Meet President’s Award Winner Richard Lalonde
Richard, how did you get involved in trucking?
RL: As a student, my first summer job was ‘hand-bombing’ fruits and vegetables in eastern Ontario-western Quebec. I loved the movement and the freedom. My next job was two summers on a moving van, and I loved that, too. Then it was office work at a computer factory, and that was just OK. I graduated university with a B.Sc. in Chemistry, took a job in a copper refinery, and absolutely hated it! I then got on with Air Liquide and remained in the compressed gas industry for the remainder of my career (eventually moving to Praxair Canada).
Who were your mentors?
RL: I had two mentors who were very important to me personally and professionally. Russ Barker was my boss at Air Liquide and a wonderful guy. We really got along well and he taught me so much. With the Multiple Compressed Gas Association (MSGA), I worked on technical issues with Matt Nathanielsz of Praxair, a competitor. He was so dedicated and taught me what hard work really was. When he passed away, I moved to Praxair and took over his position – those were big shoes to fill! Then, throughout my time with MSGA and PMTC, I learned a lot from many dedicated professionals.
How would you describe your involvement with the PMTC?
RL: In the 1980s, I was involved, but only in the background. If something needed doing, I’d help out. In the ‘90s and into the new millennium, my Praxair boss encouraged me to become more involved and named me company rep on the PMTC board. I then became treasurer, then vice-chairman and then chairman and, of course, past-chairman. I spent about eight years on the Executive, and then helped out wherever I could after that. I enjoyed myself so much and felt so committed to the PMTC cause that I spent a couple of years of retirement serving on Council committees.
What did the President’s Award mean to you?
RL: I was so proud when it was announced – my heart was beating out of my chest! When I accepted the award, I said I was “speechless” and those who know me know that was true, because I’m never at a loss for words (LAUGHS!), but I certainly was at that moment. How satisfying to know your work was appreciated!
What advice do you have for a young professional just starting out?
RL: Never give up! Driving, like many jobs in the industry, is such a difficult job because it’s so solitary. You’re almost in a bubble. At the same time, there is such a strong network out there – tap into that network. You’ll find someone willing to lend a hand or a word of advice or a sensitive ear!