Zero Accidents and Commitment to Safety Earn MacKinnon Transport and Upper Lakes Foods the Volvo Trucks Safety Award

The awards were announced at the American Trucking Associations Management Conference & Exhibition in Phoenix.

High standards and demonstrated commitments to safety in the trucking industry were recognized today when MacKinnon Transport, Inc. and Upper Lakes Foods, Inc. were named winners of the 2010 Volvo Trucks Safety Award.  The awards were announced at the American Trucking Associations Management Conference & Exhibition in Phoenix.

For the second straight year, Volvo Trucks decided to find the safest fleets in North America and celebrate their achievements with the Volvo Trucks Safety Award.  Michelin America Truck Tires joined Volvo Trucks in 2010 as a supporting sponsor of the award.

“I am proud to say that our industry has continued to invest in safety – even during the difficult economic times we have been through recently,” said Ron Huibers, Volvo senior vice president, sales and marketing.  “As it is at Volvo Trucks, safety is an integral part of the corporate cultures at both MacKinnon Transport and Upper Lakes Foods, and that doesn’t happen without consistent, sustained effort at every level.”  

“Michelin is pleased to stand alongside Volvo Trucks in recognizing fleets truly committed to safety,” said Tim Fulton, Michelin vice president, strategic accounts.  “Upper Lakes Foods and MacKinnon Transport have shown that investments in drivers, equipment and processes pay off in terms of safety.”

At the beginning of 2010, Volvo Trucks invited all U.S. and Canadian fleets with more than five units to apply for the awards.  The awards are given in two categories, one for fleets with less than 20 million miles of annual operation and the other for those with more than 20 million miles.  Fleets were ranked by their accident frequency rates, using the U.S. Department of Transportation definition of a “recordable accident,” as well as their accident prevention programs.  The accident frequency rates accounted for the major portion of each fleet’s ranking.

MacKinnon Transport of Guelph, Ontario (
won the Volvo Trucks Safety Award in the over 20 million mile category.  A family-owned transport solutions provider for more than 75 years, MacKinnon operates approximately 270 trucks, and in 2009 had a remarkable zero (0) recordable accidents during more than 25,162,133 miles of operation. 

MacKinnon’s safety program begins with hiring quality drivers and giving them comprehensive training and support.  Rigorous maintenance and operational standards are applied to the fleet, and safety equipment, including mandatory electronic on-board recorders, is found in all of its trucks.

“The culture at MacKinnon Transport is a Safety First Attitude,” said Evan MacKinnon, President and CEO.  “In addition to the various safety programs and procedures we have in place, everyone is encouraged to speak freely if they’re aware of something that could be unsafe.  It’s one of the key reasons why we’ve been able to attract and retain such a great group of people – including drivers.  The safety features that are in the Volvo truck are really second to none, and we have a lot of drivers who want to drive a Volvo for that reason.  We wouldn’t win an award like this without a company-wide commitment to safety.  And our drivers are at the forefront of that commitment.” 

MacKinnon Transport representatives provide more information about the company’s approach to safety in a video at:        

Upper Lakes Foods of Cloquet, Minnesota ( won the Volvo Trucks Safety Award in the under 20 million mile category.  With a fleet of 42 trucks, Upper Lakes Foods had an impressive zero (0) recordable accidents in 2009 during 2,862,885 million miles of operation.

Established in 1967, Upper Lakes Foods is a family-owned, full-line foodservice distributor covering the upper Midwest, including Minnesota, Wisconsin, North Dakota, Iowa, Illinois and Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.  Upper Lakes Foods has focused on driver selection and training, enforcing safe operational practices, and creating an environment that values safety – from top management to each driver in the fleet.  In the past couple of years, the company has put even more time and resources into driver and employee safety.  Accident prevention, both on the road and at distribution points, has boosted employee morale and helped the company’s bottom line.

“We’re a very family-oriented company,” said Shawn Sorensen, vice president of operations.  “We stepped up our safety-related efforts with the health and well being of our employees in mind.  But our renewed emphasis on safety is paying other dividends as well.” 

“There’s no denying that over the last couple of years we’ve seen a dramatic reduction in the medical and indemnity payments we’ve been making,” said Jeff Laabs, Upper Lakes Foods’ chief financial officer. 

“We have a particular emphasis on the driver because of what they do – long hours behind the wheel, getting in and out of the truck all day, lifting and moving loads up and down ramps” said Brian Sorensen, safety and health manager for Upper Lakes Foods.  “We also want to make sure they’re in the safest possible truck.”

“When we were trying to decide what trucks to buy, safety was a key reason why we went with Volvo,” added Shawn Sorensen.  “Winning the Volvo Trucks safety award means a tremendous amount to us, our employees and the local community.” 

Upper Lakes Foods representatives provide more information about the company’s approach to safety in a video at:

Volvo Trucks North America’s operations and products are guided by the company’s three core values:  Safety, Quality and Environmental Care.  The Volvo VN and VHD trucks are assembled in the United States at the New River Valley Plant in Dublin, Virginia, while Volvo engines for North America are assembled in Hagerstown, Maryland. Both plants are certified to ISO14001 environmental and ISO9001 quality standards.

Volvo Trucks North America is part of the Volvo Group, one of the world's leading manufacturers of trucks, buses and construction equipment, drive systems for marine and industrial applications, aerospace components and services, and one of the world's leading producers of heavy-diesel engines (9-16 liter).  The Group also provides complete solutions for financing and service. The Volvo Group, which employs about 96,000 people, has production facilities in 19 countries and sells their products in more than 180 markets.  Volvo Group sales for 2009 amounted to approximately $29 billion.  The Volvo Group is a publicly-held company headquartered in Gothenburg, Sweden.  Volvo Shares are listed on Nasdaq OMX Nordic Exchange and are traded OTC in the U.S.

October 19, 2010

For further information, please contact John Mies, Volvo Trucks North America, phone 336-393-4300, email