Trucks fit for Kings

By: Cobey Bartels

Daniel King, a third generation member of his family’s transport business, is proof that once diesel gets into your blood, it’s there for life.


Three generations of truckin’ Kings: Daniel and son Jaxson King, Bryan King and John King

Melbourne-based truckie Daniel King tells us it started for him like it did for many other operators, in the cab of his old man’s truck putting in a mile.

"They reckon I was virtually conceived in a truck," Daniel laughs when asked of his earliest memory in a rig.

"There are so many photos of me in the truck, because i was going to work with my old man for as long as I can remember. 

"By the age of about 11 or 12, I was operating the forklift and delivering the bricks we carted to site. It’s all I wanted to do, to be in the brick truck helping," he says.

Daniel’s teen years saw him spending less time around trucks but, as is the case when it’s in your blood, it didn’t take long before he was straight back into it.

"By the time I was a teenager I played footy and hung out with mates and went away from trucks a little bit, but once 21 came around I was straight down to the driving school to get my licence.

"I was working with dad [Bryan King] at the time driving the truck as a ‘learner’ and I dropped dad home and drove to the driving school for my lesson – truck and trailer hitched," he laughs.

"I told them I wanted to do the lesson in our truck!"

It all started for the family’s transport operation with one trusty Scania 141, when Daniel’s grandfather John King decided to hit go on the Swedish steed back in 1981.

"My grandpa John King bought his first Scania in 1981, a 141. Dad worked for his father from 1981 until 1989 and then Dad bought his first Scania, the 143H that he still has," he says.

"I suppose I got pushed into it; he put the trust in me once I got my licence and put me in his Scania 143 on my own running around for 4 to 5 years before I went up into a Mack Quantum truck and dog."

In his late 20s it was time for Daniel to jump into the family’s newest addition, a Mack Trident, which Daniel was pretty keen on buying off his old man.

"It wasn’t long in the Mack Trident before I decided to buy it, and from there it was head down bum up working for Boral," he says. 

The trusty Scania 143 that served the Kings for 30 years and 1.8 trouble-free million kilometres

Chasing a dream

A dream of Daniel’s, like most truckies young and old, was to own the holy grail – an SAR Kenworth.

Years of hard work in his Mack Trident were paying off and Daniel figured it was time to chase down his goal of owning a Kenny.

"In 2017 I traded the Mack in and bought a Kenworth T610 SAR, which I still have," he says,

"I still remember the day I picked up the new Kenworth after working with James Leo from Hallam Truck Centre to get everything right."

Daniel, with the help of James, spec'd out the Kenworth as a 19-metre quad-dog with a BTE-built tray, suited perfectly for the bricks he’d be carting.

"It was almost to the day that it was delivered and I wandered down there pretty nervous actually, but I was absolutely rapt," he recalls.

For Daniel, he’d achieved his dream and taking delivery of that shiny new Kenworth was every bit as special as he’d imagined.

"Taking the Mack off my old man was grouse, but picking a brand-new truck from a dealership is just something I'd always wanted to do," he says.

"Even the Kenworth hat and jacket are a part of that memory, as silly as it sounds.

"I hooked it all up and off I went. It’s just clicked over 200,000ks and compared to the earlier trucks it’s been great." 

The T610 SAR, Daniel’s pride and joy, in all its glory

Another trick bit of equipment you’re sure to see on the back of the T610 is Daniel’s Manitou MTX 625 4WD telehandler, which he says will get just about anywhere on a construction site. It looks like a hoot to drive, too!

Nowadays Daniel contracts for PGH bricks and pavers out of Scoresby, servicing the growth corridors around Victoria, from Seymour to Lorne, the CBD and beyond. 

"Late last year I got offered another contract and so I knew I'd be needing another truck," he says.

The choice of what truck to get for the job was a decision that came easily after many years getting to know the ins and outs of various Scania models, and one that allowed him to continue a family tradition.

"For that contract I wanted a Scania, for the particular application it was the way to go," he explains.

Many decades after his grandfather's first Scania purchase, Daniel took delivery of a new P 450 8x4 twin steer rigid tray top to add to the fleet now consisting of his Kenworth T610 SAR and the various other Scanias in the King family. 

"There’s a photo of me when I was two or three standing in front of my grandfather’s 141, and now there’s the photo of me and my son in front of my new Scania," he says.

Daniel’s decision to go with a European cab-over came down to the combination he planned on running, as well as the amount of technology in the Scania.

"I was pretty blown away by the amount of technology in the truck, and what Scania offered with the driving training and the safety features," he says.

"I get the email every Monday morning telling me what the truck has done over the last seven days, from fuel to braking, even cornering. It’s leaps and bounds ahead of the Kenworth for technology. 

"The things like lane departure and the driver aids obviously won’t avoid something like an accident if it’s going to happen, but you’ve got a bit of help to reduce the risk. 

"Oh, and the fuel economy is really, really good with what we’re doing!" 

Apples and oranges: The bonneted Kenworth and futuristic Scania couldn’t be more different, but they work together perfectly for Daniel

Quality drivers

Of course, another truck meant finding more drivers, an increasingly difficult task with the so-called ‘driver shortage’ plaguing the transport industry.

"Finding good drivers is hard. Drivers that look after your equipment and deliver the load in good condition," he says.

"Thankfully we’ve managed to find a really good group of guys who do the right thing and show up every day."

When asked the age-old question about his son Jaxson, ‘is your son going to get into trucking, too’, Daniel had to think about it for a second.

"Twenty years down the track I do wonder whether these jobs will still be around and look, my dad used to say ‘don't do it, aim higher’ and so on" he says.

"But I was just drawn to it. So if my son wants to, then he can do it." 

Daniel King with his son Jaxson and wife Karly, with their freshly delivered Scania

While the days of learning the ropes on the road with your father are a bit different now, Daniel still can’t wait to get Jaxson in the truck.

"I’m looking forward to having him in the truck with me, but it won't be like what it used to be," he says.

"He definitely won’t be able to do what I was doing 20 years ago!"

Daniel has plans to grow the business, something he says might provide Jaxson with a range of options should he choose to enter the world of transport later down the track. 

"My old man was always a solo operator and liked it that way, but if things go my way and we keep working hard I'd like to expand. That’s the aim," he says.

"Then there might then be an opportunity for Jaxson to come into the business to do a range of things."

It’s over to you Jaxson, let’s see if we can’t make it four generations of Kings in trucking! 

Daniel’s latest addition, the P 450 8x4 twin steer, put straight to work

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