I was recently involved in a different kond of truck road test, comparing the old with the new, and it brought to mind an industry issue, the end of the age of dinosaurs. Of course not literally dinosaurs, but the moving on of a generation.
The trucking industry began to grow fast out of the fifties and sixties and then go gang busters in the eighties and nineties, and in many ways it is still going well in 2021, but times have changed.
That period of early growth saw thousands of small operations and owner drivers get the opportunity to grow and develop into substantial road transport carriers. The later growth saw some sorting out of the situation with some of those operations growing further into national fleets.
This meant that coming into the 21st century many people running businesses came into the trucking industry between 1965 and 1980. They came from a different time, a time of under powered and overloaded trucks with difficult and complex gearboxes.
This generation were not at all averse to rebuilding a diff by the side of the road miles from civilisation. They were also not averse to bending the rules and quite unapologetic about it. The world was very different and the war between the truckies and the authorities was real and sometimes scary.
At the same time the rest of society was blissfully unaware of this alternative world, which mainly took place in darkness and out on the remoter stretches of our, so called, highway network.
Things began to change in the nineties and trucking began a gradual shift, coming in out of the dark and moving towards a more respectable way of running businesses. At the same time those pioneers who had built these trucking business on blood, sweat and gears were also ageing and becoming more responsible and respectable citizens.
However, that generation still dominated the industry. Many of the levers of power in trucking were in the hands of people who had pushed the limits in the past and some still were a bit rough round the edges and enjoyed telling tales of their exploits.
Recent years have seen much younger generation start to take over the reins in many businesses and they take a completely different attitude to the trucking industry. For them, this is business, it is not a culture, the world has moved on and they are living in the present, dealing with contemporary challenges around compliance, productivity and dealing with the ageing workforce problem.
While considering all of those changes and the new challenges ahead, I realised that I still retain a lot of that old culture, it is the end of the age of dinosaurs and I am in fact one of the dinosaurs who will have to get with the new program or move on, or else.