Times were not easy in the Village of Holland Landing in the early 1940s following the end of World War II as families began to look forward to what would hopefully be better times. It was a very humble beginning when Jack and Alma Kitching got together what money they could to purchase a fuel oil truck. Each day began long before daybreak pailing fuel by hand at the Toronto terminal to load for the day’s deliveries to the Holland Marsh farmers where the bulk of the country’s vegetable harvest was grown. The day’s work often ended long after sunset. The fuel business was sold in 1946 and that money was reinvested in a new cable backhoe, the first one of it’s size between Toronto and Barrie.
Also acquired were two single axle dump trucks – a Chevrolet Maple Leaf and a Studebaker. The primary business at this time included digging basements in the Newmarket and Holland Landing areas as well as working for the Department of Highways. A second backhoe was acquired in 1949 and a TD6 bulldozer was purchased and added to the list of services which could now be provided by J.F. Kitching & Son.Considerable work was done for the Town of Newmarket by digging and backfilling the miles of watermains being installed in that growing community.
By the early 60s life and times were improving in the area and well digging and water haulage services were added; a converted fire truck filling the role. A Vermeer ditcher was kept busy laying tile to drain farmer’s fields. Each small expansion brought with it new opportunities and established new relationships.
Space to keep and service the growing list of equipment were putting a strain on the Holland Landing location so a larger property was acquired on the east side of Kennedy Road just south of Ravenshoe Road and work started on building a shop there. The fact there were thousands of tons of good quality aggregates located on the property eventually led to another facet of the business; the ability to provide our customers with granular materials. A portion of the operation was moved to this new location in 1973 although work for towns, townships, and our snow plowing contracts with the Department of Highways were handled by the office in Holland Landing.
By the early 70s four tandem dump trucks had been added to the fleet along with an upgrade to a TD9 dozer and a trencher. After securing the necessary permits and license for the sand & gravel extraction a weigh scale was installed. Initially a backhoe was used for excavating and the loading of trucks when local aggregate sales commenced. A few years later a front end loader was acquired and took over the loading duties.
By the late 70s as Jack and Alma stepped back from their business life, son Grant and his wife Betsy assumed the management reins. A full move from the grassroots Holland Landing location to the farm was necessary in 1980 to allow for an on-site pit operation and expanded maintenance facility to service the growing fleet.
The 80s was a time of extensive growth, from a corporate and community perspective, which also saw a gradual shift from the excavation aspect of the business to a focus on aggregate sales and haulage. Eight tandems dumps were added to the fleet along with pup trailers to increase payloads on the longer hauls. Sons John and Michael initially began their tenure as drivers eventually working into dispatch, operations and fleet management roles.
Although the recession of the early 90s temporarily slowed the company’s growth, existing equipment stayed busy on a number of local projects such as the installation of sewage systems in Keswick and Sutton. The mid 90s saw a return to growth with the addition of some tri-axle dumps, hopper trailers and more pup trailers. The first of a number of tractor trailer end dumps were put into service a couple of years later. By the end of this decade a variety of equipment configurations were necessary in order to meet the diverse requirements of a rapidly growing trucking industry. An example of this was the acquisition of four tractors to haul multi-axle trailers of waste for the Miller Group.
Until 1990 the truck fleet consisted almost entirely of various models of Internationals. Subsequently, along with the Internationals, a variety of manufacturers supplied the equipment including Kenworth, Sterling and Mack. Starting in 2002, CAT powered Peterbilt became the primary brand. Flatbed trailers for hauling large landscape rocks were put into service in 2004 and in late 2009 the first two of the present seven live bottom trailers saw service. Early 2003 saw daughter Lynne come on board to assist with office administration and subsequently assume responsibility for health, safety and compliance.
Currently, in addition to our existing fleet, when business dictates, we also engage up to 30 independent brokers operating to our standards.
Today, with a third generation of family active in management and a professional, experienced service team exceeding 50 employees, J.F. Kitching & Son Limited continues to be progressive in our approach to business and look forward to building future industry relationships.
We take a great deal of pride in our employees, our service, our equipment and our products as well as in the fact that we have been family owned and operated since 1946.
Jack remained active in the family business until his retirement in 1982. He passed away in 1986 and Alma passed away in 2007.