Neil Reid heads high achievers honoured at industry awards

This year’s Ia Ara Aotearoa Transporting New Zealand conference was the first since 2019, which also meant that it was the first time in three years that we held the Transporting New Zealand Industry Awards.

I believe these awards are an important way for the trucking community to recognise best practice and outstanding achievement annually. They are about helping an industry that very rarely blows its own trumpet to enjoy and promote its success. The awards honour individuals and organisations whose activities and achievements ultimately improve the daily lives of others and ensure the industry is a rewarding and safe environment to work in.

The big award of the night, the VTNZ Supreme Contribution to NZ Road Transport, was a double hit for the winner, Neil Reid, as he also received the first- ever life membership to Ia Ara Aotearoa Transporting New Zealand.

As many in the industry know, Neil is a true gentleman of the transport business. He grew up in a trucking family on the West Coast, so transport was very much in his blood. A role with Mobil Oil brought him to Southland, where he became the Invercargill manager of Freightways in 1974, as well as the local branch chair of the Road Transport Association. Upon a transfer to Christchurch, Neil managed the much larger Gutherys Freightways, with another shift taking him to Blenheim and the Newman’s Group, later Transpac Holdings.

Neil Reid

A period of turmoil during the late 1980s and early 1990s, including receiverships, negotiations, shareholding issues and a trip to civil court, saw Neil and his business partner Garth Butler finally settle as 50/50 shareholders in the rebranded TNL Group.

The mid-1990s saw further difficulties befall the organisation, and it was only Neil and Garth’s dogged persistence, support from the bank and dedicated and loyal staff who took a significant pay cut, which rescued the company. It says a lot about Neil that his team agreed to reduced wage rates to help save the company – and his gratitude to them remains.

As managing director until 2007, Neil built TNL into an extremely successful road transport, contract warehousing and international freight and customs operation.

After selling his share of TNL, Neil served the industry through executive roles in RTA Region 4 and very ably chaired the Road Transport Forum for six years.

Inducted into the NZ Road Transport Hall of Fame in 2015, Neil leaves an unmatched legacy in business, innovation, overcoming severe commercial challenges and service to the road transport industry.

Neil was hugely instrumental in the transition and merger of RTANZ with RTF to form Transporting New Zealand, which has provided a more unified advocacy voice for our members. On a personal note, Neil has been extremely supportive of my staff and me, and I’m very grateful to him for his wise counsel.

The night’s other award winners also deserve special mention.

The Alexander Group took out the EROAD Outstanding Contribution to Health and Safety Award in recognition of the extraordinary length of time this company has been an industry leader in health and safety. The company, which specialises in dangerous and high-value goods transportation, was one of the early adopters of speed limiting and the use of telematics and continues to be at the forefront of using leading-edge safety technology.

Josh Hart of Hart Haulage was a deserving winner of the Castrol Truck Driver Hero Award. Famous for his pink-liveried truck that carries anti-bullying messages, Josh has become a well-known anti-bullying campaigner and advocate who always has time to have conversations with other truckies or members of the public about bullying and how to combat it. Over the years, Josh must have helped hundreds of people deal with what is a destructive presence in our society, and he fully deserves this award.

The EROAD Young Driver of the Year Award went to Brianna Wilson, who is a class-5 driver at Philip Wareing Ltd and, along with Josh, is also one of our Diversity Champions. Brianna started as an apprentice driver and never shies away from challenging work, which she undertakes with a polite, cheerful and positive attitude. She is also a strong advocate for providing more opportunities for women in the industry.

This year’s Teletrac Navman Outstanding Contribution by a Woman in the Road Transport Industry went to Jenny McIntyre of Waimea Contract Carriers who, together with her brother, manages what is a major log transport operation, employing 90 staff across the top of the South Island. Jenny has been in the industry since she was 14 and is known as a resourceful, tenacious and empathetic leader with very sound management skills, who has overcome many obstacles along the way.

Finally, the gala awards evening was also a great chance to celebrate our first tranche of Road to Success graduates. Working full-time and studying for industry qualifications takes serious dedication, and we are really proud of the following graduates who progressed to their class-5 licence over the past year while training on the job:

Nadine Rowan-Thomson, KAM Transport

Sheryl McGlashan, Brenics Ltd

Hayden Cockburn, Road Transport Logistics

Mark Closel, NZ Express Transport.