Through his long and celebrated career with Freighter, Ivan has seen many major industry changes, ranging from the launch of the first Tautliner curtain-sider in Australia, to the introduction of the B-double.
Now in his early 70s, Ivan continues to work for Freighter parent company, MaxiTRANS, on a part-time basis, passing on his valuable knowledge to the next generation of engineers. Ivan divides his time between work, family and his passion for cars, including his recently purchased 1966 Mustang.
Ivan began his journey at Freighter Industries in Melbourne in 1966 as a cadet engineer after studying mechanical engineering. By that time Freighter was already building a wide variety of trailers – from flat tops and tankers, to low loaders and livestock trailers, and everything in between. The company had facilities all over Australia and even built buses, fibreglass boats and manufactured its own axles, fifth wheels and suspensions.
Shortly after joining Freighter, Ivan moved into project engineering. “This included testing prototype units and demonstrations of the container side transfer system in Sydney, Queensland and Mount Gambier. A large fleet customer used the equipment for some years to transfer their ‘transiflats’ from road to rail,” recalls Ivan. “This Canadian system is still used extensively by the Queensland sugar industry to this day.”
During the 1970s, Freighter consolidated its operations. In 1973, manufacturing relocated to its current facility in Ballarat, while a corporate office was established on St Kilda road, which included the engineering office.
1973 was also the year that Ivan engineered the Freighter lift demountable body road transport system used in the northern New South Wales sugar industry.
When B-doubles were introduced, Ivan continued to push the boundaries. “In 1987, we built a number of 8.8m Tautliners with retractable tri-axle suspensions for load distribution. The retractable design helped to minimise the space used on the Tasmanian ferries. To further push the design, we coupled up two and made the first tri-tri B-double for a demonstration.. Ahead of its time, it was some years later before tri-tri B-doubles could be used,” Ivan says.
When Freighter and Maxi-CUBE merged in 1998 to become MaxiTRANS, the Freighter name continued as one of the Company’s leading trailer brands.
“As an engineer, the challenge is always there to develop solutions for our transport industry. My job continues to be worthwhile due to the support and working relationship I have with the sales network, some of whom have become lifelong friends.”
Made possible by Smedley’s Engineers, Industry Icon, is a series dedicated to honouring the unsung heroes of the commercial road transport industry.