Devon Turnbull, recipient of this year’s Rick Austin Memorial Dispatcher of the Year award, exhibits many of the same traits possessed by the award’s namesake. Like Austin, who passed away in 2017, Turnbull began his trucking career on the road before transitioning into the dispatch role.
He feels his experience behind the wheel has contributed to his success as a dispatcher, currently with Sharp Transportation.
“It helps to be on the road first,” he said by video upon receiving the award at the Private Motor Truck Council of Canada’s annual conference, held virtually this week. “To see what drivers go through day-to-day. It’s not an easy job and not a good job for everyone.”
The drivers who work with Turnbull had high praise for this year’s award winner. One went so far as to write “Devon is perhaps the best dispatcher I have ever had. He is a great listener, thinker, planner and always honest. I have been paid to drive truck for 41 years, and Devon is a game changer. If he decides to leave dispatch, I will most likely retire from trucking.”
Turnbull spent 10 years driving over-the-road before taking a city driving job in Toronto. From there, he transitioned into the office with a city dispatch job. He met Sharp owner Shawn Baird and was offered a role in the office, working his way into dispatch operations and then operations manager.
“I’m still in charge of dispatch,” he said. “When it comes to being a good dispatcher, you need to know each driver’s individual needs. Try to get them home when they want to get home and help them be out on the road when they need to be out on the road. I just try to keep their best interests in mind.”
Three Hall of Fame inductees
The PMTC inducted three drivers to its Hall of Fame for Professional Drivers, which resides at its website www.pmtc.ca. This year’s inductees were Jeff Edmondson of Coca Cola Canada Bottling, Randy Packham of CPC Logistics, driving for John Deere, and Steve Wilson of Linde Canada.
They collectively have 95 years and 13 million kilometers of accident- and infraction-free driving under their belts.
“The skills of professional truck drivers are evident to all road users, and are especially valued by their employers,” said PMTC president Mike Millian. “These professionals compile safe driving records that are beyond amazing, considering all the adverse conditions they face every day. Only a select few can equal the caliber of the drivers in the Hall of Fame.”
Edmondson has driven for Coca Cola since 1998, with more than 1.7 million kilometers with the fleet. He’s known by colleagues as someone always willing to chip in and help others. Recently on a scheduled holiday break, he covered a load when drivers were short.
For the past 10 years he has been Coke’s Windsor facilities driver trainer. “Working with Coca Cola has been a really rewarding career,” he said in a video upon accepting the award. “I’m thankful for my customers and co-workers who make it easy to come into work every day.”
Packham joins the Hall of Fame alongside his father, who also drove for John Deere. He began his career after riding along with his father as a teenager, and is now a third-generation owner-operator. Packham has driven for John Deere since 2004. The company refers to him as one of its most dependable longhaul drivers.
Steven Wilson has been driving for more than 42 years with 5.6 million kilometers and a perfect safety record to his credit. He drives for Linde Canada, formerly known as Praxair. Based out of Saint John, N.B., Wilson began his trucking career with Drurys Transfer, unloading trailers and shunting trucks. He began driving trucks as soon as he was able, at age 18.
Wilson joined Praxair in 1999, and helps train new drivers. In a video, Wilson thanked his wife for her support and Linde for its commitment to safety.
“It’s safety first,” he said of the company. “If you can’t do it safely, you stop what you’re doing and find out how to do it safely. When you go home, you still have that safety mentality in your mind.”