The SA voice
A look at the man behind the public persona of the EO of SA Road Transport
FOR a scientist with an biology bent who went on to work in counter-terrorism in the nation’s capital, Steve Shearer has somehow ended up carving out a no-nonsense reputation in the uncompromising national trucking industry.
For more than two decades, Steve has been renowned for calling it as he sees it – always has, and always will.
As executive officer of the South Australian Road Transport Association (SARTA), the former shoe salesman has developed a reputation for going into battle for the small independent trucking operators against the might of the big end of town.
It’s has been the classic David and Goliath battle, built on the back of hard work, dogged determination and an unwavering desire to protect the small business owners/operators in a notoriously tough industry.
Steve’s steely determination and commitment was literally carved out more than 30 years ago while cutting his teeth in the working world.
Commencing work as a shoe salesman, stretched for cash and having recently moved out of home into a tiny flat, Steve stumbled on some old timber sleepers dumped in a nearby empty block.
With the help of a mate – the same mate who would years later tap him on the shoulder for the SARTA job – he transported a timber sleeper home.
“I didn’t have anything in that flat. I used to go to the local fast food outlet and steal their plastic knives and forks,” Steve said.
“I earned $38 a week and rent was $21 – fair to say I wasn’t home most times the landlord visited,” he said.
“Anyway, I saw these sleepers and thought ‘I haven’t got a coffee table at home – I can make one with one of these sleepers’.
“I had nothing to cut it with except a single-bladed hacksaw blade.
“So for the next three weeks straight, every night after work I sawed this sleeper with the blade.
“I was just determined to get it down... I do know when something’s a lost cause, but the blade was working its way through the sleeper... so that wasn’t a lost cause.
“I’ve never been afraid to put in the hard yards or the long haul if there is a successful outcome.
“It’s the philosophy I had then and it’s the same philosophy I’ve used in my 20-odd years at SARTA – and boy, have some fights needed determination.”
It’s fair to say Steve, 62, didn’t have what you’d call a conventional start to a working life in the trucking industry.
After leaving school, he joined Coca-Cola in Adelaide as a clerk.
His boss quickly recognised his intellect and encouraged him to go to university to study accounting – which he did for about a month before realising “numbers” weren’t for him.
Quitting before being found out, Steve’s next job was as a sales assistant in a shoe store – quickly climbing the ranks to store manager.
Fast forward a few years
COMMITTED: Steve Shearer in his role with South Australian Road Transport Association.