50 Years And Counting - The Emberley's Transport Story
Our History Was Written By: Jeffery Mavin, Grade 6 / 2011 Heritage Fair / Lake Academy, Fortune, NL
Emberley's Transport was founded by Grand Bank Business man Randolph Emberley and his wife Ellie Emberley in the Early 1950s. The date of the origin of the company is unclear but most of the family will agree that the year of origin was 1956.
Randolph Emberley was a quiet church going man who was as comfortable driving a truck as he was conducting meetings with the heads of business trying to obtain new business for his newly formed company.
Mr. Emberley was a driver, mechanic, president and owner of the newly formed company. In the early years there was no big staff to complete all daily task of the business. Mr. Emberley would often make the long trip to St. John's on his own while his wife held down the business at home as well as managing a very large family at the same time.
Ellie Emberley (Mavin) was the Manager, controller, and financial officer of the company. Mrs. Emberley would often sit at her dining room table at night long after all the children were put to bed and finish up the days work for the company. Now at age 92 she remembers fondly her years of raising a family while trying to make a business successful.
A Company Is Born
Emberley's Transport was formed over a period of time. The business actually was born out of a convenience store that the Emberleys operated on West Street in Grand Bank. In the early 1950s the Emberleys operated a store and were distributors of 7 Up soft drinks on the South Coast, it was this combination of business that lead to the birth of Emberley's Transport. Mr. Emberley needed a way to get freight from St. John's to Grand Bank faster than the current coastal boats could get it there. His idea was to start trucking the freight from St. John's by truck on the gravel roads to Grand Bank. This was a very risky venture at that time since road travel was very lengthy and road conditions were not good.
For many years Emberley's Transport operated from the Emberley's home on Church Street in Grand Bank. In the late 1960s Mr. Emberley purchased his first garage on the site of the old Lions Den on Main Street in Grand Bank. This location was closed around 1970 and in the early 1980s the current Head Office was built in Marystown. Today there are locations in Marystown, St. John's and Dartmouth, Nova Scotia.
The First Truck And Early Road Conditions
The first truck that was owned by Emberley's Transport was a used early 1950s Fargo truck with a homemade wooden box. It did not have seat belts or even a radio. This would make travel very long and boring for the driver. Breakdowns were very common in these older trucks, they did not have all the modern conveniences that today's trucks have and they were a lot smaller. Flat tires were very common as Great Aunt Ellie recalls on one trip the driver had 9 flats, in the early days they did not change tires they had to patch the tires tube and reinstall it. Very hard work for one man.
In the early years the roads were not paved as they are today. The roads were gravel filled with potholes and dust. Roads were very narrow with single lane bridges similar the the ones at Lance-au-Loup just outside of Grand Bank, The road conditions on that road this past winter would be similar to the types of road conditions encountered by early truck drivers.
Competing With The Coastal Boat Service
In the early years of Emberley's Transport the main competition was the Coastal Boat Service that operated on the South Coast, trying to truck freight was a new idea to most communities on the South Coast. It soon became very clear that trucks could deliver the freight in better condition and faster than coastal boats. After this became know it was very easy to get business for the new company and the business began to boom.
Although Great Aunt Ellie does not agree, The Emberley's were pioneers in the trucking industry in Newfoundland. They started a business from very humble beginnings and grew a business that has operated for over 50 years and still operates today. Something Great Aunt Ellie is very proud of is the company is still Family operated and is one of only a hand full of truly Newfoundland companies still operating in the trucking industry today.
Looking To The Future
The company has been operated by Mr. Gary Emberley and his brother George Emberley since 1985. The company has grow from a home based operation with one truck to three locations with over 85 trucks and over 35 staff members (some of whom are still members of the family). The Company also has its own garage located in Grand Bank to complete repairs to the large truck fleet.
The trucks used today are very different than the old Fargo first used. Modern tractor trailers with sleeping accommodations built in complete with TV, Microwave ovens and refrigerators are common. The freight is hauled in trailers with air ride suspensions and refrigeration to allow temperature controlled freight to be handled, and of course the roads are paved.
All of this combines to make the job of a trucker much easier than it was in the early years.
Gary Emberley says he hopes the company will remain family operated, but with the retirement of his brother George it is unclear if this will happen. At this time there are no family members willing to get involved in the business.
Let's hope that Emberley's Transport will carry on operated by the family, and in 50 years from now they are still in business.