In 1934 America was deeply mired in the Great Depression. Credit was nearly impossible to find and countless businesses were forced into bankruptcy. It is hard to imagine a more difficult time to begin a new business, but that was when Earl Oren launched the business that would become Dart Transit Company.
Beginning with a single truck and trailer, he began operations on a small scale from his living room. At the end of World War II, Earl began to broker loads to owner operators at a truck stop on St Paul’s University Avenue. With limited capacity and very limited operating authority, Earl was unable to grow beyond a few trucks and trailers that hauled a few exempt commodities on limited traffic lanes. He was able to keep the company in operation only through persistence and sacrifice.
Things began to change for the better when Earl’s son Donald graduated from college and began working for the company. Working part-time while pursuing a Master’s Degree at the University of Minnesota, Don brought new energy and creative new ideas to Dart. Realizing the company’s limitations, he aggressively pursued new operating authority and began to develop new equipment designs that opened new doors to Dart.
Under Don’s creative leadership, Dart was able to break out from the company’s early financial and legal constraints, and by 1975 had grown from a small regional company to a national carrier serving 48 states with point-to-point irregular route service. It was a concept pioneered and championed by Don. In 1979 Don became Dart’ second president and Dart entered a rapid period of growth through continuing innovation. Don patented and pioneered many innovative trailer designs, and led the campaign to change state and national regulations on trailer dimensions. His work ultimately climaxed with standardization of 53’ trailers.
Don’s sons, Dave, Dan, and Brad have continued the family tradition of innovation and expansion. Dart and its network of companies now boast a full suite of supply chain services including expedited and relay, dedicated, warehousing, portable storage, logistics, and intermodal services.
Today, Dart is still under the ownership and oversight of the Oren family, and led by another innovative and energetic president and CEO, Dave Ables. Dart continues to lead the transportation industry with integrity and innovation for customers, owner operators, employees, and drivers alike.
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