Convoy for Erb Group founder scheduled for May 1

John G Smith

BADEN, Ont. – Vernon Erb, who established the Erb Group of Companies with a single truck, has been diagnosed with an aggressive form of leukemia – and his friends and family are preparing a convoy of cars and trucks to say goodbye.

Beginning at 2:30 p.m. on Friday, May 1, those who want to participate are being asked to meet at the fleet’s Baden terminal to begin the convoy of appreciation.

“Unfortunately, his cancer is extremely aggressive, and he will not be able to receive chemotherapy treatments,” says Katie Erb, his granddaughter and an account manager at the fleet. Given the bleak prognosis and visitor policies at hospitals during Covid-19, he has chosen to return home for palliative care.

Vernon Erb with his son, Wendell, who now serves as president and CEO of the Erb Group.

The company founder and recipient of the 2008 OTA-Trailmobile Service to Industry Award established the fleet with a single dump truck in 1959, after driving for Don Sindall Transport in New Hamburg, Ont. and marrying his wife, Viola. A feed truck and egg truck followed. And in 1965 he bought his first refrigerated truck – establishing the foundation for the fleet’s specialization in refrigerated goods.

Viola served as his accountant, payroll administrator and office manager. And together they built a business that spanned a continent.

Erb has also been recognized with honors including the 1993 Governor General’s Commemorative Medal, 2003 Colonel Robert Hardie Award of lifetime Achievement from the OTA, and a 2003 induction into the Waterloo County Hall of Fame.

His son, Wendell, has led the fleet since 1999.

Today the business has 1,500 employees and owner-operators, with terminals in Ontario, Quebec and Manitoba. The group also has a regional truckload carrier based in Pennsylvania.

“For those in Erb-marked vehicles, we will spread them out among our personal vehicles,” Katie Erb says, encouraging them to add “thank you” or “thinking of you” signs.

“Vernon Erb is a great man,” she adds. “He has been a hardworking man and fostered the values of family and community at Erb Transport. He has built this beautiful legacy we are all a part of, bringing food to the tables of families.

“When people see an Erb truck drive by, they know who we are, and it’s all because of one man, his dump truck and his kind heart – a great man who always had time for each and every employee and treated everyone with utmost respect and care.”

John G Smith

John G. Smith is the editorial director of Newcom Media's trucking and supply chain publications -- including Today's Trucking, trucknews.com, TruckTech, Transport Routier, Canadian Shipper, Inside Logistics, Solid Waste & Recycling, and Road Today. The award-winning journalist has covered the trucking industry since 1995.

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  • That really sucks.He was a great man to work for and I always enjoyed visiting with him at different events over the years.He will be truly missed.RIP Vernon.

  • One of the Kings in the trucking industry, always had time to listen and speak to everyone. Many years ago, I believe mid sixties I picked a man up in Windsor hitch hickining did not know him but back them days you picked up your fellow workers , I had been hauling fertilizer out of Ohio . so after he got in the truck he told me he was Vernon Erd fro Newhamburg and that we’re I was going to unload. For the next 4 hours I listened to the stories, what an impretion he left with me until this day. RIP Vernon

  • This is very devastating news for everyone. Vern has been a very close friend since he started his business. He and Ted were best of friends, and close business associates.
    Wish Vern all the best as well as The Family. Lots of Love and Prayers.

  • We attend church with Vernon and Viola. We do not know a more humble and gentle man. He is so kind and a real “Gentleman”. He always thought of how he could help others before his own wishes.

  • Thank you Vernon for the privilege of being part of your great company.
    How many lives were touched by your example? Clearly, God had a plan.

  • We love you so much Vernon! You are definitely one of the good ones! I appreciate everything you’ve done for our community and the Trucking industry & all the jobs you’ve provided for so many people!
    You are a great man and I’m proud to work for your company, but above all else, Iam so proud to be part of your family!!
    Dad and I will be there for your special convoy tomorrow! We love you so much!

  • Clare and I are both lost for words . He has a humble gentleness and compassionate manner that made him a BIG man. He will be so missed. But always remembered . We all can say thank you God for allowing Vernon to touch so many lives.

  • Dearest Vernon and Viola. Glenda and I Love and Respect you Both so Very Much. You are Both Very Precious to Us.
    Thankyou for being the people you are.
    Hard Working Trend Setters, who Always Remained Courageous, Generous, Humble and Courteous.
    We are So Proud to Know You and to have Worked with you.
    Well Done! Good and Faithful Ones.
    There is a Land that is Fairer than Day. And by Faith we can see it Afar. For the Father waits over the way. To Prepare us a Dwelling Place There.
    By God’s Mercy and Grace we will meet Again. In the Sweet Bye and Bye.
    Christ Will Wipe Away Every Year. All Pain and Suffering Will Cease. And Our Sorrows Will Tary No More. In the Sweet Bye and Bye.
    May God Cover You with His Splendor and Fill All of You with His Blessed Peace and May His Tranquility Flood your Souls.
    We Will Meet Again! In Jesus’ Name!

  • Vernon, I cherish my memory of you. Every time we met you always spoke and new my name. You also always asked about my wife Ruth who you knew when you were teenagers and that was always appreciated. God bless you.

  • I would like to send my condolences and prayers to the Erb family. I remember Vernon and Viola and.Wendell. My husband Gary Zehr worked for Erbs back when there was only New Hamburg depot. He drove a straight truck and loved his job. I wish I could do the drive by tomorrow but I am working. But will be with use in thought and prayers.

  • Thinking of you and your family members. While working at Erb for the past 32 years I have had the utmost respect for such a caring person. I will never get another boss like Vernon Erb.

  • Met Veron, several years ago had the most heartfelt conversation with him. Very wise man and put other people first, he will be missed. Every time I see an Erb transport I think of Veron.
    My thoughts and prayer to the Erb family.
    May God be with you.

  • Just want to let you know you are in our prayers. All your hard work, and support and help over the years will never be forgotten. Vernon has been a part of our family in trucking for many long years. He knew Brian’s dad before he helped Brian and I succeed in business and now carried on by our sons.
    Always remembered and never forgotten

  • Sorry to hear such sad news. This man is a the most generous person I have ever met. Every time I see a Erb truck I will have the thought of earnest and the man with integrity

  • Sorry to hear this, Vernon is a great and humble man who I had the pleasure of meeting. He is a true pioneer!

  • I’m so very saddened by this news my heart goes out to the Erb family… I started my driving career with Erb I was always proud too drive for Erb. I was fortunate enough too meet with Vernon. I can’t say enough about this wonderful man… Thoughts and prayers too the Erb family

  • Sad to hear this news. I live in Prince George B.C . I retired from being a co owner of a Mack and Volvo dealership. My daughter and family live in Baden. I was privileged to visit with Vernon who showed me his collection of vintage trucks. Took time out of his schedule for my visit. I would of liked to have gotten to know him better but unfortunately will just a good memory.

  • Dear Vernon
    I will always remember the time we spent over coffee discussing our youth and the stage of life we were at. I had sold my business too young to not work at something when you immediately said you needed drivers. The next 13 years working for Erb were great years. I want to thank you. You are a great example of a caring boss.
    Beth and I are praying for you and we know that God is in control .
    Paul & Beth

  • I’ve known Vernon for over 45 years and retired from Erb Transport after driving for them for 25 years. He’s a man who was still not afraid to put in a day’s work, but who also loved to tell stories of the early days of his trucking career.

  • I will participate in the drive by in honour of Venon tomorrow. I met Vernon in 1966 soon after he acquired his first refrigerated truck to move frozen turkeys for Shantz Turkeys. I was treasurer of Shantz Turkeys and worked closely with Viola and Vernon in setting up the first accounting records for Erb Transport and enjoyed working with them for several years.
    In my 50 years of experience in many corporations I have met very few people with the sincerity and business ethics of the Erbs. My thoughts and prayers are with Vernon and his family.

  • In 1974 Pete Trachsel joined the Erb Family and his dream of driving came to light. I called it joining the family because that’s how Vernon always made Pete feel. When our children were 4 and twins 2 Pete was ill and after a month and a half still had no sick pay, he went to Erbs to see if they had heard of any sick pay coming yet. At that time you got a paper check . Vernon seen Pete in the hallway asking how Pete was doing, sensing something was wrong Vernon took Pete into his office to talk. When Pete explained he was checking on any sick pay but none had came yet. Vernon wrote Pete a personal check to tide us over and ” be able to buy milk for the children”. He told Pete not to worry when he could pay it back,like family does. We could not have imagined other head of a company being so kind. It has been a pleasure to feel like we belong to Vernon Erb’s family. Pete and Kathleen Trachsel

  • I would to say thank you to veron . Mr Erb and his associates 40 yrs ago when I was an newly licenced truck mechanic under Joe Weber and Steve Haus guided hand. Always had the time to help and show you the way even when they needed you to drive and deliver that load as well as Veron himself no matter how busy he was he’d jump right in as if he was one of the boys . The load needed to be delivered . That’s truck n. I’m 63 now and still drive full-time . Gets in your blood. Thank you Mr ERB . Could never call you Veron it was always Mr ERB . Signed copter!!

  • Dear Erb family; certainly a KW name; prayers and concerns for Vernon and his family and loved ones; a lot of these old companies still measure up to the standards started by these pioneers; names coming to mind; Erb, Good funeral home; Home hardware; Harmony Grill; Greb shoes, St Jacob’s market; Bingeman; am sure lots of these pioneers knew each other back in the day! Ingo sweaters, Schneider’s; Uniroyal; Dare cookies; so many more that have succeeded thru hard working men and their families over the years; their contribution makes and keeps
    that area so great! prayers and kind thoughts offered to Mr Erb;! May your drive by celebration strengthen you to realize your big contribution shown to and for you thru your employees! So deserving!

  • Great man pleasure to work for him and this company .My condolences to the ERB family God speed .

  • So sorry to hear of Vernon’s health. I (Wilma ) have know Vernon most of my life. We found him to be a very kind, thought full person, he thought of others first, so friendly, kind and easy to talk to.
    We will miss him, Floyd and his fellow coffee mates.
    God Bless you. Praying for his healing.
    Floyd & Wilma Good

  • Hi as i worked forThedore Dietrich garage in 1966 i recall working on some of the Erb trucks at that time

  • this is very sad to hear this situation especially at these trying times. hope the best for the erb family going through this tough time, he accomplished a lot in a lifetime and used his company and trucks for charity . and countless donations he made with his company from the generosity of his heart .. just a great man… 10;04

  • We were saddened to here the news of this fine man.
    Our prayers are with Vernon and his family.

  • A great man. Always had a smile and a warm handshake and he always knew my name when he saw me anywhere.

  • Good luck to you and Family. I was have to have worded for Vernon he is a very good person and caring thank you .Work from 1978 to 2009

  • Hi Wendell. Please accept my sympathy for your fathers situation. I will not be able to attend but wish that I could.

  • Vernon Erb;
    As fine a man as you will ever meet. It was a privilege to know him, even a little bit.
    Carl Szamosvari

  • I’d like extend my deepest sympathy to everybody in the Erb Family on their loss of Vern. He was one of the most well respected truckers in Canada. He was a true Leader of men.

    Unfortunately I am out of the country and unable to join in the “convoy” .

  • It was our pleasure to have known Vernie
    His honesty, integrity and friendship in our early years were always appreciated
    Great Man !!
    Thank You

  • Vernon is a really decent man so sorry to hear this We have been in the same antique truck club for many years will say a prayer for him

  • And with the encouragement of his wife and his faith – he has succeeded!
    He has done much positive good for our community and beyond.
    We will miss him!

  • Truer words; I met Vernon, a few decades ago, while working on the loading dock, in Erb’s first Montreal terminal. He was warm, welcoming and offered a hand, in loading a truck. One of a kind. My thoughts go out to his family and friends, he is a great man.

  • Erb was very accommodating when our son passed away in March and is by far the best company I have ever worked for so, I will defiantly be in the convoy to honour a great man and a great company legacy!

  • Would you know if Vernon Erb drove truck for Don Sindell about 1959-1960 in the tour for the national ballet tour out of Toronto

  • It’s obvious by the comments written that Vernon Erb is a truly honourable man, loved and respected by many. I’m not blessed to know him personally but wish him and his family nothing but the best.
    I will be with you in spirit today to honour your great achievements and all you’ve contributed y in the lives of those whose paths you’ve crossed.

    Sincerest regards, Mr. Erb.

  • Such an amazing individual in so many ways. He is a leader in his Industry, his Business, his Church, his local Community, and indeed his Country!
    Above all else he is a kind soul and a wonderful neighbor. Thanks Vernon

  • So sad to hear this news. Vernon is a good man and a community supporter . We knew him from the NEAT tractor club

  • Thank you Vernon and Viola. What a picture of how humility can lead a company. It’s an honor to say I’ve worked with Vernon and his family. I remember how the grade-schoolers would climb up one side of a cab-over and down the other, and the endless smile on Vernon’s face. Well done!

  • Thank you, for your firm handshake and well wishes, you have always given me. You have always shown respect and appreciation for our service to the company. I will always remember you Sir. My prayers to the Erb family during this difficult time. My thoughts are with you all. May God bless.

  • Very good man I seen his trucks help in ice storm and in many other occasions. I have met twice in my life. He was just one of the little people and always gave the credit to others when he could have had the spotlight. I have hauled many loads for Erb . I was always paid right and on time. Different times had to drop a trailer in their yard at Baden because of a sick truck driver or one just not showing up. Every time Erb was there for me. I tried to repay the favor when they asked. The most honest group of people I ever met. He was in a drugstore once and the lady could not afford the the prescription plus other items was almost $7.00 short over 30 years ago he gave the cashier $10.00 so the lady got back $3.12 I seen the tears in her eyes. He always put others ahead of himself.

  • Vernon always took time to talk with me when I called on him. We managed to sell him one of our tractors, even though it wasn’t an International. Wonderful man! You are in our prayers Vernon!

  • I met this great man a few months back a the Baden office and I had the privilege to shake his hand I am so sad to hear that this is happening to him and my heart goes out to the family and I’m so proud to be part of this team !

  • I knew Vernon thru the OTA and a better man you will never meet . Vernon was a real gentleman always had time to speak to you..Erb transport is a well respected company in North America and a credit to Vernon for building a great company.

  • Back in the sixties, he trusted me, a teenager, to catch and load chickens, and to deliver turkeys at Christmas. Humble fellow, trusting.

  • Thoughts are with Vernon, Wendell and the rest of the Erb family and employees. Always a class act and a pleasure to have had the opportunity to have met you.

  • I agree this sucks, having driven trucks for my thirty years before retirement,and participated at numerous events where Mr Erb was present he was always humble and respected for his humour and his memories of the early days of trucking.my he and his family find comfort in their faith and the love and respect of the trucking community

  • I am very saddened to hear the news about Vernon Erb. My heart goes out to him and his family. God bless the Erb family.

  • Vernon Erb,
    A man you want to remember for the good reason.

    You drive across a Erb truck, it inspiré the respect,
    the family, the continuity and the quality…
    the image of Vernon Erb,

    Mission accomplie,

    Claude Robert

  • Please accept my deepest sorrow on hearing on Mr. Erb’s illness.
    I never met him when I worked in the Mississauga location.
    I offer my deepest sympathies and wishes to the family.
    With Deep Regards

  • Erb Transport was build on honestly, hard work, dedication and trust. Vernon and Viola are the best people anyone could ask to work for. Vernon taught me from a young age of 9 riding along in his dump truck, how to shift gears by letting me shit the red button up and down. LOL Vernon also taught us to be honest with our clients no matter the situation. It is so nice to see the second generation adhering to it’s founder’s values.
    Thank you for everything and may God be with you.

  • Will miss seeing you in Sarasota Florida, Vernon. In the month of March Ron & Lyla rent the house on Chapel just up the street from Wilmer (now he goes by John) and Lollie. Wilmer drove for you out of the PA depot before he retired. Also saw you many times enjoying time with your farmer friends over coffee at Macs. We are so saddened by what has happened to you Vernon. We will lose such a fine man but God & Heaven are gaining. Our thoughts and prayers are with you and your family. Will walk the streets of gold with you some day Vernon!

  • My Dad, Harley Cathcart has exchanged hand written letters in the recent past with Vern. Dad’s words. ..Vern was THE BEST of the BEST!

  • So sorry to hear the news concerning your health .
    Have appreciated your kind an thoughtfulness in the tractor club as well as conversations about farming over coffee
    Prayers for you an your family

  • What a tribute to Vernon. This is the largest convoy/parade that we have ever been a part of. The outpouring of love could be felt along the route. It easily brought tears to one’s eyes.
    We wish Vernon and his family all the very best during this life challenge.
    Sincerely,
    Glen & Mary-Lou Livock

  • I was an owner operator for the verb group for eight years till I retired an have great respect for Vernon and viola and Wendel we wish him well

  • My first job was working for E R B trans out of leamington unloading and reloading City trucks delivering Windsor and area. Was sharing Higline produce .

  • I had the extreme pleasure of meeting Vernon Erb, a man with such integrity and grace. We had a wonderful conversation at the Baden terminal. Later, did I learn that he was the founder of Erb transport. He left with me a resounding impression of being a humble, caring and companionate person.

    I would like to extend my condolences to his family. May the grace of god be with him during this difficult time. He will missed by many.

    God Bless.

  • A fitting tribute to a man who yes, is known far and wide. The fleet is so well respected you look twice at each and every truck you see along the road. Each employee seems to model the founders ethics and more….. So, sad to hear of his illness but we all have that one final road to take….. Well done Mr. Erb….

  • Vern I first met you some 15 yrs ago, when you stopped at my place to look at a a cab for your WD-9. Our second meeting was Jan.4th/2020 at your fantastic ‘Erb Collection Open House”. I was impressed with the sincere and genuine welcome that you gave everyone as they filed in the door, to sign the guest book. Sorry I missed the convoy.
    I wish you a few sunny days ahead.