Canadian expat wins top driver gong at QTA awards night

By: Brad Gardner

Dwight Emerson from Simon National Carriers recognised for distinguished 30-year career.

Canadian expat wins top driver gong at QTA awards night
Followmont Transport apprentice mechanic Christopher Knight (centre) won the Excellence in Contribution Award in the Young Achiever category.


A Canadian truck driver who moved to Australia 10 years ago and established a career with Simon National Carriers has won the Queensland Trucking Association’s (QTA) Professional Driver of the Year Award.

Dwight Emerson received the award at the QTA’s annual dinner in recognition of a distinguished 30-year career that has spanned North America and Australia and included 5.5 million incident-free kilometres.

Emerson came to Australia in March 2004 and soon began driving B-doubles and road trains before involving himself in the safety and operational facets of Simon National Carriers.

The QTA says Emerson earlier this year took Queensland assistant police commissioner Mike Keating on a road trip to Rockhampton to give the officer first-hand experience of the life of a truck driver and the challenges they face.

"It was necessary for the QTA CEO [Peter Garske] to carefully explain to the assistant commissioner that the driver’s considerable experience of ‘driving on ice’ in fact referred to his experience in North America, not his experience with an illegal substance," the group says.

The Professional Driver of the Year gong was one of eight awards to be handed out during the annual dinner.

Awards were also presented in the Excellence in Driving, Industry Excellence, Industry Safety, Young Achiever, Pepole Leadership and Trucking Woman of the Year categories.

The QTA also awarded the Excellence in Contribution Award as an offshoot of the Young Achiever category due to the number of nominations received.

Neil Kerkow from BP Australia and Steven Williams from Seymours Transport each received the Excellence in Driving Award.

Kerkow has spent the past 35 years working for BP at its Wondai depot where he takes an active role in helping customers keep their sites and equipment compliant, mentoring other drivers and providing them with guidance and support.

Likewise, Williams is seen as a positive role model at Seymours and is known for a high-level of professionalism. The QTA says Williams takes a proactive approach to training and mentoring.

Seymours Transport also took home the Industry Excellence Award, with company owner Donald Seymour named the winner.

The industry veteran was recognised for his success in growing the business since joining it in 1966 and for his involvement in his local community. Seymours Transport now boasts a fleet of 98 heavy vehicles and 23 light vehicles all working in the general freight and logging sectors.

"A well-known and respected individual in his community, Don frequently sponsors charitable events and volunteers his time for local community-based organisations," the QTA says.

"Don is a vocal advocate for providing opportunities to the younger generation. He facilitates work placement for young people, offering apprenticeships and career opportunities in the local community."

The Industry Safety Award went to Toll Mining Services for its development of a device to protect explosive freight during loading and unloading.

"The device is placed in front of the pallet prior to the forklift entering. The Pallet Shield provides a direct engineered barrier between the product and the forklift tines," the QTA says.

The Pallet Shield was developed after a forklift tine penetrated two boxes of detonators during unloading at Jimblebar Mine in Western Australia.

A mechanic apprentice from Followmont Transport was named this year’s winner of the Excellence in Contribution Award in the Young Achiever category.

Christopher Knight joined Followmont in 2013 through the GenR8 program, which provides a pathway to the transport industry for school leavers.

He began employment in a warehouse role and is now undertaking a Certificate III in Heavy Commercial Vehicle Mechanical Technology.

"The determination Chris has already shown in his short time at Followmont will ensure him a long and successful career path in the transport industry," the QTA says.

Nathan Wilson from Willow’s Bulk Haulage and Willow’s Tipper Hire walked away with the Young Achiever Award.

The 29-year-old Wilson is a diesel fitter, truck driver and also a business partner of Tipper Hire and is responsible for maintaining a fleet of 18 prime movers, 38 bitumen tankers and 12 dollies.

The QTA says Wilson is an enthusiastic mentor, has never had an incident while behind the wheel and sets stringent standards for the way gear is serviced and maintained.

Well-known Queensland operator Easter Group was named the winner of the People Leadership Award for its ‘3E Project’, which provides employees with the opportunity to receive nationally accredited qualifications.

The trucking firm launched the initiative to meet the current and emerging needs of its client base and to attract and retain workers.

"Professional development is a priority for the Easter’s team. Six years ago, the business looked very different with little or no training, policies, procedures or compliance," the QTA says.

"This family business has come such a very long way, and the cultural shift within the organisation is astounding."

The final award of the evening, the Queensland Trucking Woman of the Year Award, went to Julie Russell from family-run firm RB Russell Transport.

Russell is the director of the company and is also responsible for its strategic direction through her role as manager of support services.

She is involved in a number of industry-government consultative groups and has held the post of director of the QTA for the past five years.

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