“My Pop trained Dad, and my Dad got to train me. That’s what’s meant the most to me.”
Laurenceton, Newfoundland & Labrador is home to about 180 people. Among its residents are father and son, Steve and Jesse Hutchings. An openly friendly pair, they run fuel as Owner Operators, partnering with RST’s light fuel division. As our JDI Generations feature family, they remind us that nothing is stronger than a family bond, and that there’s no feeling better than coming home to loved ones at the end of the day.
| Right: Steve Hutchings (L) and son, Jesse (R) in front of their trucks. Left: One of the Hutchings’ trucks, photography by Jesse Hutchings.
We recently spoke with Steve and Jesse over the phone and can’t wait for you to hear their story!
Interviewer: How did you get into the business?
Steve: I’ve been a tanker driver almost 30 years. I’ve been an Owner Operator now for 24 years, hauling in the petroleum industry – everything from jet fuel, diesel and light petroleum product. Basically, I’d deliver to airports, service stations, and boats. Whatever was on the go. About six months ago, Jesse, my son, showed a nice bit of interest it. He said he’d like to get involved in the tanker industry as well. So, I made some phone calls and RST was interested in him.
He worked with me almost three months, learning the ins and outs, the training and driving aspects, learning the roads and destinations across Newfoundland. After that, he started off driving on his own.
Jesse: I grew up around trucks my whole life, you know. My grandfather hauled fuel for several years too. Dad got interested and started running with him. And the same thing happened to me. It’s a good feeling to be in the business. It’s something we’ve all done and took a bit of pride in. We all had the same interest for it.
Interviewer: What does your operation look like?
Steve: It’s just myself and Jesse. We do shift work to provide a service seven days a week for RST. It’s a business that can be unpredictable, things change load by load and hour by hour.
Jesse: It’s nice because you make time for being at home, and you’re not gone for long periods of time. Plus, you’re not sharing the truck with a stranger. You know the truck will be just as clean as you’re leaving it yourself. And there’s the communication between us too.
Steve: We communicate all the time…weather-wise, load-wise, safety issues, truck issues. We’re basically a team and we make it work.
Interviewer: What is something unique about working with family?
Steve: Me and Jesse? Well I always called him ‘my little buddy’ right from when he was three years old and started hanging around me and the trucks. And I still call him [that] even though we’re working together. We communicate and there’s never an issue…Business is business and family is family, but overall, it’s a relationship where, if he has an issue, he can talk to me about it. Or if we have an issue, we’ll talk to whoever and get it straightened out.
There’s a bond. When he goes out on the road, there’s a hug and a “safe travels on your journey.” You feel good when he goes out, knowing that everything is good between us.
Jesse: There are no blind spots with family. Communication is one of the biggest things. Whenever there’s an issue, you’re talking almost constantly. Also we kind of live across the road from each other, in the same area. And Pop [Steve’s father] is in the same area as me.
|Jesse Hutchings, pictured with his truck.
| Left: A younger Jesse Hutchings, pictured near his father’s truck. Right: Steve Hutchings, holding an infant Jesse, in the cab of his truck.
Interviewer: What do you like to do outside of work?
Steve: Some days when we’re doing a shift change, we try to end up together around suppertime. We do a lot of snowmobiling together, so we try to plan a few days around work for the whole family to go on a snowmobile trip. We go motorcycling together when we can, and boating. And every time we’re together off shift, we try to have supper or get together for coffee in Lewisporte. Whenever we can, we make time.
| Steve Hutchings (L) and son, Jesse (R) taking some family time.
Interviewer: Jesse, your photography is amazing. How do you do it and why?
Jesse: A lot of them nice pictures is what you’d call spur of the moment. You stop on the side of the road for a stretch or something and you look at the truck and say, boy that could be a nice picture. And [when] I get home, I’ll look and say, boy that’s a nice picture!
| One of the Hutchings’ trucks, photography by Jesse Hutchings.
Interviewer: What is your most memorable moment at work?
Steve: Some people say it’s hard to work together as a family, but we have a bond that’s there every time we pick up the phone or meet up. That feeling when he goes on the road is – wow. That’s the moment. Every time we trade off shifts and leave. Those are the memories that stand with me.
And, at the very beginning of training I said to Jesse, ‘if you’re ever in doubt, there’s something not right.’ If you’re second guessing yourself, you research, you make phone calls, you call the weatherman. You clarify so that when you leave to do whatever you got to do, you’re comfortable. And now, Jesse will call me sometimes and say, ‘Dad, I’m a little bit in doubt.’ And that memory stands, maybe especially because it’s his first winter driving.
Jesse: You know, my father always involved me with things growing up. As a child, even with Skidoos and quads and stuff. And those types of things – with the quads and the trailer – that’s what helped me when I got old enough to try things like the truck. It made it easier. He was always involved.
| Steve (L), Pop (M) and Jesse (L); representing three generations of tanker drivers.
Jesse: One of the most special things [for me] is that my Pop trained my Dad, and then just a year or so ago, my Dad got to train me. You don’t hear that too often, especially over three generations. That’s one of those things that’s stood out the most, just getting to spend that time and RST letting me train with my Dad and putting their trust in us and what we’re doing… That memory of him training me will stand years down the road.