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A Century of Commerce

Oct 03, 2019 06:06PM

Gene England (Eugene Knight England) was born Oct. 24, 1919, into a family that knew the privileges of work, service, and love for each other.

He grew up in Plain City, a small farming town in a northern Utah, where his heart’s desire was to have a saddle. Horses were the path to freedom, as well as a means of getting work done. While having a horse was attractive, Gene’s greatest pleasure was riding in the truck with his dad.

Gene’s father, Chester, gave farming a sincere try, but decided instead to make his living hauling produce and anything else he could deliver in his truck. Gene loved school and had many friends, but his fondest memories were riding in the truck with his father and brother Bill, going from store to store, delivering potatoes to markets in Cache Valley while drinking a Birrell strawberry soda.

Gene got an early sense of commerce—discovering and delivering what people needed—and the satisfaction of getting goods to the right place, on time. Those early experiences sunk deep into Gene’s character.

Gene served his country by enlisting in the United States Army in World War II and served in the Pacific, where he brought home a Bronze Star for bravery and acts of heroic service in the Battle of Okinawa in 1945. He even found time to perform extra military duties, returning with $5,000 he saved to buy a first Kenworth truck and trailer for the emerging family business.

Gene attended college and tried out other employment, but he always knew that he wanted to build a trucking business with his dad and brother. It wasn’t easy to build a major interstate trucking company in an era of stiff competition and government regulations, but failure was never an option for Gene. He gave the business his total commitment, putting in as many hours as needed to make it successful.

Having spent many hours loading and unloading trucks himself, as well as millions of miles behind the wheel of an 18-wheeler, Gene understood what it took to lead hundreds and later thousands of dedicated employees and colleagues while heading the C.R. England company.

While trucking was in Gene’s bones, his greatest success was marrying June Daniels in 1940 and raising his family of six boys, all of whom eventually worked with him.

Gene maintained and passed on his values of trust and family solidarity while growing the business with his family. That trust and enjoyment has spread to thousands of employees and customers nationwide. Sons Jeff, Dan, Rod, Dean, Todd, and Corey have all followed in the industry tradition, and each one, like their father, found ways to innovate new processes and systems to improve delivery and safety for all involved.

Now moving into the fourth and fifth generations, Gene’s descendants follow his path, with grandsons Chad, Josh, Zach and TJ at the helm.

Although Gene has experienced the pain of loss—his beloved wife June, his son Rod, his brother Bill, and others—he continues to move forward, always with someplace to go and something to accomplish.

Gene is not only a driver, but a builder. Whether he is building a family, a company, or a community, he makes the world a better place.

“It’s important to surround yourself with good people. It’s not about getting everything your way; it’s about working together to resolve problems for the greater good,” he said.

Gene is comfortable with himself and with others. It is not unusual for another trucker to find Gene at a truck stop, crouched under his rig as he examines its undercarriage, and exclaim with some surprise, “Hey, you’re Gene England, the man whose name is on the truck!”

Gene has received many accolades and awards for his service. He has been inducted into the University of Utah Business School Hall of Fame with his brother Bill, and has received many Congressional, Governor’s and industry awards.

Gene has donated to many educational and charitable organizations and has relentlessly continued to honor US veterans by providing jobs and a path to providing for their families.

After June’s death in 2009, Gene met and married Dorothy Nielsen at the age of 92. Gene stays busy, continuing to build his life and the lives of those around him, including going to the office several days each week. Gene continues to roll along—100 years and still going strong. (Submitted to Serve Daily by David Allred.)