Ben Tromp wanted to drive tipper trucks but says he applied for almost every job on TradeMe and no one was interested because he didn’t already have experience. He’d been selling tyres to trucking company Debz Transport and owner Deborah O’Brien gave him a chance driving trucks.
“I wake up every morning and want to go to work,” Ben says. “I enjoy driving and this is a really supportive work environment. If someone sees you doing something wrong, they show you the correct way. And we always have a laugh.
“What I love most is dealing with the customers. You deal with the good and the bad and fix problems. They do appreciate what you do for them.”
Ben, aged 26, is in competition with a colleague to pay off his student loan – he has studied mechanical engineering and sports and nutrition. He uses his training on the road too.
“You are what you eat and this is a physical job. I have a couple of apples and some nuts and I feel much better than if I ate something unhealthy.”
Ben delivers everything from rice to curry shops, to high end clothing and multi-million-dollar hospital equipment.
“I can definitely see a career here, as long as you are open to learning. There are lots of people behind you backing you. You don’t need to ask for help, people just do it. Even on the road, other truck drivers help out.”
Trucking runs in Thomas Albert’s family and he says he’s always had an interest in it. He drives meat trucks for KAM Transport, starting work at 2am and delivering meat to butchers and supermarkets.
“My father was a truckie so I grew up with it. I like the physical work – there’s a lot of lifting and carrying for meat deliveries.“
You start early but then you can finish early. It is hard work, but it has been ingrained in me to do that and I’ve always worked.
“To be a truck driver you’ve got to have a positive attitude, and turn up to work every day.”
“With what I do, we work on our own and have to take responsibility for ourselves and our vehicles. It’s really up to the individual what you make of it.”
Thomas, aged 32, likes his job so much he has suggested to his little sister that she gets into trucks. “She doesn’t want to yet, but it’s a good thing for women to do.
”His particular job probably isn’t for vegetarians. “I’m a staunch meat eater.”
What started as a temporary job as a storeman at Debz Transport has become permanent for Aydein Tautuhi, aged 25. Having previously worked in the recruitment industry, he wanted work closer to home and is keen on a career in trucking.
“It’s good money and I really like the people; they all communicate really well. It’s a 10-hour day but I’m happy with that; more hours means more money.” His advice if you want to drive trucks is to get your full driver licence first and then you can work through the other licence classes to be a truck driver. With a background in automotive training, Aydein brings those skills to the workplace as well.
Having been a truck driver, Darrell Lester has now taken up the opportunity to be a dispatcher. “There are a variety of jobs in the transport industry and the flagship is truck driver, but there are also a lot of people working behind the scenes to make sure the right stuff happens on the road.”
Darrell is responsible for health and safety, dealing with customers, and making sure their goods get to them when and where they want them. Dispatchers take orders and send truck drivers to pick up and drop off goods. They need to be sure the right type of truck is used, and that the driver has the appropriate skills and certification for the freight they are carrying.
He drives trucks as “a spare when they need me” and says he has no regrets about getting his heavy transport licence. “If someone is willing to give you a go in this industry, take it with both hands.”
If you are driving behind a truck driver, you should take note if they vary their driving, says Mike Zajkowski. “Truck drivers are friendly with each other and they tell each other about what hazards might be coming up. New Zealand roads are challenging and we know them. Drivers behind us should be aware of that, we are slowing down for a reason because you could come around a corner in the road and something has happened you need to be prepared for.”
Mike has been driving trucks for 20 years and before that he was a diesel mechanic.
“I worked on big trucks as a diesel mechanic so I’ve always been into truck driving.
“Truck driving is a good job if you like driving and like to be by yourself most of the time, or be in business on your own. Each day is different and you meet a lot of people along the way. You can work the hours you want and the work is there if you want it.”
Greg Roache has spent 20 years on the road and he loves it. “On the road you see a lot and it is better than being in an office. I like the driving and I like being out and about.” Greg says there is comradeship on the road among truck drivers and a positive attitude is key to getting the most out of the job. “It’s a good job and the money’s good. I enjoy dealing with the customers.”