Dal­las daz­zles win­ners

Truck show the high­light

Big Rigs - - GREAT AMERICAN TRUCKING SHOW - James Graham James.Graham@bi­grigs.com.au

AMAZ­ING.

If there was one word that we kept hear­ing more than any other from the six win­ners of Shell Rim­ula’s 2018 Re­ward Pro­gram to Dal­las, Texas, that was it.

Their five-night trip of a life­time took in a night at the rodeo, a shoot­ing range, a Dal­las Cow­boys NFL game at the 100,000-seat be­he­moth, the AT&T Sta­dium, and of course lash­ings of good ol’ Texan hos­pi­tal­ity.

But of course, the pri­mary rea­son for the long non-stop haul across the Pa­cific was to take in the big­gest and flashiest in­dus­try shindigs of them all, the Great Amer­i­can Truck­ing Show (GATS).

The quar­tet from Buslink VIVO – Keith McArt­ney, Daryl Cae­sar, Wayne Burgess and Craig Har­beck – and Cahill Trans­port’s Joe Cahill and Kil­lian Paasch had their work cut out get­ting around the 500,000 square feet in­side the Kay Bai­ley Hutchi­son Con­ven­tion Cen­tre in Dal­las.

More than 500 ex­hibitors jammed the floor space, spruik­ing more than 54,000 in­dus­try prod­ucts.

They also had to com­pete for at­ten­tion with back-to-back at­trac­tions at the busy health, busi­ness and re­cruit­ment pav­il­ions.

“It was a mas­sive show, noth­ing like we’ve seen be­fore,” said Kil­lian, the na­tional plan­ning man­ager for the 160 trucks in the na­tion­wide fleet at Cahill Trans­port, based in Melbourne.

“One thing that stuck out was it was all about the driver and the driver’s well-be­ing. A lot of stands were about nu­tri­tion for the driver, ex­er­cise, com­fort and safety as well. It was very driver-fo­cused, which I def­i­nitely found very in­ter­est­ing, and some­thing that we prob­a­bly don’t push enough in Aus­tralia.

“So that’s some­thing I’ll def­i­nitely take back and look at.”

Joe, Cahill’s NT op­er­a­tions and ware­house man­ager based in Dar­win, was also struck by the driver-fo­cus at GATS. He was par­tic­u­larly im­pressed by the size of their sleeper cabs and their myr­iad crea­ture com­forts.

“Some of the cab­ins have got full-on lounges, kitchen ta­bles and cooking fa­cil­i­ties.”

Craig, the Dar­win-based site man­ager for the big­gest pri­vate bus com­pany in Aus­tralia, was also im­pressed by the scale of the show, and the large per­cent­age of clas­sic trucks com­pet­ing for self­ies with the lat­est Freight­lin­ers and Ken­worths.

For col­league Keith, Buslink VIVO’s fleet man­ager, one of his big­gest take­aways was the fact no mat­ter what coun­try you are in, em­ploy­ers seem to be strug­gling to find driv­ers, as ev­i­denced in Dal­las by the num­ber of sign-on in­cen­tives.

“Whether you’re a Toll or a Lin­fox, or a guy who’s got six trucks, ev­ery­one strug­gles with the same thing, so what do we need to do to at­tract peo­ple into the in­dus­try?

“Is that get­ting into the schools early? Is that do­ing grad­u­ate pro­grams, adding on sign-on fees, bet­ter equip­ment? We re­ally need to start think­ing how we’re go­ing to at­tract good qual­ity peo­ple to get on board.”

PHOTO: JAMES GRAHAM

LUCKY WIN­NERS: Daryl Caeser, Keith McArt­ney, Wayne Burgess, Craig Har­beck, Joe Cahill and Kil­lian Paasch en­joy the show in Dal­las.

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