PENTICTION, B.C. – Local trucking company Berry and Smith Trucking Ltd. are all about giving back to the community of Penticton.
In early February, Berry and Smith Trucking, which has called Penticton home since 1960, donated $30,000 toward the South Okanagan Simikameen Medical Foundation’s hospital tower campaign, helping the initiative inch closer to its $20 million goal.
“The Hospital expansion in Penticton is long overdue. There is a huge need for expanded service at the hospital,” said Matt Berry, president of Berry and Smith Trucking. “The Emergency room is overtaxed, the parking lot is too small and the rooms are busy and often full. The medical staff is very good and they are doing their best with what they have to work with, but the need for expansion is obvious.”
The hospital expansion project is expected to begin construction this spring, and for Berry, who has seen in his own family how vital it is to provide quality health care services, it can’t come soon enough.
“After we made the commitment of the $30,000 to the hospital, our father happened to suffer a very serious stroke,” Berry explained. “We have seen first hand how hard the staff at the hospital works, but we have also seen how overtaxed the infrastructure is. This project really does need to happen and we are proud to have contributed towards it.”
And this is not the first time Berry and Smith Trucking have opened its pocket book to support the community of Penticton.
A few years ago, the company made a $25,000 donation toward the Okanagan College Foundation for the creation of the Jimmy Pattison Centre for Excellence, which Berry said is a leading edge ‘green’ construction designed building in Penticton.
“The college plays an important role in providing quality training for available jobs,” Berry said. “They are continually re-evaluating its course outline to ensure that the needs of industry are met. Each year, we do bursaries for both an Okanagan College and a School District 67 student.”
The company gets involved in several local charities, including the Penticton and Friends Charity Golf Tournament, the Legion, the Salvation Army, various school fundraisers and the Penticton Peach Festival. Berry and Smith Trucking staff also organize regular barbecue fundraisers to raise money for cancer research.
But Berry said the company does not simply hand over money to just any initiative.
“We are selective in the charities that we support and a real need has to be present before we would even consider contributing,” he said. “We have a committee look at the requests and do their homework in reviewing any application for funds. The margins in transportation are small, there are only so many available dollars, but we do understand the importance of giving back and we feel fortunate to have been able to contribute too many worthwhile causes.”
Berry and Smith Trucking was formed in 1954 by Stu Berry and Ted Smith in the Naramata, B.C. area in the province’s Okanagan region, hauling coal, peat moss and fruit boxes with single-axle, three and five-tonne trucks. In 1960, they purchased Penticton’s Carter Brothers and moved their head office to the community.
In 1977, Stu and Ted started a new company called Penticton Transit Service and landed the Penticton City Transit contract, which to this day, the company continues, in addition to the school bus contract.
Continuing to grow, the company got into larger highway tractor trucks, hired sales staff, launched its dispatch operation, provided better driver training and set up a shop.
“The company always had a reputation of being fair in what they charged and for providing good service,” Matt said. “(Stu) and (Ted) also understood the importance of good people, so (they) worked hard to be a good employer. This results in knowledgeable and loyal staff who tend to stay with the company. Money was tight, but through hard work, the company continued to grow as more and more customers came on board.”
Today, Berry and Smith Trucking employs over 180 staff and has 110 trucks, 12 school buses and 10 transit buses, and are proud to call Penticton home.
The company also has offices in Calgary, Alta. and Vancouver, B.C.
But for Matt, alongside growth and success, companies and individuals who have given back to their respective communities do not go unrecognized.
“There have been many examples of some extremely generous donations coming forward, and kudos to those making this happen,” he said. “The importance of helping others doesn’t always have to be about money. You can volunteer your time, provide some expertise if you have some in a particular area, visit somebody in need or actively canvas for a good cause. Whatever you choose to do to contribute or help somebody else, well done and congratulations.”
Matt and Mark Berry.