Trucking community mourns Vernon Erb

by Abdul Latheef

Vernon Erb

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.

Erb Convoy
Photo by Julia Maier/Erb Group

“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 at 60
With son Wendell during last year’s 60th anniversary celebrations. Photo by Abdul Latheef/Today’s Trucking.

6oth anniversary

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.”

Photo by Julia Maier/Erb Group

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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  • We’ve been a part of Erb Transport since 1987; our sincere condolences to the Erb family and Erb Group. He was an amazing man and a pioneer in our industry.

  • Sorry to here he was a very good man, taught me how to drive my first semi, just said there it is , you are a country boy, you’ll be OK

  • Sorry to here this news. Vernon was a wonderful person and always respectful of others. Always willing to give young upstarts a chance. My sincere condolences to Wendell and family, Vernon you will be missed.

  • R.I.P. Mr. Erb.
    Worked for Erb in the early 2000’s.
    Never met Vernon.
    Sincerest Sympathies

  • We are sorry to hear of vernon passing away he was a great man to work for he will be dearly missed by all of use our sympathy to you family

  • Many years ago Vernon took a chance and hired me as a 19 year old kid fresh out of jail and just getting my license back. I have always been very thankful for him getting me started in a trucking career that is now nearing 50 years.He was a great man to work for and will be missed. Condolences to the Erb family.

  • What is there to say about a man & family with such honesty & integrity. I was associated with his Company while employed in the trucking industry quite a few years ago.
    My best wishes & condolences are with his family. He was a fantastic man, & I well imagine a marvellous husband, father, grandpa & certainly a great grandpa.

  • Vernon was a great man. I respected him very much. I was proud to work for him for over 32 years, first in New Hamburg, then Baden. My condolences to the Erb family. Vernon will be missed.

  • I met Mr ERB in 1979 when I took on Service Managers responsibilities at Kirby International in Kitchener, Vern was always a gentleman, and a pleasure to deal with!
    He certainty has left an indelible mark on the trucking landscape over the decades!
    Rest In Peace!.
    Chuck Jamieson

  • Condolences to the Vernon Erb Family . Thank you for providing work for so many people over the years.Thank you for family carrying on The Transport Trucking fleet. and providing work for people including my son ,Roy Bretz
    Harold & ruby Bretz

  • Having lived in Perth County & in Waterloo until 2008, when I made a full time move to Vancouver Island, I knew of Vernon & remember his gravel trucking business, & his remarkable success in the industry. How ever we only got to really know each other about six years ago when I was back there visiting. It was then I visited with the Schultz brothers ( my nephews) who new him well, that Vernon gave us a personal tour of his fantastic truck/ tractor/car museum near N. Hamberg, that we directly connected. What a humble pleasant & interesting person. We knew each others history & back ground, but had not really connected.It was the high lite of that trip. I knew of Vernon’s history of honesty & generosity, & I will always remember him taking the time for that tour. He will be greatly missed. Condolences to his family. Merv L. Roth Cobble Hill B.C.

  • Mes sympathie a la famille,UN tres grand homme,ont VAS s enuyer de ne plus le voir au terminal de vaudreuil…

  • I am sorry for your loss.
    My son works for Erb Company over five years.
    Mr.Erb hired him, even he had a few years experience only.
    Thank you for that.
    Now my son is a happy guy.
    And the best son. Taking a good care of me.
    I had 3 car accident, handicap for 14 years.
    I was born in 1959, when Mr. Erb started his business.
    My son loves his job, single, married with his red truck…
    He loves his job, he feels like he is the part of the Erb Family.
    Thank you Mr.Erb to make this happened!
    Rest in peace!
    Ildiko, the mother of Vilmos

  • sad news we lost a great decent man a super boss who would walk over to you
    and shake youre hand he will be missed

  • I have worked worked for Erb for almost 20 years and saw Vernon often such a humble man and very well respected. God bless you sir!

  • Vernon was such a gentleman. The industry and community has lost a legend.
    RIP Mr Erb, Condolences to the family, friends and colleges. Enjoyed working with ERB companies for the past 30 years through Altruck.

  • What a great lesson in life & business when as a rookie salesman back in the early 60’s I had the pleasure & honour to have been able to consummate a transaction with Vern for an used truck we had. You never sold to Vern, you earned his trust. The name will continue as the family carries on. God bless his life & the legacy he leaves. Robert Pocock

  • I didn’t see until today that Vernon had passed on to whatever is next.
    In the last few years, I have been impressed that Vernon even knew who I was in relation to a past employee.
    He always made me feel seen and appreciated. What a boss! We need more people like him.
    Best wishes to all of his family as you reflect on his life and all that he saw as important in humanity.

    Shirley Snyder