EDMONTON, Alta. — Starting a trucking company was never a sure thing for Murray Schur. And, considering the heartbreak he has endured, few would blame him for his apprehension.
Schur got his start in trucking in 1993; a few years after moving back to Alberta from Toronto. He was hired as a field sales agent for Joanne Trucking based out of Brooks.
It wasn’t long until he became the carrier’s safety director, a position Schur found challenging at first.
“For me, a guy who wasn’t even a driver, how was I to tell a guy who’s been driving a truck for 20 years how to do it?” said Schur. “I started at the infancy, but I stuck with it.”
From there, Schur’s career continued to progress, becoming Joanne Trucking’s sales and marketing manager, a position he held for about seven years.
The carrier was then sold to Speedy Heavy Hauling, but Schur said the company’s business model “failed horribly” and it folded shortly after the acquisition.
The next step in Schur’s career would be one of tremendous importance. His time with Joanne Trucking behind him, Schur met a man who would become the greatest influence in his professional career, and a pillar in his personal life.
Frank Nashim was the owner of Calnash Trucking. Schur started as a branch manager in Ponoka for the carrier, later becoming general manager of the family-run company.
Nashim would have a great deal of influence on Schur, which has helped mold how he runs Schur Trucking today.
“He was like a best friend to me, he was a mentor and like a second dad to me,” said Schur. “I thought the world of him.”
Working for Nashim, as well as two of his daughters and a son, Schur’s life at Calnash was good.
And then in 2013, tragedy struck.
“The worst possible thing that could ever happen to an individual in life, is my son was 20 years old, I had a daughter who was 18, and my son was killed in a car accident,” said Schur. “He was a passenger in the back seat of a vehicle, and one fateful night, the driver had run a stop sign and my son was killed instantly.”
Schur said Nashim was instrumental during this trying time, encouraging him to hold his head up and move forward for the sake of his wife and daughter.
And then, another blow.
A year following the death of his son, Schur’s mentor was diagnosed with cancer.
But the domino effect did not end there.
Six months after his diagnosis, one of Nashim’s daughters, whom Schur was very close with, suffered the same misfortune as her friend, losing her son after a car accident.
The tremendous impact of the hand life had dealt Schur was difficult to shoulder at this point, and he was ready to leave his career in trucking behind.
“Really for me, I had almost had enough,” he said. “It had been over 20 years doing what I’ve done and never changed…building up Joanne until they sold and then building up Calnash.”
Piling on to the personal losses Schur had sustained over the past couple of years was the crash in Alberta’s oil and gas sector in 2015, which had a significant effect on the carrier.
After Nashim succumbed to his illness, Schur planned to stay with Calnash for another half year, hoping he would mesh with Nashim’s children, who had taken over the company following their father’s death.
But that would not be in the cards, and Schur left Calnash shortly after.
Schur admits that he was left searching for answers on how he would provide for his family and carry on after dealing with such a great deal of loss over the past
Feeling somewhat disheartened about the notion of continuing in the trucking industry, Schur would reach a crossroads after receiving a call from an old acquaintance looking to get him back into the industry.
After some convincing, Schur Trucking was born in January 2016, and Schur found himself right back in the game.
Schur Trucking currently uses 22 tractors and 35 trailers for its rig moving business, a sector Schur said is still suffering in Canada.
“It’s such a niche market with the stuff that we do when it comes to moving drilling rigs,” he said. “At one time in Canada, there more than 900 drilling rigs, and I think yesterday there were 141 rigs working in Alberta, where I’m more used to six or seven hundred.
“Our industry is probably in the worst shape that it has ever been.”
Despite the struggles, Schur Trucking as thrived during its short time in operation. Winning an impressive contract with Husky Energy, Schur said several of his customers are amazed how far the company has come in under two years.
And perhaps, though the pains of the past remain sharp and will never be forgotten, Schur can now focus on growing his company and mending those old wounds, using the memories of his past, what he has in the present, and his dreams for the future as motivation to keep moving forward.