Wendell Erb Named OTA Chair; Promises to take Aim at Level Playing Field Issues

Wendell Erb, president and CEO of Baden, Ont.-based Erb Transport, was named chairman of the Ontario Trucking Association for a two-year term. The announcement was made today at the OTA’s virtual executive conference and board meeting.

Erb, a long-time supporter of the OTA, served for years on the OTA board of directors and executive committee, most recently as first vice-chairman. He succeeds One for Freight’s David Carruth as chair.

Wendell took over his company from his late father and founder, Vernon Erb, in late 2011. His dad started out with one dump truck in 1959. Partly under the leadership of Wendell, the fleet has since grown to become one of Canada’s biggest trucking companies, specializing in refrigerated freight and employing some 1,500 people.

Wendell Erb Drives the truck of his late dad, Vernon, to OTA’s offices the day he is named chair

As the new OTA chair, Wendell says he plans to follow the proven blueprint laid by his father for success – listening to people.

“I learned very early on in life and business that there is no real secret to success,” he says. “Take care of your people and they will take care of you and your customers.”

Accordingly, he says he looks forward to working with OTA staff, which he believes has done a tremendous job working with governments on everything from safety policy to steering the industry over COVID-19 hurdles. He says he will also draw from some of the great past-present-and-future minds of the industry, including outgoing chair Carruth and CTA chair Jean Claude Fortin.

One of Erb’s main goals as chair will be to continue guiding OTA along its current path of equaling the competitive playing field for compliant, responsible carriers in areas of truck and highway safety, tax law and environmental rules.

Erb, who has always taken seriously the duty to uphold the industry’s image, has been particularly vocal about urging governments in Ontario and across Canada to help industry put an end to the labour misclassification scheme known as Driver Inc. He takes over just as the Canadian Trucking Alliance unveiled a new awareness campaign aimed at educating CEOs and presidents of shippers and receivers in the supply chain to seriously consider the cost of compliance when choosing transportation providers and to ensure their freight carriers aren’t cheating on taxes, cutting corners on safety and polluting the environment.

“The time has come to end once and for all the idea that carriers can build a business model based on dangerous, unethical and illegal non-compliance to gain ill-gotten advantages on the majority of law-abiding carriers who play by the rules, pay their fair share and take safety, the environment seriously,” says Erb. “I look forwarding to helping OTA advance this cause throughout all levels of government and the business community.”

Erb says he also looks forward to seeing through the many additional safety, labour and environmental initiatives OTA is working on, such as the implementation of electronic logging devices in Ontario and solving the driver shortage, among other things.

Preparing for life after COVID-19, Erb says a priority remains the sustainability of OTA over the long-term and will look for new ways to involve and seek input from the next generation of trucking leaders involved in the association.

“OTA is the voice of trucking in Ontario. It has a proud history of representing the diverse and varied interests of the industry over almost 100 years. In order for that continue, we must also listen to new and emerging voices and new ideas to ensure our vision is sustainable and we are always adaptable to whatever is in store for us down the road over the following 100 years.”

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