Shining on with the big T610

By: Warren Aitken, Photography by: Warren Aitken

TRUCK OF THE MONTH: Jayden McClintock, a third-generation member of the successful family-owned McClintock's Transport, was the lucky one to score the keys to their Kenworth T610 SAR. It's a long way from the old Bedfords in the company's early years

McClintock's Kenworth T610 SAR is our October 2021 Truck of the Month.

I really did want to focus my opening paragraph on family, because this story is all about family. The star of the show is driven by a family member, the office is run by family members, the truck gets serviced by family members and the company has been family-run since it started in 1965. All of this family involvement during a time where a lot of the country is having forced family time and subsequently driving each other up the wall.

The McClintocks on the other hand have grown a highly successful business by working for and with family. Originally that was the tone I wanted to take when introducing Jayden and his father Jeff McClintock in this opening stanza. Then I found out the family started in pineapple farming before moving to transport. How could I pass up the opportunity to make some rather truckie-based innuendos? I mean, we all know you normally start trucking and end up getting pineapples, not get the pineapples and then get into trucking. There were so many comments open to me. However, I won’t, because I know everyone just wants to know more about the stunning Kenworth T610 in the photos.

I was lucky enough to catch a glimpse of McClintock’s Transport’s newest rig while cruising through Brisbane a few months back. It only took a little light Facebook stalking to chase down the owner.

A couple of friend requests later I find myself sitting in the Gympie smoko room of McClintock’s Transport with the striking T610 flagship waiting patiently outside for some quality time with my Nikons. Jayden (the driver of the Kenworth T610) and Jeff (the man at the top of the food chain) were kind enough to give me a bit of a rundown on the 56-year history of the successful family business. This includes the changes it’s been through and the dedication to service that has seen it thriving with each year they clock up.

Jeff McClintock loads up the T610.

The brand-new state-of-the-art Kenworth T610, with the big 54-inch (137cm) bunk that young Jayden drives is a far cry from the two Bedfords his grandparents started with when they bought the company back in 1965.

Ian and Fay McClintock were pineapple farmers in the Gympie district area back then. For a change of pace, Ian and Fay chose to buy a small general freight company in the town of Kenilworth. Remember, this was back in the days of loading and unloading everything by hand. There was no such thing as an easy load.

The two Bedfords were used to run general freight between Brisbane and Kenilworth, carting pretty much everything.

Over the next decade, the company kept supplying more and more local communities, while also picking up loads of timber from sawmills around the Gympie area. After 11 years in small town Kenilworth the choice was made to relocate to Gympie where a lot of their work was originating. While still specialising in general freight, the McClintocks were also carting timber, glue, fertiliser and many more bulk products. Their general freight customers had expanded throughout the wider bay area.

The old Bedfords were gone and the company fleet was now a mixture of Volvos with the trusty N10s and a few G88s. There were also a few Internationals in the mix as well. It didn’t matter what was out the front though – with the exception of a few tippers the majority of trucks had flattops in tow. Flattops meant tarps, and tarps required skills – skills that are a rare find these days, though Jayden swears that even though he may pull a tautliner, his dad and grandad have ensured they’ve passed those skills down the line.

As the company expanded you could always count on finding Ian and Fay at the coal front doing the hard yards. This work ethic was passed down the family lineage and, as their kids grew up, they too chose to enter the family business. Jeff, who I was lucky enough to sit down with at the company’s HQ, left school in grade 10 to work on the family pineapple farm.

Generation McClintock: Jeff and son Jayden with Jayden's two daughters.

Jeff signed up for his licence the moment he turned 18. Two days after that he was behind the wheel of a single drive F86 Volvo with a bulk load of fertiliser on and headed for Bundaberg. His older brother, Al, headed for the workshop, where you can still find him today, undertaking and overseeing the maintenance of the entire fleet.

The three other McClintock brothers also jumped on board. Kev has recently retired but you can still find Bruce running around on the forklift and youngest brother Peter loading trailers in the Gympie area. It wasn’t just the boys though; their sister Diane is still working steadily in the company office.

Along with the work behind the wheel, Jeff found himself often helping with, and learning the management side of, the business. It really was a case of complete immersion into the family operation for Jeff, although his preference was always the on-road side.

When Ian passed away in 2009, Jeff stepped up and took on a lot more behind-the-scenes managerial work. His son, Jayden, followed in his father’s example as far as school was concerned; his after school and school holiday activities all revolved around helping out the company drivers.

"I used to get picked up from school by the drivers and I’d help them go unload the beer and stuff," Jayden admits. Although not old enough to drink, he had no issue stacking it. Not for pocket money either, as he admits: "I did it for the love of it."

When the time came for young Jayden to legally take the wheel in the family business much had changed since his dad obtained a truck licence. While Jeff had started out with a single drive Volvo and tipper trailer, Jayden got a rigid Hino. His dad worked in a yard full of flattops; Jayden was surrounded by tautliners. His dad had been able to use Jayden as a worker under the ‘I don’t have to pay him, he’s my son’ rule, but Jayden now expected a pay packet.

It's single trailers only at McClintock's Transport.

There was also a lot that hadn’t changed. The company was still specialising in general freight to local townships, as well as a plethora of bulk loads. The McClintocks were also extremely loyal, especially to the salesmen that looked after them as was evident by their predominantly Mack fleet. However, they were continued to display an ability to adapt and evolve, diversifying into fuel with the purchase of a Golden Fleece depot in 1985. This resulted in another revenue stream and a small fleet of fuel tankers.

Saying no to B-doubles

Another other old school trait that hadn’t changed since the beginning was Jeff’s insistence on single trailer work, a decision originating from Ian and passed down since day one. There are still no B-doubles in the fleet.

According to the McClintocks, single trailers in the general freight make life easier. Sure, they do a lot of pallet load pickups but when servicing small towns they can also be required to make pickups and drop offs more aptly suited to a postman. This type of work does not worry the team though. Listening to Jeff, it becomes extremely evident that, yes, making money is what keeps the business afloat but what keeps it successful are happy customers.

"We believe that if you give them good service, they’ll stick by you," Jeff says.

"You look after them, they’ll look after you."

Well, after more than five decades of work it seems keeping the small-town service and friendliness has worked. The business is flat out and still growing.

Which is where we step into the latest truck – the 2019 T610 SAR. The new Kenworth is by far the biggest rig in the company so far. Over the years there has been a lot of different makes and models brandishing the company logo. From the original Bedfords to Internationals and to almost the entire early Volvo range of G88s N10s, F12s and FMs. You name it, it’s been there.

McClintock's also run a few Macks.

There has also been a few of the long running Volvo rivals – the mighty Scania Series 3 and 4. The comfort of the European cab-overs were eventually replaced with the Bulldog brand as the company looked towards better payloads.

"The Macks were much lighter and better priced," Jeff explains, adding that the relationship with their Mack salesman was also a contributing factor.

"When the old man passed away the salesman said: ‘I’ll help you out with anything, no matter what you want to buy.’"

That type of personal relationship is held in great esteem in McClintocks’ books. More recently, the Mack Tridents and Granites have seen their territory eroded by the Kenworth badge, with several T409s proving their worth as well.

"The drivers quite like the Kenworths," Jeff says. Again, their addition to the fleet came about due to a solid relationship with their local Kenworth sales team. Sure, a cool Kenworth can sell itself, but like McClintock Transport itself you need to supply a good service and Kenworth did just that for Jeff. The other big fan of having the Kenworth bug out the front is Jayden.

Well before he had a truck licence, Jayden was earning his stripes. Following his time behind a heavy rigid Hino, he upgraded to one of the company’s T409s, still at a fairly young age for a truck driver. This meant the company’s insurance restrictions wouldn’t let him go any further than Brisbane for the first year. The second year saw him able to stretch his legs as far as the Gold Coast and then, once he cracked the 25-year-old mark it was free reign.

Rocklea Truck Electrical added the light show to the big T610 SAR.

Jayden was given the responsibility of covering a run between Gympie, Brisbane and Sydney. With his immaculately maintained T409 he would head off on a Sunday, returning six days later to the family depot. In no time at all the little T409 was nearing a million kilometres and Jeff started looking at a replacement.

"We tend to run out trucks for five years and then replace them," Jeff explains. By this stage Kenworth had halted the production of the solid T409 and the new T610s were rolling off the line.

Big cab option

The arrival of the T610 was quite the leap ahead for Kenworth, integrating a lot more technology and safety features. Jayden confesses he was blown away by the easy access to so much information from the dashboard and its smart screen.

"Yeah, the old Kenworths had all the gauges that you could get the covers for, but this is just great," Jeff admits.

RELATED ARTICLE: Kenworth rolled out its big cab T610 in 2018

While the majority of the McClintock’s fleet sport sleepers, they tend to be around the 36-inch (91cm) size. The decision was made with the new T610 was to opt for the bigger 54-inch version.

"In the end it wasn’t much more cost wise for the big bunk," says Jayden, with his dad attesting to the all-round benefits of a bit more room when the truck is doing constant interstate work. Jayden agrees thoroughly there; he’s only a small bloke anyway so it’s like an apartment for him.

"We got the double bed in it, which lifts up, and there’s heaps of extra storage under as well," Jayden enthuses. Add that to the overhead cupboards and the Kenworth could smuggle a small family across the border these days (although I guess I shouldn’t be joking about that).

The other big difference between the new truck and the rest of the fleet is that it is the first SAR Kenworth for McClintock’s Transport. Jayden will try and convince me it’s all about the front axle placement and weight distribution – all that official ‘business only’ kind of justification. But, when pushed, he will admit it has a lot to do with looks, and there’s no argument from me. With the big bunk and SAR lines the T610 look extremely tough.

Appearance has always been a big thing with the McClintocks, though they’ve opted to keep the base colour white on their fleet. However, they have always ensured their trucks are finished off subtly, yet strikingly well. The new truck was no exception. After leaving the Bayswater factory it was sent direct to Rocklea Truck Electrical in Brisbane where Brock McDonald and the team began adding extra lights and extra shine.

The McClintocks will cart almost anything. Here they are loading up with bulk fertiliser.

After Rocklea Truck Electrical had done its bit, the truck was sent north to Truck Writers on the Sunshine Coast where Tony Gibbs went to work adding the signwriting and scrollwork. It’s the trademark of the McClintock’s fleet – base white but just the perfect amount of detailed scrollwork to really make them stand out – and the T610 is continuing that tradition.

With all the finishing touches finally squared away, McClintock Transport’s big Kenworth T610 SAR was hooked up to a custom-built 22-pallet Freighter trailer to complete the look.

Yes, Jayden loved his 409 with its old school gauges and gearstick, but he hasn’t looked back since. The new truck may have lost the fancy gauges, but he’s kept the gearstick and gained a bucketload of room and, he admits, a boatload of comfort.

From two second-hand Bedfords 56 years ago to a fleet of 17 and one of the sharpest state-of-the-art Kenworths on the road, the McClintock family has survived and thrived by supplying a stellar service with a fantastic fleet. The big cab T610 SAR just reinforces that point.

However, one thing that I’m sure of is that, with Ian continuing to be heavily involved in the company right up until his passing, he would have been proud to have experienced three generations of McClintocks – himself, Jeff and Jayden – wearing the company uniform together.

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