MAIN TEST – Branching out

In Tests5 MinutesBy NZ Trucking magazineJuly 27, 2018

“When I was working as an arborist I would always be the one who wanted to drive the truck, taking it to the next job, or bring it back home. I was the crew boss in the end so I was able to do that,” chuckled Rob Tonkin. “I‘ve always enjoyed driving and felt the arborist work had run its time and so pursued the driving thing, and here we are. I‘m living the dream really.”


Photo: Rob Tonkin. Four years in and loving the industry and opportunities trucking is providing him.

Sitting in the cab, listening to Rob tell you how he came to be there, makes you want to thank Dave for following his gut instinct and giving the guy a go. Here‘s a bloke who‘s exactly what trucking needs, young, quiet, intelligent, sociable…a thinker. It‘s only four years since Rob turned up on the doorstep at Puni asking about getting a job in trucking.

A native to Pukekohe, 28-year-old Rob cut out from the education system to investigate life‘s opportunities when he was just 16. We say ‘investigate‘ because he‘s not the reactive knee-jerk type, he does things because that‘s what he‘s decided to do. Initially he worked with mum Jenny at the Moana Pacific seafood factory in Pukekohe. Following that he turned his hand to building. While he enjoyed the actual building work he realised that wasn‘t where his heart lay either.

From there it was off to help his dad, Ken, a fencing contractor. A drop-off in work ended that prematurely, at which point he took the job as a trainee arborist for Franklin Tree Services Ltd (later Franklin Trees Ltd). That was the start of a seven-year spell that also introduced him to truck driving.

“We were responsible for maintaining and planting greenery in and around the motorway system, removing trees and foliage from power lines, as well as other commercial and residential work.” Rob gained his level four arborist ticket in that time. “It was a great job. Some days you spent up a big tree looking at an amazing view no one else would ever see. But after seven years it had just run its course and I really wanted to pursue the driving thing. I had my class 2 and I went to a couple of local companies. It was Powell Transport in Pukekohe that told me to try Dave and he said ‘Go get your class 4 and we‘ll get you going.‘” That was four years ago. Rob started out on one of the
UDs carting metal and doing local work, branching out bit by bit, getting his class 5 and hooking up a trolley. Eventually he was pointed at jobs further afield to places like Atiamuri in bigger trucks, ending up on No 9, an Argosy curtainside tipping unit.

“Dave‘s a great boss, best I‘ve had. The Roadranger thing took a bit of getting on top of but we got there.” “Rob turned up looking for a job and I just liked his attitude and the way he presented,” said Dave. “He just seemed a genuine bugger you know? I thought I‘ll give him a go and we‘ll see what happens. He‘s still learning, but the big thing is he‘s not afraid to ask, but yeah, it‘s all worked out well.”

Last year Rob put his hand up for the new flat deck unit that was soon to arrive in the fleet. He wanted to extend his skill set and take on the day-to-day, job-to-job challenges that a flat deck, bunch of covers, some chains, straps, and corner boards always present.

“It‘s great. There‘s always something to stretch your thinking and challenge you. I‘m loving the truck and really enjoying the work.”

Return to, Still a good turn of the wheel left yet