75th Anniversary – How We Got Here

January 28, 2022

Shining Like a Diamond

If you haven’t already heard, this year Van Kam Freightways Ltd. is officially marking its 75th Diamond Anniversary of serving Western Canadian companies for all their freight shipping needs. My, how time flies! 75 years is a long time, and we’re proud to say we have our fingerprints in assisting in developing many communities and industries throughout BC and Alberta. Our company has always stayed focused on its customers and its family of employees. With their success, our success has come, and unfortunately, we can’t go over all of our 75 years of service, but we can share some brief highlights on how we got here with you. Let’s go!

Sidecar deliveries in the 30's

A Motorcycle with a Sidecar

It all started in 1938 with a motorcycle with a sidecar and delivering lighting fixtures when Robert Henry Sr. founded Vancouver Kamloops Freightlines Ltd. in Burnaby, BC nine years later. Eventually, with much perseverance and exceptional customer service, the company quickly took off to resemble more of what it is today. The single motorcycle sidecar gave way to an accommodating stable of trucks and trailers. The customer service standards that Henry Sr. founded the company are the lifeblood of our operations to this day as we continually find ways to offer complete customer satisfaction and recognize the irreplaceable value of our employees. In 1962 the “Vancouver Kamloops” portion of the company’s name was shortened to “Van-Kam” and has been that way ever since.

Feelin’ Rad & Totally Tubular

If you didn’t get the meaning of the subheading for this paragraph, it’s obvious you weren’t around in the 80s! Regardless, the 80s saw service expansion and growth for Van Kam as we headed beyond Kamloops into Northern BC and Thompson/Cariboo regions in 1984. We also opened our service corridors to our southern neighbours by expanding to the Northern United States in 1986. In 1989, Van Kam began including the Kootenays in its regular service areas.

Neighbours to the Right

With the 90s not to be outdone, 1996 saw Van Kam implement a significant expansion in our LTL service network into Alberta. Most notably, Van Kam struck gold (or oil?!) when we formed a working partnership with the fine folks of Mustang Freightways Ltd. – who also exhibit the high levels of customer service and corporate values that Van Kam operates its business upon. This relationship in Alberta also provided us with additional options for LTL networks to eastern provinces.

Van Kam Surrey night photo

Homebodies

In 2004, Van Kam relocated its head office and central operations from Madison Ave. in Burnaby to our present home on Grace Road in Surrey, BC. It includes a state-of-the-art 84 door cross-docking facility and is the bustling hub of our entire operations where corporate decisions come to fruition. This flagship location moves vast amounts of freight under the expert logistical coordination of our diverse team of dispatchers, dock-workers, sales team, pricing analysts. Along with the help of other key departments, we ultimately rely on our professional truck drivers to get your freight safely from our door to yours.

Prince George terminal images

Beetles… not Volkswagen

Kelowna housed our first freight service center that was scheduled for a rebuild to introduce improved technology, sustainable materials, and other features to make us more efficient. The concepts laid down here in 2013 set a solid foundation for the most recent terminal within our infrastructure – – the Prince George Freight Service Center. This eco-friendly facility opened its doors in 2014 and was built using structural insulated panels (SIPS) and cross-laminated timber (CLT) for energy efficiency. Furthering our commitment to the environment and our Green Initiatives Program, sustainable beetle kill pinewood was incorporated with astounding architectural results throughout the building.

From Henry to Henry

Van-Kam has been a family-owned and operated company since its inception. In 2021, Van Kam internally promoted Robert Henry III to COO and Casey Henry to CEO. This critical milestone officially marked the third generation of Henry ownership & operation… right on time for its 75th anniversary. Continuing on the traditions and values of previous family leaders, Robert and Casey look forward to getting our customers’ freight to its destination reliably, on time and damage-free, for many more years to come.

What’s Your Story?

To celebrate our 75th, we’re inviting you to contact us with your most memorable experiences with Van Kam! We would love to hear your stories, and upon consideration, we may even request to feature your story in an upcoming newsletter or blog/social post. You can reach out to us at marketing@vankam.com.

We look forward to hearing from you, and be sure to keep an eye out for more stories and online content throughout 2022!

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