The image we protray

In March 2024, Gavin Myers5 MinutesBy Gavin MyersMarch 7, 2024

Truck show season 2024 is in full swing, and we highlight a couple of the early shows in this issue. It’s been a great month to get together, and thankfully, there’s still more to come before winter puts a damper on things. No doubt, the highlight of highlights for many will be our report on Southpac Trucks’ KW100 event, held in celebration of Kenworth’s centenary during 2023.

As I wrote in the EDM editorial during the week of the show, there is no shortage of famous marques that rightfully hold their place in the trucking annals of New Zealand. For many, Kenworth is at the top of that list. The overwhelming response to the KW100 event – the enthusiasm for it from the youngest truck-crazed kid and the punter who proudly boasts a tattoo of the Bug, to some of the greatest names behind some of the most famous liveries we see every day – proves one thing beyond doubt: This is a brand that means so much to so many, one that has ignited passion and endeavour, advanced lives and livelihoods, built legacies and nations.

One could see and feel this there – not only among the truckies who’d spent hours proudly polishing their pride and joy, or from the industry names who understood the importance of the milestone, but also from the public who braved the schizophrenic weather to share in the festivities and get up close to some cool trucks.

I’ve said it before: truck shows are a significant form of good PR for our industry – regardless of whether it’s a massive once-in-100-year celebration of a single brand or one of the many local shows that attract a comparative handful of trucks.

They’re a way for industry to engage with the public, to show the value of these machines to their lives; that they’re driven by real, passionate, hard-working people. You can’t help but feel good about that. It’s something the industry does well.

This is why I was really disappointed over the past few weeks by some social media posts doing the rounds, and the comments on them by members of this very industry.

One I’d like to reference particularly was posted on a regional roading issues group, with a picture of a log truck asking if it were loaded correctly and commenting that it appeared “pretty unsafe”. That was all, no other remarks or slights on the driver or the industry. It was a reasonable, legitimate question, especially if made by someone who has no familiarity with the industry or loading and transporting logs.

Of the 49 comments on the post (at which point, the moderator disabled comments), six gave a straightforward, respectful answer. Most of the rest were rude, sarcastic, stroppy, insulting or some combination of these.

It’s not the first time I’ve written about the pros and cons of social media and how we choose to use it, nor is it often I feel the need, or that it is my place, to act like Dad in these editorials … but, really, there is no need for any of that. Instead of offering an answer to the question or taking the opportunity to educate people about the art of loading and restraining logs, most commentors chose to put down the person and, in doing so, portray the wrong image of the industry and its people.

What we say and do, and how we say and do it, says a lot about us – regardless of whether we’re behind the keyboard or face to face. Digital platforms are as much a space for public interation as a truck show or having a yarn with someone while getting a coffee at the side of the road.

It doesn’t matter what you drive, who you drive for, where you are, or who you’re talking to; the industry’s image, reputation and importance are bigger than any one of us. Besides, it costs nothing to be nice.

Dad rant over. Enjoy the month, and get out to some truck shows.