Shiny new Kenny for top operator
THERE are blokes who say the trucking industry isn't what it used to be, then there are operators like Victoria-based Steve Cook who are proof it's still a great way to earn a crust.
"It's a good game, I mean a lot of people bag trucking now, but I believe it's a good group of blokes trying to have a crack and make a living,” Steve told Big Rigs.
After running and building a successful fleet of ten trucks, Steve recently decided to sell up and take on a one truck owner-driver contract for Fulton Hogan Transport carting bitumen.
"I started up my own business about 6 years ago, then built it to a fleet of 10 trucks in the produce area.
"I got bought out and then got the opportunity at Fulton Hogan as a subby; I had a couple of mates that worked there and knew they were good to work for.”
This meant Steve needed a new truck suited to the job of moving bitumen around Victoria, New South Wales and South Australia.
" I wanted a Kenworth but I didn't want to go to a 909, it was a bit big, so I went for the T409,” he explained.
"The 409 has a set back front axle, for access into the tighter stuff, and it's tare weight is great.
"I worked with Danny Ohara from Kenworth Trucks Hallam to get it setup as a bitumin tanker, but we sat down and tried to make the truck adaptable for other work - it can pull a 34 pallet b-double if need be.
"It's got the E5 Cummins engine rated at 540HP, meritor diffs, an 18-speed automatic, 36-inch bunk, and eveyrhting else I'll need.”
Steve had nothing but good things to say about Fulton Hogan Transport, who took him onboard as one of their own.
"This company treats you like a family.
"I'd done gas tankers but never bitumen and they trained me right up for the job.
"With Fulton Hogan we're home Saturday and Sunday, but with my fleet it was around the clock, so It's freed up time for my family.”
The dream of owning a truck and working for yourself is still a possibility according to Steve, who says even though sons aren't necesserily learning the trade from their fathers like they used to, there are ways to break in and succeed.
"I reckon there is a lack of drivers, good quality drivers.
"I know my son is more into computers, yet you used to get the father and son follow-on, I think that's going away.
"I think if guys do their homework on who they want to get a contract with, then do their homework on what truck will fit.
"Eveyrone wants a nice big flash truck, but it's about doing the due diligence then finding the equipment to suit the job.”