Jagdesh (Jack) Lochand believes traveling is the best experience one can ever have.
He should know.
Lochand, 62, has been traveling since he was 17, when he joined the Nordic merchant navy as a sailor on a chemical carrier.
“I saw almost half of the world – the whole of the Caribbean, the whole of South America and the whole of Europe. I had also been to parts of Africa, and of course, all countries in North America.”
Lochand was born in the South American country of Guyana in a family of immigrants from India. He grew up in a farm, where he had “plenty of opportunities” to operate agricultural equipment at an early age.
But it was the 11-year career at sea that changed his view of the world, and life itself. For the same reason, he considers himself as a graduate of the school of hard knocks.
Lochand worked his way up from a messboy to a mechanic, and finally to the most satisfying job he ever had – chef.
“It was a pleasure to cook for many different nationalities.”
So, when he arrived in Canada in 1989, he knew where exactly he wanted to work. After stints at several restaurants, Lochand decided it was time to open his own eatery.
In 1997, Lochand and his wife Shaira opened Jack and Ann’s Family Restaurant Cafe in Scarborough, Ont., which specialized in Caribbean food.
“This restaurant lasted eight months only because there was a recession, and I lost all my savings,” Lochand said, referring to the ripple effects of the Asian financial crisis of 1997.
It was difficult to get back to the industry.
Three more years passed before Lochand decided to turn to trucking as he already had some experience driving heavy vehicles in Guyana.
He enrolled at Adanac Truck Training as a student in 1999. The school was run by Wayne Campbell, the former president of the Truck Training Schools of Ontario (TTSAO), with whom he built up a good relationship.
Lochand graduated in early 2000.
“The very next day, I went to the United States, hauling steel on a flatbed. Later I become an owner-operator.”
Lochand drove trucks for 10 years before acquiring Adanac on Campbell’s death. He renamed the school Alpine Truck Driving.
“The school was named after the alpine trees I saw on my travels to Europe,” he said.
Alpine also owns a small fleet, but Lochand is now focused on driver training.
“I am not just teaching them how to drive trucks, I am giving them a new life,” he said.
“I don’t care how long it takes for me to train them. The program is eight weeks, but some people need more time. There are slow learners and fast learners. Everybody learns differently.”
Lochand said working as a driving instructor is no different from working as a sailor. What matters most is the attitude, he said.
“Whatever you do, you have to have a good positive attitude to be successful.”
Since Alpine was launched 10 years ago, Lochand has trained some 1,000 people.
“One of the students was a medical doctor, who couldn’t find a job in his filed. So, he came here to learn and become a truck driver.”
Lochand and his wife have two daughters, Shellisa and Angelina, and a son, Aaron. They live in Markham, Ont.
Lochand spends his free time watching or playing cricket.
“And you know what, cricket is what motivated me to teach driving,” he said.
“It is just like a game we are playing. If we want to win this game, we have to be a team player.”
Feature By : Abdul Latheef