Rise and shine

By: Warren Aitken


“The shinier the better”, according to small fleet owner Todd McKittrick. But there’s none more impressive than McKittrick Bulk Haulage’s Kenworth K200...

 

OWD poster#319.jpg

I have to begin this story with an apology to the rental car company. The little i30 they gave me in Canberra may have been returned with four slightly flat spotted tyres. For that I am sorry, though it wasn’t really my fault and I’m sure when you hear my explanation you will all be in agreeance.

I happened to be driving around the Canberra industrial suburb of Hume and out of the corner of my eye I glimpsed an astounding K200 parked in behind a fence.

I then jumped on the brakes, like I was driving past a sale at Truckers Toy Store, and threw the car into reverse. Don’t worry, I’m sure the P-plater behind needed practice in crash avoidance techniques anyway. I backed up to the locked gate to get another look.

In that cold ACT wind I was very lucky that my drool didn’t freeze to the chain fence as I ogled the stunning rig parked up just metres from my camera. Though I had plenty to do while down in Canberra, I placed a call to a good friend down there, Kristy Lee Morrison, who was not only able to put me in touch with the owner but also let me know that there was also a stunning T909 that I’d be able to shoot as well. Those four flat spotted tyres were a worthy price.

Kristy’s introduction led me to Todd McKittrick, the man whose company is responsible for running all of those stunning silver and blue Kenworths that ruined the tread depth on my Hyundai. It will come as no surprise that Todd is a truck nut and has been since he bought his first when he was 18. The little lazy axle UD is a far cry from the rigs that he has now, but it got him started.

Todd grew up like any trucking tragic watching all the big rigs and aspiring to get behind the wheel himself. He bought the rigid UD when he left school, delivering grass around the Queanbeyan area.

As he grew so did his goals. He left the local owner-driver work to start running interstate as a company driver. Working for Barry Cole Transport, Todd got his interstate experience doing market runs between Griffith and Sydney. A couple of years as a company driver and the owner-driver bug bit him again. Todd purchased an LTS Louisville from Barry and went out on his own.

Todd’s early trucking ventures strangely enough never featured any of his now beloved Kenworths. When it came time to replace the Louisville, it was actually an International S-line that Todd turned to.

It wasn’t until a change of circumstance in 2010 that Todd bought his first Kenworth. The interstate work was sold up and Todd ventured into a new challenge, tipper work. McKittrick Bulk Haulage was created and began with the purchase of a T600 Kenworth with a 3-axle dog.

Subcontracting to Canberra Sand and Gravel, there was plenty of local work delivering from quarries to concrete plants and landscape suppliers. All this ensured Todd was kept very busy.

Mick Hale (left) drives the T909, Todd McKittrick and K200 driver Darren Bradley

Colour scheme

The T600 served Todd well as he established relationships within the bulk transport game. It didn’t take long for the 600 to get replaced, this time with a T404 SAR.

As the work grew so did the necessity for a bigger payload and the T404 was sold.

A side note here: three and a half years after he sold the 404, Todd bought it back when he needed to expand his fleet. It now has 1.1 million kilometres on the clock and counting.

The T404 was then demoted with the arrival of Todd’s first T909, finished in a stunning red paint job. The new 909 again did the job for Todd and eventually it got to a point where another truck needed to be added to the fleet to cope with the workload. So it was back to Twin City Trucks in Albury for another Kenworth because, as Todd puts it, "There’s only two types of trucks, Kenworth and the rest".

The purchase of Todd’s second T909 also saw the introduction of the stunning new McKittrick’s colours.

"I saw a truck with the silver top and red bottom but without the pin striping," Todd recalls when questioned about the idea behind the change.

Wayne Hoffman at Allstate Truck Repairs in Melbourne took Todd’s favourite colour blue and came up with the new eye-catching scheme. The ‘Maserati’ Blue mixed with the silver and the outstanding mirror stainless supplied by the team at RC Metalcraft resulted in an impressive working truck.

Eight months after the new 909 hit the road McKittrick’s workload saw the need for the purchase of another truck. This time chasing a little extra payload, Todd looked at the cab-over option and phoned Justin Brooks at Twin City trucks once again. Like any good salesman Justin knew his customer well and basically offered to tick all the boxes for him when it came to blinging the new K200 up. That probably saved Todd getting RSI in his wrist as there were a lot of boxes to tick.

Again, the truck was sent to Allstate Truck repairs where they custom designed the paint, working hard on a concept for the front of the truck rather than just a straight split of the colours.

RC Metalcraft once again were tasked with checking off the ticked boxes including mirror stainless wrapped tanks, special custom-built stainless steps and chrome rims all around.

It’s Kenworth all the way for McKittrick Bulk Haulage

Quarry men

Todd’s passion for a sharp looking unit is the main driving force behind all the bling but he sees the advantage in the wraps and rims for his workers.

"The boys have enough to do during the week, they don’t want to be polishing all the time as well," Todd explains.

The last piece to finish off the new K200 was to put the bins on. Todd has been a proud advocate of the Tefco bins, and it seems his addiction to shine is contagious. When Todd turned up with the new truck he was surprised with a setup of highly polished tippers. Seriously, it’s a truck that should come with complimentary sunglasses.

As much as these trucks look like they are full time show trucks, they aren’t. Mainly doing local deliveries from quarries to supply yards, the trucks are clocking up around 3000km a week. They are in and out of gravel roads normally five times a day. They certainly work and definitely earn their keep.

Todd is very quick to praise his team of drivers. "You look after your drivers like your family and they’ll stay with you. If I don’t have them, I don’t have a business."

The value Todd places on his drivers is another driving force behind the setup of the trucks. "You give them decent gear and you’ll get decent drivers," he says.

So far the old adage is proving correct. The pilot behind the K200, Darren Bradley, would even give Todd a run for his money when it comes to time spent on the wash bay. That’s when Darren can get driver Mick Hale and the 909 out of the wash bay.

Todd now spends less time behind the wheel and more time running his small but growing fleet. This means he does get to play the role of relief driver whenever any of his boys needs a day off. His team of drivers are a lot like him though; they love their job and rarely allow the boss the keys to his toys anymore. He is allowed to help wash them though.

With expansion plans on the horizon and ideas for new breathtaking trucks to join the fleet I can’t see Todd out of the saddle for long. Like the majority of us, once trucking is in the blood you can’t escape it. "You either like them or you don’t," Todd states.

While driving them fed that trucking passion, becoming an owner has been the overall goal.

"I love owning them as you can see by the trucks. I love blinging them, I like the look of them, I just enjoy it.

"It’s a passion to make them look like they do and to have them the way they are … the shinier the better."

With that quote in mind it is very hard to see how much shinier the McKittrick’s trucks could get. But standby folks, by the time you read this there will be a new T610 shining brightly on the roads around Canberra. And if the rental outfit will give me another car, I might just go find it for you.

Despite operating on gravel roads five days a week, McKittrick’s trucks are immaculate

You can also follow our updates by liking us on Facebook