Used Truck: Peter's Kenworth K200

By: Peter and Di Schlenk


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Owner-driver Peter Hempstead’s time at Finemores Transport instilled him with a firm belief in the benefits of driver training, as Peter and Di Schlenk found out.

Finemores Transport has come and gone – devoured by Toll in a takeover in 2001 – but it seems the first transport company Ron Finemore helmed left a lasting influence on veteran trucker Peter Hempstead.

The owner-driver who currently hauls cars for Ceva Logistics and has spent 25 years in the industry remembers fondly his time at Finemores.

Peter started out as an owner-driver for Top Transport and was asked to go over to work for Finemore in the 1980s.

"I was with Ron for quite a few years. Ron was probably the best person I ever worked for," Peter says.

The reason? That would be the time and effort Finemores put into driver training.

"You were taught how to load a car carrier and all the various configurations in the Finemore camp. He made sure that you knew every piece of equipment he had. That was a big advantage as it allowed him to put any driver in any vehicle as the need arose," Peter recalls.

Ever since he knew Ron, Peter says the trucking identity has always put an emphasis on training.

That would be everything from brushing up on driving skills to loading and unloading.

Peter says his time at Finemores was like an apprenticeship. The managers were hard on you, he says, but it wasn’t necessarily a bad thing.

He says one of the changes he has noticed from when he was at Finemores is the belief you can’t yell at or criticise blokes for doing the wrong thing.

Peter believes it is one of the worst things to happen today and gives young guys the impression they can make many mistakes without being held accountable for them.

The consequence is that the care factor is not there.

"I think that needs to change. I’m not saying to pull out the bull whip or a big wooden stick, just try and make them more accountable," Peter says.

"That comes down to training. It’s a big cost initially, time consuming sure, but the benefits to a company, to the driver in general can never be understated."

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Peter says he enjoyed his time at Finemores until it became a part of Toll.

"I was with them for a while after that but I can’t say I enjoyed their regime. They ran the operation differently to Ron and I was no longer happy there," he says.

"Eventually I was asked to join TNT, which I did as an owner-driver. From there, TNT became Ceva and I have been with them ever since and I think that is around 10 years."

Peter says he has noticed a lot of the new generation drivers do not listen to the older guys on the road.

"In most instances you need the old guys to show the younger ones the pitfalls because when things go wrong, they tend to go wrong very quickly," he says.

"Anyone can drive a truck hundreds and thousands of kilometres in a straight line. It’s when things go wrong that you need the experience."

QUALITY PRODUCT

Peter runs a 2012 K200 Kenworth, as well as a 2005 Argosy, both of which are used in his work for Ceva.

While he says he wouldn’t go past a Volvo if he had a pick of a European truck, Peter is a fan of American trucks.

He says his 2005 Argosy has been a very good truck but that he knew the Kenworth was a quality product and waited for the K200 to come along.

"After hearing they were reducing the size of the engine hump and a few other particular things that I wanted, I had no hesitation in buying a K200. I’ve only done 170,000km but it has been good so far," Peter says.

"I find it better than the Argosy; not taking away from the Argosy as it’s been a brilliant truck."

Peter has enjoyed his more than two decades in the trucking industry, but is no fan of the heavy vehicle fatigue management laws. He says drivers in the past realised when they were tired and stopped driving and went to bed.

"Now they [government] are trying to tell us when we can and can’t drive and that doesn’t make much sense. I know that they had to try something with the things that were going on but it is hard to retrain your body to fit in with the new regulations," Peter says.

"I have not found the human body to be a chip like you have in your computer."

During his time in the industry, Peter has also had to deal with personal tragedy.

His brother Bill, who ran HBS Earthmoving, died in 2005 from an aneurism.

Bill was involved with low loaders and took particular pride in his old Mack, which sat alongside a Kenworth K104 and a Western Star snoopy nose.

"It was his pride and joy. He won a couple of truck shows with that Mack. So we both had a big interest in trucks," Peter says.

"I can honestly say that just about everybody that worked for him and it was quite a large company, enjoyed it mainly because of his knowledge within the industry and especially the equipment."

Peter still finds it hard to accept his brother’s passing, adding that Bill was "my go-to guy".

Peter credits his wife, Jo for keeping his business going.

"Jo is a beautiful woman and is smart too. A lot prettier and smarter than me," Peter says with a laugh. "Without her I would be buggered."

Jo, who is an accountant’s assistant, does all of the bookwork and accounting for Peter.

"We are both good for each other and I think we run a good little business," he says.

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