“I have looked at trucks with big eyes since I was three or five years old,” said Dean Arseneault as he recalled growing up in the logging village of Rogersville, N.B.
Back then, a lot of big rigs crisscrossed the village, piquing his interest in trucking. His father, Romeo Arsenault, had also owned a shop for 20 years.
The path into the service bay was not a direct one, however. He initially set his sights on a view through the windshield.
The younger Arseneault passed his Class 1 test on the day he turned 18, but nobody wanted to hire a truck driver that young. He still managed to drive for about six months, but the lumber industry was going downhill as well. That was when he decided to take a slight detour from the original career path, and pursue a mechanic’s job through a course at the New Brunswick Community College in Bathurst.
“I have never looked back,” said the 47-year-old.
In 1993 he joined Armour Transportation Systems in Moncton, N.B., as a technician, immediately exposing him to one of the largest fleets in the region.
The learning process never stopped. He became a Red Seal-certified technician, eligible to practice the trade anywhere in Canada, and completed a series of training courses when the opportunities presented themselves.
Today he is service manager of the fleet that now has 11 shops across Atlantic Canada. The operation counts close to 1,000 trucks, 3,500 trailers, and more than 2,000 employees.
Working at Armour has been a great experience and privilege, Arseneault said, referring to it as a people-focused company.
One of the biggest challenges these days involves finding qualified apprentices, the next generation of workers who will step into the service bays. But he knows what to look for in the search for a good mechanic.
“I have always been a big fan of having a great attitude. If you have a great attitude and you have limited skills, we will teach you the skills,” he explained. “But if the attitude and the willingness are not there, it is more difficult.”
There are still some people who are eager to learn and adapt in such a role, he said. They can still be found. Collectively, the Armour shops hire three to five apprentices every year.
His personal learning process continues as well. He is a regular attendee at seminars organized various organizations, taking the steps to improve his own skills and pass along knowledge to members of his staff.
And while Armour conducts most of its training in-house, it occasionally flied in experts to deliver tailored programs. There are also the online courses offered by suppliers such as Volvo and Daimler, to offer further insights.
Arseneault attributed his success to his “great maintenance team,” and said the best thing about working in trucking is the camaraderie.
“The trucking industry is like a big family. It doesn’t matter which province you are in. You feel welcomed,” he said.
Even his own family plays a role in his own career success. His wife Sylvette, and children Julie and Mathieu are there at his side.
“This would not have been possible without their support,” Arseneault said.