The Pied Piper of Aussie truck­ing

Teach­ing a gen­er­a­tion of truck­ies

Big Rigs - - CAREERS -

TRUCK­ING vet­eran War­ren Meiss­ner is some­what of the Pied Piper of the Aus­tralian truck­ing in­dus­try.

Dur­ing the past 20 years, it’s highly un­likely any­one has done more than him to at­tract young adults to the na­tional truck­ing scene.

Renowned for his heart of gold and his suc­cess­ful truck­ing busi­ness, War­ren has de­voted the past two decades of his life help­ing young peo­ple find a path­way into the sec­tor.

Dur­ing that time he has men­tored – some say to the detri­ment of his own busi­ness – more than 3000 young Aus­tralians, first through his trans­port com­pany, and more re­cently via his pri­vate train­ing or­gan­i­sa­tion in South Aus­tralia.

“It’s not al­ways about the money – it’s about giv­ing th­ese young peo­ple some­thing that makes them want to get out of bed ev­ery day and con­trib­ute to so­ci­ety,” said War­ren, who turns 60 next month.

“Money is im­por­tant and is handy but it’s not the be all and end all.

“It’s all about men­tor­ing the young ones. You need to build their con­fi­dence, be pa­tient with them to al­low them to prac­tice – and they will nat­u­rally get bet­ter and bet­ter – and then they start com­ing up with re­ally good ideas... and away you go.

“We fo­cus on good old­fash­ioned cus­tomer ser­vice... and the young­sters of to­day can re­late to that if you can get to them early.

“What we aim to do is try to in­spire them to be the very best they can.

“To get them to turn up ev­ery day with a smile on their face, get in­volved in some­thing they en­joy, go home tired and sat­is­fied – and then come back the next day and do it all again.”

War­ren’s foray into train­ing be­gan in 1999 when he started vis­it­ing schools around his home in Strathal­byn, in South Aus­tralia’s Ade­laide Hills.

He would take one of his trucks to a high school and let the stu­dents jump be­hind the wheel to “see what the view was like”.

Kids who showed more than a pass­ing in­ter­est were then in­vited to help him load hay in nearby pad­docks on week­ends.

That led a few years later to him work­ing at VTECH Au­to­mo­tive, a pri­vate train­ing or­gan­i­sa­tion (trade school) based at Da­voren Park, in Ade­laide’s north­ern sub­urbs.

In typ­i­cal fash­ion, War­ren threw all his skills and mo­ti­va­tion into the busi­ness – to the point where he bought out the found­ing owner in 2005.

VTECH of­fers 11 qual­i­fi­ca­tions in Aus­tralian Qual­ity Train­ing Frame­work (AQTF) Au­to­mo­tive Train­ing Pack­ages in­clud­ing Agri­cul­ture Me­chan­i­cal Tech­nol­ogy, Heavy Ve­hi­cle Road Trans­port and Light Ve­hi­cle – both in a class­room/trade school en­vi­ron­ment, as well as on-site train­ing.

As well as its base at Da­voren Park, the or­gan­i­sa­tion also con­ducts ac­cred­ited train­ing at other sites around South Aus­tralia in­clud­ing Strathal­byn, Border­town, Meningie and the West Coast.

At its height, the or­gan­i­sa­tion – which works with the pub­lic school sys­tem to at­tract stu­dents –

had 300 youths a year pass­ing through its doors.

In re­cent years, due to cuts to State Gov­ern­ment fund­ing, that fig­ure has dropped to about 100.

“I lit­er­ally got into train­ing due to frus­tra­tion,” said War­ren, who cred­its his grand­par­ents and par­ents, and grow­ing up on a farm in the Ade­laide Hills, for giv­ing him his sense of com­mu­nity spirit.

“I owned a trans­port com­pany that was trans­port­ing milk through the Ade­laide Hills and Fleurieu Penin­sula, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

“At our peak, we had five trucks and 13 driv­ers.

“I got frus­trated try­ing to find good driv­ers so thought to my­self I needed to train and de­velop them my­self.

“So I started tak­ing out po­ten­tial em­ploy­ees in the truck one-on-one to men­tor them and teach them the way you want them to do things... the right way.

“The trans­port in­dus­try is a ser­vice in­dus­try... it’s all about the cus­tomer ser­vice you are pro­vid­ing.

“Whether you’re driv­ing truck, fix­ing a truck, what­ever – cus­tomers need good ser­vice... they need a safe, re­li­able ve­hi­cle.

“And that’s what we re­in­force with the kids – it doesn’t mat­ter if you’re chang­ing the oil, pump­ing up the tyres or chang­ing the mud flaps – they’re all part of a team ef­fort where ev­ery­one pitches in and plays an im­por­tant role.

“It goes right back to my grand­par­ents and my par­ents – that sense of com­mu­nity in­volve­ment – do it as a team, do it to­gether.

“To give with­out also ex­pect­ing some­thing in re­turn and not mea­sur­ing things in dol­lars.”

SA Road Trans­port As­so­ci­a­tion pres­i­dent Sharon Mid­dle­ton was glow­ing in her praise of War­ren’s com­mit­ment to men­tor­ing young peo­ple in the na­tional truck­ing scene.

“War­ren’s pas­sion for the road trans­port in­dus­try is what truly drives him,” Ms Mid­dle­ton said.

“Pro­vid­ing ca­reer pathways and op­por­tu­ni­ties for young and up­com­ing con­trib­u­tors to the in­dus­try are paramount to War­ren.

“His un­wa­ver­ing com­mit­ment to road safety – par­tic­u­larly ed­u­cat­ing our young to share the road safely – is both award­win­ning and out­stand­ing.

“War­ren’s per­sonal sac­ri­fices of his time and re­sources are enor­mous – all driven by his love of the in­dus­try.

“There aren’t too many other peo­ple in this in­dus­try who have de­voted the past 20 years of their life to en­cour­ag­ing and men­tor­ing young peo­ple with the same de­vo­tion and com­mit­ment as War­ren.”

❝It’s

about giv­ing th­ese young peo­ple some­thing that makes them want to get out of bed ev­ery day and con­trib­ute to so­ci­ety.

— War­ren Meiss­ner

PHO­TOS: CON­TRIB­UTED

EX­PERT: War­ren Meiss­ner is some­what the Pied Piper of the Aus­tralian truck­ing in­dus­try.

War­ren Meiss­ner on the job.

VTECH ap­pren­tices re­pair­ing the VTECH fork­lifts at the VTECH Da­voren Park train­ing site.

War­ren Meiss­ner teaches young­sters all they need to know.

Young­sters learn skills of chang­ing wheels and im­por­tance of tyre pres­sures.

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