Calab Dihm grew up watching the trucks drive past his family’s 700-acre farm in Lang Lang, Victoria, and a dream formed in his head.
“I thought I’d love to drive one of those trucks one day – or better yet, own my own,” he told Big Rigs.
Now aged 26, Dihm is the proud owner of a 2003 Kenworth K104 Aerodyne with a Cat C15 550 horsepower engine.
The young truckie was lucky enough to be able to buy the rig off his former employer, Abrehart Transport in Pakenham.
“I know the owner and his wife very well, and they are slowing things down a little bit so they were happy to sell it to me,” he said.
“For a truck that was made in 2013, it’s in great shape. The boss did a lot of work to it, he did me a favour on that.”
Dihm has been an owner-driver for just over a month, carting bulk organic material from one end of Melbourne to the other in a B-double tipper.
“I call it the east-west run,” he joked.
“The job I’m doing now, I’ve been doing it for the last two-odd years, I’ve just taken over the contract from my old boss.”
With seven years of trucking experience under his belt, Dihm wasn’t too nervous about going it alone.
“I thought I had a lot of things down pat,” he said.
“The couple of years leading up to buying my own truck, I’ve always treated the trucks as if they were my own anyway.”
The only thing that has taken a bit of getting used to has been the admin side of things.
“It was mostly paperwork that I had to figure out – things like filling in run sheets and time sheets, my employer would have taken care of those things before.”
He’s loving the freedom of owning the truck, and has a sense of pride in himself.
“It’s funny taking the truck keys home!” he laughed.
“I can take the truck somewhere on the weekend and I don’t have to tell anyone.
“It’s all just fallen into place, I’m loving it.”
Dihm dropped out of school at 15 but his lack of a formal education certainly hasn’t held him back in life. He’s not only an owner-driver, but a homeowner as well.
“For me personally, school was a waste of time – I couldn’t tell you what I learned from it!” he said.
“I got a job on a chicken farm when I left school at 15, and then when I got my heavy rigid licence at 19 I said, ‘See ya later!’ and went driving trucks.
“I’ve never let anything stop me. I bought a house early and I’ve bought my truck early too. I set goals and I go for them.
“Without sounding up myself, I’m pretty happy where I’m at now.”
Dihm said many people told him he was “crazy” to want to buy his own truck, but he just ignored them.
“I’ve heard a lot of negative stories from a young age,” he said.
“When people would ask me what I wanted to do, I would tell them I wanted to own a truck. I had them tell me I was mad, that I had rocks in my head. That all they do is cost you money.
“Well, houses cost you money as well, but most people want to buy a house.”
He wants to encourage other young truckies to become owner-drivers if they have an interest.
“Don’t listen to the negative comments,” he said.
“Of course, there are going to be ups and downs.
“But if you know there’s work there for you and you want to do it, go ahead and do it.”
However, he did have a few words of warning for anyone going it alone.
“Trucks can make a fair bit of money,” he said.
“You might be used to a $1500 a week wage and then suddenly you’re making a lot more when you go out on your own.
“Don’t go spending it on toys like fancy cars and big pickup trucks. Because if something goes wrong with your truck, they cost a lot of money to fix!
“Remember that chrome don’t get you home, but a good clean running engine will.”
Dihm also recommends any new owner-drivers “do their homework” and brush up on their mechanical skills.
“You don’t want to be ringing a mechanic for every little thing, so it helps to have some knowledge of how to service a truck,” he said.
“I would also say to look into every new contract properly, and make sure that what you’re being paid factors in your running costs.
“Know the job, know what you’re doing – but never get over-confident, because that’s when things start going pear-shaped!”