The president of one of Ontario’s most recognized family trucking companies was named chair of the Ontario Trucking Association at its 96th annual executive conference in Toronto.
James Steed, president of the Stratford-based Steed Standard Transport, assumes the position from Wendell Erb, who recently completed his two-year term.
Steed Standard is a fourth generation, family-run fleet founded in 1913. James “Scotty” Hamilton, a veteran of WWI and a self-employed local entrepreneur, started James Hamilton Cartage. With a horse and wagon distributing coal and wood, in 1927 he named it Standard Transport. In 1945, Hamilton’s eldest daughter, Helene, and her husband Gordon E. Steed became the second-generation owners and eventually their son, Gordon, joined the company in 1956 as a driver. In 1966 Gordon and his wife, Elaine, purchased and renamed the company Steed Standard Transport.
In 1985, after completing his secondary education, James enrolled in the Motor Carrier Administration program at Sheridan College (Oakville) after which he worked for Challenger Motor Freight (Cambridge); and, in 1990 received his AZ from Markel’s driving school in Guelph. After completing these programs, James assumed the company’s day-to-day operations and, in 2000, became the fourth generation to own and operate the family business.
“I am honoured to join the historic lineup of industry leaders to chair this great organization,” said Steed as he accepted the appointment. “After nearly a century in business, the history of my company basically mirrors that of the association; sharing its values and vision of constantly improving our safety profile, as well as the image and general health of our industry and our team members.”
“This industry has provided a great life for four generations of my family,” he continued. “As chair, I look forward to giving back and paying it forward by ensuring the association continues to be one of the most productive and respected in North America.”
As a fleet owner who began as a driver – and still drives and delivers freight to the US – Steed’s passions are driver welfare, recruitment, and solving the driver shortage. As chair, he will continue to emphasize programs that attract the next generation of entrants by increasing funds to training and enhanced immigration programs while continuing to invest in media initiatives like the Canadian Trucking Alliance’s social media image campaign.
One of the OTA’s goals in the next few years is to be an inclusive and diversified organization, expanding its voice and products into new communities. Steed believes that running a small, family-run fleet of about 45 trucks in rural Ontario, strongly positions him to represent the varied and diverse points of view of the membership.
“I have an open-door policy,” he says. “I’m eager to listen to the opinions from within the membership as well as those who want to learn more about it.”
As the first “post-pandemic chair” of the OTA, Steed lauds the work of the previous leadership.
“They guided the association through many high-profile challenges and created numerous initiatives that have positioned us to meet future hurdles and respond to opportunities,” says Steed.
“If the last two years have showed us anything, it’s that we are an incredibly flexible and adaptable organization, ready to handle whatever confronts us. COVID was arguably the most abrupt, worldwide disruption in our lifetimes. We saw how quickly things can change. As chair, my job will be to ensure the OTA will always be ready.”
Steed looks forward to overseeing some of the OTA’s long-standing polices, such as the implementation of ELD enforcement and the next phase of the battle against the Driver Inc scheme. While Ontario has taken the lead in combatting this practice, Steed is eager to lend his voice to the national campaign, pressuring Ottawa to join the fight in ending present abuses and restoring fairness throughout the industry.
On a personal note, Steed is a champion of charitable causes and is one of the industry leaders who has spent years promoting Prostate Cancer Canada’s Plaid for Dad fundraising campaign. His term as chair coincides with an effort by the OTA to strengthen its relationship with Trucks for Change and its charitable partners like Food Banks Canada, Habitat for Humanity, Truckers Against Trafficking, among others.
“Giving back is a passion of mine,” he says, “and I look forward to expanding many of these charitable relationships and causes.”