Driven dreams

In Iveco, Top Truck, August 20227 MinutesBy Carl KirkbeckSeptember 4, 2022

At New Zealand Trucking, we meet drivers from all walks of life and all corners of the globe. The August 2022 Top Truck owes its existence to the dream of a young lad working on the family cropping farm in the small village of Raiwali, in the district of Haryana in north India.

Afrosty start to a perfect Bay of Plenty blue-sky day at the Mainfreight Tauranga depot, and we find Amarjeet (AJ) Singh busy preparing the big AS-cabbed Iveco X-Way 570 for its appointment with the camera. AJ had travelled from his home base in Palmerston North only hours before on an FTL run as a contracted Daily Freight owner-driver.

AJ’s journey to owner-driver has been hard-fought and well-earnt, but listening to his history, you soon see that a battle plan based on dreams and fuelled by desire has been at play.

“It all started for me at about 16 years of age, working on the family farm. I would help with driving all the farm machinery, tractors pulling trailers loaded to the maximum – the bigger, the better,” laughs AJ. A couple of years later, he was chatting to good mates from his village who had already emigrated to New Zealand, and their conversations planted the seeds of change. AJ already had a desire to see other parts of the world and was seriously looking for the opportunity to drive highway rigs. There was only one thing to do: heed the call and book a one-way ticket to New Zealand.

In 2012 and only 18, AJ found himself standing within the halls of UCOL in Palmerston North, ready to embark on the first step of his plan, a National Diploma of Business. Once he completed his studies, it was onto stage two: begin the journey to driving the highway rigs he dreamt of. Gaining New Zealand residency and a start at Provida Foods on a class-2 rigid in 2015 was just the ticket. This led to an opportunity in 2017 to move up to truck and trailer work at Linfox on general freight.

1) AJ Singh: young, driven and making it happen.
2) New Roadmaster trailer completes the 36-pallet combination.

“Finally, I was getting into the bigger gear, but I still wanted more. So I eventually moved across to Fonterra, completing four seasons on the milk run out of Longburn. It was great work, and I was getting to see more and more of the country.”

AJ may have been scratching his itch for driving real highway rigs, but there was still one more stage of his plan to be executed: ownership.

“All the time, I had been talking with my mates in various owner-driver positions in different companies and was picking their brains. With their encouragement, I approached Daily Freight. An opportunity to run in the FTL fleet existed, so I was in boots and all.

The X-Way runs the 13-litre Cursor engine at 425kW (570hp) with 2500Nm (1850lb/ft) of torque on tap at 1000rpm. This feeds to a 12-speed Hi-Tronix AMT transmission, behind which is a pair of Meritor MT23-150/D axles rated at 23 tonnes riding on Iveco eight-bag ECAS suspension. The Fruehauf body was already fitted as the rig had started life as an Iveco demonstrator, so all that was needed was a new set of curtains. Finally, the trailer was built to match by the team at Roadmaster using low maintenance Hendrickson disc-brake axles.

“Basically, it’s a typical 36-pallet combination, and I’m running it at 50Max,” explains AJ.

“I cannot fault the unit at all – the comfort of the big Euro cab, heated leather seats, double bunks and a tonne of storage. Plus, its Euro-6. It is perfect for the job I do, and the Iveco team are brilliant to work with. Pieter Theron has been so helpful and Raymond in service is just magic. It is a great working relationship.”

For AJ, it had been just a touch over nine years since he was that lonely fresh arrival, standing in the halls of UCOL. Now, he was signing the papers, catching the keys to the big Iveco and embarking on his first run as an owner-driver.

“Finally, I was doing what my heart was set on doing – the amazing places I have been to already, places that I would never have dreamt of going to if I had not been doing this job. And it has not even been one complete year. A few weeks ago, I was right out the back of Murchison on a big farm doing a delivery – the beauty of the place; it was so good I had my 10-hour break there. But, man, those sandflies.”

Full credit needs to be given where it is deserved and especially where it has been hard-earned, and here at New Zealand Trucking, we would be the first to say that AJ’s achievements are more than admirable and serve as a shining beacon for all the budding young drivers out there. Heaven knows, we need all the help we can get.

What AJ has accomplished in 10 short years is commendable, and listening to his story unfold, you realise that it really does not matter which corner of this spinning blue orb you come from… If diesel is in the veins and desire for adventure in the heart, anything at all is possible, including taking out the New Zealand Trucking magazine Top Truck position for August 2022. Congratulations, AJ.