Mega Truckers: Getting real on TV
WITH the success of the Mega Truckers special Jon Kelly's business Heavy Haulage Australia has become fodder for Mega Truckers, The Series.
In a release about the show's debut, Jon Kelly is described as a blue-collar Aussie hero.
Speaking to Big Rigs he played down the title.
"I don't know about the hero bit," he said. "I consider myself more infamous than famous (laughs)."
You can expect, "big trucks, big loads," and "bigger egos" from this series and Jon agreed.
"They sure are (bigger).
"There's a fair bit of conflict and a lot of cool loads. We're adding to the fleet all the time so you'll see some new trucks. It's pretty exciting stuff."
Jon told Big Rigs he was glad the ratings went well for the first show. "Everyone was really positive about the series, apart from you guys (laughs).
"Yeah. They gave me a bit of bait about me talking to my drivers and all that sort of stuff."
This time around you can expect more of the smack talk.
"I dare say there is going to be a bit, because we are dealing with truckers and not brain surgeons at the end of the day."
Jon has a reputation for being a hard-taskmaster. He tells it how it is and isn't afraid to let rip if anyone doesn't meet his high standards
"Work for me, do a good job and you've got a job for life," he said.
"But God help you if you don't listen to me and something goes wrong…"
He also has a reputation for taking on the hardest jobs in the business and was excited to tell us about one of his biggest challenges.
"We did all the big massive tunnel boring machines into Toowong for Legacy Way and they were over 2000 tonne those machines.
"We had a big 200 tonne section we had to get in there, but the Centenary Hwy bridge wasn't strong enough for us to basically have the load travel over the normal route and we actually shut 21km of the Centenary Hwy down and got the load to go on the incorrect side of the highway, over the other bridge and the bridge was actually strong enough to take us.
"No ones ever shut 21km down of major national highway before for a heavy haulage move like that, so that was pretty special."
Being described as someone that won't give up, Jon will do everything he can to take on a job and make it happen. He said it was about having a bit of foresight.
"Having a can't-be-beaten attitude and there's always more than one way to skin a cat at the end of the day."
It's not just about the loads though. Jon likes to have a sexy truck. He told Big Rigs it took "plenty of chrome" and bling to make a truck "sexy".
His new truck The Breaker was unveiled at the Casino Truck Show and its restoration at PJs Custom Spray Painting and Mechanical was featured in episodes two and three of the series. But it isn't the most expensive in the fleet. Jons big "tri drive Kenworth owes" him over $700,000.
He said it was worth every penny "and more" and his trucks get the reaction he wants.
"There's people around the world that know the HHA fleet. I never thought in my wildest dreams it would be this successful and this recognised. And this TV show sort of cements our position around the world, which is unheard of for an Australian company.
Jon grew up around trucks and has been around them since he could walk and that's why he loves them so much.
"Dad was in trucks and my grandfather on my mums side was in trucks as well, so I actully have trucks on both sides of the family.
"I actually started in competition with my family, had a big argument and I told them all to stick it up their backside and went out by myself."Nowadays HHA is a 25-strong fleet and worth $60 million and Jon is only 32.
"I think in their own little quiet way (my family are proud). I think there's a bit of resentment there as well but that's just one of those things."
Jon said the filming schedule took a fair bit of adjustment.
"I didn't realise how demanding it was going to be. It took a month to get used to the way things were rolling.
"After that we sort of got into the rhythm and it just became second nature.
"In the end they are doing a reality TV series.
"It's all about being who you are and just doing your job.
"It's 100% reality. There was definitely no directing. We're not actors that's for sure.
"The TV series was pretty much tip of the iceberg to what we do. It gives you a small snapshot of our business and we're hoping with the success of this first series we get commissioned into a second series and get to showcase a bit more of our loads and our talents and I'm hoping that we represent the industry in a professional manner, not only to the people here in Australia, but the people in the US and the UK and wherever the show's going to go."
In this series we get to know more about Jon's employees.
"There is definitely a lot more characters. You get to know the boys a bit more.
"We've got some colourful guys in the camp here that really enjoy what they're doing. So it's a good sort of opportunity for the public to get to know our guys - who they are and what makes them tick."
Jon said heavy haulage drivers were intellectual truckers, because there was so much to think about.
"You've gotta have a hide of steel as well because there is a lot that can go wrong.
"And I'm not the easiest guy to work for. You've got to be top of the tree when you come to work for us.
"We've got a really clean record and we intend to keep it that way. That's why I am so fussy."
On the box: Mega Truckers will premiere on November 12 at 7.30pm on Foxtel's A&E.