The STA Gala Awards Banquet on October 26 in Saskatoon was a well-attended, fun-filled evening that celebrated the trucking industry in Saskatchewan. The Honourable Lori Carr, Minister of Highways and Infrastructure brought greetings from the Government of Saskatchewan. David Buckingham, MLA for Saskatoon Westview was also in attendance.
At the event, awards for Dispatcher of the Year, Driver of the Year and Service to Industry were awarded. These awards celebrate integral roles in the trucking industry and individuals deserving of special recognition and praise.
The Cervus Equipment Peterbuilt Dispatcher of the Year Award was presented to Kevin Fulakwa of CS Day Transport in Regina.
The Volvo Trucks Canada Driver of the Year Awards was presented to Wayne Francis with T – T Group of Companies in Saskatoon.
The prestigious Omnitacs Service to Industry Award was presented to Mel Beal of Turner Transport Ltd. Mel passed away in 2017 and the award was graciously accepted by his sons, Troy and Dallas Beal.
About Mel Beal, 2018 Service to Industry Award Recipient
Mel was an industry veteran, starting his career in 1965, driving his own truck hauling and placing concrete septic tanks. His innovative nature and desire to better the industry was clear even then as his truck utilized a self-designed, self-built hoist system. In 1968, the original owner of Northstar Transport, Garnet Bowering, hired Mel as a driver. They hauled bulk storage tanks to various bulk plants around the country. In 1969 Northstar Transport was sold to Asphalt Services Ltd., at which time Mel was hired to drive a winch truck hauling heavy equipment.
Mel worked as a driver until 1973 when he accepted a position in the office as a dispatcher. He dispatched until 1976 when he was promoted to operations manager of Northstar Transport. Mel remained at this position until 1982 when Northstar Transport was sold to Trimac Transportation. He worked for Trimac during the transition for exactly one year. During that time, it became apparent that Trimac was focused on the bulk commodities segment of Northstar Transport. Recognizing a void and an opportunity in the heavy hauling market, equipment was purchased and, along with his partners, Mel purchased Turner Transport Ltd. Turner Transport as you see it now began operating on September 1, 1983. The company already hauled bulk fuel commodities and now with this new ownership group, the hauling of heavy equipment became an important part of the business.
In 1995 the bulk fuel hauling was discontinued and the equipment sold, leaving the way to focus on the transportation of heavy equipment and specialized oversize freight. Mel recognized most contractors saw value in hiring a company that would deliver freight on time as scheduled on a regular basis. From the beginning, customer focus was to be of utmost importance. Mel was determined to be sure pick-ups and deliveries were always completed safely and on-time. Hiring qualified staff, close management of scheduling, updating equipment and adhering to a strict maintenance program made it possible to achieve this level of service, something Turner Transport is still known for today. A shipper was once questioned about the reliability of a trucking company to deliver a time sensitive load as promised and he replied, “The only instance Turner Transport will not be on time is if they are early!”
Under Mel’s management, Turner Transport has become one of the most respected specialized transportation companies based in Saskatchewan. Employees were treated as part of the family and he was always ready to help those in need. Mel was always a huge supporter of The City Hospital Foundation, many different youth groups, and the Heart and Stroke Foundation. He was instrumental in working with the Province to have regulations such as permit conditions and travel restrictions with respect to moving oversized and overweight freight updated and changed to accommodate the needs of the trucking industry. Turner Transport management continues his legacy of working to improve the heavy haul trucking industry in Saskatchewan.
Sadly, Mel passed away in in 2017. His legacy lives on in the way Turner Transport is managed today, as a leader and service icon in the trucking industry in Saskatchewan. The management of the company continues to be constant advocates for the heavy haul industry in the province, most recently working with the STA and SGI to expand sunrise/sunset definitions on heavy haul permits.