The SA voice

A look at the man be­hind the pub­lic per­sona of the EO of SA Road Trans­port

Big Rigs - - INDUSTRY PROFILE - Sean Whit­ting­ton

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

PHOTO: CON­TRIB­UTED

COM­MIT­TED: Steve Shearer in his role with South Australian Road Trans­port As­so­ci­a­tion.

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