It’s been nearly two years since the passing of AIR CTI’s founder, Chet Cline, and the company continues today with the same level of passion, determination and enthusiasm that Chet was renowned for.
Chet started the AIR CTI company in 1998 after developing a central tyre inflation system that he believed could improve traction, provide better tyre life and enhance the quality of ride. The technology also reduced the poor health effects of vibration on truck drivers.
Chet believed that when tyre pressures are correctly matched to the size of the load being carried, braking distances are reduced and components throughout the truck last longer.
“It was just Chet doing it all himself in the beginning. He was the person who created the system, manufacturing and selling it. It really was a passion of Chet’s. He knew he had a great product and wanted to bring that to everyone,” AIR CTI director Wendy Cline said of her late husband.
She also revealed that some of Chet’s original central tyre inflations systems are still out there and on the road, 25 years later.
“He made an extremely robust product. Others may have developed similar concepts, but they don’t quite have the technology Chet has put into it,” added Wendy.
“Chet has been an inventor all his life. He was born in America and came to Australia in his teens. He had two cars before he even had his licence and was putting motors in and out of cars even at that young age. He was one of those people who would look at something and go you know what – if they did this or that, it would work a lot better. He had a very mechanical mind and an aptitude for inventing things.”
Chet had worked in various fields before starting AIR CTI, including as a mechanic when he lived in the Victorian high country.
“He always had a passion for machinery and driving. I don’t know how many thousands of kilometres we’d do every week. He loved being around cars and trucks; and owned many trucks himself too.”
Though Chet worked extremely hard throughout his life, he would often say he had never worked a day in his life, because of how much he enjoyed his work.
He was also widely recognised for his contribution to the trucking industry. In 2021 Chet was awarded life membership at the Australian Road Transport Suppliers Association (ARTSA). “He was really chuffed to receive that,” said Wendy. “The people at ARTSA were amazed at what Chet had achieved.”
Today, his vision lives on at the company, which is still family owned and run. “Chet’s values are what dominate every part of our decisions. It’s not about making money, it’s about helping people first. Chet was passionate in his endeavours to create an enterprise that would help the entire transport industry. Seeing his improvements in safety and the environment come to fruition became his reward,” said Wendy.
“He was always looking to help people achieve things. That was who he was throughout his life. No matter how busy he was, if someone needed him, he would drop everything and go. He could run rings around people a third of his age and he worked a huge week in his business every single week without fail.
“He always had a great passion to change the world. He believed that using central tyre inflation to track ideal tyre pressures would limit waste and reduce road infrastructure damage.
“He could never understand why government was so slow with the uptake. There are millions of dollars to be saved in tyre damage, let alone the negative impact incorrect tyre pressure can cause to people’s health.”
Wendy described an occasion where a truck driver had left the industry because of his bad back. When a mate asked if he could jump back in the truck to help out, he reluctantly agreed. That truck was fitted with AIR CTI.
“He didn’t think he’d make it through a week back in the truck and ended up being there for three months. He also said if he had central tyre inflation on his old truck, he would have still been driving,” explained Wendy.
Chet was a strong advocate for the benefits of central tyre inflation systems and he worked tirelessly to help affect change – for the benefit of truck drivers and the environment.
“We’re still attending meetings and speaking with government to raise awareness of why we’re here, why we exist and what we stand for. That’s what makes all the work so worthwhile.”