Doroga Road Magazine has been published monthly since May 2007 and they just uproariously celebrated their 100th Anniversary issue. I had a chance to speak to Serge Vankevich, Editor in Chief, owner and creator of the magazine about his undoubtedly excellent idea.
Kaja Cyganik (Tuck’N’Roll Magazine) How did you come up with the idea of a magazine dedicated to the trucking business?
Serge Vankevich (DorogaRoad): My background is journalism. When I came to Canada seventeen years ago, I was looking for a place I could work for. Actually, in Toronto you can find roughly twenty different publications printed in Russian. I went through some of them and I spoke to the owners and editors, trying to work out some writing position for myself, but I quickly realized that I wouldn’t be able to make a living out of it. Even if my skills were my main advantage, journalism here is completely different than back home. I started working for transportation, and I found out soon how big and rapidly growing the trucking business really is. There were already magazines published for the Polish and Indian truckers’ community. I decided to establish my own dedicated to Russian speaking drivers. I launched the first issue in 2007 as a newspaper in both Russian and English. It was obviously cheaper to start it up this way. Almost two years ago I changed the formula and now we have a full colour, 32 page monthly magazine.
You mentioned you have a journalism background. Had you worked as a journalist before you immigrated to Canada?
Serge Vankevich: I had been working for all media – TV, radio and local newspapers in different positions as a reporter, editor, etc.
What made you immigrate? It sounds like a pretty lucrative, interesting job you left behind.
Serge Vankevich: (Laughing) I could ask you the same question. I am Ukrainian, but I grew up in Kazakhstan, which was obviously a part of the Soviet Union which collapsed. At that time when all the post-Soviet republics regained their freedom, it was a big mess. There was political commotion; the fresh independence caused a lot of ethnic problems. There was no democracy, just an authoritarian regime. As a journalist I was conscious of the fact that this would not change in a blink of an eye. Frankly, I missed freedom and I made this decision for a better life for my kids. I wanted my daughters to live in a free country.
Had you ever worked in transportation before you started publishing Doroga Road Magazine? Do you have any experience as a truck driver?
Serge Vankevich: Not at all. My first job in transportation was a dispatcher. But actually, when I decided to launch this trucker’s publication I went to the trucker’s school and I learned how to drive a truck. I still have my A-Z licence. I didn’t drive a truck much. I just drove for a couple of months to see how it felt. I just wanted to gain some experience on the road and it helped me a lot later on in both of my jobs – a dispatcher and an editor of the magazine. Every owner of any company should know his or her business from scratch. That’s my approach.
Do you hire any journalists, writers or regular contributors?
Serge Vankevich: I do have some regular employees as my translators who take care of the English part of the magazine. I hired a great graphic designer. Both of my daughters help me a lot with proof reading, but writing is mostly my own work and responsibility. I have been in touch with an owner-operator from Winnipeg who writes me regularly and it is really good stuff. I was recently interviewed via Skype by my good journalist friend from Kazakhstan. He asked me about my job here and how it works for me. That article was titled, “There are no ex-journalists” similar to “There are no ex-spies”. If you are a journalist, you will be one until you die.
What is the most difficult part of your publishing business?
Serge Vankevich: I believe I am a better journalist than a businessman and publishing itself is a business. Nowadays, running a magazine is not easy because more and more people use the Internet. The most difficult for me is to gain more clients and advertisements. I’m thinking about hiring a good salesperson who will deal with the ads so I won’t have to focus on that anymore. But, besides that there’s a lot of satisfaction out of this work. I like when my work is a process, a journey from the beginning through all stages up to the final issue picked up from the print shop. I am doing that to satisfy my own ambition as a journalist and also for my fellow truckers. I like to deliver information to people who need it, so I would say it is a kind of mission. I am not making a fortune on it ☺.
How do you search for new topics?
Serge Vankevich: I have a lot of sources of information; there is always something happening out there. Sometimes it’s tragic, sometimes is funny, sometimes just the regulations are changing. So I try to cover the most interesting subjects for the truckers. I pick some stuff from Russian publications and some from the Internet all around the main point of interest – trucking. We have most articles written in both languages and the magazine is distributed to Russian stores and businesses, and it’s a free pick-up. So any new migrants to Canada can understand it easily. According to the government statistics the Ontario community itself is estimated to be around 300,000 Russian speaking people.
What do you like in Canada?
Serge Vankevich: I like the freedom here. And I like how the police work. For example a crime that was committed 30 years ago never miraculously disappears. If a cold case has been recently discovered, the bad guy who did it is still responsible and will be punished. It’s just a small thing I like a lot about Canada.
What are your magazine-related dreams?
Serge Vankevich: I don’t have dreams. I have plans. I am a realist. I would like to expand my magazine into other provinces and it is already happening. Last year I became affiliated as a trade member of the Ontario Trucking Association, as well as Manitoba, so the magazine is now distributed there, too. My next step is Quebec and then we will see. The more customers you have, the more routes to try.
How was the 100th Anniversary issue celebrated?
Serge Vankevich: It was a good time. Thanks to our sponsor, a company named TransCore Link Logistics, we had a chance to celebrate in style in one of the best Russian restaurants in North York. They made a short presentation about their business, which is basically matching shipments with trucks. They are Canada’s largest network of cross-border loads and trucks. Now it’s time to go back to work. I am planning to participate in April’s Truck Show, so hopefully we will see you there.
Written by Kaja Cyganik
DorogaRoad Team: Olessia Vankevich, Elena Vankevich, Yury Solovetski, Serge Vankevich