Kenworth birthday gifts to make anyone jealous
IF YOU happen to be driving in or around Shepparton, Victoria; if you happen to be at just about any truck show in Victoria, there is a fair chance that you will pass a gleaming white prime mover with plenty of chrome pulling an equally sparkling semi or B-double trailer.
The simple imprint on the tautliner says 'Gattuso Transport'.
The doors of the trucks say the same, although if you look a little more closely you'll note that some say Frank Gattuso and others, Charlie Gattuso.
There have been a couple more trucks added to the fleet recently with two more names which we'll come to shortly.
Frank Gattuso started with one truck in 1990, with brother Charlie kicking off a few years later in 1997 after a number of years with Roccisano.
The brothers each run their own show but share the depot which allows flexibility in logistics and amortises costs - such as the three truck wash bay (accessible 24/7 and soon to be joined by an automatic trailer wash bay).
Between them the brothers run over 40 prime movers, aided and abetted by a fleet of (mainly Isuzu) rigids.
Although five trucks are now on interstate, the rest of the fleet run line-haul and intrastate where the Gattuso's have built themselves an enviable reputation.
This is a one-stop-trucking-shop where the brothers give their customers an all-in-one service, from line-haul to distribution right to the door.
Covering 12 regions with set runs to different towns, the customer only has to ring one number to find out where their freight is.
The truck shows are "a good weekend away" and it would be rare indeed for the business not to take out a prize for Best Fleet, or some other category - indicative of how the fleet is maintained.
The brothers use Kyser Kustom in Shepparton to trick up their vehicles.
"The first truck Luke did was one of ours so we'll take the credit for his success. Lol."
The two business both operate on the "one truck and trailer with the one driver" principle which helps keep pride in the fleet on an individual basis. There is also an in-house workshop with three mechanics on board.
Charlie's son, Nicholas and Frank's boy, Jordan are also in the family businesses.
The boys are both 21 with Nick being just two months older than Jordan. It's easy to see the boys get on famously.
"Only being two months apart, we've done most everything together," Jordan said.
"We're more like brothers than cousins," Nicholas said.
"We've spent our whole lives together. We'd come out here to the truck yard and play cricket with our dads. We've always been around each other. We played football together, and just about every other sport side-by-side."
Jordan continues: "When Friday nights came around, we were both at each other's house having sleepovers. We'd be drawing trucks and stuff like that. We're just truck fanatics".
"Some cousins barely talk," Nicholas said.
"But we're lucky that we're this close and get along so well. We know each other inside and out. We know what makes each other tick. We can tell each other how it is without having to beat around the bush."
It was a no-brainer that the boys would follow their fathers into the business, but they both came in on the understanding that there would be no favours given. Being sons of the owners carried no weight here. Work hard and the rewards will come.
Work hard they did (and do), and the reward? Well, both boys got birthday presents that would make their mates fairly green with envy, one would have to think.
"I might be older but Jordan actually got his present first - a Kenworth T950 Legend. I knew my time would hopefully come," Nicholas said.
"The truck is number 46 of 75," Jordan said.
"The company bought it about 12 months ago now. When we first got it was a pretty plain Jane but over the 12 months we slowly blinged it up a bit. As with all the other trucks the work was done by Kyser Kustom."
Jordan is off his Ps because he currently lives in New South Wales, at Albury.
"I love my truck - a manual of course, the only way to go. We have three Volvos in the fleet and dad's starting to lean towards the autos - but that's because he's old!"
Jordan's been behind the wheel for close to two years now.
"I started in a heavy rigid, doing the Melbourne run, then got a semi licence as soon as I could. A couple of months later I got my double ticket and I do a bit of both."
Not to be outdone, Nicholas also worked his butt off and his 21st birthday present came in the form of another Kenworth - this time a T900 Legend.
"It only came out at the end of 2017, when they started to come off the line. Mine is 183/257. I guess that makes it a Wednesday truck. It's been a great truck to date."
Nicholas started off in medium rigids.
"By law we have to do all the steps now. You can't just go into Vic Roads and get a permit or an extension like you used to in the old days," he said.
"So I started when I turned 18 and got my car licence. A year on when I turned 19 I was eligible to get my medium rigid. At 20, because I'd had my car licence for two years and my medium rigid for one, I was eligible for an HC.
"Because I'd done the medium rigid, I still had to pass the crash box component of the test. Hanging around trucks my whole life that wasn't a problem of course."
Motive power in both trucks is a 550 Cummins so in drag races off the lights the boys should come out pretty square, dependent upon load.
With most of the business being intrastate, would the boys like to go long haul?
"Yep," says Jordan, and, with a laugh adds.
"But probably mum wouldn't like me leaving home too much.
"Our dads are good blokes. Everything we know is because of them. We wouldn't know half the stuff if we didn't watch them or get taught by them."
"It's been an honour to have been taught by them, because they learnt the business the right way and that has transcended to us," Nicholas adds.
I like the way these boys talk. They are fine, respectful young men who have that work ethic that often comes from Italian heritage families. It is plain that they do not take their birthday presents for granted. Indeed, if it were possible for two trucks to gleam any brighter amongst a fleet of gleaming, award winning trucks, these two Legends are it.
So now the Gattuso companies have expanded to include two more members.
The door on one proudly displays 'Nicholas Gattuso Linehaul Services', the other 'Jordan Gattuso Transport and Packaging'.