Changing of the Guard: Meet the newest association leads
Posted: August 19, 2016 by Dave Nesseth
Four of Canada’s trucking associations are now led by executives who have assumed their roles within the last two years. It represents a changing of the guard. Learn who they are, where they came from, and what they plan for the rest of 2016.
Previous job: Safety, compliance, maintenance and training manager for the Hensall District Co-operative.
What attracted you to this particular role? I have always been a person with very strong opinions, and someone who wants to be involved and work with others to try and improve things in whatever subject or organisation I am involved in. I have been in the trucking Industry since I was 18, and I’m passionate about this industry. From my beginnings as a driver, and through all the roles I have progressed through in the industry, I have always wanted to become more involved in shaping the rules, regulations and best practices of the industry. I became involved with the Private Motor Truck Council of Canada’s board of directors in 2007, as a way of having a larger voice on these subjects. I was very happy with the relationship the Private Motor Truck Council of Canada had with various stakeholders and government regulators. I was attracted to the role for several reasons: I felt the [the council] had a well-respected name within the private fleet industry, government circles, and within the trucking Industry itself.
What has been your biggest learning experience since taking on the job? I would have to say my biggest learning curve was developing patience. Coming from a fleet management background, I was used to putting out fires at a hectic pace. When issues arise dealing with a fleet, you have to work on a solution quickly, and put it into place. When dealing with government rules and regulations, collaboration and consultation are all very important roles, however, trying to enact change is a much slower process than what I was used to. It can become frustrating waiting for an answer or change to take place. I understand why these things need to move slowly, and why governments need to ensure everything is covered, and to ensure as many stakeholders as possible are engaged. So while I understand the slow pace at times, it was still a very big adjustment to get used to the pace.
What’s your biggest focus so far in 2016? Our biggest focus recently would have to be working with the Ontario Ministry of Transportation and various stakeholders in shaping the Mandatory Entry Level Training standard and upgrading the road and knowledge test for Class A drivers in Ontario. We at the [council] have also had discussions with Transport Canada on pursuing a national standard. We have also been working on expanding our presence across the country and ensuring we become more involved and active in all regions of Canada. In the last year we have also been focusing on expanding our educational offerings to our members and offering more value adds to our members. We took these seminars to Nova Scotia, Ontario and Alberta as a cross-country seminar series.
How do you expect your association or its focus to change in the coming years? As most of our fleets are not bidding against each other for freight, they are not in direct competition with each other in this mode of their business. This is a big advantage of being a Private Motor Truck Council of Canada member because owe can share information. We also keep our members up-to-date on rules and regulations, and provide several educational seminars and deep discounts for our members. We will keep these value adds, and continue to build on them in the future. The one area where our focus has changed the most, and will continue to, is our plans to ensure we provide more seminars throughout the year in different regions of the country. We are also focusing on expanding and improving our relationship with Transport Canada and becoming more involved on a national front. This has already begun and will continue.
What’s one thing that most people don’t know about you? Ask anyone who knows me, and they’ll say I’m an open book and tend to have the gift of gab, so I don’t have a lot of secrets. I’m a sports nut. I still play baseball and hockey, and help coach my kids in both of these sports. I also volunteer on our local minor hockey board of directors. I truly enjoy spending time with my family, and we take a lot of road trips with the kids to different events. Some 25 years ago there is nobody who would have ever thought my career would have led me to eventually end up in an office job! In saying that, I have enjoyed all of my roles that have evolved over the years.
Previous job: Director of insurance services for Highway Agencies, part of the STA Group of Companies
What attracted you to this particular role? I was looking for a new challenge and Al Rosseker encouraged me to apply. I thought, “Why not me?”, so I applied and went through an interview process with the board of directors.
What has been your biggest learning experience since taking on the job? Each industry obviously has its own language, and I’ve been used to insurance lingo, but I think the trucking industry may have even more acronyms than insurance. All kidding aside, I think just purely understanding the role of provincial trucking associations, and how much of an impact we can have on our province is exciting.
What’s your biggest focus so far in 2016? For 2016, the biggest focus for the Saskatchewan Trucking Association will be re-locating after about 40 years in the same place. We have sold the building and are moving in with the insurance brokerage we own. Combined resources, staff, space, etc., will make for a powerhouse of knowledge and efficiencies in addition to re-organizing and re-energizing our growth and lobbying efforts.
How do you expect your association or its focus to change in the coming years? I’m unsure. Today there are so many areas of the association that need attention. I am looking to my counterparts in the other provincial associations to see what they are doing and what is working for them. I know we need to work on creating value for our members through events, information, lobbying and training.
What’s one thing that most people don’t know about you? I love to bake and do some catering on the side with my daughter, who is a chef. I used to teach music lessons and worked at a roller rink when I was younger.
Date started: April 2016 (but joined OTA team in 1994)
Replaced: David Bradley
Previous job: Senior vice president
What attracted you to this particular role? Through university I drove straight truck for various companies and worked the docks. I enjoyed the people and the experience of those jobs. Once I graduated from Western, I began looking for a sector that I could call home and build a career. The trucking industry was a good fit for me, so I wrote a letter to David Bradley saying I would take any job at the association for the opportunity.
What has been your biggest learning experience since taking on the job? Leadership is about taking ownership and responsibility for the decisions and actions of not only yourself, but others. I understood that as senior vice president and I know I will experience that aspect of leadership more in my new role as president of OTA.
What’s your biggest focus so far in 2016? Trucking is too diverse to have one focus, if the association is going to remain relevant in the minds of the majority of the membership. The focus of staff in 2016, or any other year, is to ensure that we are dealing with the issues that matter most to the entire membership. Prioritizing and balancing these needs of the membership is always the biggest focus for staff at Ontario Trucking Association.
How do you expect your association or its focus to change in the coming years? An association has to evolve with its industry and society. In fact, perhaps the association needs to be one step ahead of its members in this evolutionary process. So, why a company joined the Ontario Trucking Association in 2016 may be very different than why someone joins in 2025. We need to stay ahead of this demand cycle by ensuring our association is relevant to current and prospective members. How we do that is by ensuring members are never frightened to question why they are engaged in certain activities, or question whether their service delivery mechanism need to change. What I expect is for our industry demographics and service model to evolve. OTA will have to evolve as well.
What’s one thing that most people don’t know about you? I’m pretty much an open book, but private in many ways. Those who know me understand this statement.
Previous job: Director – carrier services, Alberta Transportation
What attracted you to this particular role? I’ve worked with the Alberta Motor Transport Association for many years from an industry perspective and participated on many committees. The Alberta Motor Transport Association has taken the lead on many initiatives for transportation in Alberta and I felt that with my experience in industry and government, that I would be able to bring a new perspective to the position.
What has been your biggest learning experience since taking on the job? There are a number of national issues that I am still learning about. I have been very fortunate to work alongside Richard Warnock, president for the past year, and learn from his many years in the industry. The Alberta Motor Transport Association is fortunate to have a strong relationship with the Canadian Trucking Alliance (CTA) and through regular meetings we are able to have discussion and input into national programs.
What’s your biggest focus so far in 2016? There are two major initiatives that AMTA has been working on for a number of years. Namely, the adoption of New Generation Wide Base Single Tires and Mandatory Entry-Level Driver Training. In April at the the assocation Leadership Conference and Annual General Meeting, Minister of Transportation Brian Mason announced approval for a pilot for the [tires]. We are currently working on the details to roll out the pilot. With the recent announcement of Ontario’s Mandatory Entry-Level Training program for commercial Class 1 drivers, we are hopeful this is the template to form the basis of mandatory training for commercial drivers in Alberta. With the advancement in technology, together with an understanding of the rules and regulations of the road, fatigue management, etc., there is a need to provide entry-level and ongoing training for all drivers wanting to receive a commercial licence.
How do you expect your association or its focus to change in the coming years? The association continues to reach out to membership to grow our services and programs to reduce workplace injuries and on-road collisions. We expect to roll-out two large training programs this fall: the Long Combination Vehicle program for instructors and drivers, as well as an Escort Vehicle training program. We have safety conferences scheduled for the next two years and we are excited to bring these events to smaller communities to connect with owner-operators and small trucking companies. With the addition of new online training programs, we can offer over 450 new courses and a learning management system to our members. With the Alberta government announcing province-wide carbon pricing, it is incumbent on the transportation industry to look for ways to reduce greenhouse gases and be able to use all Greenhouse Gas reduction technologies available, without penalty. For example, new generation wide base single tires. Phase 2 Greenhouse Gas reduction standards for heavy trucks will be rolled out this year. We are asking the government to assist in obtaining a made-for-Canada regulation to ensure required technologies are certified for Canadian operations in our winter climate.
What’s one thing that most people don’t know about you? I enjoy traveling and have a trip planned to Munich this fall to take in Oktoberfest, then travel to Prague.