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This is Fred Ball, Zions Bank, speaking on business.
The Wilkins boys, in Vernal, Utah, know how to progress with the times. Sixty-three years ago, they hauled wool and sheep in their trucks. When the era of hauling sheep ended, they exchanged their trucks for busses and now they haul people.
I had a great visit with Todd Wilkins recently. He told me a fascinating story of how his father and grandfather used to ship sheep. When they loaded the lambs, they laid each lamb down. The lambs were packed just like sardines in a can. They could haul 150 on the bob-tailed trucks and 300 on the semi-trucks. I looked carefully at Todd, thinking that maybe he was pulling the leg of the city boy. He was serious!
When Victor Wilkins and Ernest Caldwell stared hauling lambs and wool in 1937, they drove to Craig, Colorado, to the railroad. In the '60's, the sheep business started dying out in the Vernal area. The company became Wilkins Bus Lines, Incorporated in the 1970's and became a great success. The early customers were miners who would be transported for American Gilsonite. Three times each day, the bus would take the miners to and from the mine.
The dinosaur quarry soon became a famous tourist attraction and Wilkins found another source of business. Soon after, river runners decided that it would be good to have bus transportation available for them at the end of their exciting river adventure.
Todd explained to me, as we walked through his facilities, that he now does a big charter business. Tour groups to the Calgary Stampede, Palmira Pageant and Mormon Church history sites are all very popular. Branson, Missouri has become a regular itinerary destination for the company.
The schools in the area use Wilkin busses for their athletic teams and other school activities. Frequently, Todd receives calls from the Forest Service to transport firefighters and other personnel.
All of the equipment used by the company is maintained internally. Walking through the interiors of the busses is a little like a history lesson. I saw one bus from the early 60's with orange plush carpet and the fabric style of the day on the seats. Then I went into a brand new bus with TV's, VCR's and special custom climate control.
Yes, the company has come a long way from hauling those lambs. Customers today are a lot more comfortable.
This is Fred Ball. I'm speaking on business.