Wednesday, April 9, 2014

The story of how Columbia Ice got its ice delivery truck.

A image of a cab forward ice delivery truck.
The Ice Deliver Truck
When Ernie Graveline purchased Columbia Ice from Peter Boyco the trucks used to deliver ice were in really bad shape.  Ernie, after making it through one summer driving the ice clunkers decided to purchase a 16 foot reefer box truck.  It might seem like a simple thing from the outside looking in to buy a reefer truck and it is if you have $90 000 to spend on a new one.  Call Thermo King and they will happily make you a nice pretty reefer truck to your specifications.  If you don't have 90k to toss around then used is the direction you have to go.  With Ernie already investing in building a new plant, used was the direction we chose to go.

The thing about Edmonton is even though our economy seems to be doing well, it does not have a plethora of used reefer box trucks.  Occasional you can find something on Kijiji but for the most part to get a quality used truck you have to go to Toronto or California.  The problem with buying a truck so far away from YEG is getting it to Edmonton isn't exactly easy.  The height of the truck makes it difficult to truck here, by train is too expensive and getting the company who is trying to sell the truck to deliver it is equally as expensive as the train.  This meant sending me, the Iceman of Columbia Ice to get the truck and drive it back to Edmonton.

At first after spending time perusing the web Ernie found a truck he liked in Toronto.  It had a tailgate, 16ft box with reefer and seemed to be in good shape.  The problem was the person selling the truck did not make a good impression and when you are selling a truck to a person over the phone, personality matters.  After debating whether Toronto was the right choice for Columbia Ice, Ernie went on Craigslist and found a reefer box truck in Vancouver.  Knowing the opportunity to get a reefer truck that close wouldn't come up often Ernie made an offer based on passing an independent inspection.  At this point Ernie said,"hey you, Iceman, find a flight to Vancouver cause you are going travelling.  Here is some cash for food and gas.  See you in a few days.

In a perfect world it would of been that easy.  Fly into Vancouver, get the truck and drive home.  In reality when I arrived the truck was still getting inspected.  There was the matter of insuring the vehicle and then settling on a price.  This took two days which was ok with the Iceman because Vancouver has good food and when your boss is paying, good food is much better.  Sadly all good things come to an end so after filling my belly, visiting with some family in the area, I hopped in the truck and headed for home.  If things had gone perfectly there would be no good reason to write this blog post.

The first issue I faced was I never drove a cab forward and man does it bounce when it is not loaded down. Drove out of the mechanic shop, went over one bump and it felt like I had achieved air under the tires.  Next was the fact I figured there would be a PetroCanada on the way out of Vancouver to Edmonton.  I was getting low on cash so it was vital I used the company gas card.  Sadly this was not to be as I had to use most of what cash I had left to fill the truck with diesel.  After that things were pretty smooth once I gave up trying to remember how to get to Edmonton and started using the GPS on my smart phone.  This brief period of calm was interrupted by beeping lights on my dashboard and a loss of power on some mountain road between Vancouver and Kelowna.  Luckily for me after pulling over and restarting the truck it seemed to work fine...that is until I made it to Kelowna where the truck decided it wanted to rest.  As in lose power, and not go anymore.  Again I was lucky in that it started and got me to my hotel.

The next morning when I awoke, I got on the phone and tried to find a repair shop that was open on a Saturday. There wasn't a shop that was open and I had run out of cash.  Ernie being the kind man he is told me to drop the truck off in front of a NAPA, go to the airport and he would get me a flight to Edmotnon.  It was either stay in Kelowna, in the winter with no cash or go home and visit my dogs.  Of course I flew home and then after the truck was fixed I flew back into Kelowna, hopped in the truck and drove home, arriving in time to go to a play with a friend of mine.  Two days later after we got the truck insured here the truck lost power again.  Luckily for us our ice factory is right next to PAG Automotive, best mechanic in Acheson, who waved his magic wrench and made everything better.

Since then the truck has been magic.  We have been able to deliver frozen ice, in a respectable looking truck that is bouncy and fun to drive.  The only issue left is to name our ice truck.  Was going to go with Betsy but Betsy was our old pallet jack which recently died.  That though is another story for another day.

They call me The Iceman and Ernie is the owner.  Together we are ErnieIceman in social media where we couldn't get the Columbia Ice vanity.  If you need ice in Edmonton give us a call at 780-960-7161 or email us at

The Iceman
Call for ice: 780-960-7161
Follow: @ernieiceman
Review us:  google places

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