Careers & Training, Truckie Profiles

“You can’t learn experience, you can only gain it”

From the initial struggles of trying to get a foot in the door, this livestock truckie quickly learnt the ropes and has now taken the plunge and gone out on his own.

Having grown up in Sydney, a career in trucks and livestock wasn’t always on the cards. But when Scott Verrender, 33, got his first taste of livestock trucking, he knew it was where he wanted to be. 

Without any background in farming or trucking, he committed himself to the job and learnt everything from scratch. Over the past nine years in the livestock game, he’s honed his skills and recently took the next step.

“I always had an interest in livestock and one of my best mates was doing it. I started out doing general freight and it didn’t excite me one bit – I just didn’t enjoy it. My mate showed me a few things and I eventually ended up getting into livestock,” explained Verrender, who had just finished loading his truck full of cattle when we chatted. 

As he explains though, it wasn’t easy to find someone willing to take him on. “It was hard to get a shot at first because no one wanted to give a young bloke with no experience a go. But then I finally got a start with Stockmaster,” Verrender said.

He and his wife Rachael made the move from the city to the country 12 years ago, settling in the town of Forbes, NSW. “I floated around some new towns and found a spot that works for us. It was a good small town and we found a house here and everything fell into place.”

“When I started in livestock transport, I really liked the industry so gained my experience with the company I was working with. I made a lot of good relationships and then Rachael and I decided to do something for ourselves.”

In early 2021, the wheels were in motion for the couple to begin their own business. Verrender purchased a 2005 Mack Quantum and pig trailer. “We started putting things into place at the start of last year, then I told my boss two to three months prior and he was pretty happy with that, and then we went head first,” he revealed. 

“When I looked around the industry, it seemed there were a lot of older people in the industry with this sort of truck so we thought we would buy one of those. We got all our ducks in a row and off we went, and we haven’t looked back.”

And with that, SRV Livestock Transport was officially started in July 2021. 

Though it was a relatively quiet start, he says that by two months in, he was flat out. “The customers we work with have been really good. We’ve made a lot of good relationships – and we never say no.”

Around 70 per cent of the company’s work involves transporting sheep, with the other 30 per cent being cattle. Though, he’s even done a load of horses on one occasion too. Most of the work is throughout NSW and Victoria, however Verrender has also travelled as far as SA. “We will go anywhere we need to go,” he said.

Less than nine months into taking the plunge, and Verrender says he’s already looking to upgrade to a newer truck with bigger horsepower, with a UD or Isuzu likely to fit the bill. 

When asked what he enjoys most about the job, he replies, “I suppose being your own boss is pretty good. We meet a lot of good people – and being able to provide a good service to those people, that they really appreciate, is truly rewarding.”

Verrender is also quick to sing the praises of his wife. “Rachael is an absolute legend. She does all the paperwork and looks after the farm. I wouldn’t be able to do it if it wasn’t for my wife.

“The industry has been really good to us. It does take a lot of work, don’t get me wrong. But nothing is perfect, you’ve just got to work with it, adapt, evolve and put strategies in place that accommodate any issues that arise – appreciate the best times and prepare for the worst.”

Though he loves the industry he works in, Verrender says he’d like to see more people having a go and more being given a chance. “It is a tough job, it has it’s tough times and it can be very challenging. I wish there was more training available for young people to take on the job and I wish that more people would want to do the job, because it’s not just driving a truck, you need to work with the sheep and cattle too. It can be a very rewarding industry to work in and there are opportunities out there for people who want to have a crack.

“The truck driving apprenticeship is a fantastic idea. I hope it does gain momentum and that a lot of people take it on board and get into it. There’s a lot of knowledge to gain from people who’ve been doing the job a long time, and that knowledge will sadly go with them when they retire. You can’t learn experience, you can only gain it.”

As for plans to expand SRV with another truck, he says a shortage of drivers would make it difficult. “I’d love to give a young bloke a go. You can invest in them and really give them the time of day. Let them make mistakes, because that’s the only way you learn. But then you just don’t know how long they’re going to hang around for. 

“At the moment, I rely on myself and I don’t want to be let down by someone because it’s my name on the door, not theirs. I don’t want to say no to a customer because the driver I have doesn’t want to come to work. It’s so hard to find drivers you can really rely on.”

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