Their new venture brings former Fulton Secondary basketball stars Jesse Brown and Joel Rybachuk back near the ‘hood.
The duo are about a two-block delivery – or exaggerated three-point shot away – from the gym they used to shine playing hoops at, having purchased Cidel Moving and Storage on 43rd Street from the Zoethout family in December 2022, and rebranding as Browns Transport.
Brown and Rybachuk are joined by Darion Odell and two others as the co-owners of the longtime Vernon business.
“We’ve been talking and thinking about it for about five years,” said Brown. “Just under two years ago, I called Art (Zoethout) and just asked about their future plans, if they had any succession plans and that if they did, hopefully they’d come to us.”
There was mutual respect between the two competitors. The Browns boys say they would recommend Cidel for jobs they couldn’t get to, and vice versa.
Jesse began Browns Transport in 2011 with his brother Jason. They had a grand total of one moving and delivery truck. Jesse was working for another company, delivering cabinets fresh from dropping out of university, and was a new father.
He started to get enough work to go full-time with his moving truck and picked up his first contract with Vernon’s Kekuli Bay Cabinetry.
Brown started his company at his house, then built a smaller shop at his grandmother’s home in the BX. Since the purchase of Cidel, Browns Transport now has space for storage.
Odell, from Terrace originally, came on board in 2017, and Rybachuk joined the company in 2021. Odell runs the moving and storage side of the business. Rybachuk handles the back of the shop, deliveries and freights.
“We have up to nine trucks now and things have been going well since the sale,” said Brown. “Cidel built a great reputation over the last 40 years. They do quality work and we want to continue on with their legacy and keep going.”
Added Rybachuk: “We are super community-oriented. We were born and raised in Vernon so we are about supporting the community.”
For the Zoethouts, the decision to sell their longtime business was “a tough call.” Hank Zoethout, now 95, took over the business 40 years ago and brought in his sons Art and Rick to help out.
“We had no real succession plans, nobody to take over, and these Browns guys were eager to get involved,” said Art. “We thought it was a pretty good fit.
“They’re hard-working, smart and eager which is something you need for sure in this business. But it’s a new world, totally different. We used to think hard work did it all but it’s not like that. You have to be smart.”