Delarue Truck Repairs at Riverstone in western Sydney has specialised in tipper body and trailer manufacture, repairs and modifications for more than 40 years. Company founder, Russell Delarue, reflects on his time in the industry.
Now 66 years young, Russell Delarue began an apprenticeship at the age of 15 with W.G. Smith and Sons, an automotive body building company based at Summer Hill in Sydney’s inner west, manufacturing an array of equipment including horse floats, ambulances and hearses.
Describing his original boss as a hard taskmaster, Russell says he learned well his craft back in the days when there was nary an engineering drawing to be seen and computer aided design (CAD) wasn’t even a blip on the radar.
“As a young kid you’d put your hand up to do anything,” Russell elaborates. “Smith actually invented the foldable mobile barrier mounted to Holden and Ford utes that’s used for horse trotting races.
“By that stage the business had been relocated to Blacktown in outer western Sydney and we used to get the hydraulic motors and rams to make the mobile barriers out of old RAAF Neptune aeroplanes at a nearby scrap yard. I still remember building the last one on a Holden One-Tonner in the late ‘70s – it was a real fancy bit of gear.”
After finishing his well-rounded apprenticeship Russell turned his attention to heavy tippers and trailers, running his own truck and also doing weekend repairs and modifications for others from his home near Riverstone. Then around 19 years ago he relocated the business to a purpose-built factory and workshop in ‘Rivo’.
Since then he’s built a loyal customer base and a lot of tippers and now has a team of five dedicated employees, including his son.
“I’ve always loved building and working with tippers and it’s in this specialised area that we really shine,” Russell continues. “We do a lot of customised work like chook feed tankers with blowers for egg producer Pace Farms.”
Delarue also builds a lot of Performance-Based Standards (PBS) combinations and describes the quality and finish of new trucks and trailers and the variety of innovative combinations as massive improvements he’s seen since he started.
“PBS used to be very hard but now the approval side of things is much more streamlined and it’s also easier to work with the engineers.
“The variety of combinations that are being produced under PBS blows you away. It’s definitely the way of the future.”
Made possible by Smedley’s Engineers. Industry Icon is a series dedicated to honouring the unsung heroes of the commercial road transport industry.