Driver of the Month
Mentor and trainer at MacKinnon Transport, Canadian Jim Coles strives to make a favorable first impression
Growing up on his parents’ farm in Acton, Ontario, Jim Coles remembers getting acquainted with his first truck in a tedious manner — by stripping five layers of the previous owners’ paint from it.
“That was my task,” Coles says. “That Mack truck had about five different owners before I got into it.”
After driving his Mack truck to haul wagons and supply feed, seed and fertilizer around the farm in the 1970s, Coles says he used his experience with trucks to steer himself away from the farm after he graduated from Centennial College in Toronto, majoring in automotive technology.
“Trucking was an easy way out,” Coles says. “Farming became too risky financially, whereas the trucking business had a steady income and the hours weren’t any longer than farming.”
After college he landed his first real trucking job at private carrier Frank Heller, where he delivered tanned cattle hides and leather to businesses in Ontario, Quebec and the northern U.S. from 1978 until the mid-1980s. When he was 23, Coles made a permanent stop at MacKinnon Transport, and now makes local heavy flatbed deliveries, hauling building materials in Ontario.
“That seems to be the place I want to be,” he says. “I never found something better.”
With more than one million accident-free miles on his record, Coles continues to prove he chose the right profession. In 2007, he was recognized as one of 10 Ontario Trucking Association Road Knights. In 2009, he was named the Volvo Trucks of Canada Driver of the Year.
Being a successful driver doesn’t happen by just following the law, Coles says. He attributes his safe-driving accolades to making a great first impression with everyone he meets, by treating them with respect.
“I assume that everything I do is on display and that the public will look at me, my truck or my load and are going to assume that I’m going to treat them the same way I treat my customers,” he says.
As a mentor and driver trainer for new hires at MacKinnon, Coles says he aims to impart a positive attitude always.
“Your attitude towards yourself, your job and others is the key to coming home safely, again and again,” he says.