According to Statistics Canada, truck transportation in 2006 was a $1.67-billion industry in B.C., not including private trucks transporting goods for such companies as Neptune Food Services or Canadian Tire.
Between 1997 and 2006, the industry grew by 42.2 per cent, at an average rate of about four per cent per year. The growth rate of all other B.C. industries combined was less than three per cent.
About 23,000 registered trucking companies in B.C. move goods 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year. In 2005, trucks transported 66.7 million shipments, carrying 6.15 billion tons of cargo.
Courtenay company Gary Marcus Trucking Ltd. has a fleet of 10 dump trucks that haul gravel throughout the province.
“We supply trucks,” Marcus said. “When a big job comes in like Thrifty’s or Costco, if they need 10 trucks we can supply a pretty good chunk of the trucking for each job. We work for everybody.”
The Piercy Road outfit — which supplies more than 200 companies throughout B.C. — has existed since May of 1989. Marcus started building his fleet with a 1966 GMC 960 single axle.
“Over the years I’ve built up,” he said. “One of the guys that helped me out a lot in the industry was John Foster from JF Trucking (in Port McNeill). I met him about 10 years ago. He mentored me. Once I hooked up with him and learned a lot more about the industry, we really took off.”
Summertime is the busy time with nine workers, not including Marcus. He notes the difficulty of hiring people without skills. Drivers, for instance, need to be 18 years old to obtain a Class 1 licence with air brakes.
“It’s shored down a little bit but we’re still fairly active right at the moment,” he said. “We’ve got quite a bit on the go. In the summertime, we run pretty much everything on the go. I do have a truck that’s working up in Fort McMurray right now.”
At present, the company is working for Edmonton-based Bearcat Industries out of Fort McMurray.
“They look for trucks to come and haul with them, so we just drive the dump truck up to the job site,” Marcus said. “They put us up in camp, and we haul aggregate for them. We’ll be up there all winter. They supply the camp, they fly us back and forth from Courtenay up to Fort McMurray.”
They will lodge at a 7,000 man camp — one of the dozen camps in the northern Alberta town.
“It doesn’t really matter where we work,” Marcus said. “If somebody wants a dump truck and they’re willing to pay the proper rate, then we’ll drive up there and go to work for them…You can’t always hope that the Comox Valley gives you enough work to keep busy. You gotta’ think outside the box a little bit.”
While the Valley has been good the past few years, things slow down when the rain comes.
“When the rains come we’ll head up to where the work is,” Marcus said. “Right now, there seems to be quite a bit of work in Fort McMurray. This is our first year up there. We’ll try it out.”
With information from the BC Trucking Association.