Former student takes over Weyburn truck driving school

The Third Day Training Centre, a school to train semi truck drivers to get their Class 1 licenses, is now under new ownership.

Jordan Hopfe, who is a former student of the school, has bought the school from longtime operator Eugen Prokott, who will stay on as an instructor at the school.

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Hopfe drove a long-haul truck for five years after earning his Class 1 licence, and decided he would like to pass on his knowledge and experience as a driver to up and coming semi drivers.

In the aftermath of the Humboldt bus crash, which took the lives of several members of the Humboldt Broncos SJHL team, standards for truck drivers were strengthened in Saskatchewan to ensure all drivers meet the proper level of standards.

The requirement now is for a driver to have 121.5 hours of training, of which 47 hours is in a class setting, with the rest in the truck doing practical driving on the road.

Hopfe noted the road test by SGI can be tough, as a driver needs to be able to perform any manouevre requested of them.

For example, there are three methods for backing up a semi, and the SGI tester can ask the student to do any one of them during the road test. This is challenging enough that there is 12 to 18 hours devoted to these three methods, to ensure the driver knows how to do any of them well.

Prokott said he will continue as an instructor, and said of Jordan, “He’s my protégé, and I want give any assistance he may need.”

Of the new requirements for drivers, he said, “This industry needs these guidelines. What has not changed is even with more hours, I can’t make a truck driver. I can only teach you the basics of being a safe driver to handle the equipment safely.”

He estimates he’s had about 600 students come through his academy in the time he’s run it, “and now I hand it over to Jordan. I am thankful to the community for the support.”

In the view of both men, learning how to drive a long-haul semi is an investment, and in these times of the COVID-19 pandemic impacting the economy, it’s smart for a person to diversify their skills so they have something they can fall back on, depending on how the economy goes.

Prokott noted he had a 71-year-old man come to take classes in truck driving, and on the opposite end of the scale, a 19-year-old girl did also.

“She learned really well, and got a job in the oilfield. That’s nice to see, that she’s succeeding,” said Prokott.

A change that’s coming that farmers need to be aware of is that SGI will be doing away with the “F” endorsement or farm plate, and as of March 1, 2021, they will need to have the full 121.5 hours of training like all other Class 1 drivers.

“If a farmer has done 40 hours for that endorsement, then they need to have rest of the hours to get their licence,” said Hopfe.

He also noted if anyone lives outside of the Weyburn area but wants to take the training for a Class 1 licence, they have lodgings available for the time it takes to do the training.