REFLECTING upon a weekend of trucks, trucks and more trucks - both at the Melbourne Show and at Lancefield, I came to the conclusion that without "soul" things can quickly get mundane.
Soul shows itself in different ways.
At Lancefield it was there in abundance.
The trucks in varying degrees of repair, from better-than-new to just-better-than-rust, all oozed of a past life on the road.
If they could talk the listener would be transfixed for weeks.
The folk who have bought these trucks have soul.
You'd have to, just to buy one in the first place.
And they're more than willing to tell the stories of their pride and joy in so far as they know them, and once that's done they'll fill you in on their own history of trucking.
Then there's "soul" as it relates to companies.
Soul isn't just in the product that the company produces, but starts with the people who work within that company.
At the Melbourne Truck show I saw it in Graeme Elphinstone.
Here's a bloke who sits on the dunny and dreams of a better way to build a log trailer and then goes and does it.
I saw it in the Pallet Taxi - what a great idea that has been brought to fruition because someone had a dream and put their soul into it.
Hilton Engineering has soul in spades.
A company started by Tom Hartley and now run by son Todd, has contracts for fuel tanks from just about all the majors, exports to Japan, builds chassis for Jayco and is now into bull bars.
The business has grown fivefold over the past six years and has a name for quality and professionalism that is second to none.
Tom knows every employee by name and his wife will put bandaids on anyone who needs them, as well as listening sincerely to their family problems.
Todd continues this tradition and it is an integral part of the company's success.
We are all aware of the ups and downs of Iveco, a company celebrating 100 years of involvement in the Australian transport industry.
There have been times when Iveco was on its knees.
But there are winds of change at Iveco and walking around their "precinct" (for that's what it was) at the Melbourne Show, the feeling of "soul" was palpable.
John Koot, director of sales and marketing, and Meg Hurley, marketing manager, are both new to the trucking world, but no matter, the exuberance they display will only benefit the company.
"We are working 17-hour days sometimes," Meg said.
"But that's because we want to. I get up in the morning and can't wait to get into the office."
John agrees: "The feeling within the company emanates from the top down. We all feel it from the MD to the ground crew and it can only result in a better product."
Perhaps as a reflection of their new-found soul, Iveco won the Outstanding Customer Service award at the show.
As John goes off to do a tap dance around the new Powerstar Road Train rig, I reckon they just might be on the right track.