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How Kerr Got its Start

In 1949, 20 year old David Kerr Wilson, founder and Executive Chair of Kerr Controls Ltd. started something incredible. After receiving a $1,000 loan from his mother, he loaded up his modified milk truck with oil burner supplies and set out on this new chapter. Little did he know it would be a major business 70 years later operating out of 9 locations in Atlantic Canada, and 3 in Ontario. He certainly did his mother proud after lending him that loan to get the business started.

At the time, there was a major switch from coal to oil heat and Dave saw a huge opportunity in an untapped market to distribute parts to service the up and coming oil heating industry in Atlantic Canada. Particularly focusing on the home heating industry in Truro, NS to start. Dave always put a focus on the importance of providing quality parts and exceptional customer service. It was this approach that helped him to build his network.

Kerr’s reputation really began to build after Dave covered the Atlantic provinces from one end to the other. All out of his bright red and white branded milk truck with the Kerr logo. Soon all of his efforts with calls and visits turned into an established customer base, many of whom are still with the company today. In the late 1960’s Dave opened Kerr branches in Saint John, New Brunswick followed by Moncton. Although the Saint John Branch has closed since, we now have Kerr Branches operating out of Corner Brook and St. John’s, Newfoundland, Moncton and Fredericton, New Brunswick, Charlottetown, PEI, Truro, Halifax, Dartmouth, and Sydney, Nova Scotia. Then later in the early 2000’s opening up branches in Sudbury, Owen Sound, and London, Ontario.

Being a leader throughout the industry in innovation, Kerr was the one to introduce many firsts in the Canadian Heating Industry. Here are some just to name a few.

  1. Kerr was the first authorized oil burner fuel pump-rebuilding depot in Canada.
  2. Kerr was one of the first wholesalers in Canada to develop and print it’s own parts catalogues.
  3. Kerr was the first to introduce modern wood-fired furnaces and boilers (in response to the oil crisis in 1976)

As Kerr continued to grow, so did it’s product offerings to cater to multiple demands within the industry. This also included expanding into the Refrigeration business in 1981. Today, Kerr supplies parts for heating, ventilation, air conditioning, and refrigeration systems. This was made possible by creating new relationships with many different suppliers around the world to ensure Kerr was always offering a variety of the best in the business. Of course this could not have been initiated if it weren’t for the relationships Dave built with partners who Kerr continues to grow with today.

Exceptional customer service has always been Kerr’s priority. Our staff serve as an invaluable resource for contractors and dealers. In order to promote and back-up it’s quality product offerings, Kerr has been committed to training and offering regular seminars to staff, and customers.

Staying true to it’s roots, Kerr remains a family owned and operated company after following seven generations of family tradition and values. Looking forward to the next 70 years, Kerr will continue to adapt it’s service, to meet the challenges of the future, and make it their mission to provide the most reliable and efficient product offerings ensuring comfort in every home.


David Kerr Wilson attending Kerr’s 70th Anniversary Celebration in Truro, NS.