Trucking legend: Complete Trucks’ tribute at MOVE

With the recent revamp of Shepparton’s Museum of Vehicle Evolution (MOVE) came the opportunity for Complete Trucks’ Sebastian Spadaro to not only donate a stunning 1986 W model Kenworth but also honour his father, John – a key industry figure from the area, who joins the MOVE Avenue of Legends

Speaking over the phone from their busy site in Shepparton, in north Victoria’s Goulburn Valley, it’s all go for Sebastian Spadaro and his wife, Kristy, as they manage their used truck, trailer and construction equipment business Complete Trucks.

A family-run business that has, on average, 30 to 40 trucks on site at a time, as well as an interstate low-loader operation, they are “keeping Australia moving”, Spadaro explained to Deals on Wheels.

“We offer a broad range of services, from trucks to tippers, to tray trucks, curtainsiders and prime movers, etc. Complete Trucks is a licensed motor trader basically dealing with the sales of used trucks, from refurbishment to remarketing our assets to the industry’s market.

“We stand behind the products we sell. Therefore, we handpick a lot of our stock, listen to the market’s needs and service it accordingly.”

Complete Trucks started off as a transport company around 2008/2009, which Spadaro worked at with his father, John Spadaro, carting goods.

“My father passed away on the job back in 2014 and I basically took over the reins and moved forward, to honour the name,” Spadaro explained.

Complete Trucks has been at its current site on Grahamvale Rd in Shepparton for a couple of years now, close to the A39 that runs up to Toowoomba, and Spadaro says it is an excellent spot to display his company’s stock.

“It’s very broad, it’s very bold – we’ve really left a landmark in that particular spot,” he said.

“We stand high behind our products. The products that we do put on display, they’re certainly well exposed and we’re very proud of that to be honest. We like to speak to the main brands that have proven themselves on the market. Being a used truck dealership, your reputation falls back to what you’re selling.”

As well as offering parts and used trucks, Complete Trucks also undertakes modifications to accommodate truck bodies to specific customer needs, usually lengthening or shortening trays for different loads, all done on site in its workshop where four employees work alongside the husband-and-wife team.

“Kristy’s starting to become the face of the business as such,” said Spadaro.

“We’re planning on keeping up with the times and technology, because, you know, we’re doing it all for the future of our kids at the end of the day, so it’s important.

“I certainly enjoy getting out and about and communicating with people, listening to their needs, helping where I can. Now, we offer a part delivery service with our own truck and it’s inspiring that we can be part of it all.”

Making a MOVE

A fantastic reflection of Complete Trucks’ community spirit is shown in its sponsorship of the new MOVE museum in Shepparton, which saw a revamp and expansion of the old Shepparton Motor Museum. 

Located on the southern approach to Shepparton, the Spadaros are one of several local transport families who helped fund the renovation. And, now, they have supplied a 1986 Kenworth to be put on display as well as funding a banner highlighting the contribution John Spadaro made to the
local industry.

MOVE is one of Australia’s largest regional museums of collectibles, covering everything from bicycles, clothing and telephone technology to cars, bicycles, motorbikes and, of course, trucks. It was the trucking side of transport, and a group of local industry enthusiasts, that formed the catalyst for the museum’s evolution.

“The Shepparton Motor Museum’s been around since about 2012,” explained MOVE executive officer Peter Hill when asked how the expansion came about.

“It was a 1,200 square metre facility that had a number of local cars on display. In the background there was a group of local transport people who were looking at starting a truck museum to celebrate the rich history of transport in this region. The two got together in about 2017 and the spark was lit for the idea of MOVE.

“The first thing we needed to do was to raise money locally before you go through levels of government to ask for sponsorship. 

“So, we went to local transport families and we asked for donations from each one of them. We managed to raise $1 million and, with that million, we went to state, federal and local governments, and we were able to get enough from grants and funding to complete a $6.2 million renovation, through Covid, which we opened in September 2021.”

The initial 1,200 square metres was expanded to just under 10,000 square metres and, despite the pandemic complicating travel plans, business has
been booming.

“Just prior to Christmas, the numbers that we were getting through the doors were where the business case said we’d be in four years’ time,” said Hill.

“We’re really impressed with how strong the visitation has been and nearly 65% of visitors are visiting from more than 100km away from us, which is really good as well.”

The drawcard

A major draw for the museum has been the Kenworth Dealer Truck Pavilion, which houses around 30–35 prime movers and other commercial vehicles, which represent Shepparton’s role as a major transport hub. Pride of place amongst these gleaming machines are the stories of those who drove and cared for them.

“We have an Avenue of Legends and they are the people we went to initially and asked for the funding that got us going,” said Hill.

“So, in that area, each one of them has a floor-to-ceiling banner, some photos of their business, the history of their business, and a quote from the owner.”

Sponsored by Kenworth, Volvo and Freightliner, the three companies have donated trucks for the display, but there are also highly personal trucks donated by the families whose stories are being told, which now includes the Sparados’ 1986 Kenworth.

“Complete Trucks were a great example of what we’re trying to celebrate here – a family business that’s grown from something pretty small to something that’s a significant business in the region,” explained Hill.

“I mean, given the way things are with the lack of new trucks at the moment, Complete Trucks are certainly becoming a very popular business in the region! But the Spadaro family are well known in transport, have a good history in transport in this region, and Sebastian’s father, John, was a legend.

“Sebastian recently told me that he wanted to come on board and get one of those banners and celebrate the history of the Spadaro family. So very, very important. Everyone in the legends are family businesses – there are really no multi-national businesses in Shepparton.”

With time marching on, Hill emphasised that it’s important to capture now the stories of those involved in the formation of Australia’s trucking industry, and transport in the local area, and preserve
it for future generations.

“A lot of these legends are in their 80s, and some have passed, so it’s really important I think that we’re getting their story and hearing their story – recording it not only for their families [but also visitors to the museum].

“It’s a really joyous thing to watch those guys stood in front of their family banner and celebrate the history. So, it’s very important that we’re capturing it now.”

And it’s not just trucking families who are enjoying the striking trucks on display, with Hill saying that visitors who may have come to look at the cars end up drawn to these beasts of the road.

“A lot of people I think would like to go and have a look at a truck – they’re a big, shiny, exciting-looking thing – but the last thing you’re going to do is pull up in a truck car park and start walking around a truck with a driver sleeping in the back. 

“So, this gives them that opportunity where they can really get close to them. Again, there are stories around each one of the trucks – they can hear the history of the renovation or the history of the business, etc. It’s bringing people together.”

If they fancy getting behind the wheel, there’s also a simulator where they can virtually drive a truck around Shepparton.

“We put it in mainly for the kids, but we’re finding the fathers are quickly pushing their sons and daughters out of the way and jumping in and having a go themselves!” laughed Hill.

“We try to change the collection every three to four months. We need it fresh – we need people to come and look at what’s happening at MOVE, not come and say ‘that’s exactly the same as was it was last time it was here’. We want local people to have this as a destination not only for themselves but for their visitors when they come and have a look around Shepparton.”

A personal story

Spadaro, however, has no need for a simulator, with trucking blood coursing through his veins. For him, the museum not only has offered the opportunity to honour his father’s contributions to the industry, but the old school generation of truckies and their families in general. 

He says the renovation has been fantastic and that the museum reflects the goals of those who came before him.

“Deadline, pride and mateship,” he says of the values of those who plied the roads back in the day.

“Deadline – well everyone had a go, they made sure the load was in at a given time. The boys did it rough back then, given the road infrastructure was nothing like now, and the same with the trucks with their [low] horsepower and the lack of technology.

“The pride and mateship – well everyone prided themselves on doing their best. You know, everyone would leave their depot on a Sunday afternoon and all of the mates would gather together at the truck rest stops, have a meal together, have a laugh together, and never lacked in giving a helping hand.

“If someone was struggling with a flat tyre or broken down, there was always someone there to pull up to give them a hand. So, they were different times, it really was. There was a lot more bonding due to the fact that we didn’t have the telephone technology – people always made the effort to gather together in certain places.

“As for my father, he started in the early 80s with one truck. At his peak I think he ran about 50 or 60 trucks at one given time, doing interstate transport haulage. And he was well recognised by JNH Loading Agency, which was a Melbourne loading agency organising the structure of loading and subcontractors for the bigger companies. He was well known in the industry – pretty much known as a legend to be honest, and I believe his name should be a part of that museum and that’s why we’re funding a sponsorship towards the museum.

“My father was a very, very inspiring person and basically I had a good teacher, no two ways about that.

“The Kenworth that we’ve put in [to the museum] is a 1986 W model, so they’re very iconic in the Kenworth range, well recognised. Back in that era they were pretty much an iconic truck, even back then. As much as there are many different brands, from Mack to Ford Lewisvilles as such, the Kenworth always had that upper edge in terms of holding together and parts availability, and they were here in Australia.”

Asked why he chose that particular truck for the exhibition, Spadaro explained that having grown up around W model Kenworths, there’s a strong emotional attachment.

“We bought that together,” he said of the Kenworth that is now adorning the Avenue of Legends.

“Dad was still alive when we purchased that truck. It was a project that we were both doing up together. Unfortunately, he never got to see the finished result, so I hope everyone can see it.”

Photography: James Phipps

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