REAL MEN DRIVE PINK

When Ross Trans­port were look­ing for a driver game enough to get be­hind the wheel of its pink Ken­worth, Shane ‘Zoom’ Kis­sell jumped at the op­por­tu­nity. Peter and Di Sch­lenk write

Owner Driver - - Contents -

Ross Trans­port’s Ken­worth T909 is a fa­mil­iar sight on Aus­tralia’s high­ways

ONE OF THE MOST re­cent ad­di­tions to the ev­er­in­creas­ing pink truck brigade is a Ken­worth T909 owned by Ross Trans­port of Wollongong. The first truck show it at­tended was at Casino in north­ern New South Wales where it won the Peo­ple’s Choice and Best Truck un­der-one-year-old awards.

Owner//Driver caught up with driver Shane ‘Zoom’ Kis­sell and his tem­po­rary off­sider, Ross Trans­port work­shop man­ager Aaron Parkin­son. It was a big trip to Casino for Zoom, es­pe­cially after he had only just re­cov­ered from a rollover not long be­fore.

“I had been down to the Ken­worth fac­tory to pick up the T909 with the boss’ daugh­ter, True,” Zoom ex­plains.

“Six weeks later when the pink truck was ready for de­liv­ery on the Mon­day, I was in­volved in a ma­jor ac­ci­dent a cou­ple of days be­fore­hand.”

To help out for the show, Aaron de­cided to jump in the truck with Zoom and grab the chance for a week­end away. The boys had spent two days pol­ish­ing and clean­ing the truck with hardly any sleep but look­ing for­ward to hav­ing a day off in Bris­bane on Sun­day.

“I loved it, loved every mo­ment. The best part of the day was rolling in and see­ing all the lit­tle kids wav­ing, both boys and girls,” Zoom says. “It’s what it’s all about. If we make peo­ple smile, it makes us feel we have done some­thing worth­while.”

Char­ity minded

Sup­port­ing truck shows, in par­tic­u­lar the i98FM Illawarra Con­voy, is not a new thing for Ross Trans­port owner Alan Ross.

“They have do­nated $600,000 over the past decade,” Zoom says. “We are part of the Illawarra Con­voy in Novem­ber every year with all of the fleet get­ting in­volved.”

In ad­di­tion, Zoom says Alan Ross is a very fam­ily-ori­ented man who cares about his driv­ers. “He keeps ev­ery­one happy and goes out of his way to do so.”

As Zoom states, a lot of peo­ple don’t hear about the good work the trans­port in­dus­try does. He points to the mu­ral on the back of the T909’s sleeper and the slo­gan: ‘Sup­port­ing the fight against Can­cer and recog­nis­ing Women in Trans­port’.

“Can­cer is very preva­lent in our pop­u­la­tion and af­fects ev­ery­one in some way,” Zoom says.

Zooms re­lates the story of how he be­came the driver of the big pink truck. He was in the Ross Trans­port of­fices and over­heard a con­ver­sa­tion about who could pos­si­bly be brave enough to get be­hind the wheel of a pink truck. Zoom, how­ever, had no hes­i­ta­tion, keen to drive it in the mem­ory of

his mother Lor­raine. He be­lieves that ev­ery­one knows some­one suf­fer­ing from can­cer. At any rate, Zoom says real men wear pink and drive man­ual trucks.

Alan’s daugh­ter True is the third gen­er­a­tion to be in­volved in the Ross Trans­port busi­ness which was started by his par­ents Reg and Frances Ross back in 1975. Hence the ‘Tru­ely Fran­tas­tic’ let­ter­ing on the side of the bunk.

“It’s a great con­cept,” Zoom says. “Alan is try­ing to pro­mote women into trans­port, not only the part­ners at home but those who work in the in­dus­try. And then there’s can­cer aware­ness. It all just fell into place.”

Steel and pol­ish

Hav­ing been around trucks his whole life, Aaron was happy to be sit­ting along­side Zoom in the Ken­worth. He came to Ross Trans­port as an ap­pren­tice.

Now he’s run­ning the work­shop, although he ad­mits to never want­ing to work in the in­dus­try ini­tially.

After fin­ish­ing school, Aaron spent those first six months out of work, un­til his grand­fa­ther, Robert, vis­ited from Queens­land. As it hap­pened, Robert knew Alan Ross and paid him a visit.

“Alan said ‘yes’ that I could start on Mon­day and that’s where I have been since,” says Aaron, who ad­mits he never wanted to work in trans­port.

“You don’t re­ally want to fol­low what your fam­ily does; I wanted to step out on my own. But once I started I fell in love with the job. Now I am out here, pol­ish­ing a truck for days and get­ting no sleep,” he laughs.

“There is no other place to work as far as I am con­cerned. Alan is very good on main­te­nance; noth­ing goes out if it is not tip-top and no ex­pense is spared.”

To­day the Ross fleet con­sists of 57 trucks do­ing a di­verse range of jobs around Wollongong in ad­di­tion to run­ning up and down the east coast.

“I cart steel and go wher­ever the steel takes us,” Zoom ex­plains. “The fam­ily had trucks in Grif­fith, a busi­ness called

J & MF Kis­sell.”

The Kis­sells had tip­pers and flat tops which, ac­cord­ing to Zoom, they had built up into a nice lit­tle busi­ness that was later sold.

Zoom, who has been with Ross Trans­port for more than three years, loves driv­ing the Ken­worth and says it was brought to show off and draw at­ten­tion.

Plus he says ev­ery­one can re­late to a Ken­worth.

“It’s just all class! It’s tailor made pretty much and, as far as we are con­cerned, there is noth­ing else.”

As well as the pink colour, another nice touch is the black duck on the T909’s bonnet.

“You see chrome ducks ev­ery­where and you don’t see pink trucks ev­ery­where, so the black duck goes with the pink and the gear stick as well,” Zoom says.

“It makes us feel we have done some­thing worth­while.”

Op­po­site top: Aaron Parkin­son (left) and Shane ‘Zoom’ Kis­sell on the road with the pink Ken­worth

Top: Ross Trans­port sup­ports can­cer aware­ness and women in trans­port

Above: Zoom even has his name em­bla­zoned on the T909

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