Gene England, president emeritus of refrigerated carrier CR England, will celebrate his 100th birthday Oct 24—about a year before the company founded by his father, Chester England, and still family owned does the same.
The company’s eldest statesman grew up in Plain City UT, 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. Chester gave farming a tr, 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.
As a young man, Gene enlisted in the Army during 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 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. Gene gave the business his all, putting in as many hours as needed to make it successful. Having spent many hours loading and unloading trucks, as well as millions of miles driving an 18-wheeler, he understood what it took to lead hundreds and later thousands of employees and colleagues while heading CR England.
Gene married June Daniels in 1940 and together they raised six boys who all 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 spread to employees and customers nationwide. Sons Jeff, Dan, Rod, Dean, Todd and Corey 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 loss, including the deaths of June, his son Rod and his brother Bill, he continues to move forward, always with someplace to go and something to accomplish. He’s not only a driver, but a builder. Whether he is building a family, company or community, he makes the world a better place.
“It’s important to surround yourself with good people,” Gene said. “It’s not about getting everything your way; it’s about working together to resolve problems for the greater good.”
Gene has received many accolades and awards for his service. He was inducted into the University of Utah Business School Hall of Fame with Bill, and has received many Congressional, governors and industry awards. Gene also 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. He continues to stay busy, and still goes to the office several days each week.