Monthly Archives: November 2013

Our people move freight. These are their stories: John Giunta

John Giunta loves his job. An Owner-Operator with Polaris for the past seven years, doing overnight runs to Indianapolis, he says he’s never dreaded a Monday night. John moved to Toronto from Montreal when he was just 12 years old and began working when he was 16. Something about the trucking industry always spoke to him, he says. It was a passion for a very early age. Whether it was the freedom of the open road, the interesting destinations or both, something kept him hooked on driving for the past 26 years.

“All these years later, I still feel my heart race with excitement when I turn a corner and I see that trailer following me,” he says.

Of the 26 years he’s been in transportation, John has spent 24 of them as an owner-operator. He worked in automotive trucking for 10 years previous to his career at Polaris and before that, a company that afforded him the opportunity to travel across the United States. When the recession hit the automotive industry, John decided it was time to make a move. He waited a year to be considered for the Indianapolis run with Polaris; when he got in, he never looked back.

“For me, the destination really matters. I like to know the cities I’m travelling to; I like to have a routine,” he says. “I love Indianapolis. The people are great… the city is friendly. It’s got a bit of that Southern charm.”

Trucking is a transient industry…many drivers change positions and companies every few years. But, John loves where he is and he genuinely cares about the work. “The motto I leave my house with every day is: when I pull out onto that highway, with that shipment of freight…they’re my customers. And, I take that responsibility very seriously.”  According to John, customers south of the border never see the Polaris drivers who transport their freight. But, in his eyes, that doesn’t diminish his responsibility. “It’s my job to make sure the shipment gets there safely, on time. I like to think there’s always a way to make the system work for you.”

John spent some time in dispatching…although he missed the open road; he enjoyed the communication aspect of that job. John also takes a keen interest in issues concerning the safety and compliance aspect of his business. “I like the feeling that I’m playing a part in a greater project,” he says. “Customs inspections, communicating with other drivers, dispatch…when we all work together, the experience is seamless.”

Passionate about trucking though he is, transportation was not John’s first love. “I’m an avid collector of vintage audio equipment,” he explains. John has about 175 pieces of audio equipment in his basement, stored on custom-build shelving units. “It’s actually more of an obsession,” he chuckles. Inspired by his brother-in-law’s stereo system back in the 1970’s, John started collecting vintage audio gear early, and never lost interest.

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“I love all kinds of music, too,” he says. He always has a mixed CD or a talk-radio to keep him company on his runs to Indianapolis. Sometimes, he’ll pick up the radio and chat to another driver. “The communication here at Polaris is great,” he says. “We’re all in touch with each other… it really is like a big family.”

 

Our people move freight. These are their stories: Charlene Davidson

Charlene Davidson, Training and Development Manager

Charlene Davidson has been working at Polaris for 10 years, in several capacities. She’s recently moved into the role of Training Coordinator; that means, she works to educate Polaris staff – newcomers, veterans and everyone in between – about policies, practices and procedures so operations run as smoothly as possible.

But, Charlene has another, unofficial role at Polaris. For the past seven years, she’s taken on the task of organizing a Christmas toy drive for staff, vendors and customers! “The first year we did it was such a success; we’ve continued the tradition each year since. Every year gets better and better.”

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Charlene organizes a company-wide contribution to the annual CP24 CHUM Christmas Wish campaign. The program was established in 1966 with the specific goal of helping children in need. Over the years, the program evolved into the Christmas Wish to “continue the longstanding tradition of giving a kid a Christmas.” The program has grown to become one of the most expansive toy distributors to children in the GTA. In addition to giving thousands of kids something to look forward to on Christmas morning, CHUM helps support hundreds of like-minded agencies.

“It’s a fantastic way to give back during the holiday season and it really helps us get into the spirit of Christmas,” explains Charlene.

Each year, Charlene works to coordinate the design and distribution of promotional posters about a month leading up to the toy drive. They’re posted around the Polaris head office and sent to vendors and customers who are interested in contributing. In order to collect the toys, a Polaris truck makes the rounds and collects all the donations.

“Sometimes, when it comes to initiatives like this one, a lot of people want to participate but it’s difficult to plan the logistics of it. The holidays are a busy time for everyone. Offering to pick up everyone’s donations at their office is a way to make it a little easier for people to contribute,” says Charlene.

Participating in activities like the CHUM Christmas wish is a great way to build community spirit in an office. “We don’t always get time for a Christmas party, perse,” says Charlene. “But, when people start comparing notes about the toys they bought for the drive and coming to work with ideas and stories about their hunt for the perfect toy donation…you can really feel the Christmas spirit around here! Lots of people get their families involved. It’s a great activity to do with your kids. Finding the perfect toy is fun and it can really hit home that the holidays are a time for giving back.”

This year, there’s an extra incentive to give back. During the huge flood this past July, a great deal of the toys in the CHUM warehouse were destroyed. Now, more than ever, the program could use an extra boost to help give thousands of families in the GTA a Christmas. The deadline to get your toy donations in is December 20th! “Santa Cliff” will be making his rounds and arranging for delivery of the donations to the warehouse.

“We really hope this year is our best yet!” says Charlene.