18th November. TRUCKRIGHT Industry Vehicle History/Sponsors 2.

Goodaye all. I first got involved with road safety when on the road one Christmas and some truckies were bagging vanners out. I thought at the time, who will teach them unless we do? So I did the Caravan Survey and that lead to lots of other efforts. Working for Finemores Liquids driving tankers at the time, I spoke with Ron Finemore with a list of ideas and they then took me to my first Australian Trucking Association convention in Adelaide. I was told by a senior boss there “We would open a dialogue with you for a drivers view” and never heard from him again.

Toll bought Finemores and over the years I tried writing emails and went over and around my boss at times (and he happily told me he knew and it would not help me) and got frustrated I could not get them to support my aims. After meeting Paul Little and giving him another proposal (at another ATA conference, this time in Newcastle) I was called into another meeting and told, “We cannot afford to do what you want”.

As you might imagine, I was not impressed and along with some other issues, after 29 years continuous service, decided to leave and find someone who at the least, could see value in my ideas. After again trying all levels in Toll except for Mr Little, who it seems I could not get to through working there, I gave notice and wrote letters to 30 transport companies. I detailed my plan/dream of a truck to promote the industry and one company did reply weeks later after I had started with Rod Pilon, saying they would love to have me as a driver, but could not afford to support my road safety.

In my letters, I detailed the idea of the TIV as I did not think it fair to get a job and then ask for the support needed to do such a thing. I sent a copy to Rod Pilon, had a meeting with him and he said, “I’ll give you a go and if it all works out, I’ll buy you a new truck and trailers in 12 months”. I started out in truck 7, an ex Bunkers K104 with series 60 Detroit (just like old times from Finemores) with trailers 142 and 132, then Ken Wilkie offered me his truck and I started the TRUCKRIGHT Industry Vehicle at the Dubbo show with Ken’s truck and Rod Pilon Transport Trailers.

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Rod Pilon agreed to support my aims and efforts and said as long as it did not cost him an arm and a leg, and he still has them all, we would see how it went. True to his word, he and I separately attended yet another ATA conference, this time in Canberra and Vawdrey supplied the semi-trailer for the conference auction. We were sitting apart and the trailer got sold, then they asked would the under bidder like one at the same price?

The under bidder was heard to say, I want a b-double set and Paul Vawdrey said, “We can do that” and it was announced that Rod Pilon had bought a b-double set of trailers. I got up and walked over to Rod (and on the way got stopped by yet another bloke who had gone to school with him, they are everywhere!) and as I approached, Rod got up, shook my hand and said, “There are your trailers”.

We worked out a list and I said to Rod, I wanted to design a set of curtains and did I ever bite off more than I had thought, but in the end, I came to Rod with a graphic of the curtains and he said, “MMMMM”. To be fair, it did look busy on a small laptop screen, but he waited for me in the yard when I got home with the first load after picking the trailers up in Melbourne and this time he said, “You have done well, they look terrific”.

That support has continued, my ten years at Rod Pilon Transport came up this year and with the current curtains, when the new K200 was ordered, I said to Rod, “I want to do new curtains for the new truck” and he said OK and never saw them till I turned up in the yard with them fitted. There are few company owners who would allow a driver to ever do that and there are things on the truck and trailers Rod Pilon has never seen, but he has given me the freedom to do all this to his equipment and I will be forever grateful for such support. If not for that support, the TIV would not exist.

Thank you to Rod Pilon and all at Rod Pilon Transport for their help and in allowing me to at the very least, start the TIV and then to continue those efforts for now into the tenth year. How do you really say thank you to that? Cheers and Safe Travelling, Rod Hannifey.

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