Women in transport – Persistence pays off

6 MinutesBy NZ Trucking magazineJuly 6, 2017

Sindy and the K100G, her best…second-best mate.

Despite having a love of driving stemming from as far back as she can remember, Sindy Nutting found it difficult to get a start in the industry.

One of Sindy‘s earliest memories is of sitting on her father‘s lap, steering his 1958 International AS120 4×4 around a paddock on the family property at Foxhill, south of Nelson.

After completing her education and obtaining a Class 4 licence, Sindy set out to secure a truck driving position in the Nelson/Tasman area, but was constantly turned away by prospective employers, who at the time, cited her lack of experience.

Persistence and determination paid off when Brian Roebuck at Motueka Gravels Ltd took her on to assist in his operation. Sindy began driving a Hino 4×2 and small trailer delivering firewood to residential properties, which she acknowledges was a great learning ground when it came to building her vehicle manoeuvring skills.

Sindy‘s pride and joy. The Kenworth she drives for Bryan Austin.

Other duties included mastering the 13-speed Roadranger in Brian‘s Mitsubishi Shogun 6×4, while delivering aggregate to customer sites. Once in possession of a Class 5 licence, Sindy began hauling raw material from a pit on the Motueka River West Bank to their processing site.

Brian remarked Sindy was one of the best pupils he had taught and “was better at the job than a lot of the boys”. Unfortunately, after just a year Motueka Gravels downsized, leaving Sindy without a job. With one door closing, another one opened when she was introduced to her brother‘s long-time friend Bryan Austin.

Bryan and partner Lisa operate Austin Transport Services Ltd in Nelson. She started work at Austin‘s driving an Isuzu CXZ, carting anything from rock to hot asphalt on forestry, roading and subdivision projects throughout the region.

Bryan said he employed Sindy because he could see she was a natural driver and was easy on the gear.

“She was an easy person to teach because of her passion for the industry. She would be an asset to our company.”

A promotion from the Isuzu to a Mitsubishi FV430 Shogun involved more trailer work than she had previously experienced and allowed Sindy to further build on her skill base.

In 2014, Sindy, a self-confessed Kenworth lover, was stoked to take the wheel of Austin‘s Number 2, a 445hp C12 Caterpillar powered K100G. The truck usually operates as a rigid tipper and 4-axle trailer but can easily be converted to a tractor unit should the workload dictate.

At the wheel. The difference between 
a dream and reality is action and persistence.

One of the more memorable moments of her driving career happened while part of a 10-truck operation delivering fertiliser to a property in the Marlborough Sounds, which involved a barge trip between French Pass and D‘Urville Island.

Ten minutes into the journey between the barge and hill top fertiliser bin, low range in the Kenworth‘s transmission failed, resulting in Sindy having to be towed some considerable distance by another truck. A lack of visibility due to dust being kicked up by the towing vehicle made for a character-building experience, she recalls.

Sindy has taken the opportunity to experience other facets of the transport industry during her seven years with Austin‘s, however the bulk cartage has become her definite favourite.

A spin-off of the bulk work thoroughly enjoyed by Sindy is the opportunity to put her wheels tracks and rollers (WTR) licence endorsement to regular use, loading the Kenworth using a variety of wheel loaders and excavators.

Sindy is also able to put her Wheels Tracks Rollers licence to good use on the job.

Out of work, Sindy has a diverse range of interests, including dirt bike riding, fashion, walking, and especially spending time with partner Todd, and dog, Chai.

Sindy is looking forward to many more years in the industry – now as an experienced driver she has the security of understanding the challenging range of situations she may encounter in any one day, and the skills and knowledge to address these. Her perseverance and persistence in pursuing her dream of becoming a truck driver, a dream that started as a girl on her Dad‘s lap in the old Inter all those years ago, has definitely paid off.