Discovering the Cold Chain Inudstry

Growing up during the early days of The Erb Group was a cool experience; and listening to the tales about it is an adventure in itself. In the company's rich and extensive history, Wayne Baechler stands out as a key figure in helping build our organizational structure and refining our services to reflect our operations today. Wayne's story working with The Erb Group started in the early '60s when Vernon was still running loads with his dump truck in and out of the Wellesley Yard. Since then, Wayne has shared decades of dedication with The Erb Group, through delivering extra loads, opening a new terminal, or hosting Employee Appreciation BBQs; he always had a hand in creating the next cool move for the company. Wayne's contributions embody the core values of The Erb Group, reflecting a commitment to excellence that has helped propel us to the forefront of the cold chain industry.

Early Roots in Trucking 

Our former Corporate Operations Manager, Wayne Baechler, was one of the first individuals hired as a driver on our team. Wayne joined the company part-time in 1969 and full-time shortly after. Wayne has always had a knack for trucking. From a young age, he was always surrounded by trucks and guided by the influence of his father, Ray Baechler, and our founder, Vernon Erb. Business between the Baechlers and the Erbs started when Wayne's dad picked up eggs at Vernon's Father's farm. Wayne's father owned his own trucking company, hauling eggs and milk from local farms to grading stations in Toronto until he experienced an injury. Wayne was too young to take over. Acquiring Wayne’s father’s egg riggs aligned with Vernon’s dream of receiving freight that would get him onto the highways and allowed him to preserve the Baechler family business and carry on its legacy in 1963. While operating his dump truck during the summers, Vernon would be back and forth between construction sites in New Hamburg as they were installing the sewer system. Wayne would run back from school to catch Vernon wherever he was in town to ride with him in his truck. "I spent so much time with Vernon; he always teased me about how he was the one who taught me to shift gears when I was ten years old," said Wayne. Wayne went from shifting gears with Vernon at a young age to making his first haul to Walkerton as a Driver with Erb Transport. Joining forces with Vernon, Wayne embarked on a journey that would shape his career for years to come.

Milestone Moments

Across a side street in Wellesley, Vernon parked his trucks at a shop next door to Futher Bros Funeral Home, where Wayne's interest in the industry grew. He often embraced opportunities to assist Vernon and made late-night trips to pick up loads from nearby destinations like Walkerton. Wayne, 19 at the time, remembers, "The first time Vernon let me go anywhere, he sent me off with a tractor-trailer." Despite his nervousness, Wayne said, 'I don't know if I can do it,' Vernon replied, 'If you can back up a hay wagon, you can back up this tractor-trailer,' and it worked! Vernon gave Wayne an opportunity to learn, and his trust in that moment reassured him that he loved trucking. This was a milestone moment marking Wayne's official entry into tractor-trailer driving but also highlighted the mentorship and camaraderie shared between the two friends. Although Vernon used to joke at the beginning of their ventures that Wayne was his right-hand man, his efforts did not go unnoticed. With Vernon's personality and Wayne being much the same between the two of them, they steered the company's direction and laid a lot of the groundwork for what we are today. Wayne held various Driving and Operational roles during his career with The Erb Group. While establishing our facilities, many of our terminals and routes were determined by our client's needs, and when we sought a new location, we utilized the human resources we had to get things running. Reflecting on his accomplishments, Wayne fondly reminisced about establishing the Thunder Bay Terminal. Wayne offered to lay down Erb's roots in Thunder Bay. "We had a friend in Thunder Bay named Bob Pfaff. I stayed with him; he's originally from New Hamburg, and we used his kitchen table to do the billing.
" Witnessing the terminal's evolution from its humble beginnings to a bustling hub of activity was a deeply rewarding experience. "When you see where it started to where it is now, I drive into the Baden Terminal and just sit back sometimes in my truck and look around and say, 'wow, I never ever thought it'd be like this," said Wayne.

Life Outside the Truck

Wayne is best known today for his dedication to spearheading our Annual Employee Barbecues. He personally visits each terminal and hits the grill with our executives to provide a meal for the team, who has helped fuel our cool moves as we've grown! Reflecting on his innate willingness to step up and lend a hand, "I don't know how I got into those BBQs," he admits with a chuckle, recalling how the tradition evolved from modest beginnings. "The highlight of the day is seeing all the people coming, he remarks as he shares the heartwarming essence of our BBQs. Wayne's willingness to go the extra mile has created cherished company traditions and speaks volumes about his passion for the deep-rooted sense of community that has existed from the beginning of The Erb Group. It is abundantly clear that his impact extends beyond any role – he is an integral individual in the cool moves we make across North America today. Here's to Wayne, a true embodiment of The Erb Group's values and a driving force behind our success! Learn more about The Erb Group's history and Wayne's contributions to our company over the last 65 years by clicking here or visiting ErbGear.com to purchase your own copy of The Erb Group's Corporate History Book.  
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