Cover story: Cuzzin Transport

By: Vivienne Haldane, Photography by: Vivienne Haldane

Cuzzin Transport is making a big impression with their Kenworth logging truck, The Renegade

Dozens of logging trucks pass daily through my small town, mostly on their way to the Port of Napier, but there was one that was so jaw-droppingly stunning, we went back around the roundabout to get a better look. Owner-driver Jarvis Harrison had briefly parked up. He gave us the thumbs-up through the tinted glass, so we went to say gidday to him and his partner Racheal.

Meeting up a few days later at their base in Napier, we got a closer look at the KW T909, titled The Renegade—polished to the hilt and looking mighty fine against the backdrop of the Napier industrial district.

Growing up around forestry

Racheal and Jarvis with Jarvis’ son, Matty Jae

Jarvis says he grew up around trucks and the forestry business. It’s all he’s ever known. His father, Ally Harrison, was an owner-driver at Pan Pac Forest Products as a logging contractor for more than 20 years and still drives.

"I bought my first truck at 23 and have been an owner-operator for 13 years," he says. "My first truck was a Mitsubishi Fuso, which I bought off dad; it carted pulp from the mill to the port. Then Pan Pac asked if I was interested in putting a logging truck on, so I bought a second-hand truck, sold both, and bought a brand-new one. I’ve been doing that ever since."

Now contracted to Harvest Logistics, Cuzzin Transport operates around the central North Island, as far north as Wairoa, south to Norsewood and Dannevirke.

"We have around 20 crews we work with; it all gets shared around."

Jarvis is passionate about forestry and so is Racheal, whose first foray in the industry was at the age of 17 as a skidee working a chainsaw on skid sites.

"I moved from there and jumped into diggers and loaders," she says. "Most recently, I’ve been unloading logging trucks and operating loaders and diggers at Napier Port, working for C3 log marshalling company. In the last year, I’ve been getting my truck licences. Machinery is pretty much our thing.

"I grew up in Te Pohue. Dad was a fencer and mum had shearing contracts, so we were always out doing stuff. That work ethic rubbed off."

Jarvis says proudly, "She’s always been one of those girls who will give anything a go. She picked up driving faster than a lot of the young fellas. I guess she listened and after a month, she was carting fully loaded logs out of the bush."

Racheal adds: "It’s kind of like a challenge, and I like that; it interests me more."

The Renegade

Jarvis and Racheal are passionate about forestry and the KW T909 delivers in every way

Jarvis has owned the KW for a year. He and Racheal travelled to Melbourne to watch it come off the line at the Kenworth factory. Jarvis says he chose KW because "they are built for their job, built to last, and hold their resale value. They’re a common brand in forestry for this reason."

He particularly wanted a T909 six-wheeler with a four-axle trailer.

"I always wanted one because of the ability to get in and out of anywhere. It’s awesome traction-wise. It’s still good for the 29-tonne payload, which is not much different to an eight-wheeler and a four-axle trailer. Many companies are going to 54-tonne units. There are only a handful of jobs we do that we can’t do 50-plus tonne out of."

The KWs have come a long way he says. "You can tell people all day long how nice it is to drive. Because we work long hours, you need comfort. For this reason, we had the truck fitted with a Fat Boy Isri seat."

The truck also has a customised woodgrain steering wheel with a gold detail to match the gold gauges on the dashboard. The 200ml extension on the gear stick was done by Chris Stanley at Southpac in Auckland.

The paintwork, done by Darryn Caulfield of Caulfield Signs in Rotorua, is also a mighty fine piece of work. Jarvis wanted an airbrushed woodgrain finish to symbolise logs. He points out a detail in the paintwork—it’s a miniature devil’s head. You need to squint to see it. It’s one of the many details that Darryn added to the truck. Others include the Harley-Davidson symbol on the tyre guards and a polished wood floor in the cab.

"It’s nice to drive like that. When we spec’d the truck, we were debating between an Australian and American look, and we chose Australian. Willie Malcolm in Rotorua did the woodgrain floor and also put the side monsoons on the top of the window. He fitted an 18-litre fridge and a centre console, too, to put my paperwork in. In the end, we got everything we wanted."

When it comes to his trucks, Jarvis is a perfectionist. He says he’s always made a considerable effort with the appearance of his trucks.

"I’ve always taken pride in the trucks I’ve had in the past."

The trailer

The four-axle trailer has been fully refurbished, with details added to ensure it matches the cab

The trailer is an older one Jarvis has had refurbished. It was stripped down and repainted by Price Engineering in Napier and Henderson Road Panel and Paint in Hastings.

"It had extension bolsters, and we cut them back to standard size again. We also put pop-up spring pins, all new chains, twitches, completely rewired the trailer, and put in new airlines and lights."

Patchell Engineering, Rotorua, did all the running gear.

"Their equipment holds up to the sort of work we do; it’s top quality. We love our Harleys, so I incorporated this into it too. The cab guard has a laser cut of a Harley Davidson emblem and a red light behind it. We also have Harley-Davidson mud flaps behind the bonnet and back of the trailer."

The Cuzzin brand

The head-turning Cuzzin Transport logo. The airbrushed woodgrain finish symbolises logs.

The decision to name the company Cuzzin goes back to Jarvis’ childhood when he and his cousins used to play trucks and imagine what they’d do in the future.

"Aged eight, I was the youngest; my older cousin drew a map of what the yard looked like and the trucks we were going to have. We named it Cuzzin Transport, and we agreed that whoever bought the first truck got to call their company that name. Since I got the first truck, that’s how it came about."

Jarvis’ brother, Storm, also owns logging trucks and operates as Ngati Haulage Ltd.

Bumps in the road

Jarvis says the KW brand soars above the others

Like any business, Jarvis and Racheal have had their ups and downs, but they’re confident of facing the challenges.

"Lockdown affected us; it put a hold on things for a couple of months, but I think everyone was in the same boat," says Racheal.

Jarvis bought his new Freightliner Argosy during a previous recession, so he’s been there before.

"That puts everything on the back foot too. I’ve seen it go like that over the last 13 years, and it has been a worry, but the market always bounces back again."

Future goals

You have to look hard to find this little devil

Jarvis says, despite being very busy, he prefers to stick to the one truck for now. His passion is to be in the forest. Jarren Owen, a driver he’s training, will take his place in the seat of The Renegade while Jarvis and Racheal have plans to expand Cuzzin Transport and use their experience in a new venture.

The hard-working couple, who have four children aged between six and 14, is looking forward to welcoming a new family member in October. They manage to juggle their kids, plus their business. It’s all about balancing family and work time.

"It’s a whole lot of juggling around, but we always make it work," says Jarvis.

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