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Teenage truck driver Harrison Wells has his sights set on a class 5 licence

Teenage truckie loving life on the road

Not everybody is cut from the same cloth, and Harrison Wells was definitely swimming against the tide when he attended Auckland Grammar School.

Now he is driving trucks for Hall’s Transport and loving it, having started work for the nationwide company straight after he had finished his sixth form (Year 12) exams.

“It’s a great industry to be in,” says Harrison. “I like the practical aspect of it – much better than academic stuff. It got to the stage where school wasn’t for me. Years 9 and 10 (third and fourth form) were okay, but I hated Years 11 and 12 (fifth and sixth form).”

He admits he was regularly late for school – on purpose – and wasn’t a fan of the Cambridge senior school exams that Auckland Grammar steers its pupils towards.

An alternative career

To give the school its due, Harrison was involved in courses that offered alternative careers, and gained a forklift licence and barista skills. “There was also information about the trucking and logistics industry which looked interesting. I kept telling my parents I wanted to leave school, but they said I had to get a job,” he says.

With encouragement from careers teacher Graeme Edwards, Harrison put together his CV and approached David Aitken, the CEO of the National Road Carriers Association, who sent the CV to several of the big companies in the Auckland area. 

The end result was Harrison found himself at Hall’s Takanini depot one Friday afternoon after school, being interviewed by Grant Madill, Hall’s  executive director. “I started work the Monday after I finished my exams,” says Harrison. “I’ve loved it from day one. I wouldn’t be here without Graeme Edwards, and David Aitken and Grant Madill have both been awesome too.”

Extremely motivated

In the last 18 months Harrison has progressed to a class 4 licence – for any vehicle over 18,000 kg – which he gained a few weeks ago. He is currently driving a 400 hp, eight-wheeler Isuzu, “which can test your skills” he notes, making deliveries all around the greater Auckland area.

Harrison has just turned 19 years old. What quickly becomes apparent when you talk to him is that he is a committed and extremely motivated young man who wants to do a good job. Getting his licence upgrades as soon as possible is proof positive of his determination.

Harrison admits he has always been into anything with an engine “since I was a little kid – cars, trucks, anything that I could jump into the seat and blow the horn,” he laughs. He spent the first three months at Hall’s picking and packing in the warehouse and loading trucks, learning about the logistics of the industry.

In March last year he started making van deliveries in Auckland, having progressed through his standard driver’s licence as quickly as possible. “I sat my learner’s after school on my 16th birthday and got my restricted as soon as I could,” he says. And he progressed to his full licence in the minimum time allowed.

In June last year, he gained his class 2 licence and was soon driving nine-tonners around Auckland.

Ongoing training

All Harrison’s training has been done by Hall’s certified trainers onsite. “I get to check in with them and get tips and advice whenever I need to,” he says. The training has also included block courses of unit standards commensurate with the licence grade.

And Harrison already has his sights set on a class 5 licence, which he believes might be possible by the end of the year, “if I keep doing what I’ve done so far and not make any mistakes.”

A usual day can see Harrison starting work about 6am, with a normal working day varying between 10 to 12 hours, delivering chilled and frozen goods to supermarkets, restaurants and cafés. 
The days can be long, but the work is rewarding and the wages are enticing for somebody starting out in the industry. “It’s pretty intensive and keeps you on your toes,” Harrison says. “The most drops I’ve done in a single day is 67!”

He enjoys the variety the job offers, meeting new people and the opportunity to get out on the road and drive modern machinery. And he can see the future potential and opportunities available in an expanding road freight transport industry to meet the needs of a growing population

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