As the greatest generation of truckers continues to age, another icon has passed away. Daniel Van Dyke was well-known in California and liked by everyone who knew him. He was not only an influential player in several big tanker and bulk trucking operations in California, but also an amazing husband, father and friend. Those who knew him personally said that he would give you the shirt off his back. Unfortunately, last month, at the age of 80, Dan died on June 12, 2014.
Daniel Van Dyke was born in Bloomington, Indiana on December 13, 1933 to Harold and Kathleen Van Dyke. Back then, Dan’s father was the western states district manager for Firestone Tire. Dan was always very ambitious – he would never give up, especially when it came to family and business. At the age of 12, he and his family moved to California, where Dan went to work for Harry Shubin, and was soon driving a truck. At an early age he dreamed of driving large diesel trucks. While working for Harry, he met the love of his life, Virginia, and shortly thereafter they were married and starting a family.
Dan learned a lot working with Harry and his wife Dorothy, and then went on to work with several other outfits like Don George Trucking, Russ Cox Trucking, Nick Williams Trucking, Paxton Trucking, Progressive Trucking, Summer Brothers and IML Trucking. Eventually, he went to work for Ed and Harriet Wolf, hauling molasses and fats.
In 1976, Dan and a partner named Bob Ross started Doss Transportation, which was an all-tanker operation hauling caustics and acids. After a couple of years, Bob Ross retired and Dan purchased his half of the business. In 1984, Dan began having medical issues and then sold the company to Geoff and Gary Cross, partners of Bulk Transportation. At that point, Dan bought a new transfer truck and trailer, which he drove himself for a few years.
In 1989, Dan helped his oldest son Robert Van Dyke get started in the tank truck business, and the two became partners when they formed Van Dyke Transportation. Robert was no stranger to the business, as he had worked for his dad at Doss Transportation from the beginning, driving one of their first trucks. Van Dyke Transportation started with just three trucks, but quickly grew to eighteen units. In 2004, Dan was ready to retire. He sold most of Van Dyke Transportation to Brad Johansson, who is associated with Trimac. Robert Van Dyke then pulled out a handful of tractors, trailers, and some non-hazardous accounts, and formed his own company called R. Van Dyke Transportation. Dan and Virginia (Ginny) worked closely with their son at this new venture right up until Dan’s final days.
Another great business achievement in Dan’s life was when he opened two truck scales. The business was called E-Z Weight Truck Center, and it had one location in Santa Fe Springs, CA and another in the City of Industry, CA. The scale was operated by a partner, Jim Ermigarat, who had worked for Van Dyke Transportation as a driver before becoming one of the partners at the scale. The location in Santa Fe Springs eventually closed, but the one in the City of Industry is still operating today as E-Z Weigh Truck Center, with Jim Ermigarat still at the helm. Jim is a good friend and big supporter of 10-4 Magazine, and his scale has been a popular distribution point for the magazine for many years. Dan was a like second father to Jim, who will forever remember him for the great person he truly was – not just to him, but everyone.
Throughout it all, family was the lifeblood that coursed through Dan’s life and it all started with a very special love that bloomed in 1952. He was very devoted to his wife, kids, grandchildren, great-grandchildren and friends – Dan was the kind of guy that tried to help everyone. Daniel Van Dyke leaves behind his wife of 62 years, Virginia, as well as four living children, seventeen grandchildren and nine great-grandkids. And, in true entrepreneurial spirit, we are sure that Dan is up in Heaven right now negotiating with God about how to run things, but he will surely be missed by everyone down here. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the entire family.