/Volvo Provincial Driver of the Year honor was presented to Justin Martin of International Truckload Services, who already wears a watch recognizing more than 1 million accident-free miles. The military veteran shared memories of harrowing peacekeeping operations in Bosnia, which earned him the Prime Minister’s Commendations, and the 10 years he has spent at International Truckload Services, applauding the fleet’s family-like environment.
But as much as he has enjoyed the career – and the “brotherhood” of truck drivers – he hopes his son Ben does not end up in a driver’s seat. There are other roles in the industry, and maybe he will grow up to develop new safety technologies, but life on the road is just too dangerous these days, Martin said, also referring of the hardship of being away from home for days on end.
When traveling near Indianapolis, his wife Carol noticed a car heading the wrong way down the I-465 off ramp. Seconds later it collided with an SUV. After checking on the driver of the SUV, he made his way to the crushed car as it began to burn. He pried open the back door and couldn’t see anyone, but noticed a cane on the back seat. Lifting the airbags out of the way, he found an elderly man under the collapsed dashboard.
He kicked open the front door from the inside, went around the car and pulled the injured man to safety. A police sergeant told him that the man had a chance to live because of his actions. Paul and Carol simply continued on their way.
He told the room of industry executives that, if any of their drivers ever see a red truck with a large 88 on the side, “if they’re in trouble and on the road, just flag me down.”
“To the men and women and children that I’ve saved,” he added, “I hope they’re having a wonderful and happy life.”