For Justin Martin, trucking is way more than just a job. To say that it’s a way of life would sound a little too cliché. More accurately – although he’s a relative newcomer to the industry – trucking has quickly become part of who Justin is. It’s imbedded in his character.
“I love just sitting behind the wheel on the open road with my thoughts,” says the 11-year driver for International Truckload Services in Belleville. “I love the people of this industry. I love pulling into a truck stop, sitting around with the other boys and my guitar. You don’t even have to ask for names. You just start playing. We’re truckers.”
That’s Martin in a nutshell – a thoughtful, overtly friendly truck driver whose reflections on life and passion for the profession seem to capture the attention and respect of everyone who meets him.
Martin – who has amassed over a million miles without a preventable collision – was named the 2016 Volvo Trucks Canada-Ontario Trucking Association Driver of the Year at the OTA’s 90th anniversary executive conference in Toronto. His award announcement and a biography video highlighting his life and career drew a standing ovation at the gala awards dinner last night.
<< See Justin’s inspiring and heartwarming story here >>
“Justin is exactly what this award is all about,” says Peter Currie, Volvo Trucks Canada, Ontario District Manager. “He is the embodiment of class and professionalism. But he is also someone who has deep respect for the values and heritage of our industry and what trucking means to our economic way of life and to Canadian communities.”
Before becoming a truck driver, Martin served in the Canadian Armed Forces and was a member of the UNPROFOR during the Bosnian civil war. His actions overseas earned him the Prime Minister’s Commendation for going above and beyond the call of duty. This award has only been given out four times since the Korean war to a ranked non-commission officer with less than 10 years of service.
After retiring from the military in the late 1990’s Justin was looking for a new adventure when he was asked by a friend to drive team across North America. He liked the experience so much that he decided to do it on his own, joining Challenger Motor Freight and, later, International Truckload Services, where he continues to work today.
“I think Justin’s military career served him extremely well as a truck driver and I’m convinced that’s what makes up his character,” says Rob Haggarty, president of ITS. “His achievements, his alertness and attention to detail and safety; as well as his ability to teach younger drivers and show them the right way, are serving this industry extremely well.”
No stranger to emergencies, Justin is the first in line to help anyone in need. In 2009, he pulled a woman from a burning car in Virginia. This past year, he demanded that his company make him the point man in delivering goods to the people of Ft. McMurray devastated by the wild fires. When he got there, he stuck around to provide a helping hand to those who needed it.
When he isn’t trucking or teaching his son Ben important life lessons, he donates his time at community events, playing at music festivals or pulling trailers for charitable fundraisers. He proudly served on the most recent OTA Road Knights Team, promoting the trucking industry and careers to school kids.
“Serving on the OTA Road Knights team was an honour,” he says. “To represent my company and OTA and wear their crest is something that is truly special. As a Road Knight, to watch those little kids get up behind this wheel, honk that big horn, and then see the smiles on their faces, is something I’ll never forget.”
Newly appointed OTA president Stephen Laskowski says it’s an honour to be able to hand this award to someone as deserving as Justin.
“Justin is without a doubt a fantastic truck driver. But this award has evolved into something more than doing your job properly as a safe operator. Justin does that every day, but today we commend him for being a great human as well. The industry and Canada as a whole are better off because of his contributions, dedication and selflessness.”