WILMOT TOWNSHIP, Ont. – The trucking community is paying tribute to Vernon Erb, founder of the Erb Group of Companies, who passed away Wednesday. He was 84.
“It is with great sadness we inform you that this morning we said goodbye to a remarkable man and our founder, Vernon Erb,” the company said in a statement.
“We will always remember our founder by his kindness, integrity and exceptional work ethic. He will be missed by all those who were fortunate enough to have known him,” it said.
Erb was diagnosed with leukemia in early April, and was at home being cared for by his family when he died, the company said.
Three weeks ago, family and friends organized a convoy in his hometown of Wilmot to say goodbye, and to recognize his contributions to the industry.
“We want to take a moment to thank every one of you who took part in the tribute parade that passed by him at his home on May 1,” the company said.
“This parade was a true reflection of the admiration, respect and influence Mr. Erb had in the trucking, farming and local community.”
Erb is survived by his wife Viola, daughter Karen and sons Wendell and Darryl as well as several grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
Tributes pour in
Tributes have been pouring in from all parts of the country.
“With heavy hearts, staff and members of the Ontario Trucking Association are mourning the passing of Vernon Erb.”– Ontario Trucking Association.
In Toronto, the Ontario Trucking Association said it had sent a message of condolence to OTA vice-chairman Wendell Erb, and the entire Erb family.
“With heavy hearts, staff and members of the Ontario Trucking Association are mourning the passing of Vernon Erb,” the OTA said.
“We lost a great man, father, leader and role model. It gives us peace to know dad was ready to meet the Lord in heaven,” the association quoted Wendell Erb as saying.
“When I first entered the industry as a young man many years ago, Mr. Erb taught me many lessons about conduct in both business and life.”– OTA president Stephen Laskowski.
Vernon Erb was member of the OTA since 1967, and was a long-time serving OTA board and executive member.
In 2008, he was recognized with the OTA Service to Industry – considered to be the highest honor bestowed on a trucking executive, the association said.
“When I first entered the industry as a young man many years ago, Mr. Erb taught me many lessons about conduct in both business and life,” said OTA president Stephen Laskowski.
He said the big turnout for the convoy this month was a clear display of how many lives he positively impacted.
“Vernon was a kind, caring and humble man, and was a true pioneer of our industry,” said Mike Millian, president of the Private Motor Truck Council of Canada (PMTC).
“He will be missed by the industry, as well as his community and everyone he touched.”
“We salute your service to our industry. You will be missed.”– Toronto Transportation Club.
The Women’s Trucking Federation of Canada tweeted that Erb was an incredible man, and will be missed by many in the trucking industry and the local community.
The Toronto Transportation Club expressed its condolences to the Erb family and friends.
“We salute your service to our industry. You will be missed,” it said.
Bendix Commercial Vehicles Systems also offered condolences, saying that “Vernon’s was certainly a life well-lived”.
Erb started out with one dump truck in 1959. Erb Transport has since grown to become one of Canada’s biggest trucking companies employing some 1,500 people, including owner-operators.
Wendell Erb has led the fleet since 1999.
In an interview with Today’s Trucking in August, when the company celebrated its 60th anniversary, the senior Erb said he was quite happy the way things were going.
“It doesn’t seem like 60 years. It sorts of went way beyond what I had anticipated back 60 years ago.”
He said the industry had changed “an awful lot” in that time.
“Hard to say what is it going to do in the next 60 years.”
Legacy ‘will live on’
The company said Thursday that Erb’s values of honesty and loyalty will remain an integral part of Erb Transport.
“Vernon’s legacy will continue to live on in the countless lives he has impacted, he will be remembered for years to come.”– Erb Transport.
“Vernon’s legacy will continue to live on in the countless lives he has impacted, he will be remembered for years to come.”
Funeral arrangements have been entrusted with the Mark Jutzi Funeral Home in New Hamburg, Ont.
A private graveside service will take place at Steinmann Mennonite Church Cemetery. A celebration of life will be held at a later date, the family said.
- This story has been updated with reaction and more details.
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