April 14, 2015

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Gene England: The Driving Force behind His Family Legacy

By Aisley Oliphant

April 14, 2015

The C.R. England trucking company is more than just a business to Gene England—it’s a family legacy. A legacy he, his father and brother raised from the ground up.

Involved in trucking and farming his whole life, England remembers assisting his father, Chester Rodney England, as a trucker in Plain City. His father bought his first Model T Ford truck in 1920 and began purchasing produce from local farmers to haul and sell in the area. In the beginning, their haul consisted of potatoes from local farmers, and they marketed mainly in Ogden. But by the age of 14, Gene England had a driver’s license and was helping his father deliver potatoes and groceries to Cache Valley. It wasn’t long before he was conducting business for his father at grocery stores as well.

Once England and his brother, Bill (who also assisted their father with the business), were old enough, they left the trucking business to join the military effort during World War II. Though he was taking a brief break from the trucking business, England never stopped thinking about the company. He began his military career at the Army Post Exchange in California, where, as a manager, he rented his car to soldiers on weekends so they could drive home for visits. He saved the money he earned with the intention of using it to help grow the family business at the end of the war.

It wasn’t long before England was drafted into the Army and stationed in Okinawa, Japan. Even while overseas, he continued working hard to save money for the business, this time selling his cigarette rations to anyone who would buy them. By the end of World War II, he had saved $5,000. Upon returning home, he used that $5,000 to buy his first 1940 Kenworth diesel truck and launched back into the trucking business. Once the U.S. economy began booming and production lines were released from the grip of the war, the Englands were able to purchase the first Mac truck that rolled off the lines.

Business for C.R. England quickly picked up speed. By 1957, they had trucks driving to and from the East Coast, full of groceries and Idaho potatoes. They also advertised a 72-hour service from Southern California to Philadelphia.

When England’s sons were old enough, he taught them the habit of hard work that his father instilled in him. Each son began working with the company at an early age and climbed his way up the ranks to where they are today. Gene England always encouraged his sons to do what it took to help grow the business. As a result, his sons banded together and conducted a study to see which routes were the most profitable for their drivers. They also began offering their trucks and drivers to other companies, such as Coca-Cola and Wal-Mart. “Anyone who needs the service, we’re there to do it,” England says.

England eventually realized his sons were running the company on their own. Instead of simply retiring, he began a sister company, Gene and Bill Leasing, which loans cars out to employees on a payroll deduction. He says he believes a car is something important that everyone needs, and as long as employees are in good standing with the company, they qualify to receive a car on loan.

Though he celebrated his 95th birthday this past year, Gene England isn’t slowing down. He still goes into the office every day, ready to work. “I’ve been blessed with good health,” he says. “I get up in the morning and I feel like I want to go to work. How could you be blessed any more than that?”

He adds that he doesn’t like the idea of a comfy recliner in retirement. “I don’t know what I’d do if I didn’t [go to work],” he says. “A lot of people look for retirement. They want to get away from [work]. I don’t want to get away; I want to get with it because I enjoy it.”

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