Trailer Magazine

Industry leader: Phyllis Jones

  • Posted on Monday 15th, April 2019.

For people like Phyllis Jones, or Phyll as she likes to be called, road transport is so much more than an occupation – it’s a way of life. After she was married, Phyll embarked on a steep learning curve in regard to all the ins and outs of running a transport business and also managed to raise four children along the way. After nearly half a century in business, she still enjoys the challenges and rewards of being a part of the ever-changing transport landscape.

“When Neville and I were married in 1964 he was working for his father who owned earthmoving equipment and trucks,” Phyll reminisces. “Neville would sometimes be away for up to six weeks at a time, often driving to Darwin for his Dad, so about nine months after the birth of our first child in early 1969, we decided to start our own transport business so that Neville would be able to spend more time with us.”

The couple started the business with a second-hand B-model Mack pulling a stock crate, mainly carting sheep and cattle within the south-western region of New South Wales surrounding their home town of Hay. As the business developed, Phyll was increasingly involved in all aspects from administration right through to helping load and drive the trucks. Livestock haulage and tipper work have continued to be the mainstay of the business.

“The second truck we owned was an International R-190,” she says. “To buy it we had to trade in my ‘dream car’ – a Valiant station wagon – which was the first new car we’d owned!”

As the business grew throughout the early 1970s a number of drivers were employed and then in the mid-‘70s a rather unsavoury turn of events left Phyll in no doubt about the immense value of belonging to industry associations.
“By this stage we had five drivers working for us and a man who wanted to start up his own transport business in opposition to us got in the ear of the union and told a lot of lies about us, resulting in us being black-banned from sites all over Australia,” Phyll explains.

The chaos lasted about four months and over that period Phyll says she was overwhelmed by the generosity and solidarity of people within the industry who heard about their plight and wanted to help in whatever way they could.

“Transport companies from as far away as Queensland were offering to come and do our work for free to help us out,” she says. “It was extraordinary and it made me realise that there are many, many good-hearted people within our industry that far outweigh the few ‘bad eggs’. Fortunately, we managed to hold it together and get back on our feet without losing any customers.”

It was during this difficult time that Phyll got involved with the Australian Small Business Association at Deniliquin and at one of its meetings she was introduced to Paul Gaynor who was then in the process of starting NatRoad.

“So we joined NatRoad and that was a real lifesaver for us, literally, and from there I continued to be involved as much as I could to keep learning and stay abreast of the new regulations and procedures we needed to implement.

“You need to know your legal rights when faced with an issue like what we went through,” she continues. “Our associations are like a safety blanket – they provide the information and help that you wouldn’t find anywhere else.

“I think every transport business should belong to an association, it should be like compulsory third-party insurance.”
Over the years Phyll has received many accolades for her selfless contributions to the industry she loves. In 2004 she was inducted into the Shell Rimula Wall of Fame at the National Road Transport Hall of Fame in Alice Springs.

Her other awards include: The 2001 National Road Transport Woman of the Year; The Annual Rotary Club of Hay Award for Good Service; the 2000 inaugural Rotary International Club Businesswoman of the Year; Inductee, Department of Primary Industries 2011 Hidden Treasures Roll; 2003 NatRoad Quiet Achiever.

Phyll is also a former board member of Transport Women Australia.

Sadly, Phyll’s husband Neville passed away at the start of this year, however, their second son Wayne is carrying on the long-held family tradition, running his own transport business in Hay with five prime movers and a number of employed drivers.

Meanwhile, Phyll has hung up her truck driving boots and is looking forward to spending more time with her seven grandchildren as they grow up.

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