‘He’d always make it fun’: Founder of Island’s largest bus company remembered as loving family man

CHEK

The founder of The Wilson’s Group, Vancouver Island’s largest transportation company, has died.

William (Kello) Wilson, 92, died on Dec. 30, 2023, and is being remembered as not only a savvy businessman but also a loving family man.

“Very proud to be his son and very proud to have the business our family has grown,” John Wilson, Kello’s son and current president and CEO of The Wilson’s Group, said.

Kello started his transportation career early on as a truck driver on Salt Spring Island, where he met his wife of 66 years and had his first two of three children.

“He really enjoyed driving. I think that’s what it came down to, driving was his happy place,” John said.

He said his dad wasn’t making enough money on Salt Spring to support his family, so in 1962, they moved to Victoria and started a one-truck general delivery service.

Kello expanded in 1967 when he bought Nu-Way ­Delivery and landed a contract to deliver ­merchandise from the new Woolco department store at Town and Country Mall, at the ­current Uptown Centre site.

John said eventually, Kello expanded even more, acquiring vans and school buses.

In 1980, Kello’s company was big enough to incorporate, becoming Wilson’s Transportation LTD., and by the 90s, the company’s first highway coaches were making trips across the province.

The company continues to grow, becoming The Wilson’s Group, with a fleet of more than 140 vehicles providing sightseeing services, charters, ferry connectors and airport shuttles.

John said his dad didn’t think his business would become so big.

“To be honest with you, he didn’t want it to be,” John laughed. “My dad would have been happy if we had four or five buses with my brother driving one. I’m driving one, and he drove one. He was a down-to-earth, small-business, small-town guy.”

He said Kello’s focus was more on meeting people and keeping them happy, adding he was very humble and kind.

Andrew Wilson, Kello’s grandson, said his grandfather was quick-witted and always made everyone laugh in and out of work.

“He’d always made it fun,” Andrew said. “He always made you feel comfortable there and wanting to be there.”

The company is continuing with a third generation on Wilson’s, helping run it with operations manager Andrew, brand manager Samantha Wilson and controller Travis Wilson.

Both John and Andrew said they plan on keeping up The Wilson’s Group’s roots, focusing on family and community first and having business follow.

William Wilson is survived by Mary, his wife of 66 years, children Robert, Elizabeth and John, five grandchildren and eight great grandchildren.

A service will be held at Sacred Heart Catholic Church on Jan. 13 at noon. The service will also be livestreamed online, followed by a reception at the church.

The Wilson family is asking instead of gifting flowers, those who want to support should make a donation to their charity of choice, as Kello would have wanted.

Mackenzie ReadMackenzie Read

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