You won’t catch him speeding, but Ed Stasyshyn’s career shows few signs of slowing down.
After more than 50 years in the trucking industry, the 78-year-old Edmonton man is in the running for a top honour in his industry: the National Tank Truck Carriers’ Professional Tank Truck Driver of the Year award.
Bulk transportation companies across North America nominate drivers for the annual award, which recognizes community contributions and safety commitments.
The award ceremony was postponed because of the pandemic last year but it is set to take place next Monday, June 14, at the association’s annual conference in Indianapolis, Ind.
Because the trip would not be considered essential travel, Stasyshyn is not planning to cross the border next week, but he said winning the award would still mean a lot to him and his employer.
If he wins, he would be the first Canadian driver to do so.
From trade to truck
Stasyshyn was born in Edmonton but grew up on a farm north of the city, becoming a certified journeyman electrician after high school.
When he was in his 20s, a strike at his workplace — a construction site at the Royal Alexandra Hospital — prompted his career change.
Needing money and tired of walking up and down the picket line, he started picking up and dropping off loads for Boychuk Transport. He enjoyed the freedom that came with the job and decided to stick with it.
For many years, Stasyshyn’s routes followed highways across western Canada, reaching as far north as Whitehorse, and sometimes venturing to eastern Canada and the southeastern United States.
Now he sticks closer to home, hauling powder cement in the city.
Stasyshyn knows some drivers don’t like it, but he takes speed limits very seriously. He drives a hair under the limit, which allows time to make corrections or react in an emergency situation.
That commitment to safety could be what earns him the NTTC’s award.
“The number one thing that they’re looking for is safety,” Stasyshyn said.
“If you’re a real scallywag and you’ve been having nothing but problems, forget it.”
Stasyshyn’s safety record speaks for itself. Other than two minor incidents, for which others were charged and responsible for covering the costs of repairs, he said he has never been involved in an accident. And his license has been demerit-free for more than 40 years.
“Several drivers will go years without having an incident, but for someone to go decades, several decades… it’s on a level we just don’t see,” said Travis Fast, assistant area manager at Trimac Transportation.
Outside the industry, he works with judo athletes, coaching with a club and volunteering at tournaments.
Stasyshyn considers a supportive spouse — his wife of 42 years — one of the secrets to his professional success.
She shovels the show and takes care of everything at home, allowing him to focus on his surroundings on the road.
“Being successful in trucking, you’ve got to have a good support system in two places: first of all, at home, and you’ve got to have a good support system at work,” he said.
“I’m lucky because I’ve got both.”
Though he sometimes talks about retirement, his colleagues hope that day is farther down the road.
“We’re hoping to have him around for a long time,” Fast said.