S: Farwest Group - First Canada: A tribute to Alvin F. Zaharko
BC: The Legacy continues What's next...
1: From your Staff, Family, Friends and Colleagues. Please join us as we share our treasured moments with you...
2: Alvin has a fierce glower, a benevolent beam, a quick mind with a long memory, and an insatiable appetite for learning. But most of all, He has a finger. Not just any old finger, that can point, waggle , beckon, accuse or caress, but an extraordinary, exceptional magic finger. With this finger, Alvin can discover things(read: errors!) and enlighten the rest of us less effectively endowed. Alvin - we'll miss your touch!
3: The legacy we have shared with you! | Gene Fabbi | Alvin signing for the aquisition of Farwest, as Gene Fabbi looks on, in 1989 . Rick Wozney, Lawyer & former Mayor -City of Kitimat.
4: 1956 Eugene Fabbi purchased a company called Kitimat Transportation. (Alvin was only 11 years old) and set up Farwest Bus Lines Ltd (Highway charters) and Coastal Bus Lines Ltd (School busing and transit) companies. During the next 18 years, Alvin graduated from high school, and put himself through university, while working as an orderly in the hospital in Edmonton, and then relocated to Kitimat to start working for the District of Kitimat 1977 Alvin, who was working for the District of Kitimat, starts working with Mr. Fabbi as General Manager of the Farwest companies Dec 1978 The companies purchased Quadra Travel, which was renamed Farwest Travel Inc. (Now all that Alvin needed was a private jet to make travel easier). Mar 1979 The companies purchased Haida Coach Lines Ltd and TMC Transportation Co. Ltd - existing Grayline tour companies in Prince RUpert Jan 1983 Purchased the assets from Bradford Urban Services after a successful transit bid in Kamloops. 1984-1985 Started the installations of the CN Compressors to sell natural gas to vehicles, and also to convert vehicles to natural gas in Terrace, Smithers, Prince Rupert and Kitimat. Sept 1984 Purchased the Smithers location and obtained the school contracts for the public and private schools there. 1989 Alvin purchases the Farwest Group of Companies from Mr. Fabbi. May 1990 Purchased Terminal Express - a local pickup/delivery service in Terrace, serving the Pacific Northwest. Sept 1990 Opened the newly built Mohawk service station under the name of Farwest Convenience Services Corp in Kitimat.
5: Oct 1991 Purchased the assets from Accessible Transportation after a successful transit bid in Victoria. April 1998 Sold Farwest Travel Inc to Elan Travel of Terrace. July 1998 Purchased school bus fleet, property, house and shop after a successful school bus bid in Hazelton. Aug 1998 Farwest Head Office and the old Kitimat shop move into the brand new building on the same property. Feb 2001 Farwest Bus Lines consolidated services, employees and equipment by merging Gateway Express into Farwest Bus Lines in Prince Rupert. Apr 2000 Purchased assets from Kelowna Transit after a successful transit bid in Kelowna. Apr 2004 First Canada purchases the Farwest Group of Companies. May 2004 Sold Farwest Convenience Services Corp to Alan Young. Sept 2004 Successful bid for the school bussing on Haida Gwai (formerly the Queen Charlotte Islands). Aug 2007 Purchased the assets from Kia Transit after a successful transit bid for Vernon and Salmon Arm. Apr 2008 Purchased the assets from Township Transit Services after a successful transit bid for Abbotsford and Chilliwack. Sept 2008 Assumed the Cowichan Valley Regional Transit in Duncan, when it was transferred from Greyhound to Farwest HandyDart. Oct 2008 New Malahat Commuter service was awarded to Duncan. Feb2010 Alvin oversead a successful transportation system in the Whistler area for the 23rd Winter Olympics. May 2011 Alvin retires from FirstCanada and the Farwest Group.
6: The Early Years | Barn built in 1951 | Alvin 2 years old | Alvin, Alice & Alanna | Adam and Calla Nov 2007 | Calla Gray Zaharko May 2007 | Alanna 2010 | Life brings simple pleasures to us every day, it is up to us to make them wonderful memories. -Cathy Allen | Alvin and Anita
7: Networking - Getting involved - Making it all happen Corporate and Community partners | Our Common interest "The Customer"
8: Alvin, You made a huge contribution to pubic transit. It's fair to say that you pioneered the contracted services model in BC. In addition, you have a rare ability to both manage the big picture strategically while fully understanding the details of an operation. More than a few transit planners were set straight by Alvin Zaharko! And of course I'd be remiss if I didn't acknowledge the huge contribution you made to the success of the Olympic Service Plan. So from one retiree to another, I wish you many happy and healthy years on the other side. You will be missed. Tony Tony Sharp CA Vice President, Finance & CFO BC Transit
9: Alvin is a true character. When I first met him in 1989, I was with Sandy Forman for contract negotiations. We walked in to the room and Alvin just glanced up from the desk, snarled, and said, "who the hell is this Forman?" Sandy introduced me and Alvin, without looking up, growled. "go ride some buses and learn something. Don't come back for a couple of hours." So I did. Alvin still laughs about that to this day. When I worked for TransLink, I was on the panel reviewing handyDART bids where Alvin was unsuccessful. I had tried my best to convince the company that the higher price was worth the product to no avail, but Alvin didn't know that. I came back to work at BC Transit and was up in Kelowna with two colleagues to tour the garage. Alvin looked up from the washrack, stormed across the yard and without bothering to introduce himself to Erinn and Christy, launched into me. "What the hell are you doing on my property Masterton! Get out of here you miserable ...... When I told him I was now with BC Transit, he lit up with a big grin, lit a cigarette and starting telling all the issues he was having. It was a good 10 minutes before he even noticed Erinn and Christy. Working with Alvin during the Olympics was a chance to see behind the curtain of Alvin and see the man. Talking about his life and seeing his family pictures, hearing that maniacal laugh and big grin, hearing that familiar phrase, "Godammit" and watching him storm out of the operations centre, were one of the highlights of the Games for me. I've enjoyed the verbal sparring sessions with Alvin that always feel like you are in the final round of Jeopardy! I'll miss that. Graeme Graeme Masterton Director, Operational Planning BC Transit
10: Kitimat, BC
12: celebrating 25 years of probation | Kitimat, BC | Philip Malnis, Regional Manager
13: I think that everyone will relate to this. You are looking to purchase a larger item, be it bus, furniture, engines, transmissions, etc. So you approach Alvin with your needs and his reply instantly is – “where is your proposal with all the pros and cons and at least 3 quotes? Come back and see me when you have it together”. He only had to ever tell each of us once and we knew to be prepared before going in the next time we needed something. And then there was the pacing, pacing, and pacing!!!! Alvin, always claims he does not know the difference between debits and credits. So it has been 20 years of training him but I have noticed that in the last 5 years, there are less comments about not knowing the difference. He always insisted on opening the mail, and signed all cheques going out; so that he could keep a mental running total of the bank accounts for each of his 9 companies,. He would be able to give you a balance within 1000.00. He definitely knew his debits and credits and he just wanted to make sure I knew my debits and credits. Alvin has always loved his electronic toys. In the very beginning we had Tandys, with no hard drives, they had two floppy drives – one for the program and one for the data. Lord help you, if you saved to the wrong drive. But soon we were updating as new PC computers came on the market. Alvin always bought the latest and newest when it came out and then his old computer would be passed down to one of us. We would await anxiously after every out of town trip - there was always a brand new gadget returning with Alvin. In those days, Alvin was our IT person and we certainly learned how to fix a lot of our own problems. But then there was the day when I entered ‘delete *.*’ in the wrong directory and ---- there was nothing left. Marianne had wiped the hard drive clean. It would take Alvin a few days to reload all the programs from the 5” floppys, (remember them) restore BUs (and we did have BUs at every point of our data entry for ‘just in case’. ) Once he got it going again, you were continuously reminded of the time that it took, etc. etc. - until the next person did it. But if you wiped the hard drive or similar, you only did it once! Alvin has been a great influence and teacher to all of us who have worked with him, as the companies grew and prospered. He instilled in each of us, to take great pride in our work to ensure that our companies continued to grow and prosper. It has been a wonderful career and I thank you for the opportunity to work with you all these years. Marianne Sweet-Kitimat, BC | Old letter head for important quotes and correspondence
14: Terrace, BC
15: Prince Rupert, BC
16: Kamloops, BC
18: Kamloops Troops
19: Dee's personal memories: - one dozen red roses on my 50th birthday. - knowing how you agonized each time you had to perform a distasteful task because of one of your employees. - getting to know you well enough over the years to know when I can push your buttons & when I should keep my mouth shut. - talking shop with Peter, Carol & you over dinner. Then sitting back with a cup of tea, Peter with a coke, watching you & Carol with your spanish coffees & wondering who'll stop first. - watching your excitement when you first got a new "toy" - cell phone, movie camera, computer, car, dog.. - & being treated to a lengthy lesson on their attributes. - about cell phones, remember the first one we got? It was huge & weighed a ton. You kept barking at Peter for buying it, but I got to pack it around at the BCT conference in my purse so it would be handy for you to use every hour. - never hearing you say "thank you", but somehow I always knew you meant it. How do you do that? - the time Peter applied for a Co.Mastercard without telling you until the statement arrived in Kitimat. - the phone call I got asking why you were paying for Peter's new shoes. Peter & Darlene had gone across the line for a holiday & by accident he used the Co.credit card to pay for two new pair of shoes instead of his personal card. - the early days when the office I now sit in was kept empty & was cleaned only when we knew you & sometimes Mr. Fabbi were coming for a visit.Your own parking spot in front with your name on it. Hard to believe we once had that much space. - my lengthy explanations so you would fully understand on something I needed to advise you about or get direction on - your one-word responses, (Okay, no, yes, send, approved, add) or sometimes even two (see below). - knowing that you really care about the people who work for you & wishing they all knew like I do how hard you work for them. So many memories & such a lot of miles, but they have gone by so quickly. Thanks for the fantastic opportunity of travelling them with you. | Dee Molett, Kamloops, BC
20: My Story. 28 years ago it all began with my journey with Kamloops Transit. I really don’t remember the first time that I met Alvin. However the one of the first times I do remember I met him was in the shop with Tony Lorage the manager at the time. Over the years I became involved with the Union and got to know Alvin slightly. During negotiations one time, the Union president at the time from the Pulp Mill made the comment to me about Alvin that in all negotiations that he ever was involved in “Alvin was the fairest person that he ever dealt with”. As time has passed those words never left me. Alvin demonstrated he had no agenda when it came to his employees, was always fair and he proved that many times. In 1995 when Farwest lost the contract to Laidlaw I was very disappointed as a driver not knowing who my next boss was going to be as I certainly did not want a change. Miraculously Laidlaw withdrew their bid and Farwest was again successful.. Alvin was back in the drivers’ seat even though he ran Kamloops at a loss for the first 2 years to retain the AOA. Alvin demonstrated to me again that he is loyal to his employees. After that event it was a turning point in my life with Farwest. Several years later, I had an opportunity to apply for the position of assistant manager and again for the position of manager which both have been very rewarding. After the first year of becoming manager I asked Alvin (as we all know how very complimentary he is) how I was doing? In his complimentary style all he said, “Have I contacted you”? I replied “ NO” he replied “Well there is your answer”. That was 3 years ago and I still haven’t heard from him and I am certain all is good. As Alvin retires this spring there will be no more one word emails from him such as Yes, No, Done. I am sure you all know what I mean. His pacing when he thinks. His cell phone always ringing, which always required to be answered when you are engaged in a good conversation. His many words of wisdom and wit. I could go on and on. Alvin thanks for the opportunity and the trust that you have given to me. Thank you for believing in me. Congratulations on your retirement Alvin! I have only one question though before you retire and that being said have I passed my probation yet? Ralph Vanderheide Kamloops, BC
21: The old TRS80 I worked on originally was Alvin's pride & joy, but anyone who was a part of the early computer age will know those first run machines were a far cry from today's standards. We worked off floppy's - program in the top & data disc in the bottom. I was as green as they come with "modern" technology & even the terminology was foreign to me. You just kept hoping that you didn't have a power outage or some other disastrous event while both discs were in. Anyway, AZ was in Kamloops on one of his visits to our property & I was once again being treated to a verbal lesson on how wonderful computers were in a way that only Alvin could give.....& on, & on, & on. It was early afternoon & he decided to show me how we could get one of the reports off- it would run for a couple of hours, he said. Well, it got to be 6:00 PM & the machine was still blipping & blurping. No problem, I was told. It would keep running after we left & I would have the most fantastic report when I came in the next morning. It's morning - I arrive bright-eyed & excited to see my new report. I opened the door & in the semi-dark I can see the screen at the back of the room bright as can be with a large message smack in the middle - 'fatal error'. Hmmm, I don't know much about computers yet, but this doesn't seem right to me. I phoned Alvin & hesitatingly told him what I had discovered & added "should there be a print-out on the printer for the report I'm going to get?" - "@xx@#*+^~!", bang! as the phone is returned to the cradle. Hmmm again - that sounds bad! - probably means I'll have to re-input all over again??? Dee Molett, Kamloops, BC | Technology! The excitement, the frustration, but we can no longer live without it!
22: Victoria Regional HandyDART | Vancouver Island Fleet Repairs | Evan & Cameron Blackman Support Services | Robert Allen, Regional Manager | Victoria, BC
24: Victoria HandyDART was no stranger to pioneering Custom Transit Dispatching Technology for BC Transit. Your confidence in the Staff's abilities made this an exciting adventure. | John Cousins, sells Accessible Transportation to Farwest Group Oct 01 1991 | Dart Manager was the first dispatch software used for Victoria Regional HandyDART DOS based software / Manual touring of trips | Rides Unlimited Dispatch System was introduced in the spring/summer of 1992. We were asked to meet every call - Rides were unlimited - What a rush! The excitement created a "Can Do Atmosphere" A Freedom of Possibilities! This allowed us to deliver a level of service that is unmatched today | Trapeze Dispatch Software replaced Rides Unlimited in 1999. Trapeze was introduces as a multi functional dispatching software. The scheduling engine provided what seemed like endless options! | 2004 We were asked to Pilot the Adept Transportation Software introduced by Stratagen. Adept is a customizable resource based, state of the art scheduling engine. Through this project; technologies were developed and tested in Victoria Regional HandyDART that are now in use around the world today. | Blane Quan, Lead Dispatcher. | Training Day April 2011
25: One of my favorite things about Alvin is that when you ask a question it is not only answered but you will usually get a history lesson behind your question. For me this has always been welcomed. For example – At one point many years ago the fuel costs made what I felt was an astronomical jump in price. The per litre on the bulk drops had risen from .50 per litre to .74 which seemed outrageous, I not only learned that Transit negotiated a fixed price for 1 yr and the fuel company was losing money for the remainder of the contract as the cost of the barrel had skyrocketed; I was also given a history lesson in supply and demand ratios. If the producers reduce production the commodity price rises etc. More than I bargained for in my rant on the cost of fuel but appreciated the explanation all the same. On another occasion I was arranging to visit my Daughter in 2001 in Europe where she was working but was extremely nervous(Terrified really) about Flying. Alvin got wind of this trip and my fear and made a call to explain that I was not fearful of flying but of crashing. Thus began the lesson of how aerodynamics work and how it is absolutely amazing that planes are able to stay in the air. I am not sure if this helped with my fear at the time or increased my anxiety! Alvin, Thank you for the opportunity you provided me with 20 years ago. The Education has been amazing. When troubles seemed horrendous you always asked “Are you having fun yet? You have a way of exciting and empowering people with very few words; sometimes just a look could do it. I must add “The umbilical cord” was never completely cut from Marianne but I am sure the long distance charges have been considerably reduced over the years. Patty Baker Victoria, BC | Alvinism "Are you having fun yet!"
26: Hazelton, BC & Smithers, BC | Hazelton 2005 Group | First Canada Smithers Operation is a stand alone office with two Employees who provide the transportation to and from the camp at the Huckleberry Mine | Edgar, Smithers BC
27: Sir Moir Lockhead Scotland Retired 2010 | Burlington, ON. Payroll Dept | Burlington, ON. Finance Dept | Highway Coach, Kitmat BC | Rick Dunning Senior Vise President - First Transit (Cincinnati) | Jim Switzer Retired CEO Canada 2009 | John Giannone Director of Maintenance Canada
28: Kelowna, BC
30: Kelowna, BC
31: The Equipment and the Special people who keep the wheels turning
32: A look back in time with Mike Docherty... I can remember many fond memories of working with Alvin over the years, so here is my contribution to the collection. 1) I can remember when I was first started working for Alvin in Terrace; we had a situation come up involving one of our bus driver’s behaviors in handling her students. This particular school bus run was serving the students on the Kitwanga First Nationals Tribal Lands and I received a summons to appear before the tribal council to discuss this driver’s treatment of students on board her bus. Alvin called me from Kitimat and said he would come with me, as I was not familiar on these types of proceedings and it would be good for me to watch and observe. I was very thankful for his offer, as he was absolutely correct in that I was a novice in dealing with First Nations Councils. When we got to the meeting Alvin introduced me to the various people attending, including the chief of the council who happened to be a lady. The meeting started off fairly well but then it got quite testy with Alvin and this lady getting into strong differences as to what should be done to resolve the problem. It finally came to point where this lady leaned across the table, pointed her finger at Alvin saying “Mr. Zaharko you are a rude man and I choose not to speak with you. Now on the other hand Mr. Docherty seems like a nice person and we will deal with him”. Needless to say, I almost fell out of my chair, but said nothing. Alvin sat back, crossed his arms, looked over the top of his glasses and likewise said nothing further. The meeting concluded with reaching a mutual understanding. Alvin and I got in his car and let me tell you that was the longest 94 km ride back to Terrace I ever experienced. Alvin proceeded to explain to me in detail the proceedings that took place and how to handle it in the future. 2) I remember another time I was working at my desk and received a telephone call from Alvin who was in Kitimat. He started off by saying “Michael”. Now I’ve learned over the years that when he calls me Michael, I’m in deep trouble. So he says, “Michael, do you know what the tread depth is on the left front tire of your bus #224?” First of all I didn’t know what the trend depth was and my next immediate thought was how the hell he knew? Alvin then proceeded to lecture me that a good manager should always know exactly what mechanical condition his bus fleet was in and ensure at all times that it was safe to put on the road for our customers. He stated he happened to drop by the bus yard and immediately noticed the tire tread was well below the legal limit. From this one small example, I learned how well informed Alvin kept himself regarding all details of his company and if I wanted to keep working for him, that I better show the same concern. 3) I always remember Alvin, when he would say “I don’t care how long it takes to get the job done. Getting it completed is your responsibility”. I learned right there and then his expectation was what ever it takes, do it. So one time when I was thinking I was hard done by for working all those hours, I started keeping track of my 24/7 on duty time. I figured it out that I was only earning $1.79 per hour and when the time was right, I went in to see Alvin. Right off the bat, I stated “Do you know I’ve been keeping track of my time and I figure I’m only earning $1.79 per hour”. Alvin never said a word and looked up from doing his paperwork and in that Alvin look (over the top of his glasses) said in quiet words, “You mean I’m paying you that much?” He then went back to work and didn’t say anything further. I slowly slinked out of the office with my tail tucked between my legs and never again brought-up the topic. 4) I can remember once I had to go to see Alvin in Kitimat for what I thought was a very important issue that couldn’t be talked about over the phone. I went into his office and proceeded to relate my story. Alvin didn’t seem to be paying attention and was doing paperwork. I got a bit annoyed and said, “You know Alvin not paying attention to me is rude and I would appreciate your listening to me”. Well needless to say in Alvin’s famous style, he politely looked at me and firmly told me in no uncertain words, “Michael I’ve heard every word you’ve said and just because I am not looking directly at you, don’t ever think I have not heard what you have said”. He then proceeded to repeat word for word
33: 4) what I had just told him. He further stated that over the years he had learned to process several serious issues at once in running his company and while it may seem to me he was not paying attention, he was. Right from that moment on I learned how multi talented he was and in years to come, it never ceased to amaze me how he could juggle so many balls and come-up with correct answers to the problem. 5) This is not my story and I don’t know if Philip Malnis has contributed it, but at Philip’s 25th anniversary party for working for Farwest Alvin made a speech and congratulated Philip for completing his probationary period. Since that day, it is a common joke amongst the staff as to how long we each have to go before we’re full time employee’s 6) I remember Alvin told me once the only time he wears a suit and tie is when he’s going to fire someone. Now we all know Alvin and in all the years I’ve worked for him I can count on one hand the times I’ve seen him in a suit or shirt & tie. On one occasion it was in my office in Terrace, looking out the window and saw Alvin’s car pull into the parking lot. Out he steps and he is wearing a suit. When he came into the office I said. “Well I might as well start packing my things up” and he laughed by saying he was on his way to Rupert for some formal event. I told him it was not nice to scare an old man like that without warning. 7) Alvin once said to me, “For a man to be remembered, it would be by the legacy he has left behind. Something that would stand the test of time and would be used by others over the years to come”. If I were to measure all that Alvin has done for the transit industry and the various procedures and policies he has put into place; he has left a legacy that will live on for many years to come and he will always be remembered by those who knew him and worked for him. His most important philosophy was to always remind everyone, that we were in this business to serve the customers and without them we would not have a job. 8) In closing, I can always remember people asking me from time to time why Alvin’s long time managers and staff were so fiercely loyal to him. I can’t speak for the others, only for myself. Over the sixteen probationary years of working for him, gruff and tough as he can get, he has always been there for me and when in trouble has defended me by covering my back. God knows I have made mistakes over the years that have cost our company money and in those times, Alvin rightly so has chewed me out, but he has always forgiven me by saying “I didn’t hire you to be 100% correct all the time, I hired you for the talent you display 85 to 95% of the time”. When I lost my first wife to cancer, Alvin and Alice were by our side every step of the way. He has been far more then a boss, he has been a friend and mentor through the good and bad times. Alvin has earned my admiration, respect and loyalty because of whom and what he stands for and I’ve enjoyed every moment I’ve worked for him. People have viewed Alvin as being crude & rude but I know different. In fact I remember one time in Terrace Alvin came over to our house for lunch and he proceeded to read me the riot act about some ongoing job issue. My wife turned to Alvin and said to him, “You know Alvin you’re not so rough and tough as you appear. Inside you’re just a pussy cat”. Alvin looked over to her and replied” your right, but that’s for you and me to know not him (referring to me). Respectfully, Doc Kelowna, BC
34: Bart's Two Bits | Alvin has taught me many valuable lessons over the years, many that have contributed to my success in both my career and my personal life. I would like to share the advice that I feel has most influenced me. Shortly after my appointment as Manager in Prince Rupert, Alvin and I were discussing the fact that he has always been able to recruit really great people. During this discussion we touched on the commitment these people have to both Alvin and the Company. We also discussed the demands a position of Manager can have on ones time and the consequences it can have on ones Family. this is what Alvin had to say in regards to this: "Think about this, when you are sick and lying in a hospital bed who do you think will be at your bed side, F108- No, family always comes first" Alvin, thank you for all the opportunities and confidence you have given me over the years, you remain one of the most influential people in my life. Congratulations on your retirement Bart Carrigan
35: "I would rather be a failure at something I love than be successful at something I hate!" George Burns
36: When I applied for the Custom Supervisor's job, I was coming to Kelowna from a position with Cardinal Coach Lines whom I had been with since 1994,Cardinal was also bought out by First Canada.When discussing the details of the job with Alvin I asked him if this was going to be considered a transfer within First... He promptly responded "Why do you want to do that" so I told him I would like to transfer over my vacation time etc. (of which I was entitled to 20 days with my years of service with Cardinal) All Alvin said on that subject was that it was time to "CUT THE APRON STRINGS !!!!!!!!" I'm sure he just didn't want to give me all that vacation time. It was at that time that I came to be very respectful of the "Alvin frown". Sue Doucet, Kelowna, BC
37: Vernon, BC
38: Abottsford, BC Chilliwack, BC
40: Cowichan Valley Transit & Cowichan Valley Connector Duncan, BC | Terry Taylor & Keith Berks Intertruck | Colin Oakes, Manager
41: Duncan to Victoria Service starts Oct 20 2008 | Duncan/Victoria Crew March 2010 | Amarjit Dale, receives appreciation award from BC Transti
42: XXI Olympic Winter Games
43: Whistler, BC
44: News Articles Memorable Moments | Kitimat Residence Prepare to host Winter Games!
45: hurry! hurry! Read all about it! Bus Mogul Alvin Zaharko has bought Accessible Transportation Alternatives Ltd from John Cousins.
46: Email sent on January 24 2011 I wish to advise that I will be retiring at the end of May. This was a very difficult decision however all things must pass and it is my turn to pass on the responsibility of running the wonderful organization that we all built to someone else. The Company will be conducting an active search for my replacement and I will be involved in the selection. I have also agreed to stay longer in the event the there are any replacement issues. You all have my assurance that I will have to be confident in the replacement selection before I recommend turning over the reins to anyone. I have also agreed to act in an advisory capacity for as long as I can be of assistance after I turn over the reins. So I will still be there. I am well aware of the significance of my announcement but I have faith that with your continued support the basic core value of customer service the continuing success of the group will be maintained and enhanced with the assistance and guidance of the First Transit Management team under Rick Dunning. I am confident that we will find a replacement that will not only carry on but will provide the leadership necessary to continue to improve and that all of you will embrace this change in a supportive manner that maintains and enhances the success of the Farwest Group. Alvin Zaharko RVP FirstCanada ULC Farwest Group | Regional Vice President, Alvin Zaharko announces his retirement to Staff | We have all treasured our relationships with you. Our hearts are heavy as we celebrate the legacy you created. With Love, Admiration and Respect From your Staff, May 03 2011 Penticton, BC
47: February 21, 2011 Rick Dunning Senior Vice President, First Transit Releases a Corporate Announcement of Alvin's Retirement
48: Central Fraser Valley visit
49: Hello All, Greetings from mat leave and this opportunity to pass on my thought to Alvin. I'm sure that much has already been said or will be said about Alvin's "sunny and dignified. The first time I met him in 1997 was just another example of his enduring civility and sense of decorum There I was, a bright eyed 25 year old that had given up on ever being hired on full time by Mike Davis. I had just shifted from the Victoria Regional Transit System part of BC Transit to working for Steve New on the Municipal Systems side. "Tania, come here there is someone I'd like you to meet," Steve had said in his smooth, ever-statesman like way. "Alvin," he continued "This is Tania. She'll be helping us move our larger transit systems to using computerized scheduling software. I stuck out my hand and gave my best winning smile. To which Alvin responded "Ech, computerized scheduling. Bunch of bullshit." And walked off. Well that was my first meeting with Alvin but not my last. Over the years I had many more dealings and conversations with him, in particular over the many years I spent as the planner and contract administrator responsible for all the northwest systems, and then later as a planner for Kelowna. Whether it was negotiating annual budgets, working through expansions, calling him up to inform him of RFP results(to which he always responded the same whether he'd won or lost), or having transit system philosophical chats in his Kelowna office Alvin was always reliably, well, Alvin. Through all these interactions, I have learned a few things 1. that for all his outward crustiness, Alvin sure attracts and keeps some amazing creative a diligent people working for him. so much so, that I once heard another BCT staffer - who shall remain nameless -- wonder aloud "How does a guy like him get such good people to work for him?" "And they work like dogs for him too" she added 2. that also despite his outward patina of crustiness you can turn him into a complete mushball if you get him talking about his family 3.That, finally as far as he's concerned, there are actually four sources of subsidy for transit in British Columbia. - Passenger Fares - Municipal funding - Provincial funding - And whatever concessions and free services we've continually squeezed out of him and his assorted companies. Alvin sees as one of those free services all of the unpaid hours he's spent "Training BC Transit Planners" over the years. By which he meant not teaching people how to draw lines on a map but explaining to them the reasons behind his operational costs. And it IS true. alvin alsways took the time -if asked and or harrassed to explain why he was doing or proposing something in his budgets. Getting his perspective on how decisions at a planning or service level translated into impacts and costs at an operational level was indeed on of the best outcomes- beyond a sore ear-of the many budgets I negotiated with Alvin. And this holistic knowledge and approach did add to -- and was shared with many of us at BC Transit and out partners -- and i think was a major reason why -- over that dark period of flat provincial funding -- ridership still went up year after year. Even the year we cut service by 2% across the province, rides went up by 0.08% and there's something to be said for that. (Of course that was the OLD BC Transit and Manny and the new kids just think we make those stories and numbers up...!) Anyway the last thing I wold like to mention about Alvin is that he's always described his management sty as "Manage by walking around." And having made multiple visits to Kelowna over the years, I can safely say that this really means "Management while playing golf in the mornings and letting Sam do all the work." So I would like to note that Alvin's retirement is also the end of an era for all of the amazing work that Sam Rosten has done in her role as Alvin's colleague and wing-woman. She always likes to fly under the radar but her thoughtful approach and her legendary smarts have been key not only in Alvin's success but also the success of man, many transit systems and therefore BC Transit's success. So I say kudos to Sam and hope that all of you raise a glassto her as well as part of this shindig So there you go just a few light shots. Alvin, when I left Kelownia in mid-expansion to go on mat leave in 2007 you accused me of abandonment. I am not going to do the same because I know that the transit habit is a hard one to break and that we probably haven't heard the last of you. I wish you all the best and thanks for all the conversations Tania | BC Transit's Tania remembers
50: We Celebrate May 03 2011 Penticton Lakeside Resort
57: We celebrate Alvin with our stories.
58: Thank you for letting us celebrate you and your legacy!