Rock hammer

In March 2024, Top Truck7 MinutesBy Carl KirkbeckApril 29, 2024

When your aggregate handling operation requires transport to achieve its goals, you need your trucks to be more than just trucks. They are your mobile billboards, calling cards and maybe even the first points of contact with clients, so a good and lasting impression counts.

With its deep maroon base colour and dynamic red and silver stripes and graphics, the Rock and Rubble fleet is always easy to identify as it travels the North Island. The fleet consists of a wide array of marques, from Fuso to Kenworth – it’s a colourful line-up, for sure. But while presentation is always on point, on close inspection, you discover the intent behind the diverse collection is carefully considered.

Rock and Rubble manager Mark Geor explains: “Our core business are the yards, supplying aggregate, as well as providing clean-fill disposal solutions. This consists of aggregate recycling as well as mobile on-site crushing and screening. So, yes, for us, the trucks are a necessary cog in our operation.

Tied up in knots? No, just another day at the office for a Kiwi bulk tipper driver.

“Our Onehunga and Avondale yards both opened in early 2016, with Silverdale and Tauranga coming online in 2020 during the pandemic. We quickly realised that to move forward and service our customers correctly, we needed the trucks. In 2019, the initial three units came online for us – a Scania and a pair of Kenworths. Initially, we were contracting out all transportation needs and resisted purchasing our own trucks. However, due to the rapidly increasing scale of the operation as we began the distribution of our own virgin aggregate products and running two clean-fill sites, it became a necessary evil to establish our own fleet.

“This enabled us to maintain the service levels we wanted to deliver to our clients, a win-win for everyone, really. About 30% of the units are company-owned by Rock and Rubble, with the remainder being owner-drivers,” says Mark.

Pride of place within the striking Rock and Rubble fleet is our March 2024 New Zealand Trucking magazine Top Truck. The big 2022 Volvo FH16 750 nine-axle combination is one of the company-owned rigs and is piloted by Jamie Southey of Auckland.

The 750 kicking up the dust as it passes by transport solutions from a bygone era.

As we walk around the Volvo, Jamie is quick to bestow praise on his mount. “Yeah, it is an incredible machine, all right. You do a 14-hour shift in this, and you seriously get out with no fatigue. You could jump back in and do it all again.”

The setup is visually well-balanced, with a Transfleet alloy body and matching five-axle trailer. The Volvo was built to last, with a double-skin chassis fitted. Naturally, this adds a level of rigidity, hence the fitment of Bigfoot CTI to assist with agility and traction. SI Lodec scales help keep the loading on the correct side of the law, and Hendrickson trailer axles running Tiremaax inflation control keep things stable underfoot. As for the Volvo’s standout signwriting and graphics – this was the work of the team at Caulfield Signs and Graphics, Rotorua.

The at-work location for the poster shoot was the Mercer clean-fill site. This, located beside the Mainline Heritage Trusts under- construction museum, proved to be the perfect connection to Jamie’s previous employment.

“I started out with 10 years in mobile-truck tyre servicing. This naturally triggered my interest in trucks. So I asked a customer, Warren Midgley, ‘How do I get to drive these big trucks?’ He said, ‘Get a class 5 license and give me a call.’ So I did just that, and once I had it, I found myself behind the wheel of his nine-axle International 9800i on linehaul.

Jamie Southey, in command of the big 750, with daughter Kayla taking the passenger’s seat as often as she can to learn the trade from Dad.
Jamie makes the tip-off process look effortless; the agility of the FH Volvo certainly assists with the task.

“I did this for two years, but it was not great for young family life. So I had to move on and got a job on the metro trains. I was the guy sitting in an office in the bottom of Britomart controlling the trains. I decided what ran and what didn’t,” laughs Jamie. “It was a great job, but I hated the shift work. My daughter Kayla was looking me eye to eye, and it dawned on me that I had missed virtually every weekend of her growing up.

“I was also missing trucking, so something had to change. Warren Midgley’s son Logan was working in the Rock and Rubble team and had kept in touch with me. When he found out I was after change, he offered me a job at Rock and Rubble, and the rest is history, as they say. It is awesome now – a great bunch to work with, a great truck to drive and what’s more, Kayla is now also involved. She loves the industry and is spending more and more time with me, sitting in the passenger’s seat learning the trade.

“It’s awesome. The team are supportive of her and are allowing her the opportunity. In fact, she spent the weekend with me washing the Volvo to get it ready for today.”

Prepping a nine-axle combination for a Top Truck poster shoot? Now that’s quality father-daughter time, if ever there was.