CHARLOTTETOWN, P.E.I. - Every time you drive over the Confederation Bridge, you can partially thank Jack and Carlotta Kelly for making that experience a reality.
The Kellys of Bulk Carriers P.E.I. Ltd. in Clyde River were named Tuesday as inductees into this year’s Junior Achievement P.E.I. Business Hall of Fame. Other inductees are Kay MacPhee and Kevin and Kathy Murphy. The formal induction ceremony and gala dinner is scheduled for May 23 at the Delta Hotels by Marriot P.E.I. in Charlottetown.
Jack and Carlotta, both from Cornwall, married young and started the business in 1970 in the basement of their house. Three years later, they incorporated Bulk Carriers.
“You have to make the economics work,” said Jack.
It was just the two of them in the early days of the business. The company now has about 150 employees, 100 tractor-trailers and 160 refrigerated trailers.
They started out transporting fuel and petroleum products to service stations on the Island for companies like Gulf Oil. By the mid-1980s, they transported the majority of petroleum products on the Island for a variety of oil companies.
But they also transported liquid asphalt, including the asphalt used to pave the Confederation Bridge. That asphalt was transported from Montreal.
“As the bridge was being built, they allowed us to bring the product across,” said Jack. “And, they didn’t have all of the sections in, so we had to drive over the top of these rails. We looked down and there was water. Yeah, it’s been an interesting experience.”
In the early 2000s, the Kellys switched from the “high points and low points” of transporting petroleum and asphalt products to focus solely on food transportation.
“We needed to find a business that we had control over our destiny,” said Jack.
"...There was no vision, there was no plan of what we have today. It came from passion of what we do. When they talk about the spaces and the architecture and the design and the footprint, they all probably look at me … But at the end of the day, the spaces are created by Kathy.”
Kevin and Kathy Murphy
Kevin and Kathy Murphy of the Murphy Hospitality Group opened their first restaurant – the Barn in Stratford – 39 years ago.
The company has evolved to operate two hotels, restaurants and craft breweries, including the P.E.I. Brewing Company and the Gahan House. The company has food and beverage operations in New Brunswick and Nova Scotia as well as on the Island.
“In 1980, when we opened The Barn, … there was no vision, there was no plan of what we have today,” said Kevin Murphy. “It came from passion of what we do. When they talk about the spaces and the architecture and the design and the footprint, they all probably look at me … But at the end of the day, the spaces are created by Kathy.”
Kay MacPhee co-founded SpellRead PAT Learning Systems Inc. (and developer of the SpellRead program) and sold the company in 2006. She is currently director of research and learning with Scholastic Digital Education. In 2017, MacPhee sold Ooka Island Inc. – another company she founded – to Scholastic Digital Education.
MacPhee, a former teacher and principal, was inspired by her son, who was born with profound deafness, to develop education technology that helps children and adults learn to read, including techniques that allow the hearing impaired to form language skills and learn how to read.
In May, the Kellys opened Kelcold Refrigerated Warehouse and Logistics Inc. – a $23-million cold storage facility in Moncton. They also own a commercial truck wash operation in the Cornwall Business Park.
Jack and Carlotta recalled they started the business for the same reason so many others do – as a means to support their family.
Bulk Carriers has evolved into a family business with the couple’s sons, Tyson and Blaine, holding senior management positions.
“I’ve been fortunate that my two boys really had a very unique skill set and a real desire to be in the business,” said Jack.