At the Sobeys distribution center in Boucherville, Richard Potvin looks like a Swiss army knife. The work of this sixty-year-old, who has 38 years of experience, goes beyond driving a semi-trailer to supply IGA supermarkets. It is he who takes the recruits under his wing and acts as a sort of road safety barometer.

The good news for his employer: the increase in roadworks, obstacles and orange cones has not discouraged this passionate driver. No question of letting go of the wheel. At most, he will perhaps ease up on the number of weekly hours spent at work.

“I’m not thinking about my retirement yet,” says Mr. Potvin, laughing, during an interview with La Presse. It’s a passion. You have to have it, because you can’t hide it: being a driver has good days. Today is my lie-in, I started at 5am. Usually it’s 3:30 a.m. I get up without a dial. When you get up without a dial, it’s because you love your job. »

Mr. Potvin divides his time between the driver’s and passenger’s seats. The reason ? He is also the trainer of the place – one of the company’s five distribution centers across Quebec – for drivers for more than 25 years. His professional career also led him to teach in a private school for more than seven years.

For him, sharing knowledge is essential. Many recruits go through road transport training centers before becoming professional drivers. The tricks of the trade that cannot be taught in school are often taught by Mr. Potvin.

“Someone, for example, who has no anticipation and who brakes at the last minute, the thing to do is to lower their bench,” he illustrates. When you lower the bench, your head goes backwards. You will look further and be able to anticipate better. It’s things like that. It can’t be learned. It’s experience. »

A trainer with such a profile is worth his weight in gold. When Mr. Potvin gives the green light, the company has peace of mind, says distribution center director Daniel Parisé. She knows the driver will be “100% autonomous.”

“When hiring, I have already interviewed the candidate,” adds Ms. Robinson. Richard assesses it. After that, we compare. If the candidate has good potential, we say yes. We work jointly. We don’t let him go if he’s not safe. »

Mr. Potvin’s expertise behind the wheel of a heavy truck is also evident outside of Sobeys. He is a regular at the provincial championship for professional truck drivers, organized by the Saint-Jérôme Road Transport Training Center. The pandemic has meant that this skills competition, where maneuvers in restricted spaces are in the spotlight, has not taken place since 2019.

Nevertheless, the reigning champion is him. In addition to obtaining first place in the “five-axle” category, it was also Mr. Potvin who left with the title of “grand champion”.

“Theoretically, it’s supposed to start again next year,” Mr. Potvin says.

Bad news for his opponents: he seems to have the desire to defend his title.

“I always say that at some point you have to know how to walk away. Every year, I am asked to go back, Mr. Potvin says with a laugh. I like that. It’s not a chore. I like that, the performance. »