Volvo among the vines

In April 2023, Top Truck7 MinutesBy Craig McCauleyMay 13, 2023

Broadbridge Transport needs no introduction to New Zealand Trucking magazine readers. The company, known for its unmistakable red and grey livery, has chalked up more than 75 years of servicing rural Marlborough. To acknowledge this milestone, Volvo Trucks’ top- of-the-line model – an FH16 750 Globetrotter – has joined the fleet.

In 1946, Cyril Broadbridge was granted a transport service licence and started carrier operations from his family farm at Hillersden, about 40km west of the company’s current depot in Renwick. In the early years, work was largely about servicing the rural community, with livestock, fertiliser, wool and hay common cargo on Cyril’s trucks.

He and his wife Hazel had seven children and the second generation of Broadbridges grew the business through the 1980s and 1990s from servicing farmers’ needs to log transport and waste disposal.

After consolidation during the 2000s, Broadbridge Transport today has a livestock focus, running four Volvos – the FH16 750, an FH16 700, an FH540 and an FM480 – while a Nissan Diesel PK245 is used for small jobs.

Marlborough’s landscape has changed dramatically since Cyril’s era, and land once home to thousands of sheep and cattle or acres of cereal crops is now home to grapes.

It is New Zealand’s largest wine region, accounting for 70% of the country’s wine production and more than 23,000 hectares of vines.

Following harvest, many vineyards graze sheep as an income source and to manage vegetation growth. This provides plenty of work for carriers bringing store stock in and transporting prime stock to meat-processing plants, extending the livestock season almost year-round.

Blenheim is home to a beef- processing plant. But sheep must go either to Nelson, or down the Kaikoura Coast to plants at Ashburton, Timaru or Oamaru.

1) The Volvo has a nice pictorial tribute to Broadbridge’s first two-deck cattle unit.
2) Josh Truscott has spent a decade carting livestock for Broadbridges.

Like much of the upper South Island, every route in Marlborough involves a hill, which ensures the 575kW (750hp) produced by the Volvo’s big D16C power plant are well-utilised.

Josh Truscott drives the Globetrotter and is responsible for its immaculate appearance. He has chalked up 10 years behind the wheel with Broadbridges and follows the footsteps of his father, Martin, who worked for the company for 14 years.

Josh recalls spending hours in the passenger seat alongside his dad, initially in an International T-Line and, after that, in the company’s first Volvo FH12, which joined the fleet in 1994.

Josh resisted the urge to go driving straight out of school, instead spending time working ‘on the spanners’ at a local heavy-diesel workshop.

He recalls: “I just wanted to drive a truck, but the old man told me you need to go and do a bit of time doing something else.”

3) Adam and son Jake are third- and fourth-generation members of the Broadbridge family.
Delta Stock Crates are fitted to the Jackson Enterprises deck and trailer.

Powell Contracting at Renwick provided him his first opportunity behind the wheel of a Nissan Diesel CW380 and four-axle trailer carting gravel. The chance to join Broadbridges came in 2003, with a Nissan Diesel CG450 his initial mount, giving way to this first Volvo, an FH 540, which was replaced by the FH16 700 and now the FH16 750.

Jackson Enterprises built the 25ft (7.6m) truck deck and 36ft (11m) trailer. Josh and Adam Broadbridge both compliment the Jackson product, saying you “can’t fault the craftmanship”.

Delta Stockcrates built the two-deck cattle/four-deck sheep crates. “All the truck crates on our frontline units are full four-deckers, which allows for plenty of room to spread the stock out,” says Adam.

With access to state highways and the local council road network around Marlborough, Broadbridges can make good use of a 54-tonne HPMV permit on the combination.

Central Tyre Inflation (CTI) has made big inroads into the livestock transport industry over the past decade. Josh was initially sceptical when fitting CTI to the Volvo was mentioned. But now, having experienced it, he’s a convert.

Bigfoot is great. “Unreal service, unreal people supporting it, and the installation job is perfect,” he says.

In 1990, the first new Volvo, an F12FR, was purchased, and 20 have joined the fleet over the ensuing three decades. Adam believes the driver comfort offered by the Swedish marque saw the company go the Volvo way initially, and “we haven’t looked back”.

Broadbridge rates the Volvo product highly, and Adam mentions the great relationship with Volvo Trucks South Island account manager Ben Gray. “He has gone above and beyond with the trucks we’ve bought,” Adams says.

Part of a fleet that is heading toward its eighth decade of service to the local rural community while still in the hands of the founder’s family, combined with long-standing supplier relationships and immaculate presentation, makes the Broadbridge Transport Volvo FH16 750 the well-earned winner of New Zealand Trucking magazine’s Top Truck for April 2023.