By Trevor Busch
Wade’s House Moving and Heavy Hauling has been selected as the 2015 recipient of the Taber and District Chamber of Commerce’s Customer Service Excellence Award.
“It’s pretty cool. Taber is small town, we do stuff all over the country, but to get recognized in your own town is pretty cool, I think,” said company president Wade Kerner. “We’ve actually done a ton of work around the Taber area lately. It’s nice to be noticed, if you know what I mean.”
A family owned and operated business with over five decades of heavy hauling and structural moving experience, Wade’s House Moving and Heavy Hauling are second generation movers that were taught everything by their late father, Joe Kerner, who owned and operated “Kerner’s House Moving and Heavy Hauling” that was based out of southern Alberta from 1950 through 2002.
Awarded at the chamber’s annual dinner and awards ceremonies on Jan. 15, 2016 at the Heritage Inn, Kerner was surprised by the honour bestowed upon the long-time family business.
“It’s going on about eight years now. We’ve been a family business — my dad moved for 56 years — but when my dad passed away, long story short, more or less the name changed and a few years later I started Wade’s, which I keep up with my sister and most of our older siblings. We have six or seven family members that are working with us still.”
Wade’s House Moving and Heavy Hauling was also the feature of a recent reality TV series, “Cabin Truckers”, which aired on the Cottage Life Network, FYI USA and the Viasat Network in Europe.
“We’re just a small-town business that’s into recycling, as large as we can,” said Kerner. “We try to recycle anything from going into the landfill and create a new home for someone that can actually afford to buy, or set up something new. We try to get people into homes for half the money, where a good quality home doesn’t need to be knocked down and hauled away to the dump. Saves the landfill space, and recycled homes for someone less fortunate. Not everyone has money they can just throw $500,000 out there and just start with a new house. It’s a good stepping stone to start — I have lots of customers that do it once or twice — they’ll set something up and sell it, get another one and sell it, and actually create enough equity in the home that they actually have enough to build themselves a new one down the road.”
The large proportion of farm labour required in the area has opened up business opportunities for employers seeking affordable housing for their labourers, according to Kerner.
“Realistically, with all the farmers needing help in this area, with so many Mennonite families, believe it or not we help out lots of them. We move lots of recycled homes for lots of people. Lots of farmers will subdivide the little quarter piece of their non-irrigated field, and set up a house for the hired man. It’s not all low-budget. We do a lot of nice executive homes, and brand new RTM (Ready-to-Move) stuff, we move for five different RTM movers. They build the house, and then we come and deliver it on the basement.”
Kerner indicated that if you have a house to move in Western Canada, his company is willing to do the job.
“Believe it or not, I don’t even label an area anymore. We go as far as Fort MacMurray to Winnipeg, Man., and as far as Kelowna (B.C.) we’ve been. We basically do Western Canada, and we advertise Western Canada.”
Wade’s runs two crews during the winter and three during the summer months when more work is available for the company.
“It keeps everyone busy, so we’re not laying off here and there, left, right and centre, I just continuously try to lap up work wherever we can go,” said Kerner. “It’s a specialty job, there’s not a million guys that do it, so if they want me to come to Kelowna, and they want to pay what I need to come there, it happens more often than not.”
Quality customer service — and satisfaction with the quality of work performed — are key aspects of Kerner’s business model in dealing with the public and customers.
“It definitely is, and it’s definitely something that we work on all the time. It’s tough when you run a rough bunch of guys, if you know what I mean. Your suit and tie guy doesn’t want to be out traveling all over the country, and your regular family guy doesn’t want to be in Swift Current today, and Saskatoon tomorrow, Regina the next day, and only home for the weekend. But we’ve been working on that ever since we started, to make sure that our customer is always happy at the end of the day — that’s definitely something that’s very important to us. And then return customers to boot — if we get guys that are returning customers, we know we’re doing a good job, so it’s definitely something that we’re always interested in.”
Providing advice for individuals preparing for a move — or a delivery — is all in a day’s work for Wade’s, and is often the source of positive feedback.
“We just try to keep in touch as best as we possibly can,” said Kerner. “I just try to help them out. Lots of people will only do one house in their lifetime, so to help a guy out from start to finish means we’ve done lots of our own, helping them out with their budget, with the basement contractor guys, giving them information on permits, and a starting point and ending point of where they need to start, so they can actually get stuff rolling along. Lots of people phone us and thank us for all the advice, saying I learned a whole lot just by chatting at you. We try our best to do what we can do.”
Kerner admits he gets satisfaction out of the “home recycling” business, because it helps otherwise invaluable homes in more urban settings gain an new lease on life, usually in rural areas.
“I would like to just keep growing, and keep doing the good business that we are. I like that we’re recycling a lot of decent homes. We’re bringing a lot of stuff out of the cities out into the rural areas here, the housing is all needed out here. It’s not like you can go to a used house lot, but that’s what we’re trying to create, if we could have a list of houses that can help people out, it’s like going to buy a used car. As of right now, you can go on our website, and there’s eight or 10 homes that are available to be purchased. I seem to think, with the way the economy is, we’re getting busier and busier.”
Kerner’s company was also recently involved in moving the former Horizon MAP school building (located on Bow River Irrigation District property in Vauxhall) to its present location at the M.D. of Taber Shooting Complex north of Taber.
“I do lots of that, too. I donate more often than not. There’s probably not a historical building in the country that I haven’t moved, that you won’t see a plaque on the wall with my name on it saying we donated a portion of the move. I think we actually donated $8,000 toward the shooting club. I’m from here, and if I can give back a bit, I think that’s kind of cool.”