The next part of the story

“Ha! He thinks he’s going to retire and I’m going to pay him to drive a campervan around America!” laughs Matt James. “I could pay him four million dollars to retire, and he’d turn up again the next afternoon. This place is him.

“But that’s good, that’s okay you know, I need him … he’s got so much knowledge.”

Thirty-six-year-old Matt is the eldest of two sons who both work in the family business their parents started in 2005. Taylor, 29, is New Zealand’s No.2 drift car driver in the D1NZ National Drifting Championship (‘2-NZ’ as it’s referred in sliding circles) with goals and aspirations one would quite rightly have with that level of talent.

“T’s on a different path; his focus is always the car, and he itches to get back to it. I’m a truck person. I love the business, what we do, and love the trucks. Don’t get me wrong, he does too. He’s just in a different place at the moment. I love putting what the business provides back into the gear – as you can see.”

Taylor secure another Sany.

Born in Auckland, schooled in Puriri near Thames and Tokoroa, Matt’s official – outside the family – introduction to trucking came in the form of 100-tonne payloads in the Pureora Forest off-highway when working his first job for JB Logging.

“It was pretty cool, I was 17 carting to the super-skid.”

Still with JB Logging, from there he took a 6×6 Scania to the Hawke’s Bay forests for a spell.

Like his dad, his first gig in on-highway truck driving came in the famous colours of T Doidge under Digby Cameron, before a couple of years with one of Tokoroa’s other famous transport sons, Alan Forbes.

Like so many in his generation, Matt’s grown up in a busy economy with historic low unemployment. That’s allowed him the opportunity to explore the options available and gain broad experience in whatever spins his tyres.

Linehaul freight for local Tokoroa company Fletcher Transport and Waihi’s John and Irene Lockley, even a stint for John Kelly’s HHA in Australia, appear in the Matt James life book – the latter described as interesting, eye-opening and short-lived.

Home from Australia towards the end of the century’s first decade, Matt went shares with his dad in an ex-demonstrator Cat CT630 bulk tip unit for about two-and-a-half years. Readers will remember it in striking yellow and black Cat livery.

“I love bulk work. It’s great, but the big players trim it up so much you can’t make anything out of it. We had the truck for three years and sold it on to Ray Lincoln.”

From there it was a stint with Pollock Cranes in Mt Maunganui before working for the late Ronald ‘Huck’ McCready, first at Partridge’s Rotorua in an operations role prior to taking the wheel in the ex-Land Tech Scania, also owned by Huck, and then on to the Rowe Motors Western Star, out of Mt Maunganui.

The General in its latest role – D1NZ drift car transporter for Taylor.

He then made the move home to the family business, where he’s well settled with eyes on the future.

“Yep, I’ve got plans for the future. Dad’s comfortable in the forest and I want to get into a bit more work outside that environment, just to spread the risk a little. That’s part of the reason for this,” he says, pointing to the Scania.”

Then he trots out a bolshy Matt James classic!

“There’ll be many judges, many characters, and plenty with a lot to say, but at the end of the day, they’re leaving someone else alone if they’re talking about me.

“It’s just a next-generation thing, ideas and that. Dad can be quite set in his ways and we won’t and don’t agree on everything, but we get on and it’s great he’s here, still so passionate and active in the business, and letting me have some responsibility to make decisions. Like I said, there’s so much knowledge with him and we’re writing the next part of the story.”