I was introduced to Cody Trasewich by good friend Mike (Motor) Rosenau. Motor said that Cody is a good example of a young driver who was raised in a trucking family and has a great work ethic and attitude. After talking to Cody, I can only say the industry needs more young men like him.
My name is Cody Tarasewich. I was born in Kelowna, BC, in 1992 and grew up just north of it in Oyama. I have loved trucks for as long as I can recall. Growing up with my family in the industry is probably the cause.
My father owns a trucking company consisting of logging and gravel trucks, and since I was a kid, I knew I always wanted to drive. I would sit in the passenger seat with Dad just about every chance I could. So many of my childhood memories are in the passenger seat of a western star. The first truck I drove was a 1986 Kenworth W900 five-axle long logger. I was riding with Dad in the bush like usual when he stopped and said, "You want to drive?" It was a forest service road just off Beaver Lake main, and he was the only one hauling on it. I was only 8 or 9, and I don't even remember how we got the truck in gear and moving. But I still remember the excitement; even though we were just idling along, I was over the moon. Dad's advice was to keep that KW logo on the hood pointed to the middle of the road and follow the other tracks to dodge the rocks.
We only went a couple of km before he took over again, but the passion for driving was definitely ignited that day. Once I got a bit older, I'd start moving them around in the yard when servicing and greasing and trying to teach myself how to shift in the process. And, of course, jumping in and backing it up to the trailer loader in the mill when I was riding along. In hindsight, with today's world of safety, the mills would not tolerate that.
One of my fonder memories was taking off of high school one day when I had a spare class to go up to the bush with Dad. We were in a 95 Western Star with a jeep and a pole trailer, and he let me drive up empty right to the landing. Dad was loading himself, so I sat in the driver's seat, calling out the weights to him. When he finished, I helped him wrap the load, and then he said. "You might as well keep going!" I was ecstatic. It was my first time driving a loaded truck.
It was a slow trip, and I remember constantly asking what gear I should be in to come down the hills. Dad would just say, "Oh, that one will work. Just feel out the truck." I was a bit hard on the brakes here and there, but when we got to the bottom I was shaking with excitement.
It seemed only fitting that I would take a truck to my graduation. It was 2010, and at the time, my favourite truck was a 2005 set forward Western Star tri-drive with a triaxle long logger. I was out partying with my friends the night before, but unlike the rest of them, I was up at 6 am polishing wheels. Dad drove it close to the school so I could drive it from there.
That solidified my love for trucking. The day I turned 19, I went for my knowledge test at ICBC and then jumped in the lowbed with Dad, this time at the wheel going through town. It was exciting and frightening all at the same time.
Even though I got my learners as soon as possible, it took me about ten months to get my full license. I was already in college doing a business course and working for a construction company in my spare time. That year at college, I also met Katie, my future wife, so I didn't get to the test as soon as I thought I would. I was so busy with work and my education that finding time to jump in with Dad and help him with gravel deliveries was hard. I was with him when I could, though, and it was quite the role reversal to finally be in the driver's seat instead of the passenger.
Once I passed the road test, I worked full-time for the construction company and didn't drive as much as I thought I would. All that time, my Dad kept bugging me to pursue the education I had received in college and stay out of a truck. But an office job wasn't for me, and against his wishes, I ended up going to Fort McMurray and working for a camp company.
It was a lot of hard work and long hours, but the experience was great. I started just running equipment and doing some labour. Then they realized I had my class 1. So at 20, only having my license a few months, I got thrown into a highway truck with a trombone step deck and started moving shacks from the laydown yard to the staging yard and then to the crane.
It was a great way to perfect my backing techniques. The shacks were never left lined up very well, and it could be quite difficult to get the right angles when backing underneath them while trying to miss the cribbing. They also had a specialized Manac trailer, made back east, for placing the shacks. It was amazing what could be done with that trailer. It had hydraulic cylinders on top of the fifth wheel plate and the rear suspension. When lifted fully, it could clear 8-foot pilings. Backing a shack through the piles with it that high in the air was definitely unsettling and kept a guy on his toes.
Once that construction phase slowed, I did various things for them, including pulling a Belly Dump and a Landoll and hauling water into the camps. All of which furthered my trucking experience. The Landoll was by far my favourite. It was so versatile for us and allowed me to move construction materials to sea cans and equipment.
Eventually, construction came to an end on the project, and after a summer of running a volumetric cement mixer and placing concrete, I was ready for a change. I left for a winter to drive a tanker in Grande Cache. Being from BC, I was confident with my winter and mountain driving skills. I was still surprised when I got there to find myself in the mountains and foothills of the Rockies. That was my first winter of actually having to run chains regularly. The challenge was new and exciting for me, and it was amazing how much better shape a guy got in when he was throwing on 2 or 3 sets of triples multiple times a day.
While I was doing the tanker work, my previous company called me and told me they had a new tri-drive T800, which turned out to be one of my favourite trucks, and would love me to come back. How could I say no! Even though I loved working in the mountains, the hours and company housing left me missing the camp life. It was much easier to work those long days and just come back to camp to have all your meals prepared for you.
The truck was purchased to lowbed, but in the meantime, I would be hauling shacks from Penticton, BC, to Fort McMurray. So I jumped at the opportunity. It was my first long-haul job, and it would get me close to home a couple of times a week, which was a welcome change from the three weeks on one week off rotation.
The shacks were 14-16 feet wide and my first dimensional loads on the highway. Those first few loads, I don't think my head stopped moving while watching the mirrors. I was so concerned about hitting something, but every load made it without sustaining any damage.
My pilot was even bragging to the other drivers one day. "My Cody doesn't hit anything," he said. I had a good little chuckle at that because earlier that same day, leaving the brake check before Merrit, I caught the corner of a garbage can and gave it a good spin. There was no harm done though.
After that build finished, my highway hauling was over. The oil sands had quite the downturn, so I was laid off with most of the construction crew, and my truck was sold soon after. Fortunately, I had already made plans to return home and work for my father that summer. I just had to start six months earlier.
So at the start of 2015 I started working at home driving a gravel truck. The first year and a half at home were pretty tame and uneventful until I finally convinced Dad to get back into logging and buy a tri-drive for me to drive.
It was a 2000 T800h with a 475 Cat, Jake, and Brake Saver. She was a tired old girl, but she did the job. It only left me stranded once that winter. On a hard pull, about 60 km up a bush road out of Kelowna, the truck spun off a u-joint. Thankfully was still reasonably close to the landing, and a skidder was able to pull me up and out of the way. I came up with a mechanic the next day and fought to get the remenants of that u-joint out and change the short shaft.
Driving that truck was a huge turning point in my career. I became a better driver and learned to cope with driving in various conditions. There were some moments from that season that I will never forget. Such as sliding down a couple hills backwards while trying to make it in empty and barefoot. Once I was even following another empty with no chains. He rounded the corner and kept going with no problem. I got to it, spun out instantly, and slid back about 3 or 4 truck lengths until it stopped. Nothing makes a guy pucker like going back down a hill out of control. And that set of chains seems to go on real quick when you're blocking the road.
That same winter in that truck probably gave me the worst highway conditions I've ever been in. I've driven in snow and storms through the middle of the night with no problems. But my first encounter with freezing rain was something I'll never forget. It was about 4:45 in the morning coming down highway 3 into Rock Creek. I went to leave the brake check and felt the truck spin a bit while I was starting to move. I thought nothing of it. I figured the brake check was just iced up. As I approached the hill, I thought maybe I better take it a bit cool. As I was downshifting, I looked in my mirror to see my trailer sliding across the center line, attempting to pass me. The hardest thing in those situations is realizing I've got to speed up a bit and pull this trailer straight. I managed to get it back in line and slowed myself down enough to stop on the edge of the highway to throw on a set of chains. I recall being able to slide from my front drive axle right to the bumper without lifting a foot. In hindsight, I probably should have put two sets on, but I made it down the hill. Maybe the adrenaline pumping helped me get through it.
When I stopped at the bottom, there was another driver there in a 5-axle highway truck who was literally shaking after coming down the hill. I remember him saying to me I hope you had those chains on to come off a bush road. I had a little laugh with him and then carried on my way. Needless to say, that was a one-load kind of day.
Since that winter, my skill set has definitely improved, I haven't slid backwards down any more hills, and the truck has been upgraded. Currently, we just use our logging trucks in the winter, and for the rest of the year, we are busy hauling gravel.
As for the gravel hauling, I now do much more than the simple foundation backfills I started with. We keep two trucks contracted out to Westridge quarries, the largest gravel pit in the area, and have worked on most of the large job sites in the Kelowna area. Both trucks are 2019 Western Stars that we purchased new with Cummins x15 565/1850.
We go to various job sites and bounce between using tridem pups and quad wagons. The latter takes some skill and considerable seat time to be good. Once you've got it down, you feel pretty proud to be able to do a u-knife and reach out your window and touch the end of your trailer.
My "winter ride," is a 2016 tri-drive Western Star 600/2050 Detroit with a quad hauling three bundles of shorts. There seems to be a fair amount of debate with Western Star owners about which motor is better. Of course, they both have pros and cons, but I'm a bigger fan of the Cummins, especially with the hold back on the engine brake.
I love being able to bounce between the two trucks. Having the logger in the winter can really help the mental state of being and boredom that can sometimes come with the repetitive gravel hauls. But at the same time, gravel allows me to have a good family life and not get up at ridiculous times of the night. Katie and I also welcomed our first child, a son named Emmett, this February, so having that home-work balance is something I strongly value.
Both the gravel and logging have pros and cons. Some days I would love to be doing the opposite, but overall am happy with my position.
As for what the future holds, it's hard to say. Both industries can be boom or bust, but we are established enough to stay busy. We have one more New Western star on order for gravel and may even consider making it convertible so that I can stay in one truck. My father is also considering retirement, so in the next couple of years, I'll be transitioning to being the owner of a truck or two.
Some days the challenges in this industry can be gruelling and exhausting. But also extremely rewarding with what you can accomplish and with the people you meet along the way. I don't foresee myself doing anything different and look forward to seeing if my son will take to the industry as I did.