Owner-driver or com­pany driver? Barry Jones, cur­rently driv­ing a Ken­worth T609, has ex­pe­ri­enced both sides of the coin.

Owner Driver - - Owner/Driver - Peter and Di Sch­lenk write

BARRY JONES, known as ‘BJ’ to his mates, is one of a num­ber of truck­ies who tried their hands at be­ing an owner-driver but then opted for the sim­pler life of be­ing an em­ployed driver.

He cur­rently drives a Ken­worth T609 for Barel­lan Freighters, based at Ox­ley near Bris­bane. It’s been a long as­so­ci­a­tion with Barel­lan and the com­pany’s manag­ing di­rec­tor June Stein­hardt.

“I used to subby for June when I had my own truck on the road,” Barry says. “I’ve been back on and off for three years, but I miss be­ing an owner-driver.”

How­ever, Barry says it’s a good team en­vi­ron­ment at Barel­lan.

“We have a lot of older blokes and a cou­ple of younger blokes that are still cut­ting their teeth. It’s a good bal­ance.

“Ev­ery­one learns from each other and June is very good at keep­ing ev­ery­one mov­ing. It’s quite an art.

“June is a good boss. She has done the hard yards and has earned the re­spect from others.”

Barry ex­plains that June started off as a driver be­fore be­com­ing an owner-driver. She now op­er­ates a fleet of 14 trucks.

Barel­lan Freighters spe­cialises in cart­ing pro­duce.

Barry runs up to north Queens­land and south to the mar­kets in Mel­bourne, Syd­ney and Bris­bane.

Driv­ing an im­mac­u­late T609 makes the job a lot eas­ier as well, with the Ken­worth re­ceiv­ing plenty of bling treat­ment.

Many of the brack­ets have been chromed; even the Icepack cover.

“We are looked af­ter,” Barry con­tin­ues. “Any­thing we want we usu­ally get.

“June is very driver ori­ented and it’s great to have a boss like that.”

As well as the T609, the Barel­lan fleet has two new T409 SARs, a T904, a T404, a T402, a K108, and six Western Stars.

Barry pre­vi­ously drove the Cat­pow­ered K108 and says he’s still feel­ing his way with the new truck. But he’s im­pressed with the big 50-inch sleeper.

“I was a cab-over man be­fore, but the T609 is a beau­ti­ful truck, al­though the E5 Cum­mins is not as re­spon­sive as the Cat,” he smiles.

Mackay in north Queens­land is home for Barry. He’ll of­ten take the T609 north, have his break while an­other driver takes it fur­ther up the coast to load, bring­ing it back with fresh pro­duce ready for Barry to head south.

“We do reg­u­lar changeovers so it’s all about keep­ing the wheels turn­ing. No one is mak­ing money when we’re parked up,” he says.

Barry’s en­try into the world of truck driv­ing came through his father, Ron Jones, who had his own busi­ness in Mel­bourne. Ron later moved to Queens­land and met his fu­ture wife Mer­rid. The cou­ple had four chil­dren, three of which, in­clud­ing Barry, are driv­ing trucks to­day.

“Dad and I had trucks to­gether run­ning down the Hume; then we carted lo­cally do­ing gravel and dirt,” Barry re­calls.

“Dad taught me ev­ery­thing about long-dis­tance driv­ing.”

Barry bought his first truck, an old eight-wheel 2155 ACCO, even be­fore he had a li­cence to drive.

“I ac­tu­ally learnt to drive in a Ley­land Boxer. We had a few UDs and later I bought Volvos but I never had a Ken­worth. Now I drive one.”

He says Ken­worths are the pick of the bunch.

“You just have to look at the fin­ish of the cab and the driver com­fort. I had a 2005 Volvo but it only had a par­cel rack as a bed.”

Barry en­joys long-haul driv­ing, al­though there are a cou­ple of as­pects of the job he’s not overly happy with, namely the poor road con­di­tions and overzeal­ous au­thor­i­ties.

He reck­ons many of the roads in north Queens­land have again taken a pound­ing dur­ing the wet sea­son.

“There are some good and some bad … you just have to drive to the road con­di­tions,” Barry says.

As far as rules and reg­u­la­tions are con­cerned, he be­lieves the tech­ni­cal­i­ties are start­ing to de­stroy the in­dus­try.

“I’m 53 and it’s just get­ting too hard,” Barry says. “The days of be­ing your own boss and your own man are well and truly gone un­less you go out into the bush.

“We are even hit for mak­ing spell­ing mis­takes in our work diaries. It’s all get­ting too much.”

Barry still re­tains a link to his owner-driver past – a Cat­pow­ered Freight­liner parked at home in the shed.

“I hope the value comes back into trucks,” he says. “It’s all I’ve got to re­tire on.”

Barel­lan Freighters’ im­mac­u­late T609

Barry ‘BJ’ Jones has opted for the life of an em­ployee driver

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