At just 26, Dylan Mcpeake is living his interstate dream as a truckie.
He has a guaranteed weekly run from Brisbane to Melbourne driving a Western Star 4900-powered B-double he loves and a schedule that never puts him under the pump.
But if it wasn’t for such an understanding and patient boss in Mark Menz who was willing to iron out the kinks, and give him his big break, Mcpeake says his career could have just as easily derailed before it even had a chance to start.
He knows plenty of young blokes who are struggling to get a go and a few more who have got a start but chucked it in after succumbing to the time slot pressures from bigger companies, or one too many hefty fines for seemingly minor indiscretions.
“Something needs to change for the young prospect truck drivers of Brisbane,” Mcpeake tells Big Rigs.
“It was very challenging as a young lad to find a company that would give a young bloke a fair go, whether it be interstate or local work.
“All of these companies want two years’ experience, but they don’t understand that you’re not born a doctor, etc.
“The industry is ageing for a reason, and we are the future. Companies need to look at training instead of rejecting to fill the future shortage.”
With a love of trucks embedded from that first look as a youngster, Mcpeake came into the industry as an 18-year-old via a forkie role at CDM Logistics.
He’s a big fan of that pathway for would-be truckies, and the soon-to-launch truckies’ apprenticeship recently signed off by Canberra.
“Learning how to load them before you drive them is a great advantage. You know your weights. You get familiar with a bit of NHVR rules and regulations, like axle weights, and stuff.”
“A forklift or diesel-type apprenticeship, either one would really add value to the employer.”
Without an obvious truckie pathway in his first role, however, Mcpeake felt like he was just biding his time, throwing sickies to get MR lessons before moving up to an HC licence and a role with Menz.
“Mark Menz is the best bloke I know – he gave me a shot straight out of the gate in a single and I did a year-and-a-half doing local work in Brisbane for him.”
It wasn’t all plain sailing, though, not by a longshot, says Mcpeake.
He recalls one day losing a load out of the side curtains because he hadn’t done the buckles up tight enough.
“As patient as he was, he had me clean them up. It was the best way to learn. I’ve never done that again, I can tell ya.
“Maybe three or four months after that, I got my B-double licence and then he started teaching the ropes, like reversing them into docks, and all that stuff.”
It wasn’t long, however, that Mcpeake started to yearn for a taste of adventure and freedom on the open road and about a year ago, he gave Menz his notice.
“We kind of blew up and he didn’t say much to me for a few days after that,” admits Mcpeake.
“Then maybe a week before my last day, he says, ‘look, I’ve got a truck for you, I’ve got a set of trailers, and I’ve got one a week to Melbourne for you, would you stay if I do it?
“I said, ‘absolutely mate, I’ll give you all the time you want. If it’s a good run and you look after me like you have, I’ll stay’.
“I just wanted adventure, to get out there and see my country.
“I’ve seen so much in the last year, it’s unreal. It’s the best job I’ve had, absolutely.”