A look back at Gabler Trucking, a ‘moving force’

By Maurice “Mike” Marotte III

Updated:    From The Public Opinion 01/23/2015

Prior to 1900 America’s freight was moved by wagon, boat and railroad. As the number of railroads grew across the United States, so did the amount of freight being moved to centralized distribution points.

The early 1900s began the early days of trucking, for delivery from these distribution centers. But trucking had its drawbacks, too, such as the use of electric engines, lack of paved roads, small load capacities, and the ability of trucks to go only short distances for deliveries.

But in 1910, some changes began that helped grow and modernize the trucking industry — among them the introduction of the gasoline engine, better transmissions, gear-driven trucks and the use of the newly developed tractor trailer.

In 1913, weight limits for trucks were introduced to protect dirt and stone roads from being damaged by the heavy iron and solid rubber wheels of those early trucks. By 1914 there were nearly 100,000 trucks traveling America’s roads. Solid wheels, poor rural road conditions and speed limits of just 15 miles per hour were some problems of this new form of freight transport.

During World War I, the trucking industry was ready to shine, as railroads were being overwhelmed with huge volumes of freight. Truckers were now experimenting with long distance deliveries, due to the invention of inflated pneumatic tires that supported heavier loads of freight and faster speed limits allowed on highways. America’s roads were improving in the early 1920s, and the recently-developed diesel engine proved to be more efficient than the gasoline engine.

Gabler Trucking has been a “driving force ” in the community since 1936, when a young man from Chambersburg, Harold C. Gabler Sr., started his own trucking business with a 1927 Chevrolet tractor that pulled a 3,000-gallon trailer. Gabler began by hauling gasoline from

Baltimore to Chambersburg. As his business grew, in 1938 he hired his first employee — L. Crawford Huber — who proved to be a faithful driver, transporting loads of freight before retiring in 1964.

By 1949 Gabler Trucking had about 25 employees, and the business incorporated in 1956.

Within a short time Gabler’s two sons, Harold C. Gabler Jr. and P. Thomas Gabler, joined the company.

One of their early slogans was “Liquid or dry, give us a try.” Gabler has hauled machine parts, grocery items, motorcycles, concrete products, motorized equipment, petroleum products and corrugated packaging, to name a few. The company presently uses dry van, flatbed, and curtainside trailers to haul its various types of freight.

In 1979, H.C. Gabler Jr.’s son, H.C. “Chip” Gabler III, joined the company. Tom Gabler’s son Ben started in 1999. Chip and Ben now oversee daily operations of transportation and warehousing.

The company built a 205,000-square-foot warehouse in Aspers that is leased to a national beverage distributor. It also obtained some land and buildings sold from Letterkenny Army Depot when the Department of Defense began downsizing installations in 1999. Gabler Trucking takes advantage of the on-site rail line service for shipping and receiving freight, and in 2004 they built a new warehouse with multiple truck docks.

In 2013, Chip’s son H.C. “Willie” Gabler IV, became the fourth generation of Gablers to work in the family business.

That year, the company earned a Platinum level Green Business Certification for adopting recycling principles and practices that protect our environment. Gabler Trucking also that year received Franklin County Area Development Corporation’s Small Business of the Year Award, and in 2014 was awarded the Greater Chambersburg Chamber of Commerce Environmental Sustainability Award for energy conservation, waste reduction, recycling and procurement.
The company also has adopted the International Standardization Organization 9001 program and is dedicated to meeting and exceeding all levels of service and the requirements of its customers.

Gabler Trucking facts

• Some businesses that Gabler Trucking serves are JLG/Oshkosh, Volvo, Manitowoc, T.B. Wood’s, U.S. Battery, CSX Intermodal Terminal in Chambersburg and the Norfolk Southern Intermodal Terminal in Greencastle.
• The company has 70 employees.
• Among the many local charities and organizations Gabler Trucking supports is the Wounded Warrior Project that provides aid to wounded military veterans.