This couple is on to a winner

It’s been an exciting year for young couple Mitchell Shearsmith, 25, and Jemma Spralja, 22, who along with launching their own transport business M&J S Haulage in April were also named the lucky winners of WHG’s FleetCAM AI video telematics system during a Brisbane Truck Show promotion.

Both MC-licenced, their business M&J S Haulage has been about two and a half years in the making, with their dream of going out on their own coming to fruition after getting their 2003 Mack Superliner ready for work and securing a contract with a civil construction company, who they’ve been working with for the past six months.

Based in Cairns, M&J S Haulage specialises in the transport of heavy machinery and delivery of bulk materials Queensland wide, including remote Cape York, Central Queensland and Gulf communities. “With this civil contractor, they have a lot of their own gear and a diverse client base that they service. We contract in to work alongside the haulage operator and move the machines and building materials around Queensland for them. Mitch has just headed out to Cloncurry this week to pick up a crushing plant while I organise parts in town for our next scheduled maintenance day, before that we were up at Archer River,” explained Spralja.

“We also do special trips into Palmer River, which is a 90km stretch of rolling hills on the dirt just past the Maytown ruins, so you need to be quite skilled to bring gear in there, especially with the weight we carry on the back.”

While Spralja secured her MC licence last month in September, Shearsmith has extensive road train experience. He learnt from his late father, who drove trucks for decades.

“Mitch had a lot of mentoring through his dad growing up, shadowing him in the shed while they tinkered away”, Spralja said.

The FleetCAM system has been installed on the couple’s 2003 Mack Superliner.

Shearsmith has a love for the industry, trucking and the open road, a passion inherited from his father, with an ambition that drove the couple to build M&J S Haulage.

“Through my childhood of being around dad with cars and trucks, I decided that this is the industry that I wanted to make my career in. I went out and became a diesel fitter and earned my MC licence by the time I was 21. After a few hard years of work and dedication, my partner Jem and I now have our own truck, and haul machinery here in Cairns. If it wasn’t for dad, I definitely wouldn’t be swinging spanners or driving our lorry today,” Shearsmith explained.

Spralja added, “It’s good having that mechanical background too, as not only can he drive the trucks, he can also fix them. It’s as economical as you can get in this industry.

“Mitch is very patient and multi-skilled. While I offside and do a lot of the behind-the-scenes work, so we make a great team. We wouldn’t be where we are today without the hours we put in.”

Prior to starting M&J S Haulage, the couple spent time working at the mines last year. Shearsmith as a mechanic, driver and supervisor, while Spralja worked alongside in administration and parts interpreting for the haulage operation.

“It was while we were out there that this opportunity came about. So, we took the leap and began the journey of working for ourselves,” said Spralja.

“It was a good opportunity to get our foot in the door. This is a great starting point for us for sure. We enjoy the versatility of it too, there’s always something different to pick up and a new challenge waiting for us around the corner. Not to mention the scenery we get to see and the experiences we share through our time on the road together.”

They were both able to upskill after successfully applying for the Business Basics government grant, which Spralja used to get her MC licence and machinery tickets, and Shearsmith used to complete a Dangerous Goods course.

Now, having the FleetCAM system fitted to their truck has been a great asset. “We’ve had it in for the past 3-4 months now and it works great. It’s a handy insurance device if we were to get into any mischief on the roads,” explained Spralja.

The camera records continuously as long as the key is in the ignition, and if anything happens and we do have a collision – if someone cuts us off or we hit an animal – we have that evidence.”

The system fitted to their Superliner includes both a forward-facing camera and a camera facing the driver, with footage all easily accessible via an online portal.

“When we went to the Brisbane Truck Show in May, on a whim I thought I’d just scan the code and put my name in the draw for the WHG competition. A couple of days later I got a call from the WHG team advising we won their promotional camera! And it’s been working really well for us. FleetCAM’s online portal is easy to use. The WHG technician who fitted it was knowledgeable and meticulous, and the team at WHG are very helpful,” said Spralja.

“As part of the prize, we have a full year subscription to the online portal [FleetCAM vision] for free, and after we succeed those 12 months we’ll definitely continue.”

Look out for Mitchell and Jemma as they traverse the vast Aussie landscapes, paving the roads with their aspirations and dreams! Find out more about M&J S Haulage at mandjshaulage.com.au; visit FleetCAM. com.au or call 1800 474 387.

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