Hall of fame inductees 2017

9 MinutesBy NZ Trucking magazineNovember 1, 2017

An audience of about 550 gathered at Transport World in Invercargill on 29 September to welcome five new inductees into the Road Transport Hall of Fame. One guest said it was wonderful to see everyone in their best outfits, even if he thought some of the truck drivers looked a little uncomfortable!

Five well-known names in the industry were inducted this year and guests were treated to colourful stories of their exploits, illustrating why they were chosen to join the Hall of Fame. Sadly one of the inductees, Matt Purvis, died in 2015, so his wife Heather accepted the award on his behalf. She said he was a humble man and receiving the award posthumously would have suited him very well.

Kerry Arnold

Kerry Arnold holds stage at the awards.

Kerry Arnold grew up surrounded by Caterpillar bulldozers his father operated for the Public Works Department.

Kerry worked afternoons at a local garage while training for a Certificate in Engineering. He was offered an apprenticeship as a motor mechanic but instead took on a mechanical apprenticeship at the Ministry of Works workshop.

In 1987 he became the technical officer at the New Zealand Road Transport Association and still represents the industry today. A member of the NRB axle weights and loadings committee and the Institute of Road Transport Engineers New Zealand, in the mid-2000s Kerry was appointed Road Transport Forum technical manager.

In the early-2010s he presented to the Australian Road Freight Advisory Council on New Zealand‘s experience with Operator Rating Systems and helped lower bound vehicles to operate at class 1 axle limits, which has since evolved into 50MAX.

Kerry is held in high regard throughout the country for his work for the Road Transport industry. In 2013 he received the IRTENZ Transport Award for Outstanding Industry Service.

Dave Carden

Dave Carden honoured at the Hall of Fame 2017.

From an early age Dave Carden was fascinated with mechanics. At 17 he began a fitter turner apprenticeship before transferring to an apprenticeship in precision welding.

After working offshore as a marine engineer, he returned and became a fitter turner before changing direction to become a petrol and diesel mechanic.

At 28 Dave founded Southside Motor Engineering and used his Kiwi ingenuity to make his own equipment. In 1967 he become workshop manager for Jack Tidd Ross Todd Ltd (now TRT).

In 1982 Dave signed what became known as ‘the Game Changer‘, relinquishing his company‘s right to the Import Duty Protection Licence. This action allowed the local crane industry to import cheaper cranes from overseas. By 1987 the Carden family owned TRT outright.

After a period of growth in the late 1990s Dave stepped back from his role as managing director but remained as a director on the board. 2017 marks 50 years for TRT, 30 years with Dave and his family at the helm.

Fleming McDowall

Fleming McDowall, flanked by daughter Carolyn Porteous and son Ross McDowall.

Fleming McDowall began driving trucks at 16 and worked for his parents‘ transport business, F J McDowall.

At 23 Fleming operated three trucks for his parent‘s company. Three years later he and wife Margaret started rural transport business F W McDowall in Browns, where the head office still is today.

As the 1950s progressed Fleming moved into stock cartage, and then gravel after taking over Bob James‘ business. 

By 1983 he had about 23 trucks working on rural cartage. During the rural decline of the early 1980s he decided to move into line haul freight, eventually establishing depots all over New Zealand.

In 1989 Fleming‘s hard work was rewarded with the well-deserved Southland Business of the Year Award.

Fleming continued to expand F W McDowall‘s rural transport in Southland, adding Otapiri Transport and Dipton Transport to the fleet in 1988, and later Kapiti Freight, Andimac, and the Mt Cook group freight division. By 1997 the company had 16 branches, 21 depots, 220 staff, and a fleet of more than 150 vehicles.

Matt Purvis

Heather Purvis, with son Mike (left) and brother Tony Burling accepts the award for her late husband Matt.

Matt grew up on a farm in Pongaroa and was was always interested in heavy machinery. After leaving school he became a truck driver, which led to a job as despatcher/manager at Nationwide Transport.

In 1977 he and wife Heather partnered with Paddy Collins to start Total Transport, later buying out Paddy. Total Transport carted livestock, wool and farm goods.

During the 1980s when the rural sector boomed, and the company thrived. When the rural sector declined in the 1990s they went into timber as well as rural freight. By 2000 timber was the dominant product carted. A deal with Ravensdown for a transit store to backload fertiliser from timber jobs kept Total Transport‘s trucks loaded and saved everyone money. The couple sold the company in 2002 but continued to run it for several years.

Matt ensured his employees were 100% committed to customer service. Their slogan ‘On Time, Every Time‘ was the philosophy that drove every employee, from management to apprentice.

Matt retired in 2006 due to ill health, sadly passing away in 2015 at the age of 69.

Mike Uhlenberg

Mike Uhlenberg founded a business that‘s become an icon of New Zealand road transport history.

Mike Uhlenberg spent his childhood on his parent‘s Taranaki dairy farm. After leaving school he became apprentice linotype printer.

In the weekends he helped with his father‘s new bus company, later leaving the printing business to drive for a local dairy company. Following a stint in Australia as a driver, he returned home.

In 1966 Mike and wife Carol secured a Ministry of Works Contract. When the contract ended Mike drove for local farmers, before buying another two trucks and a general goods licence.

In 1971 the couple purchased a secondhand Kenworth for carting native logs, realising the big equipment was the way to go. This proved true when the Kapuni gas field began producing LPG as their big machinery could carry large loads with ease.

In 1978 they purchased Eltham Transport. Mike‘s LPG fleet continued to grow and they purchased the local fertiliser store to complement their rural cartage division.

Carol was tragically killed in 1997 and Mike stepped back from the business. Today he is a regular visitor to the depot, and in his spare time works on his classic vehicles and bulldozers.