Barry Skilling

In Just Truckn Around, April 20223 MinutesBy NZ Trucking magazineMay 5, 2022

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Barry Skilling from Northern Southland Transport is living the good life on the northern reaches of Southland in Lumsden. Barry is happily plying his trade on the comany’s new Scania bulk fertiliser spreader, and Craig Andrews spied him giving his new pride and joy a washdown.

Barry’s history with trucks kicked off at eight years old when he drove an old International around the paddocks while his dad fed out hay. He left school at 16 and went to Mid Canterbury Transport as an offsider on hay cartage and got his HT on a TS3 Commer with Precision Shingle in Timaru. He also recalls driving a 1622 White while he was there.

In 1978, he went to Unwin’s Timber, delivering export timber in a D800 Ford and then onto a Dodge V8 with a Hiab at G E Tregenza, before leaving there and starting his own company, Skillings Mini Mix. A small Daihatsu and a flat-deck Bedford were the mainstays of the fleet. After seven years, he sold that and went to Wilders doing linehaul in an eight- wheeler Mercedes-Benz.

The call of the USA saw him head there in 1999, driving Petes, Freightliners and Internationals all over the country. Returning home, he went back to Wilders behind the wheel of an R-model Mack with a swing lift. Some part-time work with Hiltons followed and, while there, he trained as a chef and set up a café/ restaurant in Southland. He did this for nine and half years before making his way back to trucking at Northern Southland, where he has been for the past three years. He started on a Mercedes-Benz spreader before the new Scania arrived late last year. It’s taken him 51 years to get a new truck, and he rates it highly.

Being out amongst the hills and scenery of northern Southland is what Barry enjoys about this work, and not much really gets him offside, but he feels the electronic logbooks and some rules could be more user-friendly. When he’s not doing loops at work, he likes to spend his spare time fixing, restoring and driving vehicles plus building vehicles out of wood.

His vexing question was, where would you least like to go to visit? Barry’s answer: The fabric shops where his wife buys her fabrics.