Ryan Jess

In Just Truckn Around, March 20224 MinutesBy NZ Trucking magazineMarch 30, 2022

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Giving his new Hino a tidy-up on a Sunday afternoon was Dunedin-based Ryan Jess. Writer Craig Andrews enjoys a glass-half-full-type of bloke, so a good yarn was assured.

Ryan hails from Renfrew near Glasgow in Scotland and happily made Dunedin home after moving here in 2004 when he was just a shade over 16 years old.

Dunedin wasn’t the first port of call in his transport career, though; Gisborne was where it kicked off, where he gained his HT in a mighty Mazda Titan with Kingsbeer Transport. He started his driving career – first on a courier van and then onto the Titan. Staying in Gisborne, he moved onto McCafferty Metal Cartage, obtaining his class 4 and 5. He’s full of praise for these guys – they taught him plenty when he got into the big gear.

From there, he made the big leap to Dunedin in 2014 and took up a position with TNL, driving a Western Star pulling freight between Dunedin and Christchurch and then floating throughout the country. After time on a swinglift at TNL, he joined the team at Icon in Dunedin, driving a Nissan and then a DAF on swinglift duties around the city. This wasn’t easy work, but he was guided nicely by the team at Icon. It’s a company he also holds in high regard – especially after a major life event. He was on his way to work one frosty morning when he lost control of his motorbike on the ice on Dunedin’s notorious Serpentine Avenue. (Not much sunlight gets in there during winter.) The accident resulted in serious spinal injuries, among other things, but he was very well supported by his boss, Tony Gare, and the Icon team during his recovery. He can’t thank them enough and thinks highly of Tony.

But after three years with Icon, the pull to get out of metro work and the chance to see some of the southern countryside saw him go to McEwan’s and onto a brand-new FS700 Hino. Ryan is currently chasing the Downer sealing boys around the south, supplying chip and pulling sealing-related plant about. And again, he’s grateful for the opportunity that Nick McEwan has given him.

Ryan likes to spend his spare time riding his mountain bike, tinkering with cars, attending track days, and trying to make something that resembles music with his guitars. He’s a big fan of the camaraderie between drivers in New Zealand and the variety of trucks here. However, he doesn’t enjoy the way the industry is portrayed in the media and the amount of surveillance drivers are placed under today.

One more acknowledgement from Ryan – and that goes to the late Bruce Turnbull for his mentoring, advice, much-needed arse-kicking and beer shouts right up until the end. Ryan worked with Bruce at TNL, where they became good mates. “RIP fella,” he concludes. Ryan’s vexing question was: run or swim? Neither for him. He’d rather be on his mountain bike.