Like a pro

In Short Story October 20234 MinutesBy Gavin Myers and Dave McCoidNovember 15, 2023

Trucking and truck driving is an interesting thing. It’s not always the most skilled, veteran personalities that make an impact. This much was abundantly clear as we met Fenco’s Glen Stuart for last month’s cover story Head in the clouds, Feet on the ground – a flying ace with a glint in his eye for truck driving and an ambition to own and run his own trucks.

Likewise, the path of Billy Kanara into log-truck driving. At 40, he’s new to the vocation but, with a background driving farm trucks and all manner of other machinery, the desire’s always been there… And so, through determination and the right attitude, he’s found himself in the driving seat of our cover truck, having been part of the Newey team only since the beginning of the year.

“I don’t quite know how that happened,” laughs Billy. “I’m the ‘rookie’, new to logs. I only got onto them when I started with Neweys. I’m very much learning as I go, but the journey’s been good so far. I’m still alive, so I can’t complain!” he says with a solid laugh.

“Ian’s pretty good, hey. He’s looked after me and eased me into it,” he says. And so far, it’s so good… “It’s cruisy. There’s no stress, which is quite good. You’re out there on your own. And I’ve always been up early, an early start for logs doesn’t bother me.”

Those early-to-rise habits came from growing up on farms nationwide, including Greymouth, the Bay of Islands, Taupo and Whangarei. “I’ve been driving trucks all the time, since I was little on the farms,” Billy hints.

Around 15 years ago, he headed to the Taupo region to go dairy farming. There, too, he took to the wheel on typical farm truck and tractor work. “I’d also have a play on the diggers when stuff needed doing,” Billy adds. “I’ve been around machinery all my life – diggers, drills, all that. I got my wheels, tracks and rollers endorsements. I love that kind of work. It’s good money, too.”

About 10 years ago, Billy returned to Whangarei. “There was nothing wrong with Taupo. But in winter, it gets bloody cold!” he says with a laugh. During this time, he worked for Carters doing hiab work and a bit of drilling. “I’d move the machines myself and then operate them, so this now is probably my first job where all I do is drive.”

He lives with his partner Angelic and three-year-old truck-mad son Hector. “The young fella’s three going on 21, he reckons. He’s a handful sometimes. He loves trucks, too… for now! I’ll make sure he gets all his licences anyway.”

An avid hunter and fisher, Billy jokes about his latest hobby: “Nappies, it’s 90% nappies now… But, nah, I try to get into the bush. But when you’re working five days and out there for one, that only leaves one day to spend with the young fella. At least being on logs is good. I’m home every night.”

Seems like a perfect fit for this ‘rookie’.