Comment: Road Transport Award recognises community spirit

By: Ken Shirley, CEO Road Transport

The 2018 Road Transport Industry Awards was in many ways a recognition of the wave of innovation that's now prevalent across the NZ transport industry

However, it was a far more old-fashioned set of values that took away the night’s top prize, the VTNZ Outstanding Contribution to Road Transport.


Greg Inch, flanked by daughters Mckenzie (left) and Shannon

Greg Inch from Greg Inch Earthmoving was a deserving winner of this year’s top award, and it was especially pleasing to recognise him and his achievements in his hometown of Dunedin.

Greg is the founder and organiser of the Special Rigs for Special Kids charity, which gives special needs children an opportunity to ride in a truck and spend the day around some impressive machinery.

As Greg mentions on the Special Rigs website, he got the idea from a friend in the UK in 1992. There was an orphanage near the firm he worked. Every weekend, the kids would help the truck drivers clean the vehicles and to thank them, the drivers would take the kids for a ride and treat them to lunch.

Greg got a bee in his bonnet and within six weeks he had formed a small committee and held the first Special Rigs for Special Kids event where 120 trucks showed up along with plenty of other sponsors and volunteers. It has gone from strength to strength ever since.

Run in late August, Special Rigs for Special Kids these days attracts up to 200 trucks and is still run by Greg along with volunteers and sponsors with help from Police and St John Ambulance. I have heard that the convoy of trucks can reach up to 12km long as it snakes its way through the streets of Dunedin.

What Greg and his team do makes a positive difference to so many young people and their families dealing with some pretty difficult circumstances. While Greg has deservedly been acknowledged in other spheres of the community, it is fitting that our industry recognises what he has done for so many kids over so many years.

The evening’s other awardees were equally well-deserved. The Teletrac Navman Industry Innovation Award went to Sysdoc and Fonterra for the development of the Transport Contractor Induction Training online tool now used at Fonterra sites across New Zealand.

Contract drivers to Fonterra can complete health and safety induction training before even visiting a Fonterra site using this tool. This reduces delays, provides flexibility, and lessens the logistical burden of changing schedules. It has made for easier, more accurate, and centralised reporting and standardised the training across all of Fonterra’s sites while also improving safety.

Safe Business Solutions (SBS) won the ERoad Outstanding Contribution to Health and Safety Award for their E-Text health and safety system. E-Text is acknowledged as an effective way for staff to communicate health and safety issues across an organisation particularly in a mobile workforce. Nominators praised SBS for making the process user-friendly and simple.

Last but not least, the Outstanding Contribution to Training Award was presented to Derek Nees of Nelson’s TIL Freight for a career promoting and working on improving training and qualifications across the road transport industry.

Derek has played a prominent role in reviewing driver qualifications and aligning those with what the industry actually requires a driver to do on the job. Derek continues to make a big contribution developing a qualifications pathway for drivers from secondary school to the industry. It is obvious that his time as a transport instructor in the Army and Antarctica gave him the perfect background to apply his knowledge to the industry back here.

The New Zealand road transport industry is blessed with many exceptional people
and organisations. I’m pleased that as an industry we can come together to celebrate these outstanding contributors and their achievements. 

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