Asked how she feels about being chosen as the first-ever Volvo Trucks-Ontario Trucking Association Driver of the Year, Karin Macintyre pauses and smiles. She reflects on her life as a farm hand; a single mother; a hard-working owner-operator. The response from this unassuming trucker is expectedly simple:
“It really hasn’t sunk in just how important being the first is. But I am over the moon – living the dream.”
Over her 30 years on the road, Karin Macintyre has amassed over 2 million-collision free miles, mostly as an owner-operator. But before hitting the road she tried any job that came her way. Growing up in Port Perry, Ont., she trained racehorses at 16 years-old. She then worked at a factory assembly line – “I just couldn’t stand being inside all day, so I quit that” – before going to work at a local turf farm.
Her boss bought a Ford tractor and assigned her to drive it. “Yeah, none of us had a licence to drive it at the time,” she laughs. “We used to shift gears going across the field.”
See Karin’s story in this video below:
At the time she was a single parent and needed to look for full-time work in the offseason. She officially got her commercial licence and decided to apply for a truck driver position. She hauled for a few companies until 2006, when she bought her first truck and put it on with MacKinnon Transport. Not long after she bought a second unit and hired a husband and wife team to run it. But that didn’t last long.
“One day I just realized that sometimes if you’re going to do things right, you’re going to have to get back in the truck and do it yourself. So that’s what I did.”
Today she runs three trucks with her husband Peter and a family friend – a 1996 Peterbilt, a 2006 Volvo and a new 2014 Volvo. She has been with Winnipeg-based Arnold Bros. for the last five years.
Her Arnold Bros. co-workers and managers describe her as hard-working, business-savvy, expert mechanic who’s passionately opinionated about trucking.
“I don’t think she is soft-spoken,” says admin specialist Kari Ranonis with a wry smile. “She’s great. She’s funny; she has great stories about the road. But if there’s something that she thinks needs to be fixed or she needs to get something off her chest she will say exactly what she is feeling.”
President Gary Arnold says the entire Arnold Bros. family is ecstatic over Karin’s achievement. “Through hard-work and commitment and perseverance she’s shown she can be a leader even in a male-dominated industry. We just feel so proud she is the first woman owner-operator to receive this achievement. And it is well deserved through a lot of hardship.”
Perhaps, it’s taken too long to name the first female driver of the year, says OTA president Stephen Laskowski, but now that it’s happened he hopes the news brings awareness to an industry that continues to be on the lookout for new professional drivers from all walks of life.
“I think Karin is living proof that anyone, male or female, can build a great life from the trucking industry,” he says. “She embodies everything this award represents.”
Added Volvo Trucks Canada’s Matthew Blackman “Everyone in this industry should be inspired by Karin. In what can be a challenging industry, Karin has been able to balance life on the road to become a successful businesswoman while also raising a family. It’s an incredible achievement and we couldn’t be prouder to recognize her as the driver of the year.”
Karin says the best part of being named Driver of the Year is her children and grandchildren can understand what she says her small contribution to such an important industry.
“I think this means that my kids might be able to look back and say ‘mom was a very hard worker. She was honest. She wasn’t afraid of a challenge.’ And I know they are extremely proud of me.”