Truckie Profile: Neil Linklater

By: Kerri Graham


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On the rugged West Coast, in the small town of Ross, Neil Linklater runs his trucking business. Ross Trucking Co Ltd has managed to carve out a niche for itself, providing cartage services to many farmers and businesses in the area.

Truckie Profile: Neil Linklater
Truckie Profile: Neil Linklater

Just under two years ago, Neil, along with his partner Cherie, bought a 420-horsepower Scania and borrowed Neil’s father’s three-axle trailer to get themselves going. Later, they progressed to buying a new Cowan four-axle split tipper trailer.

"Business is excellent, really good. I’m getting new clients all the time and I’m always busy."

Whether it is goods such as hay, timber, lime, rock, fertiliser, grain, barley or just "whatever’s going", Neil can transport it for you. He’s successfully created a solid client base, with loyal customers both local and further afield.

"I’m happy with the client base we’ve built; we’ve got the regulars but they’re all as good as each other and equally important."

Neil’s had his truck license for 15 years or so and was previously working for his parents at the local garage they own – ‘doing a bit of everything’, he says. Noticing a potential market for another truck in the area, he decided to go for it.

The fact that he’s a one-man band works to both his and the clients favour. Clients deal direct with one person and service is always personal.

"I think this gives an added advantage," Neil comments.

It also means the business is a lot easier for Neil to manage and he always knows what’s going on. Cherie is in charge of all the bookwork, her behind-the-scenes job keeps the business running smoothly.

The freedom and independence gained from being his own boss and his love of driving, motivates Neil to work hard. He gets great satisfaction from providing a good service while dealing and engaging with people everyday.

Although a lot of his work is local, Neil has no problem travelling far and wide if that’s where the work is, and he’ll often wake up at 3.30am to travel to Christchurch three to four times a week. A job usually starts with a farmer calling him for a price and it all goes from there.

"The road user charges are a bit of hassle when you’ve quoted on work and then they go up all of a sudden. You can’t just go to the farmer and tell him you’re putting the quoted price up – you’ve got to stick to your word, to your quote.

"Fuel is another big issue, it comes down a lot now but it’s still not where it was 18 months to two years ago. NZ Trucking has just done a new deal with Caltex, which is quite good."
Neil joined NZ Trucking when he first got Ross Trucking Co Ltd up and running. The team at NZT provide him with great support and advice, as well as insurance and petrol deals.

"If you have any problems you just call up Rod or Dave at NZT and they’ll help you out. There’s quite a few other truck drivers I know who are members too."

The jobs Neil is offered can be seasonal but it all comes down to what the customer wants done. Neil always tries to find backloads to make his prices competitive.

"A lot of the runs to Christchurch consist of taking rock over for a great client of ours, Westland Schist Ltd."

As winter becomes a distant memory and summer arrives, Neil notices a slight shift in the services clients request and a change in the types of materials he carts. With the fertiliser season arriving and farmers trying to get their grass in full swing over the Christmas and New Year period, it gets very busy. Canterbury farmers will be cutting hay shortly too, so he’ll be busy carting that also.

Juggling long days to suit the clients needs, means working weekends a lot of the time. Neil gets extremely busy but is unsure of whether he’ll bring in any more staff.

"With the way the economy is at the moment, I think I’ll give it 18 months before I think about expanding."

It seems like a smart idea too. With plenty of work to keep him busy, new clients arriving regularly and a passion to work hard and provide a good service, there really is no need for change just yet.

 





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