Industry lauds transport’s best and brightest

After a three-year hiatus due to the Covid pandemic, it was a pleasure to host the Australian Freight Industry Awards at Crown Melbourne on Saturday, September 3. 

Close to 700 people gathered to recognise and celebrate the achievements of the winning and shortlisted transport operator and supplier companies and individuals across a range of categories, which is a stunning result considering this time last year Melbourne was locked down, with significant restrictions on personal movement in the community.

Melira Lister and Simon Wheeler accept the award for Qube.

Our winners this year were: 

• CRT Group owner and chairman Colin Rees, winner of the Personality of the Year Award;

• Alex Fraser Group Communications Manager Cara Spencer, winner of the Female Leadership Award;

• Linfox Healthcare Operations Manager Claudia Jennings, winner of the Young Achiever of the Year Award;

• SEA Electric, winner of the Sustainable Environment Award;

• Knorr Bremse Australia, winner of the Application of Technology Award;

• Wettenhalls, winner of the Best Practice Safety Award; and

• Qube Bulk Pty Ltd, winner of the Investment in People Award.

Wettenhalls general manager safety Jason O’Kiefe accepting the Best Practice Safety Award, as VTA CEO Peter Anderson looks on.

Surpassing a record number of nominations lodged in 2020 – when the awards were presented virtually – over 60 nominations were submitted this year from all over Australia, which is a fantastic endorsement of what it means to win or be nominated for an Australian Freight Industry Award. 

The judges were impressed with the depth and breadth of the submissions from small, medium and large operators and suppliers to our industry. 

Award winner Claudia Jennings makes her way to the stage.

Among the winning nominees were people like Linfox’s Claudia Jennings for her amazing work on the company’s roll-out of vaccines in eastern Australia, SEA Electric for their investment in Australian-made and sustainable electric trucks, representing the future of road transport, and Qube, for a road train operator program that has introduced 130 trainees to transport – including more women than men – since 2021.

[L-R] Michael Roche, Anita Pomales, Rachel Michaud, and Chris Dudfield from Knorr-Bremse Australia with their award.

Knorr-Bremse demonstrated innovation of global significance in winning the Application of Technology award, with its iMass Heavy Vehicle On-Board Mass system providing strong benefits to the wider freight and logistics industry, whilst Wettenhalls was recognised for its driver on-boarding, induction, and simulation program that demonstrates excellence and Best Practice Safety. 

Cara Spencer accepting the Female Leadership Award for Alex Fraser Group & Transport Women Australia.

Our Female Leadership Award winner Cara Spencer has shown a strong commitment to improving diversity, with a focus since 2018 on upskilling women and supporting them in long-term employment. 

Through her work with Alex Fraser Group and Transport Women Australia, Cara has been instrumental in a training program in with Volvo Group and Wodonga TAFE, which to date has trained close to 40 new drivers. A wonderful achievement for an industry desperate for professional drivers.

Our 2022 Personality of the Year Award recipient Colin Rees is a legend of the transport industry and has a history in transport stretching back to 1954, where he witnessed his mum Betty establish “South Suburban Taxi Trucks” with 200 pounds on the family’s kitchen table. 

From these beginnings Col established Colin Rees Timber Transport, which became Colin Rees Bulk Haulage and later CRT Group.  His reputation for innovation and customer service along with spotless equipment and presentation remain with Col to this day. His innovation in bulk containers and packaging kept local producers competitive with imported product.

Col is a worthy recipient of this coveted Personality of the Year accolade for his decades of service, and the respect he commands as a true industry professional.

SEA Electric vice-president Asia Pacific Glen Walker.

Every one of our winners and finalists should be proud of their accomplishments, and particularly that they were achieved during a time of great challenge and uncertainty in people’s professional and personal lives. 

Their endurance, commitment and effort are reflective of every transport worker that has stood up and served our communities over the past three years, and it was terrific to recognise that in person at our awards presentation.

The awards will be back bigger and better in 2023, and we’d welcome a nomination from you or your operation.

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