Riding high in the Quon

By: Greg Bush, Photography by: Greg Bush

The new 8x4 twin-steer UD Quon is the star of the show at Centenary Landscaping Supplies, located at Darra in south-east Queensland. Darcy Pollard is the lucky designated driver


When Darcy Pollard arrived at Centenary Landscaping Supplies at Darra in south-east Queensland just on 32 years ago, it was by all accounts a fairly modest operation. His arrival was only three years after the now managing director Terry O’Shea purchased the company, which itself hadn’t long been in operation.

Darcy recalls starting out in a little Centenary Landscaping Supplies’ 2.5 tonne Daihatsu.

"We had one loader and one forklift when I started, and maybe four little trucks and one big truck," he says.

He laughs when he says he would load a little more than the allocated payload on the Daihatsu, adding: "I had long hair and no grey hairs when I started."

Darcy, a painter by trade, came to Centenary almost by accident. He was in the midst of painting a house but work in his industry was slowing down.

"A mate of mine who was working here said: ‘Do you want to do a couple of days a week driving a truck?’ And I said: ‘Yeah, got to pay the bills.’ And I’ve been here ever since."

Darcy Pollard is the lucky driver to score Centenary Landscaping Supplies' new UD Quon 8x4

Due to the fair amount of cherry picker work that was part of his previous occupation, he came to Centenary already holding a truck licence.

Darcy eventually progressed from the Daihatsu, stepping into a 12.5-tonne Mitsubishi for around 12 years with a Hercules tipper trailer on the back. That suited him just fine, until a few months ago when he was handed the keys to a brand new 8x4 UD Quon.

"Honestly, nothing compares to these new ones," he says.

"They’ve just got everything that you need, and they’re just a great truck to drive. The Mitsubishi is nothing."

The new 8x4 twin-steer UD Quon

Darcy counts around 16 trucks of various makes and models in the Centenary Landscaping Supplies fleet with almost all hauling a Hercules trailer.

"We’ve got two more UDs down the back; they’re a bogie drive and not twin-steer and they’ve proven their point," he adds.

"They’re a good truck."

Hercules has maintained its status as the preferred choice of trailer for Centenary. The fact that its facility is five minutes away is convenient but, more importantly, Darcy says it’s a problem-free product.

"The last truck I had for 12 years, never had a repair on it; nothing on the bin," he says.

Driver comfort

Darcy’s runs are mostly confined to south-east Queensland, mainly west to Toowoomba, north to the Sunshine Coast and south to the Gold Coast. However, his preference is for the longer runs up and down the coast, and not the stop-start around town deliveries. He was especially keen on an upcoming trip to northern New South Wales, taking loads of organic fertiliser for farms. At any rate, the 420hp (313kW) Quon is decked out with the driver in mind to make his day a lot easier.

Darcy is a big fan of the Quon’s driver comfort

"It’s got a cold box in there, which is good. You open a little flap and it’s always cold. You can turn it on or off, hot or cold.

"It’s comfortable; the dash is just laid out very easy to see. When you drive some other trucks you’ve always got to move your head around to see all the gauges. With this you don’t, it’s all there.

"The big thing is, when you’re driving 10 hours a day, you want to be comfortable."

Another plus, as far as Darcy is concerned, is the 12-speed automated manual ’box. Gone are the days when he would be constantly hitting the clutch in city and suburban traffic. He’s also a big fan of the Quon’s reversing camera.

"They’re like a full HD movie," he smiles. "Not like the old days when you would stick your head out the window."

The term ‘movie’ has become more apt around the Centenary yard, with the newer trucks sporting a nickname belonging to a superhero of some description. Darcy placed his hand in the hat and came up with ‘Anarky’, a villainous character that originated in DC comics, although he admits he’s not a big movie buff.

Family business: Centenary Landscaping Supplies' Terry O’Shea (right) and son Kelby O’Shea

Terry O’Shea believes it’s all part of promoting a positive culture within the business, which is also the reasoning behind introducing an internal communications system called Slack. This gives the team the opportunity to share points of view, jokes and birthdays.

"Because driving a truck can be pretty lonely, with this program they can communicate on their phones, they can make a complaint even, which we take very seriously," Terry says.

"They can praise each other, they can give each other a clip in the ear if you like, but it’s all taken in good measure.

"But that has been a program that has cemented the relationship between, not just the drivers, but all the staff. We’ve got other people who don’t drive that have been here for a long time as well."

Terry says giving the drivers the best gear is also vitally important for morale.

"I think it’s the culture that we’ve built around people, not just product. We try and give them the best trucks that we can give them, we try to train them as best we can and we respect their points of view."

Another of the Quon’s loading up at Centenary’s Darra depot

And no-one knows the Centenary culture better than Darcy who Terry regards as more than a driver.

"He’s the truck supervisor; that’s basically his title," Terry says.

"Darcy is a particular character insofar as he knows a lot about trucks, he knows about a lot about the culture of the company and he’s the guy that will crack the whip if people fall outside that. He doesn’t mince his words.

"Is that a good thing? I think it is," he adds.

RELATED ARTICLE: All systems go for UD Quon 8-wheeler and Croner

"He’s also the senior figure that people look up to. He’s the guy that nurtures all the drivers and their trucks. He’s the go-to guy at this point in time.

"Basically he’s a supervisor, particularly with maintenance. He does all the ordering of spare parts; he organises mechanics to come in and fix them.

"He’s a fixer. Darcy is a fixer."

Designated driver

Each driver has a designated truck at Centenary Landscaping Supplies. As mentioned earlier, Darcy, being one of the senior employees, scored the 8x4 UD Quon. Part of that arrangement is for drivers to look after their respective gear although Darcy says an external company calls in once a fortnight to wash the trucks. There’s also a Gerni on site.

Hercules is the trailer of choice at Centenary Landscaping Supplies

While it’s not expected, drivers can take the trucks home if they’re keen to give them a more thorough tidy up.

"Most of the trucks are kept pretty up to date and pretty nice and clean," Darcy explains.

"Terry likes all the tyres all done because they’re out on the road all the time."

Darcy says he takes the Quon home "every now and then", mostly to the delight of his grandkids.

"The two little boys, anything to do with motors they’re into. They take after Pop; I’m an old revhead," he laughs.

"Anything that goes fast, I’m into it."

Darcy Pollard, organising the placement of the 8x4 Quon for the video shoot

At age 57, Darcy says he has a few more years left, although he’d like to pull up around 60 to 62. He’s already cut back on working weekends.

"They’re a good company to work for," he says of Centenary Landscaping Supplies. "They look after you and with an air-conditioned truck you’re not sweating all day.

"It’s a little family company and I get new trucks to drive all the time. What else could you ask for?"

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