In recent years, Big Tech has gotten a bad rep. But of course many tech companies are doing important work making monumental positive changes to society, health, and the environment. To highlight these, we started a new interview series about “Technology Making An Important Positive Social Impact”. We are interviewing leaders of tech companies who are creating or have created a tech product that is helping to make a positive change in people’s lives or the environment. As a part of this series, I had the pleasure of interviewing William Trainer.
William Trainer has served as President and Director since Vicinity Motor Corp’s inception in 2008. He has over 25 years’ experience importing and exporting heavy machinery, and has successfully pioneered and brought several new products to the Canadian market. In his previous career, William also owned and managed heavy construction equipment dealerships throughout Western Canada.
Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series. Before we dive in, our readers would love to learn a bit more about you. Can you tell us a bit about your childhood backstory and how you grew up?
I was born and raised just outside of Vancouver Canada, in the small town of Cloverdale, BC. I have not moved more than five miles from my dad’s hobby farm, but I have travelled the world extensively for business and personal. I played competitive junior hockey at a tier 1 level. I have four brothers and one sister, I married my high school sweetheart and we have two children and four grandchildren.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?
I don’t know where to start. I have had a well-traveled, interesting career. I spent a lot of time in Asia, traveled to Japan a lot — from the far south to the northern Hokkaido islands. I really enjoy the cultural differences and diversity the world offers.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
It would have to be my father. He instilled a strong work ethic at a young age. “Honesty, Respect and Responsibility,” he would always say.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
Treat others as you would like to be treated. You get out of life what you put into it. If you’re helpful, respectful and have strong morals, it will take you a lot further and opens doors.
You are a successful business leader. Which three character traits do you think were most instrumental to your success? Can you please share a story or example for each?
If we use Vicinity Motor Corp as an example, I had to look outside the box and create a new product that the market specifically wanted and was asking for — but was not being provided. We worked together closely with BC Transit on our first Vicinity bus and we’ve been able to build on that success. Innovation, hard work and treating our employees well have allowed us to grow as we have, and really opened the door to the much larger opportunities that we see today.
Ok super. Let’s now shift to the main part of our discussion about the tech tools that you are helping to create that can make a positive impact on the planet and the environment. To begin, which particular problems are you aiming to solve?
Carbon reduction and all the environmental benefits of moving to clean tech for transportation. With the world experiencing climate change, I feel it needs to be addressed now. Our electric vehicles are a positive move towards reducing the global CO2 output.
How do you think your technology can address this?
For every bus we place into service, approximately 40 passenger vehicles are not on the road.
Can you tell us the backstory about what inspired you to originally feel passionate about this cause?
Yes, it’s for my grandchildren. We all need to make greenhouse gas reductions. Do it for the next generation. I’m 62 years old. I have grown up in a clean, perfect environment. We need to make sure our grandchildren can continue to enjoy a clean environment.
How do you think this might change the world?
I look at scientists’ data. They all agree we all need to be more responsible citizens. Electric vehicles make a difference. It is the future of clean transportation.
No — How can you argue with non-carbon burning vehicles!
Here is the main question for our discussion. Based on your experience and success, can you please share “Five things you need to know to successfully create technology that can make a positive social impact”? (Please share a story or an example, for each.)
1. Look at the science behind decisions.
2. Surround yourself with positive forward-thinking people.
3. Look for leading cutting-edge technology.
4. Always lead, not follow the technology.
5. Create partnerships with like-minded corporations.
If you could tell other young people one thing about why they should consider making a positive impact on our environment or society, like you, what would you tell them?
What do you want your future to look like? You can shape it. It starts with getting involved and voting. It is the young people who can make a real impact. Politicians listen to voters.
Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would like to have a private breakfast or lunch, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them. 🙂
I would love to meet President Biden. He is the one who will shape the world in the near term. There needs to be more funding for technology in battery storage. This is the one area that is lacking in development.
I would suggest a private-public partnership to jointly develop this technology. The auto giants need tax incentives. The universities need investment. Blend this together but give the patents to the auto giants for their tax deductible investments into the research labs of the universities.
How can our readers further follow your work online?
Please go to vicinitymotorcorp.com and sign up for email alerts. These email alerts will keep you most up to date on our news and progress.
Thank you so much for joining us. This was very inspirational, and we wish you continued success in your important work.