Safety is the middle name of this revered driver
“HIS can-do attitude and progressive thinking when faced with obstacles make him invaluable.”
Those few words, written by Marschall Group operations manager Luke Skele about one of his longest-serving employees, underline the reason 52-year-old Mark Johnson was named the winner of this year’s Queensland Trucking Association’s Professional Driver of the Year award.
Mark’s history as a professional driver stretches back to 1984 when he started with the Goondiwindi-based Mann’s Transport – which became the Marschall Group in 1986 – and extended his stay to 34 years.
“Mark has a lifetime (in the industry) and a wealth of experience and with this has proved himself to be a great asset to our company,” Luke Skele said.
In work terms, Mark could almost be described as ambidextrous, on the one hand deeply involved with the heavy haulage side of the business and on the other a skilled crane operator.
“Over the years he has worked across many different areas of our business and has an intimate knowledge when it comes to restraining unusual loads,” Luke said.
That skill, he added, had helped with some of Marschall Group’s recent ventures and was reassuring for customers when they saw Mark’s expertise up close.
Mark’s ‘office’ is a Freightliner Argosy, a twin-steer, cab-over prime mover fitted with a Hiab vehicle loading crane.
Showing that his broad-ranging work is no easy task, he holds a high-risk work licence as well as tickets for other crane classes and machine operating licences.
Safety, it seems, could almost be Mark’s middle name.
He has an impeccable driving record and, according to Luke Skele, thinks not only of his own safety but also that of others.
His intimate understanding of vehicle operation and load handling across everything from general freight to large, oversized machinery has been mostly learned through experience and understanding.
“I learned to drive in Quilpie when I was 15. I’m 52 now and I’ve been driving (professionally) since I was 18. I’ve done everything from hauling 35-tonne gas tanks to helping install electricity towers,” Mark said.
Mark has no regular drive routes, he simply goes where his expertise is needed, but in his professional career he has, like singer Lucky Starr, “been everywhere”.
“About the only places I haven’t driven to are Darwin and Hobart,” he said.
The Johnson family is also active in promoting the road transport industry to the community. Mark and his wife Juanita are strong supporters of Gatton’s Lights on the Hill trucking memorial and Juanita is the committee secretary.
And winning the QTA Professional Driver of the Year award?
“To be given that kind of
❝About the only places I haven’t driven to are Darwin and Hobart. — Mark Johnson, QTA Professional Driver of the Year
recognition is special. I didn’t think I had a hope in hell of getting it and I didn’t even have a speech prepared,” he said.
Mark and Juanita have two daughters and two grandsons but he’s not sure if they will follow their award-winning granddad into the transport industry.
“They’re far more interested in being Batman at the moment,” he laughed.
A few simple words from Luke Skele sign off on Mark Johnson’s QTA award fairy tale: “It is more than just a job or a pay cheque at the end of the week, it’s a way of life”.
HUMBLE HERO: Mark is always thinking of others.