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Meet 10 trucking Pioneers of Change

Posted: September 25, 2019

TORONTO, Ont. – The one constant in life is change, and that’s especially true in the trucking industry. But change also needs to be led by those who are willing to embrace different thinking and new approaches to traditional business practices.

Today’s Trucking has profiled 10 Canadians who challenge the status quo. Each, in their way, applies new thinking to a host of issues, from human resources practices to equipment spec’s, telematics, training, and demographics.

Rolf VanderZwaag

Rolf VanderZwaag believes governments should tap more frequently into the private sector’s expertise when preparing new regulations. (Photo: Peter Power)

The Professor: Rolf VanderZwaag

You can almost see the wheels turning whenever Rolf VanderZwaag discusses any particular technical issue. Each reference to a piece of equipment is accompanied by layers of information about what people need to know, or discussions about the cause and effect of various actions and decisions.

Forget about the way things have always been done. He’s more interested in exploring the ways things should be done – and how to convey the details to those responsible for doing the work.

The president of Techni-Com, and a long-time consultant with the Ontario Trucking Association, is widely recognized as one of Canada’s leading voices on technical training.

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Wally Horodnyk, TFX International

TFX International now moves about 11,000 vehicles per year, says founder Wally Horodnyk. (Photo: Peter Power)

The Car Guy: Wally Horodnyk

One way to get your hands on a fancy car if you don’t have the money to buy it is to be the guy who moves them.

Wally Horodnyk, the founder of TFX International, which specializes in hauling luxury autos, says that’s one of the reasons he started the business. “I always wanted to be around fancy cars. But I didn’t have any money in my early years. I said to myself, ‘goodness gracious, what a great way to get the keys to that Bugatti.’”

When traditional equipment didn’t meet the related needs, he set about reshaping the spec’s that were available.

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Linda Young, Bison Transport

Linda Young has long been a proponent of the programs and philosophies that help Bison recruit and retain its 2,900 staff across Canada, even in the face of stiff competition for drivers. (Photo: Colin Corneau)

The People Person: Linda Young

If there’s one company in Canada that stands out for its ability to hire and retain good drivers, it has to be Bison Transport. And one of the key players making the secret sauce that leads Bison to awards for safety, driver performance, and as an employer of choice – year after year – is Linda Young.

She is Bison’s vice-president of human resources and people development, and also serves as chairwoman of Trucking HR Canada. For the past 13 years she has been a proponent of the programs and philosophies that help Bison recruit and retain its 2,900 staff across Canada, even in the face of stiff competition for drivers.

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Andrea Morley, Healthy Trucker

“Health is a matter of life and death. More people need to realize it,” says Andrea Morley. The same applies to truckers. (Photo: Peter Power)

The Coach: Andrea Morley

If you’ve ever sat behind the wheel on the road all day, whether in a big rig or a car, you know how drained and lethargic you can feel. Andrea Morley’s mission is to help truckers conquer the energy drain by making healthy lifestyle choices along the way.

She is the lead nutritionist and health coach with Healthy Trucker, an organization dedicated to providing health and fitness advice to truckers. Fleets and individuals sign up for coaching that teaches about nutrition, exercise and healthy habits.

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Gino Desrosiers, SAAQ

Gino Desrosiers says a conversational tone is vital on social media, even when speaking on behalf of a government. (Photo: Claude Mathieu)

The Social Referee: Gino Desrosiers

Social media has the power to connect, but the trolls always seem to be lurking, looking for ways to tear down any information that might be posted on a wall. It’s a challenge that can sideline virtually any message, no matter what the original intent may be.

“Our discussions that generate the most reactions are those where we talk about sharing the road,” says Gino Desrosiers, a media relations and social network community manager for the Société de l’Assurance Automobile du Québec (SAAQ). They’re the topics that quickly become emotional, too.

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Jacques DeLarochelliere, Isaac Instruments

“In God we trust, others bring data,” says Jacques DeLarochelliere of Isaac Instruments. (Photo: Isaac Instruments)

The Data Master: Jacques DeLarochelliere

“To serve you better, please enter your account number using the telephone keypad.” We’ve all responded to synthesized voices asking us to do that very thing. And once we get to speak to a customer service representative, the first thing they ask for is … the very same account number.

Truck drivers understand the frustrations all too well. Once they pick up a given trailer from a yard, they can be required to enter the same identifying information time and again. Missing pieces of information in a logbook can lead to the “form and manner” violations that come with unwanted fines.

“The system already knows that information, it doesn’t need the driver to repeat it,” insists Jacques DeLarochellière, president and founder of Isaac Instruments, headquartered in the Montreal area.

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David Coletto, Abacus Data

David Coletto of Abacus Data believes his demographic group — millennials — would be a perfect fit for trucking. (Photo by David Chan)

The Millennial Man: David Coletto

A large share of Canada’s truck drivers are on the road to retirement. Research by the Canadian Trucking Alliance has determined that the average Canadian trucker is 48, making them older than a typical Canadian worker overall.

Against the backdrop of an intensifying driver shortage, some new blood is clearly needed. Attracting candidates born after 1980, however, can be a challenge.

David Coletto, the CEO of Abacus Data, falls squarely within that demographic group at the age of 38 – and his insights about fellow millennials are drawing attention during trucking-focused presentations for organizations like Trucking HR Canada.

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Marc Bedard, Lion Electric

Marc Bedard of Lion Electric is looking to challenge established OEMs in the race to produce battery-electric trucks. (Photo: John G. Smith)

The Electrician: Marc Bedard

A little more than three years ago, Marc Bédard was invited to deliver a keynote speech on whether the electrification of heavy trucks was possible. This year, the same organization invited him back to discuss how profitable an electric truck could be.

“There’s no more concern about the feasibility of electric trucks. Now the focus is on the business aspect,” says the president of Lion Electric Co., which recently unveiled the prototype for a Class 8 truck known as the Lion 8.

Early interest in the underlying business case has attracted orders from none other than CN. Now he’s competing head to head for a share of the emerging electric vehicle market coveted by established and emerging original equipment manufacturers alike.

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Shelley Uvanile-Hesch

Shelley Uvanile-Hesch is frustrated by inequities in the trucking industry. (Photo: John G. Smith)

Woman with Drive: Shelley Uvanile-Hesch

Shelley Uvanile-Hesch is a woman on a mission. From the cab of her Western Star 5700XE she has worked tirelessly to promote women in trucking.

Uvanile-Hesch is CEO of the Women’s Trucking Federation of Canada (WTFC), an organization she founded three years ago to empower women in the industry as well as expand opportunities for them through education, training and mentoring. The organization has more than 300 members in a mentor group including drivers and office staff as well as police and government transport department staff. Almost a quarter are men, which Uvanile-Hesch points out with pride.

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Sandeep Kar, Fleet Complete

Sandeep Kar of Fleet Complete sees a future of green, safe and connected trucks. (Photo: Peter Power)

The Futurist: Sandeep Kar

The future of trucking is smart, and drivers will be along for more than just a ride. So says Sandeep Kar, Fleet Complete’s chief strategy officer and longtime analyst of the trucking business.

He is watching how technological developments in trucks and telematics are disrupting the freight transport business model. Momentous changes are already happening, he says, and their adoption throughout the industry is only a matter of time.

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Do you know of other Canadians who challenge conventional thinking in the trucking industry? Email johng@newcom.ca.

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