Lau­rie Wil­liams’ re­born 2006 West­ern Star 4800, bet­ter as ‘Phat Cat’, is more than just a show truck; it’s the cul­mi­na­tion of a long and fruit­ful ca­reer in the in­dus­try. War­ren Aitken re­ports

Owner Driver - - Contents -

Lau­rie Wil­liams’ re­born 2006 West­ern Star 4800 de­servedly earns its place as the May Truck of the Month

COM­ING UP with a head­ing for this story on Lau­rie Wil­liams’ Phat Cat was rather dif­fi­cult. There are so many words to de­scribe this truck. I per­son­ally was in favour of the ex­panded tech­ni­cal in­ter­pre­ta­tion of Phat Cat … ‘Pretty Hot and Tempt­ing Felis Ca­tus’. But no mat­ter which way you write it, Lau­rie Wil­liams’ award-win­ning West­ern Star makes a pow­er­ful state­ment, in more than just ap­pear­ance. Lau­rie’s been in the trans­port game since be­fore man first started rub­bing sticks to find a way to cook their sangers. His in­tro­duc­tion into truck­ing wasn’t an ‘it’s in the blood’ fam­ily thing as much as it was a ‘kicked out of school, what do I do now?’ kind of thing. His re­sponse to that ad­ver­sity is a credit to the Aussie spirit he still dis­plays to­day.

“I got kicked out of school; ev­ery­one kept telling me my life would [amount] to noth­ing,” Lau­rie re­calls when I ques­tioned him about get­ting into truck­ing. “So I just f***ing had a go.”

It’s that ap­proach that’s kept him suc­ceed­ing for the 35 years he’s been at it. A small point to add – Lau­rie did ac­tu­ally re­tire when he sold Lau­rie Wil­liams Car Car­ry­ing in 2000, how­ever the idea of lawn bowls and driv­ing a five-tonne car­a­van with a one-tonne Kia didn’t ap­peal. Lau­rie’s re­tire­ment lasted a full two weeks.

When he was 15, Lau­rie used to help his neigh­bour when­ever he was wash­ing, clean­ing and muck­ing around with his truck.

So, when he found him­self out of school at 17, he bought an old D se­ries Ford and be­gan Lau­rie Wil­liams Car Car­ry­ing.

“I just kept go­ing and see­ing peo­ple, and after a while peo­ple would be ring­ing me, word-of-mouth stuff,” Lau­rie tells me.

Even­tu­ally Lau­rie had reg­u­lar work ser­vic­ing Bris­bane to Caloun­dra daily. New cars, auc­tions, used cars and wrecks, any­thing and ev­ery­thing.

As his rep­u­ta­tion grew so did his work­load. More trucks were added to the fleet that was now cov­er­ing not just Caloun­dra but all of Queens­land’s Sun­shine Coast and stretch­ing up to Mary­bor­ough and Bund­aberg.

Lau­rie Wil­liams Car Car­ry­ing grew to a fleet of 14 trucks when it was bought out by Rowdy’s Car Car­ri­ers in June 2000.

Back in the game

How­ever, Lau­rie held onto his Her­itage West­ern Star when he went into his fort­night of re­tire­ment.

The plan was never meant to be a John Farn­ham­style re­tire­ment, but two weeks in Lau­rie was sick of his knit­ting and Su­doku, and the op­por­tu­nity was there to pur­chase a T950 with car car­ry­ing work. So back he went.

Lau­rie be­gan run­ning Bris­bane to Townsville cart­ing cars. While the cars were his bread and but­ter, Lau­rie was even­tu­ally of­fered the op­por­tu­nity to start cart­ing trucks as well.

I stupidly en­quired into the main dif­fer­ences be­tween cart­ing the trucks and the cars, ex­pect­ing to learn about higher cen­tre of grav­ity and load re­straint. But in typ­i­cal Lau­rie ‘hang shit’ fash­ion, I got the re­ply: “Well, you can’t get as many on a trailer.”

Over the next 18 years, Lau­rie grew the com­pany with every job and truck he took on. The postre­tire­ment com­pany, North Qld Truck & Ma­chin­ery Move­ments, runs two West­ern Stars, an FLB Freight­liner and two In­ter­na­tional S-Lines, both of which are rarely found in a 4x2 setup.

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