Hall of Fame honours 2021 inductees

In News13 MinutesBy NZ Trucking magazineNovember 20, 2021

The 2021 Mobil 1 NZ Road Transport Hall of Fame gala dinner was unfortunately disrupted by the current Covid-19 lockdown restrictions. However, that didn’t prevent the organisers from honouring the inductees for their contributions made to the New Zealand road transport industry.

The event this year was held virtually and live streamed on Friday 6 November (you can view the recording here: https://www.roadtransporthalloffame.co.nz/live-stream/).

Six legendary names of the New Zealand road transport industry were inducted this year. In alphabetical order, they are:

Cliff Bennetts

Robin Clifford (Cliff) Bennetts was born in Roxburgh in 1925. In 1950, Cliff along with a partner, Colin Parker, purchased a 6-truck transport off Herbert and Ian Guise and Mossburn Transport was born.

In 1957 Cliff along with Mobil and two others formed Gore Services. By 1974, eighteen Directors sat on the Board. By 1960 the fleet numbered 10 trucks and in 1963 Cliff purchased his first Mercedes Benz truck for £12,000.

In February 1964, Cliff along with George Hedley (Lumsden Transport) and Terry Gilligan (Te Anau Transport) formed Manapouri Haulage to contract service for the new Manapouri Power Scheme. This venture was so successful that in December 1964 a complete merger happened incorporating their three businesses and Manapouri Haulage. This was to become Northern Southland Transport Holdings Ltd.

Cliff was regarded an excellent employer and real community supporter as can be seen by the accolades he was awarded including Life Memberships of the Mossburn Rugby Club, Go Cart Club, Fire Brigade and Bowling Club. Cliff was also honoured by the Mossburn Shears and the Southland Rodeo Association, the latter appropriate as on one occasion both Cliff and driver received broken legs from a wayward horse.

In 1984 Cliff passed away from cancer. He gave 34 years to the industry. He was an RTA and Groundspread member and was Chairman of Northern Southland Transport for 12 years.

John Alexander

In 1971 John and wife Cecile purchased a small Waikato contracting and transport firm, quickly growing it to become Alexander Grain Limited. The mid-70s was a time of intense growth with a contract to ship 5000-ton shipments of grain at a time, 24/7 to Mt Maunganui Port and the invention of the ‘Grain Train’, a hyper-efficient specialist unit that could bottom-

dump grain, helping secure a three-year contract with Northern Roller Milling. In the mid-80s, John turned his attention to the wine industry developing an intermodal service of trucks and ISO shipping, a ground-breaking alternative to costly rail and ferry.

Developing an ethanol tanker in 1982 was a major turning point for the company, establishing its presence in the bulk tanker industry. Shell was taken on as a customer in the 1990s. Alexander Group was awarded the BNZ Small Fleet of the Year in 1997 in recognition of its operational excellence.

In 2002 John started bulk deliveries for BOC throughout the South Island, which expanded in 2005 to include the North Island. The growth of the Alexander Gases division grew with the addition of inter-island ISO handling and cylinder distribution throughout New Zealand and the Pacific Islands.

Now in its 50th year, John can be proud of how far the Alexander Group has come across two generations and how forward thinking the company is today.

John has been a staunch advocate of the Road Transport Association and served on the Region 2 executive and working groups for many years supporting the industry. John’s innovation is now woven into the fabric and future of transport in New Zealand. From the invention of the ‘Grain Train’ to ethanol tankers and fuel industry safety equipment, John’s unique ability to see over the horizon is evident in his success.

Kate Bucknell

Born in Auckland in 1956, Kate Bucknell was introduced to the industry when she had an after-school job babysitting for one of her teachers. The teacher’s husband was a tanker builder who clearly saw something in the teenager when he offered her a part-time job in his office. Kate never finished her degree at university. She was immediately attracted to the Road Transport Industry and was determined to forge a pathway through it.

Her full-time involvement began as a salesperson and then manager of Avon Equipment Spares between 1975 and 1985.

In 1988, she became owner and director of Transcom Engineering, where she was introduced to global brands and agencies such as Jost and BPW. In 1986 she transitioned into Jost Transport Efficiency, with the Jost and Hendrickson agencies and later BPW.

When BPW bought the company in 1994, the German global giant retained Kate as their New Zealand general manager. She would later go on to become general manager of Commercial Transport Spares, owner of Transport Equipment Solutions and is currently general manager of Jost New Zealand, which she formed in 2018.

Kate has served on the executive of the IRTE as its treasurer and secretary, and with the Truck-Trailer Manufacturers Federation (TTMF) she authored the Manufacturer and Repair Code of Practice alongside the late Geoff Walsh.

Neil Peterken

Neil Peterken has spent the majority of his life involved with the Road Transport Industry. In 1961 Neil took up a position with Dave Domett at Domett Truck and Trailer, who was a great influence and provided the guidance and knowledge that Neil absorbed.

After Dave’s passing in 1966, Neil relocated to Rotorua and took up employment with Mills Engineering on 1967. Then, in 1969, Neil went to work for Manu Tuanui at Tui Trailers. Neil produced lightweight Chip-Liners in “A-Train” format and developed the first hydraulic variable height house-moving trailer.

After the merger and creation of Mills Tui Trailers, Neil opened Road Runner Trailers in 1973. The first of the long/short log combination units was constructed for Colin Poole and McCarthy’s.

In 1978, the first B-Train was released at the Rotorua show. Built for F.J. Ramsey. In 1980, Roadrunner produced the first sliding bogie lead semi in a B-train and also won the tender to supply “Live Floor” trailers for the transportation of refuse for the Auckland Regional Authority. Neil securing an agreement for New Zealand and Australia with Boalloy of England and in 1892 put the first Tautliner into service.

In 1969, along with the late Arthur McNae, Neil set up the Institute of Road Transport Engineers New Zealand, IRTENZ.

Neil has been instrumental in the advancement of the Road Transport Industry of New Zealand. His innovative ideas and concepts became the norm. He has seen the highs and lows of the industry, been surrounded by and become friends of many involved in the industry. He has assisted and offered opportunities to many and helped us get involved in the transport industry.

 Richard Riley

Richard Riley was born on 17 March 1948 in Christchurch. He began his career in the Road Transport Industry at John Brightling Limited (‘Master Carriers’) as an office junior. By the mid 70’s Richard was ready to guide his own ‘ship’ and accepted an appointment with The Owens Group (‘Trailways’).

Over the following 10 years he held senior positions in Christchurch, Tauranga, and Auckland for a brief stint. Returning to Christchurch, he managed a business involved in the distribution of temperature-controlled goods throughout both Islands.

In 1986 he was appointed to the position of General Manager and director of NZ Express Transport Group; he held this position for 20 years until the business was sold in 2005 at which time Richard chose to retire from full time employment.

Richard is of the firm belief that the industry can only achieve strength from the numbers that commit to supporting the local association, and that it takes the collective energy of everyone to challenge and change the environment in which the industry operates.

 Steve Murphy

Steve started driving trucks for RR Price Limited back in the late 1960s carting timber products to and from the local sawmills around Christchurch. Steve Murphy Ltd (SML) started in 1981 with one truck carting logs under contract to Oldins Sawmill in Christchurch. Due to the closure of the sawmill in 1984, Steve became an owner driver for Neil Graham at Mainfreight between 1984/85.

Steve’s true passion was in the logging sector and when an opportunity arose to work alongside Shands Road Sawmill – a customer to this day – in 1985, he went for it.

In 2000 Steve put on a Log/Woodchip unit between Christchurch and the West Coast and then in 2001 purchased an existing Bulk Cartage business carting all the woodchips from domestic manufacturers into CTP in Sefton. SML continues carting out of all these sawmills under contract to New Zealand Pine Processors.

In 2003 SML joined the region’s other large forestry business, McCarthy Wilshire Transport and established a management company called Canterbury Dispatch Limited, which planned, dispatched, and provided data processing of all log deliveries for Carter Holt Harvey in Canterbury.

In 2007 SML purchased McCarthy Wilshire Transport and became the largest forestry logistics business in Canterbury.

One of Steve’s key strengths is his personality, humour, and ability to work with people regardless of the situation. He has a reputation for being firm but fair and has always shared the success of the business with his staff by rewarding them with above average working conditions, a stable environment and modern equipment..

Steve is a Canterbury Forest Industry icon, extremely well respected for his ethics, dedication, innovation, wonderful sense of humour and his success.

For a full report and profile on the 2021 inductees, pick up a copy of the December 2021/January 2022 issue of New Zealand Trucking magazine, out at the beginning of December.