Gerald Sandham, Highway Dispatch
After a long and outstanding career in the transportation industry, Gerald Sandham retired this year. He’s been in transportation since the mid-1970s and a highway dispatcher for Polaris Transport since 2005. “I’ve been in highway dispatch since 1991,” says Gerald. “A big part of my job used to be taking care of communicating with drivers, dispatching them to deliveries…with Polaris, I’ve dealt more with terminals—committing to loads and ensuring they’re delivered. It’s a high-responsibility job, but I’ve really enjoyed it.”
Although Gerald’s spent many years in the business, trucking wasn’t his first love. Before he found his place in the transportation industry, Gerald studied horticulture for 2 years—that is, the science, technology, and business involved in cultivating plants for human use. “I was born and raised on a farm and I loved the outdoors,” Gerald explains. After spending a couple of years learning more about his passion and becoming educated in horticulture, Gerald started a landscaping company.
“The work was great; I loved being outdoors and working with plant life, but it was just so seasonal,” says Gerald. So, over 40 years ago, finding himself in need of work during the winter, Gerald joined his brothers’ trucking company as a driver.
This led to a change in direction for Gerald and his family—especially when he and his brothers sold their interests to a company in Toronto. “This is when I really got involved in the transportation industry,” said Gerald. “I was asked to go help integrate the existing customers for the new company in Toronto.” The biggest change, according to Gerald, was moving his family to a big city from a small town. It was a little bit of a culture shock, he admits, but they found ways to adjust.
After spending years as a truck driver, Gerald made the switch to dispatcher in ’91. But, he says, he’ll never forget where he got his start. “I’ve had a lot of great experiences in this industry.”
One of the most important values as a member of the transportation industry, according to Gerald, is responsibility to the client and commitment to delivering the load. It was the eve of a Sharon, Lois and Bram concert – the popular children’s entertainment group from the 1980s – and a delivery of their CDs was set to go from Toronto to Cleveland for the show. When Gerald arrived at work in Toronto the morning of the show, he found the shipment of CD’s sitting in the loading dock—they hadn’t been placed on a truck! Thinking quickly, Gerald grabbed the shipment, loaded it on a pickup truck and made the delivery to Cleveland himself.
“No matter what your role, when you take on the responsibility of delivering a load, he most important thing is following through on that commitment,” said Gerald.
Although he’s worked his last official day at Polaris, Gerald will continue to be on-call for duty for the next little while. “I think the best thing I’ve taken away from my time at Polaris and in the transportation industry is the friendships. I’ve worked with some great people and it’s really stuck with me,” said Gerald.
Gerald’s plans for his retirement are family-centric, focusing on re-discovering his love of horticulture and working on his beautiful vintage car—a 1951 Admiral blue Lincoln.