Orini Origins

In Mercedes-Benz, Kenworth, Features, Top Truck, October 202113 MinutesBy Carl KirkbeckNovember 13, 2021

When flicking through early copies of New Zealand Trucking magazine, you tend to hover over pages with photos of rigs from days gone, sporting fleet colours that have long since evaporated. Thank goodness then for those in the industry that celebrate their origins, and the continuing journey.

When Dave and Colleen Matich of Ngaruawahia decided to give their company TSMS (Transport Solutions & Management Services 2014) an identity, different from the dozens of white-on-white rental fleet rigs plying the highways, Dave returned to the past. For inspiration, he looked back on the many photos taken during his already extensive driving career, particularly the time he spent at Senton Sawmills based in Orini in the Waikato, 15 or so kilometres northeast of Taupiri.

Dave’s first mount at Senton’s, an R-model Mack on logs, had just rolled out of the paint shop with its fresh coat of green, bronze and brown when he was handed the keys. “It was a smartlooking colour combination on the R-model, and it really looked good on the cabovers as well,” said Dave.

Remembering the fleet well ourselves, we definitely concur.

The business end of the flight deck on the K200. The Fat-Cab interior is an easy home-away-from-home for the week, especially with meals cooked by Colleen reheated in the onboard microwave oven.

This month’s Top Truck is the pride of Dave and Colleen’s fleet, and carries the Senton Sawmills colours in striking fashion. ‘Orini Origin’ is a 2020 8×4 Kenworth K200, 2.8m Aerodyne Fat Cab with matching Roadmaster fiveaxle trailer.

The last truck Dave drove for Senton’s was an 8×4 Cruiseliner and, looking at photos of that truck, you quickly see the inspiration for the layout on the K2. The attention to detail and application is a credit to Darryn and his team at Caulfield Signs & Graphics.

The big K200 certainly has the right pedigree to also get the task done, running a Cummins X-15 set at 458kW (615hp) and 2779Nm (2050lb/ft), driving through an Eaton Roadranger RTLO22918B 18-speed manual transmission, down to a set of Meritor RT46-160GP axles with full inter-axle and dual cross locks riding on an AirGlide 460 suspension. Up front is Meritor again, with a set of 9” offset Alcoa Dura- Bright rims.

Inside the cab, all the boxes are ticked with double bunks, microwave oven, dual fridges, a factory table, and full storage option. Other features include extra roof-top bullet lights, FUPS bumper, LED headlights and extensive work by the teams at Southpac’s new truck prep division and Malcolm Cab Solutions. The crisp bodies and trailing gear from the good folk at Roadmaster are fitted with Tauranga Canvas matching curtains.

                                                                                  Dave crosses the Ohinewai overbridge.

It is easy to look at a rig like this and fail to appreciate the mahi that’s gone on behind the scenes. It is only when talking with Dave and Colleen that you begin to understand the journey. Dave’s driving career started after deciding that share-milking was not the future he dreamt of. Fronting up at Bruce and Pat MacDonald’s Te Akau Ngaruawahia Transport was the first step, and after a chat with then-manager Stafford Magee, Dave found himself sitting his truck and trailer licence in one go.

“The first truck I drove there was an old ‘Butter Box’ International that had a 392-cubic-inch V8 petrol in it,” says Dave. “That wasn’t a problem because petrol was only 48 cents a gallon (approximately 13 cents per litre). In fact, petrol was cheaper than diesel back then. Then there was an old Leyland Boxer that I drove there for a bit with a 135hp Perkins diesel. It never used to get into top gear unless I was coming down the Bombay Hill, and because you were on the old road back then (Great South Road), by the time I got to the Ramarama bridge, I’d have to take it back out of top again. Pulling the 24-foot tandem-axle trailer it had meant it would take 2.5 hours to get from Ngaruawahia to Auckland. You would think you were the king of the road because we got trailer money which was about another 50 cents an hour on top of our normal rate, but if you got a flat you fixed it yourself. If you wore out a brake, you relined it yourself, and if you stuffed a motor you had to rebuild it. We had to do everything, even learn how to weld so we could repair our own decks and crates.”

                  Continuing the celebration of an age gone by with retro bug, round tanks and black and white mudflaps throughout.

As he drove past Litt Transport of Taupiri on a Saturday morning, Dave noticed a brand new LK111 Scania parked up in the middle of the yard. He drove in and knocked on Barry Litt’s door to see about a job. Barry, knowing Dave’s dad, told him he could start on Monday.

“So that led to about 15 years with Litts,” says Dave. “One of the trucks I had was a brand new cabover Western-Star with a 500hp Detroit in it. I was in at Transmission & Diesel for its first service and there was a chap there from Detroit in the States. He told the boys to give him the computer off the side of the engine and then looked at me and said, ‘how much horsepower do you want?’ He plugged it into his laptop and when he had finished with it, the engine was pushing 600hp and around 2000lb/ft of torque. She went real well after that.”

From there, it was a stint with Warren and Mary Hughes at Whitikahu Transport in a 375hp FR Mack on stock work. This led to meeting the late John Rhind, who was transport manager for Senton Sawmills. A job offer was extended and Dave was into it.

“My first truck there was the R-model Mack on logs. Then into a brand new 440hp Mitsi, and after that, I took over the Cruise-Liner. I suppose I was there about four or five years, and it’s all of these trucks that I have used ideas from for our fleet colours and stripes,” says Dave.

                                         Like grandfather like grandson: Dave Matich with grandson and sidekick Max Brighouse.

With the unfortunate closure of Senton’s, Dave went back to Litt Transport for another eight years, and then it was a move to Te Kauwhata Transport and a 15-year term working for Robbie Pasley. This shift entailed a move into the office to drive a desk, which morphed into running the operation.

“Robbie was a very good and generous boss to work for, and I really enjoyed my time there,” says Dave.

Around the time that Freightlines purchased the business, Dave decided to move on and did a stint of contract consultant work for AS Wilcox & Sons, out of Pukekohe.

“They were a great company to work with, fantastic and a real friendly atmosphere, and it was Kevin Wilcox who gave me the nudge and said that I should be going out on my own, so with some very generous help from Kevin, we stepped out and started up our company, TSMS.

          New truck, new company: Dave and Colleen ventured out on their own in 2014 in this sharp-looking nine-axle Mercedes-Benz 3260 V8 Actros and Roadmaster combination. Photo: Matich collection.

“We were suddenly looking for a truck and there was a brand-new Mercedes-Benz 3260 V8 Actros 8×4 complete with new Roadmaster fiveaxle trailer and curtain-sider bodies sitting at Trucks and Trailers in Wiri. I called the sales rep Damon Smith, and he put us in touch with Daimler Finance’s Dino Pavlovich. Dino was magic with getting us set up and underway, and now we always go back to him whenever we are putting another truck on the road. He knows what we need, and he makes it happen. It is these relationships that keep our fleet moving, even the team at Bridgestone Tyres in Huntly go above and beyond looking after us. It all adds up.”

Seven or so years on, the business has built a great customer base. Keeping the TSMS team busy has also become a family affair, with both daughters, Theresa and Amy, employed in the business, as well as 15-yearold grandson Max Brighouse stepping in as Dave’s No.1 sidekick/apprentice.

“They are all important parts of the business now, and we really could not do what we do without them, but don’t tell them I said that,” Dave says with a laugh.

A handful of Dave’s drives over the years: 8V71 Scammell Crusader at Te Akau Ngaruawahia Transport; LK111 Scania at Litt Transport; FR Mack at Whitikahu Transport; V8 Mitsubishi; and Mack Cruiseliner at Senton Sawmills. Photo: Matich collection.

When you look over Dave’s journey in the transport industry, it is clear to see how the old-guard approach to doing business is a mantra that both he and Colleen hold front and centre of their own ethos.

“Today’s generation wants the flashiest Kenworth straight away but never want to wash it or maintain it. They want $2000 a week and be home every night to see Shortland Street. They don’t understand what it takes to put a truck like this down the road. That’s why our grandson Max spends his weekends here with us. He helps wash the trucks, and he helps me do the greasing. We are teaching Max the ropes early in life so that he understands the commitment,” says Dave.

It reiterates the importance of a solid grounding and the belief that to have any idea of your future destination, you need to have a solid respect for your origins.