Comment: McCormack Transport takes on Road to success trainee

By: Fiona McDonagh, Photography by: Supplied

McCormack’s investment in Road to success programme in training paying off

Gavin McCormack and Road to success trainee Sean Daji

McCormack Transport owner Gavin McCormack says he’s always trained his own drivers, something he’s able to do because he has small, medium, and large trucks in his fleet.

"I’ve even taken on guys who have only had a Class 1 licence and helped them get their Class 2 licence. Road to success is an opportunity to put what I do into some sort of structure I suppose."

Gavin says trained livestock drivers can easily step into other types of driving, such as logging and tanker work. While he regularly loses drivers he’s trained to other companies, he accepts that’s a fact of life. He says livestock is a particularly complex industry for drivers to navigate.

"There’s a lot of compliance you have to deal with. Every animal has a docket that has to go with it, all our crates have to be up to a standard, and the drivers have to sit a course and be licensed to drive a stock truck as well.

A lot of people don’t know about that, but if you want to deliver to the works, they have to be an AssureQuality livestock driver. So, there are a whole lot of things that are involved."

Gavin accepts it takes time to train a driver properly, but he’s convinced it’s worth it. "We got one of my top drivers through WINZ. He started as a bobby calf lifter, and after about five years, I told him he needs to be a truck driver, as he can’t keep doing this.

We talked him into it and he’s driving a 50-tonne MAX unit for us now. The difficult thing to overcome for those wanting to get into the industry is a lack of experience. "Even when a position is advertised, you have to have a minimum of two years experience towing a trailer.

We can take people on and train them because we have a little truck, a little truck and trailer, and then a big truck and trailer." Gavin says when he attends industry meetings, he asks other operators why they don’t make smaller vehicles available for training new drivers.

As someone who worked their way up the ranks himself, he thinks there should be a training school for new drivers. "I was with Freightways, then I was one of Mainfreight’s first owner-drivers.

Mainfreight has a school and you’ve got to go to their school and learn to be a fork hoist driver—learn to do this and learn to do that. You’ve got to go through the steps. Some of these big companies should actually train some drivers and give back to the industry they are taking out of."

McCormack Transport took on Road to success trainee Sean Daji in March 2021. "We need more young people in the industry who realise it’s not a dead-end job. Gone are the days where the truck driver was viewed as the dumb person, a case of ‘you can’t do anything else, go drive a truck’.

I think even he’s amazed at all the things he’s been given the chance to do and learn. "One of my other drivers told Sean if he had a spare minute, to jump in his truck and he’d show him how to back a trailer. The guys are quite happy to show the new drivers because they’ve all come up through the same system. All my guys are pretty good like that."

Sean heard about Road to success through the Kiwi Can Do training programme. He was attracted by a 12-month contract with guaranteed work in a position that’s classified as an essential service, and he also enjoyed driving.

"I had considered truck driving in the past, but the opportunity never arose," Sean says.
Sean began on a Class 2 stock truck and was being trained in livestock transportation. He eventually hopes to move into driving Class 5 trucks and has already gained his Class 4 licence.

With Sean moving up, McCormack Transport has taken on a new trainee, Nathan Heke, to replace him. "I think Nathan’s going to be pretty good. He’s got a bit of nous about him. Everyone’s stepping through to another level—Sean is out there driving a 500hp eight-wheeler Mack now, and we’ve got a brand-new Hino 700 series for him to go on to. He’s doing well."

Sean says what he enjoys the most is the support and knowledge he’s gaining through the programme. "I enjoy the challenge because you don’t grow unless you’re challenged. I’m looking forward to bringing some more professionalism to the industry and overall raising the bar of the driving industry across the nation."

Sean adds he would encourage anyone considering signing up for the Road to success programme to not hesitate. Gavin says despite having his own training programme in place, he would recommend Road to success to other employers. "It’s a bit of time and effort, but they need to put something back into the industry, like some of us are doing. I’d definitely recommend it." 

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