Teletrac Navman Fleet Focus | In the footsteps of Wally and Podge

 
In the footsteps of Wally and Podge
 July 2020    Photos Terry Wreford Hann & Ross Hyde

First there was Walter (Wally) Pinfold – who put in 30-odd years running the show. Then came Podge – the boss for a standout 60-plus years! For the past 12 years (or more) there’s been Steve – the third-generation Pinfold to run the family business.

Now, as this Carterton trucking company works through the first few weeks of its second century (yep, it turned 100 in May), there’s a fourth-generation family member – Ethan (AKA Podge junior) – in the wings.

Like his Dad, his Grandad and Great-Grandfather before him, the 23-year-old loves trucks….and he’d seem the perfect candidate, sometime in the future, to carry on the Pinfold family tradition.

He’s currently driving an Isuzu stock truck for Pinfolds Transport – working towards his Class 5 licence. And like Mum Karen reckons: “He’s always got a smile on his face. You see him driving down the road and all you can see is his big grin!”

Steve, now 63 and feeling a little less love for the business than he used to – all thanks to the seemingly ever-increasing rules and regulations that livestock transporters are hammered with – tempers any expectation that Ethan will carry on the Pinfold’s Transport name.

Subscribers: Please LOGIN to read the full article

Gallery

First there was Walter (Wally) Pinfold – who put in 30-odd years running the show. Then came Podge – the boss for a standout 60-plus years! For the past 12 years (or more) there’s been Steve – the third-generation Pinfold to run the family business.
Now, as this Carterton trucking company works through the first few weeks of its second century (yep, it turned 100 in May), there’s a fourth-generation family member – Ethan (AKA Podge junior) – in the wings.
Like his Dad, his Grandad and Great-Grandfather before him, the 23-year-old loves trucks….and he’d seem the perfect candidate, sometime in the future, to carry on the Pinfold family tradition.
He’s currently driving an Isuzu stock truck for Pinfolds Transport – working towards his Class 5 licence. And like Mum Karen reckons: “He’s always got a smile on his face. You see him driving down the road and all you can see is his big grin!”
Steve, now 63 and feeling a little less love for the business than he used to – all thanks to the seemingly ever-increasing rules and regulations that livestock transporters are hammered with – tempers any expectation that Ethan will carry on the Pinfold’s Transport name.
Steve and Karen both make the point that, much as he loves driving, Ethan “sees how hard it is” to run a successful livestock transport operation.
“And how hard it is to make money,” adds Karen. 
So there may be a potential progression plan to carry the Pinfold trucking dynasty into the future….but so far, it is just that – a possibility.
Steve and Karen, who have owned the 100-year-old company since Podge Pinfold died in 2008, at the age of 85, crack up laughing when you inquire, jokingly (yes, and provocatively), whether they bought the business to “get rich quick.”
Steve says that maybe “in the old days there was a bit of money in the industry. Like Dad….he bought farms.” And others, he adds, “bought property here and there. But as time goes by, it’s just got tougher and tougher.”
So no, says Steve – who’s only ever worked in the family business since leaving school at 18: Taking over the business was just a matter of continuing what had already been….ever since Walter Pinfold started out as a horse and cart carrier in 1920.
And continuing to do what Steve had been doing for years before his Dad died – running the business on a day to day basis. Trucking, for him, is life: “It’s in your blood.
“And you just want to carry on the family history. And we were only so many years away from the 100 years, so we thought ‘yeah, we’ve gotta do it.’ ”
Karen reckons that, before Podge died, Steve had never really thought about one day taking the company over: “He just thought his Dad was gonna be there forever!”
So there was certainly no grand plan as they took over the nine-truck operation – no dreams of returning it to its glory years, back in the 1960s and ‘70s, when the Pinfolds fleet ran to 22 or more trucks.
Being bigger and better didn’t enter into it, says Steve: “We just wanted to continue on with Pinfolds as it had been.”
And Karen chips in: “Yeah, you’ve got others around here who are young, and they’re eager, and they want to get out there….and they want to be big.
“We’re not into that. We would rather stay small, look after the drivers we’ve got…and provide a service. Service is our Number One thing: We won’t buy into any price wars or anything like that – we charge what the job is worth. We don’t go around doing cut-throat prices like some of them do….and we don’t want to be all over the country. We do lower North Island.” 
Wally Pinfold’s focus was, of necessity, much more localised than that when he started out in business in May 1920: After all, he only had horse and cart rigs – courtesy of the stables and carrying business he and brother-in-law Ted Follows had just bought in Carterton.
Walter had not long returned to the family farm, about 20 kilometres out of Carterton, with two legacies of his time away fighting in World War 1: On one hand he had a new bride – Molly, the Irish lass he’d met in London while he was recovering from being wounded at the Battle of the Somme….
But then he also brought back a bad leg – the result of being shot not once, but twice.
Son Podge told New Zealand Truck & Driver back in 2003 that his Dad “carried his bad leg for years. He wouldn’t take a pension – said there were a lot worse off than him.”
With their four horse and cart rigs, and operating as Follows & Pinfold, Walter and Ted “serviced the rail and did all sorts of little work around the place.”
It didn’t get off to a good start: Within a few weeks Walter had a big accident with a horse and cart, re-injuring his bad leg and putting him into hospital for six months. He walked with a limp for the rest of his life.
In the early 1920s the business bought its first truck – as Podge described it, “a Leyland with solid tyres, four-cylinder motor, carbon lights.”
Podge, who was born in 1922, remembered the Leyland well – because it added some excitement to his little-boy life, accompanying his Dad on trips across the Maungaraki Ranges to the eastern Wairarapa: “Oh we used to go way out towards the coast – 20 to 30 miles – carting things over dirt tracks. Right over the hills.
“We’d leave at probably four or five in the morning and get back at seven at night. You know – that was just one load. The truck could do maybe eight miles an hour.” 
“Going out over some of the hills, when she started to get hot I’d run behind, carrying a big block of wood to put behind the back wheel.” Father and son would wait till the engine cooled down, then “he’d take off again.”
Even years later, stock pickups from over on the coast were major exercises: Because “you couldn’t afford to go out there empty,” the trucks would leave Carterton with a load of fertiliser or whatever, carrying the sheep crates in broken-down form. 
Recalled Podge: “It took six hours to get out there to the coast anyway, so you’d go out there in the afternoon, have a meal at the cookhouse and stay there the night. Then you built the crates – bolt them together. Two-deckers. Oh it wouldn’t take long.”
Around 24 hours after leaving town, maybe a bit longer, they’d be back, delivering the sheep to the Waingawa freezing works.
In 1928, Ted Follows sold his share of the business to Wally, and it became W. Pinfold, General Carrier.
The business grew…but slowly: Podge recalled that when he was a little boy there were three small trucks: “Dad did a lot of local work – hay and stuff like that. And, of course, the rail – everything went by rail because of the 30-mile limit. So it was all local. We couldn’t even go to Eketahuna.
“Mum ran the phones for the business – I remember our phone number was 22 Carterton. If my father was down the river shovelling metal by hand and there were a couple of jobs come in, she’d pushbike down there to let him know.”
Surprisingly, for someone already steeped in the transport business, Podge didn’t go to work for the family operation when he left school: He went straight into “the Power Board” rather than into a truck – simply because, he recounted, “my Mum said no. In those days, when a job came up, you took it. Everyone was after work – everyone. And I was fortunate.”
He did become a registered electrician – but only after four years in the Navy during World War 2: He’d joined-up at 19 and spent a year in England, experiencing the Blitz first-hand – leaving him convinced that “if it wasn’t for the Americans coming in, we’d never have won it.” It left him with a lifelong “soft spot” for USA.
He was then posted to a Ceylon on the brink of rebellion – was there until “the war finished with the A-bomb. That blew it apart – much to the displeasure of some of us.” 
At the end of 1945 he returned to Carterton – initially working for the power board, while finishing his electrician qualifications at night school and devoting any spare time to helping his Dad. Within a year he joined his father fulltime – starting at the same time as his brother-in-law, Doug Drury (who would go on to help manage the place for over two decades).
As Podge explained in 2003: “Everything was a challenge in those days. We made our own trays and everything. We were running mostly OLB Bedfords…and then we had a 1947 Chev. Then we had TS3 Commers – all with petrol engines.”
In those days Pinfolds only ever had four or five trucks “at the most: We had seven dairy factories around here and it really kept us busy. I mean we shovelled coal and we shovelled gravel out of the Waiohine river. The gasworks and all the dairy companies had coal so it was a big job back then.”
His Dad, despite the lingering after-effects of his war wounds, was a hard man when it came to work: “Dad stayed in the business about 15 years after I started – even though his legs were getting pretty sore. 
“Even when he was getting on he’d still go and buy a Number 8 square-mouth shovel – then he’d go and put another four inches on the front of it again! His shovel used to be that bloody long!”
In 1954, Wally had to call time on running the place fulltime and Podge bought the business, renaming it Pinfolds Transport. His Dad continued to spend a lot of time at the yard, right up till his death in 1965. 
Running trucks back then was hard, physical work, Podge told NZ Truck & Driver – but tough as it was, “we all enjoyed it though.” A keen rugby player (he was a Wairarapa rep and made a 1947 North Island team), Podge would get “all the football clubs” involved, to help out during the hay season: “The blokes would want to get fit – and they’d get into the hay. And we had a lot of fun. You know, the cups of tea would come out everywhere you’d go.
“As time went on, with the dairy companies, our work got more and more involved and we started to grow – starting doing sheep.”
There was no doubleshifting of trucks in those free and easy days: “I mean we’d get home at midnight….I really shouldn’t say it but at four o’clock we’d be off again out to the coast and carting lambs all day.”
Podge stressed that he was all for better safety – but he obviously still felt that some of the things done in the name of safety hadn’t achieved anything….or had taken away some of the good along with the bad.
He explained: “We used to do all sorts of stuff.” That included hay, silage cutting and carting, coal, metal and milk – first by can, then by tanker. 
Steven started working in the business in 1974 – straight out of high school and into a TK Bedford (“no power steering…. Soon muscled-up,” he reckons with a laugh).
He’d already regularly been driving trucks for two or three years – around the yard and in farm paddocks during haymaking. 
Working for the business was not something that needed to be discussed – not even something he dreamt about….it was “just….what we did, yeah. Never considered any other possibility.” 
He thinks about it for a moment, then adds: “Nah…it’s in the bloodline. So that’s how it was, yeah.”
From his childhood he has happy memories – “I always remember the haymaking. Loading brick and tile pipes (there was a kiln in Carterton and the Pinfolds trucks delivered its products all around the lower North Island)….going to the sales and giving the old man a hand all the time.”
When he started driving, the Pinfolds fleet was “18 or 20-odd trucks.” They were, he says, “doing everything: Stock…..then take the crate off, do the hay. Carting bricks and tiles and wool bales…yeah. All sorts. All (loaded and unloaded) by hand.”
As he recalls there were a lot of Bedfords at that time, Podge having gone through phases in terms of the makes he bought – the list also including Leyland, Austin, Commer, Mercedes-Benz, International and Mack – and then, almost exclusively, Isuzu. 
It was, Podge said, mostly a matter of “whatever was the best deal at the time.” In the early ‘80s the fleet included six International 3070s. There were also G88 Volvos and Mack Midliners. 
Podge was proud of having the family’s third generation involved in his business – be that the trucking company or a local dairy farm he bought in the 1960s as a hedge against the transport business ever turning bad.
Podge and wife June’s oldest child, Christine, worked in the business after school and went on to get her HT licence – driving not for the company, but for the RNZAF. Later on she’d return to work on a second family farm bought by Podge. Second child, Alison, worked on the farm and then, for years, ran the admin side of Pinfolds Transport – joined in the office by youngest child Maureen.
No wonder that, in 2003, Podge reckoned that family was what it was all about: “The family’s the secret. It’s nice to have the kids working with you. I think it’s pretty unique.”
He celebrated it with a new Pinfolds Transport logo: A capital P inside a triangle, which represented the three generations of the family to have worked in the business. Steve and Karen value it still – saying it now represents Steve being the Gen 3 owner.
What the full-on family involvement made possible was for the Pinfolds to live out Podge’s foremost philosophy – that to be successful, you’ve got to provide good service.
Maureen summed it up for NZ Truck & Driver back in 2003: “Over all the years, our customers have only ever had to deal with two or three people – Dad, Steve or Alison.”
For 25 years Podge and June never had a holiday: “Someone had to be home because of the phone.” 
That service even used to extend to Pinfolds drivers who were heading off into outlying rural areas of the Wairarapa on jobs, often dropping off The Dominion newspaper to loyal customers along the way!
Steve drove for years – and thoroughly enjoyed the trucking life: “A good day would be like going out to Gladstone (about 17kms southeast of Carterton) – doing a full day, then stopping at a pub and having a beer and coming home…”
“And then back out the next morning, doing it all over again: That’s what it was all about. We all did it – that was our life, you know.” They were “long hours….but the boys still used to love it.”
And like going to a two-day stock sale up in Gisborne – and “I think Wairarapa had all the tucker (good grass) and the guys I went up there with, well they bought about 10 unit loads of weaner calves…”
Three company truck and trailer units “were just going up, down, up, down….it was just massive. But that’s what it was like in those days.”
His working relationship with his Dad was good, Steve reckons: “He’d just give me a job and I’d bugger off and do it all day. If I made a mistake he might get grumpy!”
Eventually, after he’d done a few years and had a spell driving in Aussie, Steve started to take on some of the duties of running the show – having a few spells as dispatcher before becoming more dispatcher than driver around 20 years ago,.
Like father, like son – he too reckons that the company’s longterm survival is largely due to “just the friendly service – yep, that’s the main thing. We may not have the cleanest gear in the countryside, but the service is the thing.” 
Steve was driving fulltime when he and second wife Karen got together in the early 1990s – at a time when his regular drive was a 1983 R Model Mack, which he had “for quite a few years.
“That was my punishment truck! I couldn’t have a flash truck. It was very, very awkward – yeah.”
Karen adds: “We used to take the kids in it – they used to sleep on the floor. I don’t know how they slept – it was as noisy as hell!” 
At that stage – and through until the turn of the century – Pinfolds were still doing “everything. We had a lot of tippers….we were doing hay, fertiliser, a lot of wool.” And, more than anything else, livestock, which had gradually become the mainstay of its work.
Finally, in 2002, the last non-livestock job came to an end: A beer delivery contract, which the company had held for years, finished when, as Steve recounts, “an outsider came in and took it over.”
It was the end of an era: The company had started doing the beer deliveries way, way back – when Wally Pinfold sometimes “had a bit of difficulty getting past the last delivery, eight miles out of town!” as Podge put it.
Steve now concedes “a little bit” of regret that the company didn’t keep on doing something else as well as the livestock: “Yeah, probably I should have kept on a couple of tippers…but I mean we just focused on providing that service.
“The upside of having diversity means you have work even when one part of the business isn’t doing well. 
“On the other hand, having a variety of work pulls you in different directions. The worst part about it was like we could have a busy day planned with the livestock and all of a sudden you’d get a phone call at half past six (in the morning) – and it’d be the topdresser saying ‘oh, can you get that 50 tonnes out today?’ 
“Like hells-bells, you know! Suddenly we’d have to cancel all our stock work, just to get the fertiliser out…and then you start doing it…and all of a sudden, ‘oh no, it’s too windy – we can’t fly….and we don’t want it.’
“And that sort of thing happened all the time. So we decided ‘nah, we’ll just stick to the stock’ – and that was it, yeah.”
Back in 2003 Podge lamented the arrival of more and more (and tougher) regulations – which meant “we had to decide what we could and couldn’t do.” 
The logbook, he said, delivered “the biggest knock” to the old style of business: “I mean, we looked after our chaps – they always had a cup of tea and we always spelled them after they’d been working late. And we didn’t work on Sundays.”
Tougher certification rules also sounded the death-knell for Pinfolds’ traditional can-do/DIY engineering approach – the kind of thing that had seen a teenage Podge, still learning engineering at college, helping to build stock crates.
And later, when NZ Transport Supplies built its first 16-footer trailers, using two Bedford axles, he designed and built one of the first combination crates to fit them.
Likewise, when he wasn’t impressed with the engines in the Commer TS3s, he replaced them with Detroits. When the early Isuzu gearboxes were judged to be a weak point, Pinfolds substituted Roadrangers.
As he recalled: “Oh no, we tackled anything. If we had to build something, we just did it ourselves.” At one stage Pinfolds built “all our own trailers – all our own crates.”
It was the kind of can-do attitude that won Kiwis respect in the War, he said: “NZers were snapped up just like that – it was a matter of us being able to get a bit of Number 8 wire and fixing something…using a bit of initiative.
“We’re losing that really fast. Kids today have no idea about getting a couple of sticks and being able to build something.”
He reckoned that the company’s DIY approach was strong “probably till the ‘60s. But now we’ve got people in Wellington making the regs and they’ve never been in the industry. It’s the same as everything else too,” he said dismissively of these heavily-regulated times.
“We’re getting to the stage now where it’s just gone too far. I ‘spose a lot of people out there spoilt it – didn’t do the right thing.”
He didn’t like the Static Roll Threshold regs either – suggesting the focus needed to be elsewhere: “It’s the driver who’s got to be taught the right way to get there safely – and to take the time to get home safely. It only takes half a second to get into trouble and a fortnight to clean up after it.”
All of the new rules and regulations essentially meant, he reckoned, that “every 10 years or so the industry has virtually had to adjust itself completely. It’s been very difficult: Everything keeps on changing.”
Nevertheless, some of the Pinfold DIY philosophy still held fast in 2003 – with longtime mechanic Graham Todd continuing to run a big workshop operation. As Podge said proudly: “We can do full overhauls or anything.” 
At that stage, all but one of the 12 trucks in Pinfolds colours were Isuzus – running 370-380-horsepower engines: “They’ve given us a good run and they’re proving very economical. They also provide good backup,” said Podge.
He was content with the fleet size rationalised to a dozen: “We feel it’s about our optimum – so we can handle it all the time, without adding any people.” It meant that when drivers were off sick, Steve would have to get back behind the wheel….
And very occasionally, so too would Podge: In 2003 he conceded that in terms of driving “I haven’t done much for the last 20, 30 years.” But just a year earlier, at 80, he had gone to the rescue and brought a truck home when the driver twisted his ankle getting out.
That was nothing compared to what else he was doing: Like still playing rugby! He was one of just a handful of octagenarians among the thousands of players competing in the Golden Oldies international tournaments.
And like usually spending long days at work – mostly on the two family farms: “I put in 12-hour days, no problem,” he pointed out.
When asked why, one of his kids piped up with their explanation: “Mum doesn’t want him at home!”
Says Steve now: “He’d leave home at six in the morning, he’d see what the office was doing, then he’d go up to the farm. And he wouldn’t go home till five o’clock at night!
“He was there (at the Pinfolds yard) every morning – he’d come in and pester me. And then he’d come back late in the afternoon and ask questions….if anything was broken down, what are we gonna fix and all sorts, yeah.”
There was no question, he reckons, about who was the boss: “Dad was always in control. He was always playing with a pencil – always sketching something. Things would be always going through his mind – figures…always thinking: Better ways of doing things – on the farm and on the trucks.
“That’s why he liked to go up to the farm – because he could drive a harrow in a paddock all day…and think. He loved it.” 
How about Steve? Is he the same? “I loved what I was doing, yeah.” Hold on – he said “loved” and “was.” What about now? “Aaaahhh…” he stalls, then cracks up laughing.
In an echo of Podge from 17 years ago, he says: “Well, the regulations and the law is getting harder and harder.”  
And, Karen chips in, “we’re carting for the same price today that we were six years ago.”
In terms of stock being shifted from any one property, Steve explains, “the big numbers are gone…..same as like the big stations that used to have 10 workers, probably only got two now. 
“So, instead of doing 1000 lambs a day, they’ll probably only shift 300 a day, see. So we have to go back to that farm twice or three times in that week to make the same load up. So it involves a lot more work.” 
Karen: “Then you combine urban sprawl, and the planting of trees. And bees…and grapevines – all taking good land.”
On top of that, says Steve: The meatworks require loads of stock to be delivered at specific times now: “So you’ve gotta arrive at like say…11 o’clock at night, you know.”
In terms of leeway on the specified time, “they’re pretty fussy. You might get a half-hour each side and that’s it. Because we are the holding paddocks now see. 
“Makes it very hard. If that driver’s already done a half-day, you get there and you’ve gotta park up – then you’ve gotta find a load home, or drive home empty….and then what are you gonna go and do after that? You can’t go and do a day’s work because you haven’t had the hours of rest…”
Podge remained active almost till he died, 12 years ago. Says Karen: “He was feeding out to cattle on the farm, in the snow, two weeks before he died.”
They say that 800 people paid their respects at his funeral. They saw his coffin – secured with baling twine, one of Podge’s favourite standbys for improvised fixup jobs – carried to the Clareville Cemetery on a small Pinfolds truck. He is survived by his wife June, who is now 93.
While taking over the business was relatively straightforward for Steve, it was a huge change for Karen, who had little knowledge of trucking. Her work experience included running a fish and chip shop, marketing and sales repping for haircare products. She “quickly had to learn how to do office work.”
Helpfully, by then she had already learnt to turn out at all hours with midnight snacks for Steve and other drivers called out on all-night jobs, or picking up or dropping off swap drivers.
Steve reckons he never had any grand plan for taking over running the business and doing it his way: “No, we just took what came along – by supplying a service… We just did what we did. I didn’t go knocking on doors, looking for outside work… Nah, we just did it on demand.”
Adds Karen: “If things got busy we bought more trucks…which, as it declined, we got rid of.” Thus they bought a Scania and a Freightliner Argosy....then sold them when the work (and the availability of drivers) dried up.
Podge’s fleet of Isuzus unfortunately included a couple of the 530hp automated manual models, says Steve ruefully: “Umm the good old 460s were perfect, then Dad bought two of those and ummm…my worst nightmare. The engines blew up and then, later on, it was the gearboxes…the automatics.” 
Adds Karen: “We also bought two in the first year…and all this trouble! We had four trucks off the road at the same time – all over the North Island! 
“And they couldn’t get the parts from Japan because everyone was having the same problem. We had the CEO of Isuzu in our office I don’t know how many times – and he told us we were only a midget of his business….
“We were 100% Isuzu, but because we didn’t have 200 trucks he wasn’t interested. So when the fourth or fifth motor blew, Scott from Volvo happened to be in the office. Steve ordered the first of three Volvos.
“This was in 2012. Soon as we bought a Volvo (all FH 540s), we sold an Isuzu. We’ve still got one left to go – an older model.”
The trailers on the fleet are either Fruehauf or Jackson and all but one of the crates (which is built by Total) are made by Delta.
A spinoff of the new truck buying was an update of the Pinfolds Transport livery – applied to the first two new trucks added after Steve and Karen bought the business.
Podge had, early in his involvement, introduced a patriotic red, white and blue colour scheme – the same colours as the NZ flag. 
However, the red was only on the chassis....and Steve wanted to bring it to the forefront. Karen, for her part, wanted better branding: “My thing was you needed to have your brand name on the side, because if a farmer’s in the paddock, he’s not gonna run out and have a look on the front of the truck….and get run over!”
A staff contest to come up with the new look, with a prize for the winner, resulted in them taking “a bit from each. So they all got a prize,” says Karen: “We got huge feedback from it – and also the drivers felt like they were part of the business.”
It also denoted the company’s new start – albeit with a lot of old faces, Steve for one, but also including 14-year Pinfolds driver Mark McPhee….who followed his father Hugh in driving for the company.
More impressively still, the now-retired Mike (Roscoe) Rzoska, still regularly drives part-time when needed – 39 years after he started with Pinfolds.
Remarkably, there are a few customers who’ve been with the company just as long: To mark the centenary, farmers Wayne and Margaret Fleming told the Wairarapa Times-Age that Pinfolds had supplied their transport needs for 41 years: “They have carried a hell of a lot of stock for us over the years!”
Mechanic Toddy was still going strong until he retired late last year – after 32 years in the business – when Pinfolds moved from its longtime depot (and big workshop) to lease part of Scott’s Ag Contracting’s base at Parkvale, just east of Carterton, as its new home. 
Karen reckons that Scott’s Ag and Pinfolds are a good fit: It’s run by “another local farming family, with the same family values as us. They run harvesters, croppers, spreaders and tippers, so our businesses complement each other and we’re able to work together servicing the needs of local farmers.
“When we’re short of drivers, they help us out – and vice versa. They’ve got a stock truck, which they’re just upgrading – so they could do some of our surplus work.”
Pinfolds also works in “with most other companies….but our main ones are Garrity Brothers in Greytown and Murdoch Transport in Pahiatua.”
Steve still drives when necessary: “The boys might be up the line and if someone rings up, wants some sheep or cows shifted, well I can just go and do it see. I might drive once or twice a week – unless someone’s sick or goes on holiday.”
He enjoys it: “Yep, it gets you out. You can catch up with clients…have a yarn. It’s all good.”
Steve says that when he started with Pinfolds at 18 (that’s 45 years ago now), “there were a lot of older guys – all local family guys. And that’s what we’ve carried on – just being a family-oriented business. Many long-serving staff have almost become family…”
Says Karen: “We made a decision two years ago that if we couldn’t get a driver to replace one who left, we’d sell two trucks. Yep, we did – we downsized…only got seven trucks now.”
Says Steve: “Compliance is getting to be a bit of a nightmare. A lot of drivers do get sick of it, because they’ve gotta be meat inspectors, they’ve gotta be a vet, gotta be an office person – make sure the paperwork’s all correct and signed.
“And then you’ve got to wear all your safety gear. You can’t use electric prodders here, you can’t have a dog no more. It is very hard to get drivers.” 
Adds Karen: “You could get a driver who’d never done stock. But stock is our expertise – part of what we trade on is that our drivers are knowledgeable, experienced. That stock’s worth so much money….and you get someone who can’t handle stock and they go to the works with damaged stock, that’s not worth it.”
At its current level, says Steve, the business is “manageable.” Karen does the admin from home, while Steve has an office at the leased yard. 
So, starting into its 101st year, Pinfolds is in a good place. As Steve says emphatically: “Don’t want to get any bigger – just run a couple of trucks and serve our loyal local customers.
“Yep, we’re happy. We’ll just carry on – doing what we’re doing. And see what happens….”  
Navman
NZ Truck & Driver Magazine
Read Now