Thirty-five not out

Wednesday, April 22, 2020

Clocking up thirty-five years in the current business climate is no mean feat. For Stuart Drummond Transport Ltd, putting a pair of Kenworth K200 logging trucks on the road is the perfect way to recognise this milestone.

Photo: On the road, the two Stuart Drummond Transport Kenworths are an impressive sight.

From small beginnings as an owner-operator with a 1974 Kenworth W924R hauling general freight from anywhere to anywhere in New Zealand, Stuart Drummond Transport Limited has morphed into one of the most well-recognised names in the South Island log cartage game. After deciding that traversing the country with no consistent flow of work wasn’t for him, Stuart returned home to Nelson, where the truck was converted from a tractor unit to a logger. The change of focus proved fruitful, the W model soon gave way to a second-hand Detroit Diesel-powered Kenworth K143CR, and in 1988 Stuart was able to purchase his first new Kenworth, an 8x4 K100E. As the amount of wood maturing in the upper South Island increased during the 90s, the fledgling business expanded to meet the need for transport, and in the process, turned from a single truck entity into a small fleet operator. Youngest son Brodie entered the business in 2007 initially as a driver, then a despatcher, before taking on the management role when Stuart stepped back in late 2013.

Photo: The 25th anniversary K200s join 11 other Kenworths in the 45-strong Drummond fleet.

Truck numbers have continued to increase as trees planted during a government-backed forestry incentive scheme in the late 1980s have come on-stream during the past half-decade. Today, 45 rigs are adorned in the green and gold Stuart Drummond Transport Limited livery, operating from bases in Richmond, Marlborough and on the West Coast. In 2019 the combined fleet carried 882,700 tonnes of wood and travelled a staggering 4,229,214km in the process. As the business’s 35th anniversary approached, Brodie felt it couldn’t pass without some form of recognition so the notion of a couple of commemorative trucks was born. “It’s a bit of a milestone – 35 years is a long time in business, and it’s the chance to reward a couple of good staff as well,” he says.

Photo: Drivers Kerry Pickering (left) and Peter McRae (right) enjoy their new rigs.

Kenworth was chosen for a number of reasons: Brodie says there’re good loggers, the K200 has the ability to handle every cut of wood they haul, and from an emotive point, company founder Stuart has a massive amount of admiration for the brand. Brodie and Southpac Trucks’ Chris Gray specced an identical pair of K200s. Cummins X15 engines producing 458kW (615hp) and 2779Nm (2050lb) of torque sit under the wellappointed 1.7-metre day cabs upholstered in Kenworth’s distinctive oxblood interior. With the region’s mountainous terrain and longevity in mind, Eaton Fuller RTLO22918B transmissions and 4.56:1 ratio Meritor RT 46-160GP diffs were specified, along with Kenworth’s Air Glide 460 rear suspension. Both trucks were kitted out with an extensive number of embellishments, fabricated and supplied collaboratively between Southpac’s new truck customisation department and Chris Stanley of Custom Truck Chrome. The cab exterior of each truck is adorned with acres of polished stainless, including custom drop visors, mirror covers, multiple grille bars, mesh headlight covers, step in-fills and stainless trim on cab side skirts. A pair of identical Vortex stainless air intakes and cosmetic twin exhaust stacks ensure both trucks are a stand-out from whatever direction they are viewed from. Caulfield Signs of Rotorua painted the yellow stripes and added both signwriting and paint protection to each truck.

Photo: Business is about relationships; Kenworth and Patchell Industries are long-term partners in the Drummond operation.

Patchell Industries did the truck set-up and built 5-axle flat chassis billet trailers for both trucks. In keeping with the anniversary theme, additional lights and stainless panelling were built into the headboards and rear bumpers of both. Brodie explains the operation runs almost exclusively Patchell gear, saying they “exceed every time, build good gear, it costs a little bit more, but it’s worth it in the long run and it lasts”. A proportion of log transport in the upper South Island takes place around the clock and many of Drummond’s crew have undergone training, allowing them to operate the forestry crews’ loaders.

Photo: Stainless headboard panelling and lights are the handywork of Patchell’s.

To aid this, SI Lodec scales fitted with the BlueRITS module are fitted to both trucks. This allows data from the onboard scales to be transferred via Bluetooth to a mobile device in the loader, meaning the truck driver doesn’t need to get off the machine to check their weights. Number 320 operates on a double-shift basis under Nelson Forests Ltd dispatch, moving logs from any of their 80,000ha of forest in the Nelson, Tasman and Marlborough regions, predominantly on 58 tonne HMPV routes. Kerry Pickering mans the helm on the day shift, while Leighlan Satherley looks after nights. Peter McRae single-shifts Number 336 under Drummond’s dispatch, usually working between forests on the West Coast and mills or the export wharf at Nelson. These trucks will further heighten Stuart Drummond Transport’s presence on the region’s roads for some time to come. Roll on the next 35 years.

Photo: In spite of being adorned with expanses of shiny metalwork neither truck is a show-pony. Both trucks work among some of the South Island’s most demanding country.