Young gun Jai has a winning polish
THOSE in the know tell us young Jai Perkins has the cleanest rig in his Tamworth fleet, such is the pride he takes in his job.
But then again, when you have a pedigree like this truckie, it's no surprise he goes above and beyond every chance he gets.
Jai, 24, is the son of legendary owner-driver Warren Perkins, long-time general manager at StockTrans, one of the busiest livestock transporters on the eastern seaboard, and his older brother, Scott, is a lifelong driver who taught his younger sibling everything he knows.
We caught up with latest star in the Perkins clan between runs at JBS Carriers in Tamworth to find out more.
Did you always want to follow your father and brother?
There was never any doubt. I grew up with it and from the day I was born I knew I was going to drive a cattle truck.
My brother taught me so much. I did drive for the old man but then went out on my own for a bit and went carting sheep and I wanted to try a few different things and get away from home a bit. Try my own thing.
How did you get your start?
I rang up Stockmaster at Tamworth, talked to Mick Malone, who runs it, and he said "well, we'll give you a job but we don't need a cow carter, I need someone to cart sheep”.
I'll never forget that. I'd never had anything to do with a sheep trailer but said, "Righto, I want to drive trucks,” so I went and did a sheep job and just went for it, sort of teaching myself as I went.
There were a lot of older blokes who showed me tricks and ways too.
What is it about livestock?
The blokes in it, working with other blokes who love their job as much as you do. Most of my friends would be in livestock and most of them are cattle or sheep carters.
Anything you don't like?
The biggest thing for us young drivers is all the rules. I'm not saying we need to run amok but they can be a deterrent for some, especially the fatigue laws that force you to stop when you're nearly home.
Luckily I have an understanding partner (Peel Valley Group parts interpretor Stacey Bush).
What's your advice to youngsters looking to follow you?
When I was 15 and 16, I'd sit there and watch Scott change gears, just watch everything he did.
It's harder for younger guys who haven't done it before but don't be afraid to ask. Anyone will give you a go if you present yourself well, especially in the livestock industry. If you want to cart cattle there'll be heaps of blokes who will put their hand up.