When the staff at Berry & Smith Trucking learned the family-owned company had made a significant donation to support Penticton Regional Hospital, they decided it was a gesture worth duplicating.
Now the employees are making their own $30,000 donation to the South Okanagan Similkameen (SOS) Medical Foundation’s campaign to provide medical equipment for the $312.5-million PRH expansion.
Gary Gibbons, operations manager for Berry & Smith, readily admitted the idea stemmed from the company’s donation announced earlier this year.
He approached the company’s controller Dorothy Vankoughnett, who determined the cost would be about $100 per person a year, for three years.
All 125 employees and lease truck operators at the company’s Penticton, Delta and Calgary offices readily supported the plan. Sign-up sheets were distributed and everyone agreed it was a good idea.
“We wanted to give something back to the community because of what a great company we work for,” he said. “That’s what it boiled down to – and everyone had the same feeling.”
The Berry & Smith employees realized that combination their donations was a much easier way to make a significant gift to the community than by trying to win the lottery.
“I’m really so proud of all the employees – the lease operators, the transit drivers, the school bus drivers, the office staff, the shop – everyone,” he said. “They have jumped on board to make this happen. They said: ‘You’re kidding me. Can we really do that?’”
The opportunity to donate to the SOS Medical Foundation’s PRH campaign was seen as a natural fit. The hospital benefits everyone.
Gibbons has worked for Berry & Smith for almost 29 years. He noted there isn’t a big staff turnover, so almost everyone knows what type of company Berry & Smith is — a true family business.
The trucking firm started as a partnership between co-founders Stu Berry and Ted Smith who began hauling fruit in the 1950s. It has grown significantly over the years, but retains its family roots.
Stu’s sons Matt and Mark Berry are now president and vice-president respectively, and his grandson Parker works for the company each summer when not attending university.
“It is really a family and you are a part of the family. They take care of their employees,” Gibbons said.
Construction of the new six-storey tower at PRH will get underway soon, with the facility expected to ready for patients in early 2019. Work will then begin on Phase 2, including a major expansion of the existing Emergency Department.