The Canadian Trucking Alliance has chosen from the ranks of the small family business for its latest chairman, naming Gene Orlick, owner (along with his wife Nancy) and president of Orlicks Transportation Inc., of Calgary to the position for a two-year term.
The announcement was made today at the CTA’s annual general meeting. CTA is a federation of the country’s provincial trucking associations, representing over 4,500 trucking companies nationwide.
Gene literally grew up in the trucking business. The original Orlick Transport was started by his uncle, Tom, along with his father, Max, back in the late 1940’s. As a kid, Gene started working on weekdays after school and on Saturdays, basically doing anything that needed doing. By high school he was driving truck every day after classes.
After college in BC and Alberta, where he played hockey, Gene rejoined the family business (whose head office at the time was in Edmonton) in sales. In 1983, he transferred to Calgary where he met and married Nancy the following year. When their first daughter Kennie was born, Gene took on a new position with TransX, opening their Calgary operation. (Both Kennie and their second daughter, Jo, work in the business).
“My Dad, Max, Uncle Tom, Lyndon Stockdale and Louie Tolaini were great mentors to me,” says Gene. Sadly Max passed away earlier this year. He was pre-deceased by Tom in 2009.
“I worked for all of them and the direction they provided has been invaluable and contributed to my success in business and life. We opened Gene Orlick Transport in 1995 and bought Stockdale Transport in 2005. Since buying Stockdale, Lyndon Stockdale has been a constant with our operation by mentoring us all.”
Gene restored the Orlick Transport name with the blessing from Uncle Tom. “He was proud that we could continue his legacy started in 1948,” says Gene.
Like many small carriers, when Gene and Nancy started the company it was with two trucks and four trailers, hauling pop bottles for Coca Cola. Today, the company has grown to about 40 trucks and 185 trailers, specializing in the transportation of grocery products, building materials and general van freight.
“Roots are important to me,” says Gene. “After over 37 years in the business I am proud of the reputation our family business has.”
In 2014, Gene returned the old company colours and the original Orlicks logo to all the company trucks.
“We have built the business on face-to-face relationships,” he says. “Ethics, being honest, and service are what I believe in.”
In 2007 and again in 2012, the company was one of 40 companies from across North America to receive a SmartWay award of excellence from the United States Environmental Protection Agency for its continued commitment to environmental sustainability.
Despite the trials and tribulations of running a family business, Gene has been an active member of the industry’s associations. From 2006-08, Gene served as president of the Alberta Motor Transport Association. He is currently the AMTA’s vice chairman for a second time. He has also served on the executive committee of the board of directors of the Canadian Trucking Alliance for several years.
“I get a lot out of belonging and participating in the associations,” he says. “As a small carrier, what I have learned from getting involved, the relationships I have made with other carriers, industry suppliers and regulators has been invaluable to my business and to me personally.
“I am living proof that small carriers not only have a voice at CTA, but that our voice is heard and respected.”