By Lyle Carter
TRURO - While travelling around the Truro area these days, Ben Boyd realizes how much times have changed.
Boyd, who along with his wife, Grace, reside in Truro and spend the summers at Shortts Lake. The 78-year-old's form of transportation now is his 2009 Ford Ranger but he clearly remembers a different vehicle from the 1960s.
"It was during April of 1962 that I joined the staff of Kerr Controls Limited," Boyd said. "I drove an old Chev truck which had been made over from a bread truck. It was a store on wheels and I went around the country selling oil burner parts and controls."
Boyd, still an employee of Kerr Controls Limited, after more than 50 years, said he had no idea that his job would last so many decades.
"I had injured my back and was having some trouble," Boyd explained. "At that time, Dave Wilson, who had founded Kerr Controls, talked to me. Dave asked me to go on the road as a traveller for his company. I guess it is quite a thing to still be working for the same man 50 years later. In a humble kind of way, I'm kind of proud of it."
Boyd smiled as he retraced how the job came about.
"I was born in Belmont in 1934," he said. "I moved to Bible Hill in 1958 and I worked for about a year for R.H. Jones Limited, a Truro hardware and appliance store."
When a job became available at Wilson Fuel Co. Limited the next year, Boyd applied and was hired.
"I was happy when I landed the job with Wilson's," he recalled. "They were a well known company and they had integrity. "
George Wilson, Dave's father, hired Boyd.
"If George Wilson gave you his word, that was his bond," Boyd said. "I was very pleased and enjoyed learning about oil burners, service and repairs."
Boyd also recalled George Wilson as being a part of local history.
"George was one of the ‘seven survivors' with the Truro Bearcats in hockey in the 1920s," Boyd said. "That's a story people still talk about today. Later, George sponsored teams. He also helped a lot of the misfortunate people in the community. George was highly thought of and he was a great man to work for."
For the first 19 years working for Dave Wilson, Boyd's sales job led him across Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island.
"Eventually, I was later given new territories," Boyd said. "I began covering the Magdalene Islands, St. Pierre Miquelon and Newfoundland."
With Kerr Controls Limited continuing to expand and growing enormously in size during the 1980s, Boyd became the branch manager for head office located in Truro.
"For the next 22 years or so I kept busy," Boyd said. "I oversaw all branch sales and budgets."
He also set up teaching seminars.
"This allowed me to assist with problems that might come up," Boyd explained. "The more our customers knew about how oil burners worked, the better off they would be."
As the years seemed to quickly pass by, Boyd said he continued to enjoy his work.
"There was never a single day that I didn't feel like getting up in the morning and going to work," he said. "There was never any stress with my job. Dave was always my boss but he was never demanding or unreasonable. Never in 50 years did Dave and I ever have harsh words or an argument."
Not wanting to retire, Boyd became the company's special projects manager during the late 1990s.
"This involves being a technical support person," he said. "If one of our customers were to have a problem with one of our products, I'm usually called on to help solve the problem."
Describing Kerr Controls Limited as a major distributor of furnace parts, refrigeration, air condition and heat pumps, Boyd said the question he is most often asked these days does not apply to parts.
"People want to know why I continue working at my age," he said. "I tell them I enjoy my job very much. I enjoy keeping in touch with my customers and friends from over the years. And, it's such a pleasure to still work for Dave Wilson after 50 years."