Our people move freight. These are their stories: Rick Rutter

A brave man, a heart-warming story

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Rick Rutter joined the Polaris team as a highway driver January 6, 2008. His last day of driving his 2012 T700 Kenworth was May 29, 2015. After 4 years of testing, Rick was diagnosed with ALS in March of this year. The disease affects your strength, speech and motor skills and Rick knew when it was interfering with his ability to drive safely and he asked to retire.

Rick started driving truck professionally at the age of 18. At that time, all that was required was a chauffeur’s license. For most of his career, he was a long haul driver and away from his wife and children for weeks at a time. He’s hauled Brahma bulls from Mexico, explosives to northern Alberta and Superior Propane through the Rockies and that’s just a few of the hundreds of adventures from his 42 year professional driving career.

Rick was originally referred to Polaris by one of his long time neighbours. Rick was in his early fifties at the time and wanted to be home with his family more often. Dave Cox comments, “Rick started off running Jersey, then Chicago and eventually became our go to guy on just about every lane we have. He did the first run for our enhanced California service this past spring and over his time with us became a trusted employee and good friend.”

Rick resides in Vienna, a small community near Tillsonburg, ON. He lives there with his wife of 32 years, Wendy and children Jessy, Travis and Reba. Rick also has 3 children from a previous relationship who also reside in the area, Lisa, Jamie and Crystal. Rick speaks about his battle with ALS, “It was definitely a curve ball I didn’t expect. It shares symptoms with other diseases so that is why it was so hard to diagnose in the early stages. It can be hereditary but mine is not and is called Sporadic ALS. I am blessed to have my family beside me and the friendship of the folks at Polaris to help me through this. I don’t know what I would do without them.”

Asked about his career at Polaris Rick said, “I loved it there. Instead of being away for 3 weeks at a time and never knowing what laid ahead, I was able to organize my week and make plans with family on my weekends. Polaris knew they could count on me to get the job done and Dave Cox and his dad were great guys to work for. They are supporting a walkathon in September in my honour. I wish I could have got a few more years in but if there is one thing you learn as a driver, there are always tough hills to climb somewhere on your journey.”

Details about The ALS Walkathon
Polaris Transportation will be participating in the 2015 WALK for ALS in Brampton Sept 12th and your support will make a difference for Ontario families just like Rick’s whose lives have been touched by ALS.
It is our hope that you will consider sponsoring Polaris with your best gift possible in a secure online donation using your credit card. Please click on the link below to donate now…
https://secure.e2rm.com/registrant/FundraisingPage.aspx?SID=6182222&LangPref=en-CA&EID=161927#&panel1-2
For more information on how YOU can become a walker yourself, please visit www.walkforals.ca/ontario
Team Rick – Polaris Transportation

Nothing gives us more pleasure than promoting from within!

Shraddha and Charlene

Shraddha Tilva & Charlene Davidson

Charlene Davidson – from Manager of Training and Development to Director of Training and Development.

Charlene has been part of the Polaris Team since 2003. Her career started in brokerage, then operations and eventually training. Her husband Randy works with Polaris too and although family members don’t typically work side by side at Polaris, the company is all about family.

Charlene’s diverse background and depth of knowledge about the different aspects of the company was a great asset and led to her well-earned promotion as Director of Training and Development.

Her accomplishments are many and highlights include the development and launch of the Polaris Customer Care Department in 2015 and taking full responsibility for policies and procedures that come with being ISO, PIP and C-TPAT compliant.

Charlene comments, “We are over 10 times the size we were when I started. To share in that growth is exciting and to be acknowledged for going the extra mile is extremely rewarding.”

Shraddha Tilva – from Financial Analyst to Corporate Controller

Shraddha came to us 2 years ago to assist with month end, reconciling the bank and other accounting functions. This is her second promotion in 2 years and during her time with us she has become a valuable member of our team.

Shraddha received her MBA before moving to Canada in 2004 and completed her CMA from the Institute of Chartered Management Accountants in 2011. She currently resides in Brampton with her husband and 2 young children. Striking a good work, life balance has been achievable at Polaris as Shraddha explains, “Working at Polaris has been a great experience for me. Larry has placed his trust in my abilities and knowledge and rewarded my dedication to Polaris. We all work hard but we are not taken advantage of and are allowed our family lives too. It’s a great company to be part of.”

Our people move freight. These are their stories: Carly Graham

Polaris Dispatcher by Day, Championship Bowler by Night…and Weekends!

Carly Graham is a recent addition to our Polaris Motor Freight team and works out of our Willoughby, Ohio office. It recently came to our attention that along with her decade of experience in transportation, she has a lifetime of experience as a competitive bowler …and a long list of awards to show for it.

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Carly Graham. Polaris Motor Freight, Willoughby, OH.

Carly works as a daytime dispatcher and comments, “An old acquaintance encouraged me to join Polaris and I have been working here since February of this year. I enjoy the family atmosphere and working steady days has allowed me to stay active with my passion for competitive bowling.”

Some of her achievements include:

  • 6 time C.W.B.A  ALL STAR TEAM MEMBER (2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014)
  • Cleveland City Queens Champion (2012)
  • Mixed City Team Champion (2013, 2009) (2’nd pl. 2012)
  • Buckeye Belle Champion (2012)
  • Ohio Women’s State Championship Tournament (6th pl. 2013, 2nd place 2014)

Looking to the future, Carly feels she can successfully balance her work, family and bowling activities. Her wish is to see the sport continue at a competitive level and encourages younger generations to participate. A happy family, on time deliveries and more strikes than you can count….life is good. Join us in wishing Carly good luck at the PWBA Detroit Open coming up in Canton, Michigan (August 27-30). Go Carly Go!

First Annual “Polaris Family Day” a Big Success

By Rebecca Muyano, Human Resources Manager

At Polaris, we need to keep customers’ freight moving…. holidays included! That doesn’t mean we can’t take a little break to have our own Polaris, Family Day celebration. Impromptu as it was, it was well attended and thoroughly enjoyed by all. We had a potluck spread that was absolutely delicious.

Both office and dock staff participated as we sampled homemade dishes from a variety of cultures here at Polaris. The main dishes ranged from jerk chicken to vegetable lasagna. The deserts from carrot cake to cinnamon buns. Others brought plates and napkins… it was a great event and all participants agreed it was very well received and definitely worth doing again next Family Day!

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Employee diversity shapes our world and expands our perspective

By Rebecca Muyano, Polaris Transportation Human Resources Manager

photoPolaris Transportation, like our city, is comprised of many cultures; Canadian, European, Spanish, French, Indian and Filipino…to name a few. Because the Polaris team is receptive to new ideas and traditions, we celebrate many different holidays and share in the foods specific to the diverse groups within our organization.

Polaris has over 300 employees, so every culture tends to be well represented. The celebrations are not organized in a formal fashion and tend to be initiated by our employees. Our team members do gather and share their traditions throughout the year.

One such celebration is Diwali, which stands for the Festival of Lights and is observed every autumn by members of our team from East Indian and Sikh backgrounds. It is an ancient tradition and signifies the victory of light over darkness. Samosa, sweets and sometimes roti and curry are brought in and shared with our staff.Picture 061[2][2]

We have a Filipino group who tend to celebrate with rice cakes, pansit and egg rolls, while others go for pizza or good old fashioned donuts and coffee. President of Polaris Transportation, Larry Cox states, “In the early years we gave back to the community by doing fundraisers for Sick Kids Hospital and CHUM Christmas Wish. We continue to support these charities. Now, with our diverse culture, we are proud to honour and support their traditions too. At Polaris, every position is important and every person plays a key role in our journey for excellence.”

Our people move freight. These are their stories: David (Charlie) Oldham

Two names are better than one for this Polaris driver! Charlie Oldham

David (Charlie) Oldham has spent his life behind the wheel and the last 16 years with Polaris. He met David Cox in the mid-nineties when they both worked at another carrier. When David Cox went to work with his father at Polaris, David Oldham followed.

The company was smaller then and David Oldham came off the road for a few years to work in the office at Polaris to care for his young daughter, Jacqueline. He explains,” I was managing an account in Stoney Creek that gave us a lot of work de stuffing sea containers. Dave Cox was also heavily involved with the account. The client, a gal named Melanie, suggested one of us had to change our name. I took her advice and the name Charlie she suggested. The name stuck and I’ve been known as Charlie ever since.”

After his daughter was on her way, the renamed Charlie returned to his first love as a long haul driver doing a weekly Polaris run to Atlanta. Over his 37 year driving career he has been all over North America and even did a stint as a local driver in the Toronto and surrounding areas.

A couple of years ago Charlie decided his days on the road were complete but he didn’t want to stop working. “Dave and Larry Cox have been great to me. They gave me a job inside when my daughter was young and gave me a job in their yard security when my driving days were done. The best move I ever made was following Dave Cox here in ’98. Polaris has always been a great place for me and I’m proud to be one of the many long term employees here.

Keeping it in the family

Tom Przybyla started his career in transportation as a direct result of his father and Dave Cox. Tom explains “My Dad drove for Polaris and one day Dave, pleased with my Dad’s performance asked if he had any sons. The next day I interviewed and started what is now a 15 year career with the big yellow star.

Both Tom and his Dad (Dariusz), who is still driving, enjoy working with Polaris. Tom says “The people here are great and it’s a terrific pleasure to work here”. Tom heads up the Customs Department at Polaris…a critical component for a Cross Border carrier. He has 15 people who report to him now and his primary role is solving the problems others can’t. Tom adds, “My team is great. I tend to deal with the exceptions that fall outside the norm of our everyday operations. I’m the ‘big’ problem solver and I enjoy the challenge.”

Tom is single and lives in Woodbridge, Ontario. He is crazy about soccer, mostly watching, but occasionally playing a casual pick-up game with his buddies. He is an avid movie buff and would like to carve out time to volunteer with underprivileged kids again, sometime in the near future.

Tom was half way through a degree in History at York University when he joined Polaris. Tom says, “I was thinking of being a teacher back then. Today, I like to consider myself a self-taught Professor of Customs Procedures. When the opportunity came to join Polaris and work with my Dad, I jumped at it and have never looked back.”

When Polaris Says “Take me out to the ball game, we don’t kid around”

A record turnout of Polaris employees and their families attended the afternoon Jays game against the St. Louis Cardinals on Saturday June 7th. Our company was well represented at the game with over 225 attending. Although the Jays got smoked by the Cardinals with 4 runs in the eighth inning, that didn’t stop our crew from having a super time.

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Alex Kudinov and his family

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John Giunta, Chris Bante and his son

It’s a great event for the kids especially. There are many activities for them to enjoy like meeting the mascots Ace and Junior, face painting and even running the bases at the end of the game. There’s nothing like a ball game, the fresh outdoors, great friends and family sharing the day together. President Larry Cox states, “We encourage these kind of activities. It’s great to get to know each other outside of work and learn more about each other. Sharing an afternoon together creates memories that last a lifetime.”

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Ted Jeszka

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Turpin Cagan and his family

Along with running the bases, kids under the age of 14 also get a chance to dress up in their Blue Jays gear for a chance to win prizes and be seen on the large video board. When it comes to the Polaris team spending a day with the Jays… everyone is a winner!

Our people move freight. These are their stories: Rami Ablacksingh

Rami Ablacksingh has worked numerous jobs since moving to Canada from Trinidad, but it was not until joining the Polaris team that he found his passion.

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As the Lead Loading Supervisor, Rami co-ordinates, assigns, and reviews the activities of the cross dock operation. “We are responsible for getting the right freight on the right trailers to locations all over North America,” Rami says. The loading crew works on a tight deadline as it all has to happen between 1pm and 9pm to meet the delivery schedules.

“It’s a very important job,” Rami says. “I love what I’m doing- The environment and the people are wonderful and it’s very rewarding to see everything take shape on a daily basis. The loading team has a genuine camaraderie, it makes working here fun and we always help and encourage each other to do our best.”

The team also partakes in a few activities outside of work. Getting together for a pizza and a few laughs is a common occurrence and a Blue Jays game is in the works in the near future.

Rami has one son, one daughter, and five grandchildren. He likes to keep active and plays in the Overseas Cricket Club in Toronto. Rami also notes, “My family members are all Leafs fans and enjoy watching the games together. I love the game even though I’ve never played.”

“I wake up every day and I thank the Lord that I found a career where I can be proud of what I do, can help grow our company and do my part to keep our customers happy.”

Our people move freight. These are their stories: Tim Erich

Tim Erich has spent his whole life in transportation. “No two days are the same,” Tim explains. “That’s what I really enjoy. My favourite part of the job is dealing with all different kinds of people, both internally and with our customers, on a daily basis.”

Tim Erich started his career behind the wheel in 1976. Over the years, he worked his way through the ranks and joined Polaris as General Manager in 2006. Tim works out of Willoughby, Ohio, which is a small town of just over 22,000 right on the coast of Lake Erie and manages a staff of 16 people. Since he knows the industry inside and out, moving into the operations side of the business was a natural next step. “It was an easy transition for me,” says Tim. “Working in Ohio is really ideal – I know every nook and cranny of this state.”

As GM, Tim’s responsibilities range from allocating resources, to overseeing every aspect of the operation to ensure everything runs smoothly. After years as a driver, Tim admits that sometimes he still misses the open road. Over the course of his years delivering freight, he met some great people and had some really fantastic experiences. “I’d have to say my favourite place to travel is Cincinnati, Ohio. It’s a beautiful city – the history, the culture, the people. You really make a lot of friends being on the road. And you keep them. ”

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Even though Tim’s key role lies in managing Polaris’ Ohio office now, he still hops in a truck once and awhile when the opportunity arises. “In this business, you do what you need to in order to serve the customers and get the job done,” says Tim.

When Tim isn’t at work, he enjoys traveling. “Arizona is beautiful this time of year,” he notes. He also loves spending time with his 2-year old grandson. “He loves to come to the terminal here and see the big trucks and the trains. I think it reminds him of his favourite show – Thomas the Tank Engine.” A member of the Polaris team in the making, perhaps?