Safe, professional, reliable, and a pillar in his community. That’s how friends, family and colleagues describe truck driver Don Dunbar, who was named the 2022 OTA-Volvo Trucks Canada Truck Driver of the Year at the OTA’s annual convention last night.
The Tandet Group driver is a 40-year veteran of the road, with nearly 3 million-km under his belt and no preventable collisions.
“When we celebrate the Truck Driver of the Year Award, we celebrate an award that recognizes things that are very important to the industry. Yes, they are typically very safe over a significant period. But as importantly, they are individuals that give back to their community, and that community is widespread. They are people who others depend on, whether it’s at work or at home. Don exemplifies all those things,” says Scott Tilley, president of Tandet.
A self-described “gear head”, Don has always been attracted to big machines, working most of his younger years in the oil-drilling industry. He always had a passion for highway trucking, however, and eventually migrated to the industry, first with FedEx and then as a liquid bulk driver.
“When I was an operations manager in the drilling business, I used to drive the float once and while and the whole time I was thinking, ‘my happy place is on the road. The phone doesn’t ring. You turn on your tunes and away you go,” Don recalls. “So, in the back of my mind I always thought, ‘can I do this? Can I really make it in the trucking world?’ Eventually I just did it and I couldn’t be happier.”
Watch all the reasons why Don is this year’s Driver of the Year:
Over his many years as a truck driver, Don has garnered many company awards and became an OTA Road Knight in 2015. He recalls his time travelling to schools and educating young people about the career opportunities in trucking with great appreciation.
“Some of my best experiences as a truck driver have been having the opportunity to be a Road Knight, to see the smiles on some of these kids’ faces when they are behind the big wheel and wanting to know more about trucks and the industry.”
Tandet proudly regards Don as one of its best ambassadors with consummate customer relations skills. Here’s how one customer describes Don’s service:
“Don has repeatedly provided an exemplary attitude and understanding towards his craft. He’s a steward of safety and compliance. He’s meticulous, driven and steadfast … He always brings the issues to hand with a solution. Don does his homework. He’s unique and selfless. He has an infectious attitude.”
As what has become very clear, especially during the COVID-19 era, truck drivers are key to the fabric of our whole community, says Tandet VP Ryan Tilley.
“The whole system breaks down if we don’t have drivers like Don.”
Despite his hours on the road and loving devotion to his wife and daughters, Don finds time for people in his community – many elderly and alone – who could use a bit of support around the house. Don helps out as the neighbourhood maintenance man; and even if nothing needs fixing, he’s more than happy to offer a friendly ear for people to talk to.
“I can only imagine how difficult it is for a guy like Don, so active in his community, to actually perform those duties. There’s many weekends where we all want to sit up and kick our feet up and just enjoy life, but Don’s out there serving his community every day,” says Ryan Tilley.
While the Driver of the Year Award is not a punctuation on his career, Don does admit it does feel good to be acknowledged for his years of service to the industry.
“I think the award is, personally, extremely gratifying. I’m so proud inside. It’s a life accomplishment. I think I’ve struck a good balance between my family life and my career.”