by Peter Carter
Geez," the long-distance operator remarked when I asked for Paul Brandt's
number, "I didn't know he was into trucks, too."
I was searching for Paul Brandt Trucking, in Winnipeg. The 411-operator thought
I was asking about Paul Brandt the country singer. Last year, the 32-year old
dusted off and made a hit out of that old trucking song "Convoy."
You know the one - when it came out 27 years ago, it threw the CB radio market
into skyrocket mode because all kinds of non-truckers were lured into the language
of the airwaves. Brandt, who says he grew up hearing his dad and uncles in Alberta
singing the song, was encouraged by his wife Liz to record the song last year
after they heard it on the radio in Nashville. It's been on the Canadian airwaves
However, I wasn't looking for that Paul Brandt. I was searching for the trucker.
In the video for the hit, Brandt the singer uses a 2004 Pete 379 belonging to
Paul Brandt Trucking. I wanted to find out what that kind of exposure means
to the bottom line.
Turns out there's more than one lesson to be learned about trucking as she is
done by the Brandts of the world.
Paul Brandt Trucking has been around since before Paul Brandt the country singer
was born, but in the early-1990s, the Alberta-born songwriter was performing
at the Morris, Man., rodeo, and Paul Brandt the fleet owner showed up and introduced
himself. His idea? He would deliver the trucker to the stage in one of his Western
Stars. That was the first time Paul Brandt the singer rode in a Paul Brandt
The Brandts (they're unrelated) exchanged addresses, then after Brandt recorded
"Convoy", his record company contacted the boys at Brandt trucking
- it's now run by Paul's sons Kerry, Bill, and Tracey - asking if they could
use one of the rigs in a dramatic re-enactment of the somewhat famous "Convoy"
In the summer of 2004, Kerry Brandt, his wife Barbara, and their three kids
hopped into a long-nose 2004 Peterbilt with a 63-in. high-rise sleeper, a 500-hp
Detroit under the hood and the best paint job Brandt could muster and headed
up to Wainwright, Alta. Brandt was making his video at the Canadian Forces base
Kerry says that his time up there proved that video making was a lot like trucking.
"I couldn't believe how much waiting around there was," he laughs.
"We shot for four days and it was 12 to 14 hours a day."
The best part? When Brandt the singer sings "we hit the gate doin' 98,"
it was Kerry Brandt behind the wheel. "It was me drivin' all right, even
though you can't see me in the video." Kerry also took the truck on the
Paul Brandt tour last summer, and when Brandt hosted the Country Music Awards,
not only did the Pete attend, but so did 60 of the trucking company's employees,
courtesy of Brandt bros.
Like the singer, who is one of Canada's most decorated country artists, Paul
Brandt Trucking has grown into star status since the founder (Kerry's dad Paul)
started hauling logs around Northwestern Ontario. These days, they have 45 trucks
and 70 trailers, hauling grain, feed, and general freight throughout Western
Canada and the U.S.
So, did the video do anything for the trucker's bottom line? Kerry says there's
little doubt it was good for business.
"We can't say we've had more revenue because of it, but it sure makes
you feel proud. There was lots of media coverage and any coverage is good for
Singer Brandt and his wife also autographed the cab and its interior, so when
the driver now makes one of his regular trips into Oklahoma or Texas, he always
attracts attention. "That's another thing," Kerry says. "I think
when drivers are proud of their trucks, they'll like their jobs more. It's good
Finally, Paul the singer has a reputation for being a good guy. He's involved
with his church, and with good causes locally and abroad. "You gotta like
having somebody with that kind of reputation spreading your name around,"
What about the other way around? Did having that beautiful Peterbilt help the
song earn hit status?
"No question it was a catalyst," the singer says with a laugh during
an interview from his home in Calgary (he also has one in Nashville). "Convoy"
was a serious career boost.
"Because of that song, I had all kinds of new faces at concerts,"
Brandt says. "I was used to seeing the typical young country crowd and
suddenly I was seeing mechanics and truck drivers and guys my dad's age out
The album featuring "Convoy" is called This Time Around, and it's
available across Canada. The video's in medium rotation on the CMT network,
and Paul the singer says the song is receiving an increasing amount of airplay
in the States. You can find out more by checking www.paulbrandt.com.
Another side effect? Just before Christmas, Paul and Liz - the Nashville Brandts,
who devote a lot of time to charitable causes, visited children in Cambodia
to bring them Christmas presents, as part of an organization called Samaritans
First. Joining the team of philanthropists? Barbara Brandt, of Paul Brandt Trucking,
from Winnipeg. Sounds to us like a convoy.
Another Brandt Name Product
Kerry, Bill, and Tracy, and Paul Brandt aren't the only Manitoba truckers
with showy iron. Cousin Mark, whose dad is company founder Paul's brother,
is a familiar name at local show-and-shines. And Mark, based in Arborg,
Man., insists his award-winning Petes and Kenworths are worth every coat
of paint. For one thing, he says, the carefully tended trucks keep drivers
He keeps a fleet of 15 grain-haulers busy around the Western provinces,
and he says he's not having driver-retention problems. "You give
drivers the trucks they want, and they'll stay around longer."
Not only that, but he acknowledges that keeping them north of the border
and away from the problems associated with customs helps too. "I
only go into the States a bit," he says. "I guarantee my guys
will be home every weekend, and very often they get home at least once
But driver retention's only part of the reason he gives so much attention
to his rigs. "I grew up in this business. Good looking trucks are
in my genes."