FAST LEARNER TAKES AWARD

Busi­ness and com­mu­ni­ca­tion skills helped Brady Fitz­patrick win the 2018 LRTAV Young Driver Award. Ta­mara Whitsed meets him at the Bendigo Live­stock Ex­change

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Busi­ness and com­mu­ni­ca­tion skills helped Brady Fitz­patrick win the 2018 LRTAV Young Driver Award

EIGH­TEEN MONTHS af­ter load­ing his first stock crate, Brady Fitz­patrick has ac­cepted the Live­stock and Ru­ral Trans­porters As­so­ci­a­tion of Vic­to­ria (LRTAV) 2018 Young Driver Award. “I was pretty chuffed to be nom­i­nated and the win was a bonus on top of that,” says Brady, 35. “I sup­pose it’s a lit­tle bit of a re­ward for ef­fort.” Brady drives a 2013 Kenworth K200 for Thomas Trans­port of Camp­bells For­est and was nom­i­nated by his em­ploy­ers Graeme and Diane Thomas. Luke Ewing from TGR Trans­port and Devin Lafranchi from IG & J Dance Live­stock Trans­port also made the fi­nals, which were judged dur­ing the 2018 LRTAV Con­fer­ence in Bendigo in Au­gust. Devin was an­nounced run­ner-up.

Owner//Driver caught up with Brady at the Bendigo Live­stock Ex­change re­cently. He un­loaded 400 ewes with help from his 15-month-old Kelpie-Koolie cross, Win­ston. Brady says hav­ing a good dog makes it eas­ier to load and un­load live­stock. “He’s still got a bit to learn, but he’s get­ting there.”

Brady is rarely in the same place two days in a row. In an av­er­age week he is likely to cart sheep and cat­tle to re­gional sa­le­yards, wool to Mel­bourne, and pigs to South Aus­tralia. “What I like about live­stock trans­port is the va­ri­ety – get­ting out, meet­ing farm­ers, talk­ing about their op­er­a­tions.” He feels at home in the K200, which Thomas Trans­port bought in July. “It’s got a good big bunk, plenty of room in­side, comfy bed – and it’s a nice truck to drive.”

Un­like most live­stock car­ri­ers, Brady didn’t grow up around trucks, farms, cat­tle, or sheep. He stud­ied ac­count­ing at univer­sity but chose not to com­plete his course. In­stead he be­came a qual­i­fied car­pen­ter and joiner, and worked as a builder for his par­ents’ busi­ness. How­ever, af­ter eight years he felt like a ca­reer change and started driv­ing trucks for McK­in­non Earth­mov­ing of Bendigo.

He carted his first load of cat­tle in March 2017 when he started work­ing for Thomas Trans­port, which op­er­ates five trucks – two Freight­lin­ers, a Western Star, a Kenworth, and an In­ter­na­tional Ea­gle.

Brady ad­mits he was “pretty green” when he started cart­ing live­stock. “Graeme taught me a lot about dif­fer­ent as­pects of the job. Hav­ing a will­ing­ness to learn about it and ask ques­tions, I think, goes a long way.

“We cart sheep, lambs, cat­tle, and pigs, and they all re­quire their own dif­fer­ent load­ing meth­ods or tech­nique.”

Brady ad­mits life on the road can be lonely. “It’s al­ways good to get home to see the wife and kids. They’re al­ways ex­cited to see dad when he comes home.”

Young fam­ily

He knows spend­ing nights away in the truck is hard on his wife Leanne and their young chil­dren, Ar­lie and Harper. “Leanne works hard her­self as well as rais­ing two kids on her own some­times, when I’m not there. She does a re­ally good job.”

Brady likes to spend Satur­days with their chil­dren while Leanne works at the hairdressing sa­lon she owns. They are in the plan­ning stages of build­ing a new fam­ily home, so the Young Driver cash prize of $4000 from spon­sor Grif­fith Goodall In­sur­ance Bro­kers is a great boost for their sav­ings.

Look­ing to the fu­ture, Brady says he wants to keep learn­ing and en­joy­ing his work. “Maybe one day, I’d like to own my own truck, but if that isn’t to be, it isn’t to be.”

He rec­om­mends live­stock trans­port for any aspir­ing truck driv­ers who are keen to get off the beaten track and see the coun­try­side. “If you want to drive trucks, start by get­ting your li­cence and just ring­ing around and ask­ing for a day here to fill in. Or just go for a ride in the truck and learn the dif­fer­ent as­pects of it.”

Thomas Trans­port em­ploys three driv­ers and Graeme Thomas says he is “hon­oured to have them all sit at my kitchen ta­ble”. Graeme says Brady stands out be­cause of his man­age­ment and com­mu­ni­ca­tion skills, and be­cause he thinks beyond his own work to see the big­ger pic­ture of how the whole busi­nesses is run­ning. Graeme ap­pre­ci­ates Brady’s sug­ges­tions about plan­ning loads for the days ahead. “He could take over this busi­ness and prob­a­bly op­er­ate as well as or bet­ter than I do. He’s just got that abil­ity. He’s ob­vi­ously got a flair for busi­ness man­age­ment.”

Stock sense

Be­fore em­ploy­ing Brady, Graeme be­lieved it was es­sen­tial to hire driv­ers with stock-han­dling ex­pe­ri­ence. “I al­ways had the the­ory that you couldn’t teach some­one stock sense. You could teach them to drive and you could teach them to work, but you can’t teach them to han­dle stock.”

But Brady has proven oth­er­wise. “He’s got no ru­ral back­ground at all, but he’s cer­tainly picked it up and learned how to han­dle stock,” Graeme says. “He lis­tens to what you say.

“It’s good

to be

recog­nised

for the hard

work and

long hours

that you

put in.”

Be­sides that, he’s re­ally good with our clients. Ninety per cent of our work is farm pickup and he’s very good at re­lat­ing to our clients. He talks their lan­guage. He can com­mu­ni­cate with farm­ers and ru­ral peo­ple very well.”

Graeme is glad the LRTAV is rais­ing the pro­file of young ru­ral car­ri­ers. “Our in­dus­try pro­file is not that great,” Graeme says. “These young peo­ple in our in­dus­try need to be en­cour­aged, and they need to be sup­ported. And I also think it’s im­por­tant for their fam­i­lies to know how good they are.”

LRTAV Vice Pres­i­dent Marla Stone en­cour­ages young driv­ers work­ing in ru­ral and re­gional ar­eas to nom­i­nate for the 2019 LRTAV Young Driver Award, whether they are owner-driv­ers or staff driv­ers.

“All the fi­nal­ists re­ceive pub­lic recog­ni­tion of their suc­cess and are in­vited to at­tend the LRTAV con­fer­ence din­ner where the award is pre­sented,” Marla says. “The se­lec­tion process gives any young driver a very worth­while ex­pe­ri­ence in eval­u­at­ing their driv­ing skills and at­ti­tudes.”

Nom­i­nees don’t have to be live­stock car­ri­ers, but they must be aged be­tween 20 and 35. They also must ei­ther be LRTAV mem­bers or work for a com­pany which is a mem­ber of the LRTAV.

“The driver or com­pany can join at the time of award nom­i­na­tion,” Marla says. Driver mem­ber­ship costs $50. Com­pa­nies join­ing the LRTAV for the first time are el­i­gi­ble for a dis­counted mem­ber­ship of $150 for their first year. Ap­pli­ca­tions for next year’s LRTAV Young Driver award open mid-2019. Visit www.lrtav.com.au or the as­so­ci­a­tion’s Face­book or Twit­ter feeds for more in­for­ma­tion.

“He’s got no ru­ral back­ground at all but he’s cer­tainly picked it up and learned how to han­dle stock.”

Above: Graeme Thomas says it is im­por­tant to recog­nise the con­tri­bu­tion of young driv­ers and the chal­lenges faced by their fam­i­lies. Graeme nom­i­nated Brady Fitz­patrick for the LRTAV’s Young Driver AwardBe­low: The 2013 Kenworth K200 was re­cently added to the Thomas Trans­port fleet

Left: Win­ston makes Brady’s job eas­ierBe­low: Award pre­sen­ta­tion: From left, David Ryan from Grif­fiths Goodall In­sur­ance Bro­kers with fi­nal­ist Luke Ewing, run­ner-up Devin Lafranchi, win­ner Brady Fitz­patrick, and LRTAV vice pres­i­dent John Beer

Above: Leav­ing Bendigo Sa­le­yards. Brady’s next job is cart­ing cat­tle from lo­cal dairy farms to Shep­par­ton

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