When the time came to purchase a new set of curtains for one of Tony Innaimo Transport’s B-doubles, its driver Michael Godlewski suggested having them printed with a message to support the invaluable work done by suicide prevention organisation Lifeline.
Company owner Tony Innaimo, 55, agreed it was a great idea and immediately reached out to Lifeline Canberra to discuss the design.
‘Here to Lighten the Load’ and ‘Lend us Your Ears’ are the words that feature prominently on the trailers, which have now been on the road for a few months. Based in Canberra, they’re used to transport general freight across the capital and into Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane, pulled by a 2007 Kenworth T904.
“I asked Lifeline how they wanted the curtains done and we got it printed,” said Innaimo, a second-generation truckie, who started his business in 1994. “There’s always someone who knows someone who’s committed suicide. It used to be pushed under the carpet. Now they’re trying to get the message out. If we can save one life a year, then I’m more than happy to help. Lifeline is a really great cause, helping a lot of people,” he said.
“If we can help to bring any awareness to Lifeline, if someone sees it on the highway and makes a phone call, then it’s done its job. We’re lucky enough to be able to support these organisations that do so much good.”
The B-double is actually the second truck in the fleet to spread Lifeline’s message across the highways, with a heavy rigid also sporting Lifeline curtains too.
But the connection doesn’t stop there. “They’re a great organisation and the people who work there are unbelievable. We do a fair bit with them, assisting with storage, picking up pallets, local distribution and things like that too. We’re here to help them with whatever they need,” revealed Innaimo.
Ever so humble in his actions, Innaimo is no stranger to giving back and supporting a number of different charities. Along with the Lifeline trucks, there are two rigids in the fleet that promote the Ricky Stuart Foundation, which aims to create inclusivity and support for those with autism and their families. The organisation was launched in 2011 by ex-NRL player and coach Ricky Stuart and his wife Kaylie.
Tony Innaimo Transport has also been an avid supporter of the Rise Above Cancer Convoy, Mengineering, Slabs for Heroes, Share the Dignity, and Ladies of the Land/Canberrans Care.
Like many transport companies, for Tony Innaimo Transport, the journey all started with one truck, an S-Line International.
“It was just one truck 29 years ago and with that first truck, I was carting out of Woolies throughout Canberra, servicing a contract with Ron Finemore Transport. My next truck wasn’t until 2000, then I bought another one in 2001, and then over the next few years, it kept building up,” said Innaimo. “Today we have a truckload more. Across all the sites, there are about 100 staff. There’s a lot of family and friends with us too, and a lot of people who have been here with me from the start.”
The fleet is made up of about 40 prime movers and almost 70 trailers, with around 45 sub-contractors also employed by the business. It operates across nine depots: two in Brisbane, two in Sydney, and one in Melbourne, Newcastle, Canberra, Yass and Wagga.
Innaimo says he got the trucking bug from his father. “He always had tippers, so I grew up around trucks. Dad taught me to drive. I jumped in the driver’s seat and had my first little steer at about 14. I just loved trucks and couldn’t wait until I turned 18 so I could get my truck licence. There was nothing else I wanted to do. When I was 25, I bought a truck and ventured out on my own.”
But as the company has grown, it’s meant he gets to spend less time on the road. “I’d like to get in the truck a lot more, but don’t get to much at all these days,” Innaimo said. “I do miss it, but it’s the way it is. I have to be here to run the business.”
The company has undoubtedly experienced exceptional growth, particularly over the past two decades and Innaimo says that’s attributed to one particular thing. “I’d like to say our growth is due to our service. We can service our customers and have a great relationship with them too. We treat their freight like it’s ours. If you respect the people you work for, hopefully they’ll return the respect,” he said.
Lifeline is Australia’s largest suicide prevention service provider. Each year, over 1 million Australians reach out to the organisation for support. Its crisis support line receives a call every 30 seconds.
But tragically, 8.6 Australians die every day by suicide, with 75 per cent of that figure being male, according to figures released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics last year – that’s more than double the road toll.
If you or someone you know needs support, you can contact Lifeline on 13 11 14.