The last person Simon Reid would consider a legend is Simon Reid. Yet that’s the way many in the industry see him. In November Simon won the ultimate plaudit, NZ’s Champion Truck Driver 2017 in the TR Group sponsored NZ Truck Driving Championship. We visit Simon’s Maungatapere base to meet a new champion with a long history championing the industry he loves.
We believe in
The Maungatapere-based company in Northland is not large, but despite that – or perhaps because of it – it has a huge reputation in the North for dependability, versatility, and...responsibility. The last requires explanation, so we will come back to that later. The boss is Simon Reid, something of a legend in the area.
Apart from 18 months selling insurance, he has been in trucking since leaving school, when
Photo 1: NZ Truck Driving Champion 2017; Photo 2: Simon and Jo Reid run a trucking company where a cultural fit among the staff is paramount
Simon comes from a farming family. He was born in Kaitaia but raised in the Northland village of Herekino, just west of Kaitaia. It
Photo: Log cartage is one of the mainstays of the Reid operation;
Moving to town at the age of 14 opened the door, literally, to trucks. Living just 200
The next shift was the important one. It got him to where really wanted to be – behind the wheel working as a driver for Kaitaia Transport. Then the wanderlust set
It was from here he got to cover a massive amount of the country. After two years roaming the country, the north was beckoning, and he did a nine-year stint with United Carriers in Whangarei – working mostly general freight and some fill-in on stock trucks. In 1990 he bought a 320 Mitsubishi off United and went into business on his own as an owner-driver handling general freight. By the end of ’94, a combination of factors saw him leave United and start S J Reid Ltd. The first of these factors was the Auckland traffic. To use his own term, Simon had
Photo: Simon and Jo’s association with the Mitsubishi product goes back many years and the marque still has a strong presence in the fleet.
That was in late 1994 and he says he would not want to endure it now. The second and more important factor was the burgeoning bark and sawdust cartage contracts in the north. Simon saw the opportunity and grabbed it. He got himself a secondhand Scania 6-wheeler tipper and trailer unit, and S J Reid was in the bark and sawdust business. It still is now, though these days, typically innovative and pragmatic, Simon owns the loads. He retails bark and
Even today, the company website boasts that S J Reid has trucks heading north and south daily and can handle all (your) bulk cartage needs. And when it comes to loads, ‘bulk cartage’ has a broad definition at S J Reid. It includes, as well as general freight,
Simon manages a small and
Jo explains, “We do get people walking in off
There is another youngster in the team who S J Reid gave ago – and within two weeks he gained his Class 2 full.In Simon’s view, the industry must do more off its
Be positive and take the lead on the problem.” Although Simon describes himself as the “lazy old bones” of the team, he still drives. When asked why, he says he loves getting behind the wheel, mainly on the tippers. “It gives me a chance to escape the desk,” he says. Jo adds that Simon’s driving prowess extends to entering driving competitions, though he always says that each would be the last.
“Got to have one more go,” Simon replies. That one more go resulted in something more substantial than even Simon could have imagined. It started on October 14 in Whangarei. A feature-packed day in which Simon not only competed in (and won) the Northland leg of the NZ Truck Driving Championship, he also helped instigate a parallel Show ‘n’ Shine that put on public display 104 rigs, and over five hours raised a whopping $13328 for the Northland Emergency Services Trust.* And then
The long-time champion for the trucking industry was also now its Champion. Which brings us to another side of this man and his passion for trucks – his interest in how the industry he is in is perceived by the public. The usually quietly spoken Simon becomes fiercely animated when he starts talking
“Yes, there are some silly buggers out there,” he says. “But the vast majority of the trucking companies and their drivers do outstanding work for this country. And if we have a problem with public
“What truck shows do, and why I got involved with this one, is they give the public the opportunity to know more about us, to have a close-up look at us. For kids to get behind the wheel of the biggest machine on the road. To see what we see. “Plus, the operators have some fairly sharp gear out there now, and it’s nice to have the shows to show them off on a weekend when they are clean. That’s quite cool. And the more that we do that, I reckon the more we can build a positive reputation for the industry.”
Simon will stop short of saying, and believing, he is a prime protector of that reputation. But it is clear that he takes his responsibilities to the industry seriously. Twice during the
“You know, it is just a little thing, just one log, and 99% of trucks going past here are fine. But there will be one, only one, who will put that extra log on the truck and muck it up for the rest of us with the authorities and particularly with the public.” Despite that, Simon returns to his main and most passionate subject – promoting the industry he is so fiercely proud of. He is not a lone voice in that respect, but with his involvement in truck shows, driving competitions – and particularly his recognition that public perception is important, makes him certainly one of the industry’s most active and passionate advocates.
Asked if that also makes him something of a legend, he just grins.
“No,” he says at last. “Just a passionate truckie, who is proud of our industry and doesn’t like it getting bad publicity. Same as most truckies, really.”