In the Blood – The new generation of New Zealand truck-trailer manufacturers: The stories and profiles

In News4 MinutesBy Dave McCoidMarch 8, 2024

In the Blood is the second book written by Mike Isle on the New Zealand Truck-Trailer Manufacturers Federation Inc., and charts the industry’s journey through the first quarter of the new century.

By Dave McCoid

If trucking and road transport are in your blood, then Michael Isle’s In the Blood is a must-read. A sequel to Ridin’ the Rainbow, Mike was again commissioned by the New Zealand Truck-Trailer Manufacturers Federation Inc. to write the successor volume to the first commissioned work. Written in 2004, Ridin’ the Rainbow covered the origins and pioneers of New Zealand’s truck body and trailer building industry. In the Blood charts the industry’s path since then to the current day.

“The industry has faced many significant challenges in the first quarter of the century and the federation felt a sequel to Rainbow needed to be written,” said Mike. “Often the pioneers are attributed the most difficult times, but today’s generation have faced their own make or break moments for sure. We needed to acknowledge and document that.”

Succession is a core theme of the book and for the multi-generational players, In the Blood recaps their pioneer founders, making it easy to contextualise those who followed. After them are a selection of higher profile first-generation businesses – some of which are now decades old themselves. The second half of the book profiles members of the federation not covered in the first.

Three other themes dominate the book: turbulent economic times – namely the GFC and Covid-19; the changing face of compliance and regulation; and the human resource – or lack thereof ­– across all aspects of the industry.

Those last three topics in no way make this a dour and demoralising read; far from it. Mike does a great job of celebrating the laudable qualities of those who formed the industry and federation all those years ago, still alive and well in today’s generation – albeit a little more polished.

It celebrates the federation’s key role in the development of regulation and compliance, working with the regulator, rarely seeking an easy route, rather an agreed and proper one. The result has been all boats rising in the harbour of professionalism and quality. That work is ongoing and forms a key function for the federation today.

Kudos is also given to those who brokered the collaborative relationship between industry and regulator on the back the projects-based journey mentioned above ­– a situation desired and driven by insightful parties on both sides of the fence over many years.

There is a discussion through commentary and quote about defined regulation coming at the expense of rampant creativity. To some degree the thought is left open to ponder, although examples of the ‘next new thing’ are cited, and it’s also partially resolved by those who have sought to demonstrate creativity in other areas, like recruitment and social licence.

In the Blood – written in the style only Mike Isle possesses. It would have been a crime had the sequel to Rainbow not been written by this great raconteur; like replacing an amputated arm with an old cow’s leg you had laying around, and purporting the result to be successful.

Together, as a body of work they exist in harmony – like the two eras of the industry whose story they chronicle.

A must-have on your bookcase. For your copy contact:

Kate Bucknell

021 917-506

  Raconteur Mike Isle tells the story in his own signature style.