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Tributes flow for stalwart of national freight industry

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Peak body Road Freight NSW has paid tribute to industry legend Reg Mills who passed away peacefully on October 19, aged 80.

In the latest newsletter to members, chief executive Simon O’Hara said he had the honour of meeting Mills, who ran Mills Transport headquartered in Lismore, a number of times and was impressed by his quiet thoughtfulness and decency.

“The common refrain when freight operators speak about Reg was that he was a gentleman,” said O’Hara.

O’Hara also asked members to share their tributes “so that the freight industry can celebrate a man who has done so much to improve and advocate for it over the decades.”

Here are just three:

Kev Hurley, director, The Brown & Hurley Group Pty Ltd

“It is with great sadness I sit down to pen these words. With the passing of Reg we extend our deepest sympathies to Judith and the family. Reg was a man of great integrity and vision. The Mills families built a very large empire in a diverse range of different transport fields. Reg was also was a pioneer in his early involvement setting up associations to develop a better working relationships between the transport industry and Government authorities.

His involvement saw dramatic improvements in safety, the introduction of new configurations all aimed at improving the overall efficiencies of our industry. Reg has received many accolades for his great contribution to the industry and we all reap the rewards on his enormous and undying efforts today.

The association between Mills Transport and Brown & Hurley began with the sale of Leyland trucks in the 60’s. This association still goes on today with third generation Mills family members purchasing equipment from our company. The relationship between the two companies developed into much more than just business, Reg’s father Eric became close personal friends of Alan Brown and my father Jack Hurley. This close friendship still exists today between Reg, his brother Kelvin and Rob Brown and myself and our families.

In the dealings over the 50+ years there has never been a problem that couldn’t be resolved without an angry word. During this time they purchased well over 200 Kenworth trucks from us and countless other pieces of other equipment.

The integrity of the Mills family in both business and personal life was certainly one of Reg’s great assets.

His continued support of our small regional Kyogle branch in northern NSW was an enormous part of its survival with the huge decline of the timber industry and dairy farming over the years. For this Reg we salute and acknowledge what Mills have done for our business, our loyal staff and all our families. This contribution allow us all to stay living in and raising our families in the little town we like call home.

Thankyou Reg, you will be sadly missed but long remembered by us all.”

Paul Campbell, Charter Freight

“I knew Reg well both in the field and in the office as we both were on the board of the old NSWRTA at the same time and our companies did the occasional job or two together.

Reg first and foremost was a very ethical and honest man and led his company accordingly.  Reg’s word was his bond. The Mills Family company were industry pioneers and had a long and proud history stretching just over 90 yrs.

Not many would remember and appreciate the largely two-lane environment in which the industry worked on the eastern seaboard, in particular the old Hume and Pacific Highways in trucks that weren’t the technology hubs like today’s trucks. The Mills fleet was always a safe fleet, early adopters of speed limiting long before regulation (when many were not) and for example the first to run with the headlights on as daytime driving lights (they were wired into the ignition), years ahead of the manufacturers, but it made his fleet more visible and safer.  The Mills company and highway fleet was an example of industry leadership and in his spare time Reg enjoyed his sailing.”

Jon Luff, Border Express

“Reg was a champion of the road freight industry. He bought passion, knowledge, experience and sense not just to his own business but to the numerous industry bodies he devoted his time to. He was a tireless advocate for safety and conditions for transport workers, the sustainability and viability of operators, and the interests of his customers.

NSW has a strong and respected industry representation largely as a result of his vision and commitment.

Often I turned to Reg for advice and guidance and he was always generous with his time, humble and considered in his perspective, pragmatic and perceptive in his input. In addition he was a pleasure to be around.

A Trucker and a Gentleman.”

    • For details on the funeral to be held in Lismore on Thursday, October 28, click here.
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