50 years of life in livestock lane
OVER the past 50 years, Ross Fraser has watched 15-tonne capacity trucks evolve up to 100 tonnes, carried dairy cattle and pigs from one end of Australia to the other and experienced droughts as well as floods.
For the Frasers Livestock Transport director, those years in the industry have been a period of sweeping change and life-long memories. Last month he was given a plaque honouring his contribution.
Mr Fraser said he had clocked up some good memories in his time, expanding the business his parents started.
"We carted 6500 pigs from Clifton to Darwin," he recalled.
"That had to be done in four trips and we had relief drivers and round PVC pipe to (feed and water the animals).
"We also arranged for a water truck to go with us and in the final trip, which was November, we didn't stop at all. We just slowed down and the truck would hose the pigs along the road."
Just one pig died.
That trip was preceded by long distances carrying dairy cows from one end of Australia to the other, milking the cows once a day.
Mr Fraser was a driver until his mid-20s when he turned his focus to the work outside the driver's seat.
He has been president of the Australian Livestock Transport Association and Livestock Transport Association of Queensland, as well as a founding member of the two.
He said the success of Frasers was linked to his parents' philosophy of quality service.
"Our long-term customers and the quality of our staff over the years have also helped build the business. We couldn't have achieved what we have without their dedication to the industry."
Today's challenges for the livestock transport industry are many, and Mr Fraser said it was difficult to strike a balance between rising costs and keeping fees reasonable for customers.
"The main challenge we have is to provide a product to customers that's affordable. We have to survive but so do our customers," he said.
"Wages costs are also becoming an enormous challenge, and with the mining industry, it's even harder."
To balance things out better, Mr Fraser said the cattle market needed to remain firm, as did other produce markets.
Rising fuel costs were another difficult factor, as were the state of the nation's roads.
"In my mind there's no doubt we need to put more money into road infrastructure," he said.
"The government seems hell-bent on building roads on a budget, which is fine, but it will never get us ahead. We need to borrow money to build roads to open up more of this country."
In the next 10 years, Mr Fraser said he saw himself "slowing down" but not retiring.