Perrins does it with presence

In Top Truck, May 20227 MinutesBy Craig AndrewsJune 14, 2022

It’s been 11 years since New Zealand Trucking caught up with the team at W E Perrin of Owaka. Looking down on the depot from Royal Terrace on the road to Pounawea, things look much the same as they did back in 2011. There is still an abundance of Isuzu trucks propping up the front row of the fleet, but the addition of a K200 Kenworth indicates that there is more out there when it comes to buying reliable trucks.

In 2011, we were introduced to Alistair, Billy and Blake Perrin and, again, not much has really changed. Alistair is still running the show. Billy is still driving – although he has stepped back from frontline livestock driving and is now driving the company’s latest Mercedes-Benz spreader. And Blake is still on frontline livestock cartage. But it’s what he’s now driving that has turned heads countrywide.

Things may look the same from the outside, but 50% of the W E Perrin fleet has been taken over by Wynyards Transport in Milton. The Wynyard influence saw the introduction of the first K200 into the Perrin fleet after running a couple of the K2 models in Wynyard colours.

Gary Wynyard believes that the Kenworth is a premium truck, and it didn’t take a lot of bending of Alistair’s arm to get one across the line for the Perrin fleet. Alistair admits to having had the blinkers on when it comes to buying trucks – and he has had a great run out of the Isuzu brand. Gary, though, is a fan of the component-build- style truck, and the Wynyard fleet is a mix of Kenworth, Freightliner and Western Star, with Mercedes-Benz making up the spreader fleet.

Owaka is a tourist’s paradise.

Blake Perrin was given the keys to the new K200 in February 2021. Blake is your typical dyed-in-the- wool rural truck operator. He has been in the game now for 17 years as a driver, but he’s been interested in the industry since he first laid eyes on a truck. Driving is all he ever wanted to do – he was that quintessential Kiwi kid who spent his days with his dad in his truck whenever he could. He has grown up in the sector. We guess it is up to him if he considers he has reached his industry pinnacle – but he can’t be far off, operating one of the country’s smarter examples of the popular K200.

Life has been busy for Blake since our last visit. He married his partner, Nadine, and they have had a couple of children – William and Lucy – plus bought a house. Both William and Lucy love the “big Kenny”.

Operating trucks for Blake kicked off after he left the Catlins Area High School at 16. He drove a “little car licence truck” for McLellan Freight in Balclutha and progressed to Scania doing freight between Balclutha and Dunedin. He then moved onto Geoff Wilson Ltd, also in Balclutha, driving a Mack Quantum on timber cartage. He never strayed too far from the South Otago area, and his next move was to local stalwart Clutha Valley Transport, again on a Mack Quantum. This is where he learnt the livestock-cartage game. The Quantum was a swap-body unit, so it came with variety. At 21, he headed home to Owaka after a full-on five years.

His first truck was a 400hp Isuzu and then a 450hp unit. In 2014, he got his first-ever new truck – a 530hp Isuzu, which is also a standout unit of its brand. And now the new K200 Kenworth.

Owaka: The sign says it all.

The K2 runs the 447kW (600hp) X-15 Cummins and is bolted to its good mate, the 18-speed Roadranger. The trailer is a Roadmaster unit, and the stock crates are Delta. Gary says: “It’s all very good standard gear, and with Wynyards having its own workshop, keeping things standard all helps with efficiency.”

A very good operator with a premium truck and quality trailer and crates, Blake gets to point this combination at some of the most scenic countryside in New Zealand. There are many bridges and gravel roads, so it is a challenging neck of the woods to hone your skills, with the ever-present tourists adding to the complexity. Most of the truck’s work is South Island-focused, but the K2 makes the odd North Island trip, so the sleeper is not just for looks. Yes, it helps with the overall cool factor, but it does get used for sleep.

The overall cool look is helped with the great paint work of Terry Soper and the team at Custom Signs in Dunedin. The truck is popular all round; the operator and its owners rate it highly.

Alistair and Gary have each driven it on several occasions, carting stock north on nightshift work. It has loads of everything – power, comfort and space, not to mention that presence on the road.

Blake Perrin: a top operator with a top truck in a top part of the country.