ST. AGATHA, Maine — The Maine Motor Transport Association awarded R.F. Chamberland Inc. its grand champion award, the highest safety honor presented to a member, at the organization’s annual banquet on Jan. 13 in Portland.
Chamberland, which is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year, logged 6.3 million miles from June 2015 to July 2016, with only one reportable accident, according to Chamberland’s Director of Safety and Compliance Chris Cyr.
This was the first year the company was eligible to compete in the higher mileage category that requires more than 4 million miles traveled in a year, Cyr said.
“That was the most mileage the company has ever logged,” Cyr said Thursday, putting the firm in competition with trucking operations such as Walmart Transportation and H.O. Bouchard.
To win, the company also had to give a presentation about its safety program to a panel assembled by MMTA, which included representatives from the Maine State Police commercial vehicle division and trucking insurance carriers.
Larger companies, with multiperson safety departments, have given similar presentations over the years and have never won, according to Cyr, the only full-time person in Chamberland’s safety department.
“A small company like us can’t do that without the owners being on board,” he said, describing the win as a “David versus Goliath”-type victory.
Cyr credited the Chamberland’s 85 full- and part-time drivers for the company’s safety record and earning the award.
“It’s the quality of our drivers that work here,” he said. “Good drivers and good equipment. You can have all the great trucks, but if you don’t have good drivers, it won’t be safe.”
Cyr said the company has revamped its safety requirements during the past several years. In that time, not all the drivers made the cut, he said. The company now hires drivers that are “like-minded,” when it comes to safety, he said.
Robert Chamberland started the business in 1977. Today, brothers Mark and Dale Chamberland own the company, operating a fleet of 60 trucks and 150 trailers that travel throughout the U.S. and eastern Canada.