Vernon Strong, Culberson Trucking
By George Fullerton
Vernon Strong has been driving for Culberson Trucking Ltd. for more than ten years, and according to Sandra DeMerchant, Safety and Compliance Coordinator, he is a key part of the team. Vernon was selected by the Atlantic Provinces Trucking Association (APTA) as Pro Driver for December 2016.
“Vernon is reliable, consistent, attentive and deeply knowledgeable of our operations, our lanes and customers”, commented Sandra. “He is the guy our dispatcher, Mary Jo Tweedie, calls on when she wants detailed information about routes, directions or specifics about customers. Vernon is very willing to field our questions and provide solid information.”
Sandra added that Vernon never refuses to handle a load and he is completely reliable. She added that his paperwork is consistently complete and in order, and his log book audits are always excellent. Vernon grew up on his family’s farm in the community of Lindsay, west of Woodstock, New Brunswick. One of his childhood friends was Murray Culberson. That friendship, Vernon pointed out, has persisted as they approach their senior years.
Vernon says he always liked trucks and worked on local deliveries for Karnes Bakery in Woodstock for about twenty years.
“When I worked for Karnes, I would occasionally haul a load in a big truck for Murray, just to help out.” When Karnes restructured their delivery system Vernon left the company and worked a short stint for Woodstock Transport, and later, in 2006, came to work at Culberson Transport.
“I really like the crew at Culberson. Sandra and Mary Jo are really good at their jobs in dispatch, and they get lots of information on jobs, and share it with the drivers. They make Culberson a great place to work.
Murray is a good boss; he knows what we are doing and how things work out on the job. He is also great at keeping his equipment in very good shape. The trucks go to Richwil Truck Centre (Woodstock) every 5,000-6,000 miles for a grease job and the mechanics give the trucks a good going over, making sure brakes are adjusted, and everything is in good shape. Any time we have a mechanical fault, Murray gets it to Richwil and it is fixed before we head down the road.”
Vernon’s typical run begins with a load of potatoes south into Eastern Seaboard markets, then reloaded for Toronto, then back home to deliver in the Maritimes. Culberson hauls both temperature controlled and dry freight loads.
“Recently, there have been a lot of potato loads and I have been coming directly home after delivery and making the second load in the week.” Vernon says that schedule makes for a busy week, and adds that the schedule requires good forward planning.
Culberson Transport was founded by Murray Culberson in 1981 and continues to be headquartered in Jacksonville, New Brunswick, just fifteen minutes from the United States border, at Houlton Maine.
Culberson operates tandem reefers in the Atlantic Provinces, Quebec and Ontario as well as the eastern United States.
Murray Culberson grew up working alongside his father and uncle in a major potato farming operation, based in Jacksonville, in the heart of the New Brunswick potato belt.
Murray confesses that trucking had appealed to him, and in his early twenties he applied to drive for a major New Brunswick fleet, but was turned down because he lacked adequate driving experience.
After being turned down for the driving job, he decided that if he bought a truck, he could drive it anytime he wished. He bought the truck and contracted it to Jumbo Transport operating between Maritimes and Toronto. Realizing some success, he bought his second truck and put it on Jumbo as well.
After Jumbo failed, the truck was contracted to Fast Trax for a short period, and then Culberson decided he could keep the trucks busy, hauling out of the Culberson family owned potato packing house, delivering to the northeast United States. Through the late 1980’s into the 1990’s Culberson added a half dozen trucks dedicated to haul containers for McCain Produce to New Jersey ports. Currently reefer trailers haul into the US, returning via Toronto.
Farming continues to be a major business enterprise for Culberson, with about 1,400 (owned) acres and about 1,400 acres (rented) in corn, soy, and grain production. Culberson owns and operates a grain terminal with drying capacity. Corn and grains are trucked by their live bottom and dump trailers to farm operations and feed mills in Atlantic Canada. Soy beans are trucked to crushing plants in Quebec.
Murray Culberson, recalls Vernon coming on board as a full time driver, “Vernon stopped in one day and asked if there was any work to do, and I said we need drivers and he came on full time. He is a great employee, he consistently gives 110%. He is completely dedicated to doing the best possible job whatever is needed. We are very proud that he was selected as APTA Pro Driver of the Month.”☚