Workforce WindsorEssex interviews different professionals for an inside look into their work.

As we take a look at workers in the transportation and warehousing sector, we spoke with Patrick who works as the Safety Compliance and Recruiting Manager of OnFreight Logistics.

How did you get started in your line of work?

As a truck driver, actually. I lost my job at Ford Motor Company when they went through their troubles back in 2005-2006 and saw that you could be paid to get your [trucking] license. I gave myself a three-year plan to learn to drive a truck to have the experience to fall back on and then do something else. One thing lead to another; I went from shunting to driving, then I got into recruiting and safety compliance and operations, and now I’m the Manager of Safety Compliance and Recruiting.  

What does your average day looks like?

Well, there’s nothing ‘average’ about any day, actually! The basics are that I’ll come in and check my email, review logs, and look into driver issues and make sure those are all working fine. Today, as a matter-of-fact, we have an owner-operator who’s bought a new truck and I was getting all of that set up right from his authority book to setting up his ELD (Electronic Logging Device). If I have roads tests, Santino [Manager of Human Resources and Safety Compliance] will line up candidates for me and then I’ll do a pre-test inspection and road test with them. We emphasize safety and how important that is to our culture here at OnFreight; we want to make sure that these drivers get home every night and nothing happens to them.  As hard as it may be in today’s world, we still want to get the best that we can get and offer training. And I’m in constant contact with our drivers; I actually was just with somebody we’ve brought on that we’re training. I’m also involved in the OTA (Ontario Trucking Association) as a Road Knight and I’m on committees with them as well. We’re not just tired guys that go and make sure the logs are fine; we use every aspect of every area that we can think of to help OnFreight grow and be bigger and better. 

What is the most rewarding part of your job?

One area would be the drivers themselves; they come in and even if they don’t have that much experience but have a really outgoing personality that clicks, we’ll take a chance on them. To watch them grow as a new driver is very rewarding. We’re developing a relationship with all these new drivers. 

Do you ever hear misconceptions about your job? How do you respond to them?

Back in 2015-16, I was nominated by OnFreight to become a Road Knight with the OTA. I got to represent trucking from a truck driver’s point of view, and that leads back to the question. When I got into trucking, it was kind of hard to tell people I was in it… you kind of get this look. “Oh, you’re a truck driver, that’s all you do.” The idea that it’s a last-chance job, that you have no skills, you aren’t educated, and so on.  

The truth is, some people just love to drive a truck and it’s a great outlet for them; they’re in their office all day and their office happens to be outside. They’ve got the window down, the radio on, they get to enjoy their day and there’s nobody telling them what to do! I’m not saying it’s all fun and games, but I had to overcome all of these perceptions myself and as a Road Knight we had the opportunity to do engagements and go to schools, different clubs and organizations and talk about trucking. We had lots of engagements with media as well; TV, radio, et cetera. It’s funny, you’d walk in with your Road Knight attire – a suit – and when you’re telling people you’re hear for the engagement, and they say “We’re just waiting the truckers to get here,” and I got to say, “Well, that’s me!” I go up there, do my spiel, answer questions and so on, and it’s nice to watch that perception turn. I tell people that there are so many fields you can branch into: I started as a shunt-truck driver in the yard and now I’m giving speeches in front of 250 people. And it’s a good living: some of these drivers are making more than I am as a manager! The misconceptions are out there, but this new generation of drivers are changing that; you’ve got all the benefits you could get with a factory job with the freedom to be outside, get fresh air and meet new people all day.  

What advice would you give to someone thinking of entering your field?

If you want to see the world at a young age, there’s no better way to see the world… and you’re getting paid. Come in with a good attitude and know that the hours are there, and you’ll get to see that and meet a lot of interesting people as you go along.