Doug Morrow has Sunday school to thank for his long career in trucking. And his parents, of course.
When he was just nine years old in 1971, Morrow started working for Milltown Trucking – the company his father, George, and mother, Jean, began a few years earlier in 1966.
At that time, George drove the single truck they owned to Quebec and back hauling particle board, while Jean handled the paperwork.
“I was really just trying to get out of Sunday school, and I told my dad I would work for him on the weekends if he hired me,” Morrow recalls. “So he hired me.”
By the time he was 11, Morrow was pulling trucks up front to the garage doors and washing them on the weekends. Eventually in his teenage years, he began helping the family business more gradually, lending a hand on evenings and when he turned 18, Morrow got his learner’s permit and drove for the company for five years.
Today, Morrow is president of Milltown, based in Oak Bay, N.B. and this July marked the company’s 50th anniversary.
Today, Milltown hauls the same stuff its first owner, George, did when the company first began – particle board – to Quebec and Ontario. Morrow says the company has a strong, loyal customer base that has stayed with him and the business for more than 30 years.
Milltown has around 30 trucks today and employs 15 company drivers and 10 owner-operators.
More recently, the company has begun experimenting in hauling oversized items, something that fell into its lap after a long-time customer asked for a favor.
“Right now I have an ongoing job in Boston,” Morrow said. “So we’re hauling anything from 65- to 81-ft beams for a job site.”
And because it’s not a large operation, Milltown is old-school trucking. Not only does Morrow know all his employees by name, but he personally has relationships with all his customers and is even friendly with neighboring trucking companies throughout the Atlantic provinces.
“I make sure all of my customers – new and old – know me by name,” he said. “So if there’s ever a problem, they know who to reach.”
This is also part of what Morrow believes is the company’s biggest strength.
“We really know about hands-on service and we try to deliver that service each and every time,” he said, adding all his drivers make the effort to know their regular customers and assist in any way they can.
All this success has unfortunately happened amidst some sorrow. Morrow’s father, George, passed away on Christmas Day 1985, leaving his family crushed.
“My mom was pretty much the driving force at that point,” Morrow said. “She had enough experience to deal with everything about the business at that time.”
So Jean took over as the head of the business when Milltown had 11 trucks. By the time she retired in 1996, Jean had grown the business to 18 trucks. From there, Doug and his brother, Dave, bought the business from their family and grew the operation even more.
Unfortunately, in 2009, Dave passed away suddenly in a tragic accident.
“Losing my brother…that was tough,” Morrow said. “That first year was really tough.”
But Morrow got through it, keeping the family business alive and well. And then in February of this year, Morrow lost his mother Jean to cancer. This was especially hard for him as 2016 marked the company’s 50th year in business and he didn’t feel like celebrating.
“It really means a lot to hit the 50-year mark,” Morrow said. “It’s a big thing for me. But after my mom passed, my heart wasn’t really into planning a big party for the company and our staff and customers.”
But the party did go on, and on July 16 Milltown hosted a massive barbecue in celebration of the milestone, something Morrow says he couldn’t have done without his hardworking employees by his side. The party saw more than 200 guests in attendance, who enjoyed a barbecue lunch, prizes, cake and musical entertainment.
It goes without saying that Morrow is respected and loved by his employees who say he is a great leader and is the reason the company is still around. His leadership skills have trickled down to his drivers, that have won a number of national awards over the years.
“He is very professional and to him it’s always family first,” said Heather McCulloch, head of safety at Milltown. “He always treats us on an individual basis, not as a group of workers…Our workplace is the Milltown Trucking family…(he) is there for everyone…whether it be advice that is wanted from a driver, financial aid, or a listening ear.”