Mackie family celebrates 80 years of trucking

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OSHAWA, Ont. — The Mackie Group of Companies celebrated 80 years in business this week, hosting a customer and supplier gala last night that attracted a who’s who of the industry as well as municipal, provincial and federal dignitaries.

Other events were held earlier in the week to honour the company’s 400 employees. The Mackie Group was founded in 1928 by Charlie Mackie, who hauled lumber, produce “and just about anything he could” around South River, Ont. (near North Bay), Norm Mackie recalled last night. Charlie’s son Merle carried the torch and in 1934, his own son Ross was born.

Ross Mackie was all smiles at last night’s gathering, greeting and reminiscing with past drivers, managers and partners.

Norm recalled how his grandfather Merle would haul lumber and tomatoes in the Greater Toronto Area, and then convert his truck on weekends, placing bench seats in the back and driving skiers from downtown Oshawa to the ski club in Raglan.

Merle dabbled in household moving in the early 40s and began trading loads with other independent household moving companies across Canada, Norm explained. In October, 1952, Mackie Moving Systems became part of the North American Van Lines network, a relationship that still exists today.

Ross grew up, married and had four sons: Norm; Paul; Dean; and Scott. All are active in the company today.

“With three of the boys being born in September, we always knew Dad was home at Christmas,” Norm joked during a speech last night.

In the 1960s, Mackie Moving Systems opened a branch in North Bay, providing household moving for families serving the National Department of Defense. The company also began hauling for General Motors that decade.

Dean Mackie said he and his brothers began driving for the company in the 70s. At this time, Mackie began hauling expedited parts for GM as the concept of just-in-time delivery was born. The result was the formation of Mackie Transport Ltd., which is still one of the group’s largest businesses today, Dean noted.

In 1988, Mackie moved into its current headquarters just off the 401 in Oshawa. By this time, Merle was retired in Florida. He came up to see the new warehouse and office and voiced some concerns, recalled Dean.

“He came up to see the new warehouse and was overwhelmed by the size, the beauty and the cost of the new facility. At that time, he was concerned we wouldn’t be able to pay for the large warehouse and all the new trucks. He was right because we’re still paying for it now,” Dean joked.

Merle died peacefully soon after. In 2003, the Mackie family continued to grow its business, opening Mackie Harley Davidson across the highway from its headquarters. The company has also added an 80,000 sq.-ft. warehouse in Mississauga and a 40,000 sq.-ft. warehouse in Montreal to its stable. It also runs 500 pieces of equipment, employs 200 drivers and offers a range of services including: warehousing and inventory management; open- and closed-vehicle transportation; high-value goods transportation; general freight hauling; trailer rentals; and commercial and household goods relocation.

Today, Ross has 14 grandchildren, some of whom work for the company in the summer, carrying on the family tradition.

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