National Professional Driver of the Year honoured

National Professional Driver of the Year

Multi combination driver Joshua Ulbrich of Ross Transport in Port Kembla, NSW has been crowned as the National Professional Driver of the Year for 2024.

He was presented the award at the Australian Trucking Association’s Trucking Australia 24 Conference amongst five other award winners in other categories.

The award recognises drivers who continue to put in the hard yards, honouring the changing freight task and demands on drivers.

Ulbrich accepted the award proudly, donning cowboy hat and all.

“I’d like to say thank you for the award. I’m very grateful and very humbled by it,” he says.

“I’d also like to thank the sponsors of the award, NTI, Volvo and bp. I’ve been lucky to have had many years in the industry.”

His journey in the transport industry started from a young age in his native Milton along New South Wales’ South Coast, watching trucks loading and unloading livestock at the nearby saleyards.

Ulbrich was obsessed from that moment on, doing everything he could to pursue a career in the world of trucking.

“At the age of five, my mother had a knock at the door from one of the drivers she knew and asked where I was,” he recalls.

“‘I’m sorry, he’s asleep, having a lay down’. No he’s not, he’s up in the corner of the stock saleyards watching all the trucks come in. That’s where my trucking life started.”

After this, Ulbrich got a job washing trucks – close to the gear, but not quite where he wanted to be – behind the wheel.

His next career move would see him join the army at 20 years of age, spending the next 14 years as a combat engineer learning skills both for work and life.

“I was able to obtain my truck licences from light rigid to multi combination in that time. For me and many others who have obtained their licence in the defence force, it was definitely a great training environment,” Ulbrich says.

“An example of this is my HC licence. This is a five week course in the military, having to load and unload trucks each day with different loads each time, and having to restrain and tarp.

“This concluded with a driving test from Seymour to Brisbane’s CBD and then back again, with a minimum of 60 hours driving experience.

“What does this have to do with winning the award? Well, it gave me a great start to my driving career. This is what I think the industry can look into to train new drivers.”

Joshua Ulbrich is presented the National Professional Driver of the Year Award by Shayne Commons, Director – Product & Performance at Volvo Group Australia.

Ulbrich credits his continued development as a driver to Ross Transport, who he has now been driving with for a decade.

He thanked owner Alan Ross, for allowing him to drive his bright pink Kenworth T909, labelled ‘Truely Frantastic’, and Fran and True Ross, Alan’s mother and daughter respectively, who the truck is named after.

He also thanked Transport Women Australia Limited, who provided his nomination for the award.

“Alan is a very honest and humble person who I have seen go out of his way for many drivers and myself,” Ulbrich says.

“Fran Ross, who still comes into the office and keeps up with the weekly going ons and is still happy to speak with drivers. We are lucky to have a true matriarch in the industry, being in it from the 1970s and still going.

“True Ross is a standout not only in the company, but in the industry. I have seen her start at the company doing wages and daily office duties, to now running the top job at Ross Transport.

“Her dedication to the industry and showing that women are not only capable of doing the job, but doing it with confidence and professionalism.

“And thank you to TWAL, for the nomination of the award and the fantastic work they do in the industry.

“They are providing training and courses to the new generation and are a standout in getting more women into transport roles.”

Olbrich concluded by thanking his wife.

“I would also like to say a massive thank you to my wife Belinda,” he says.

“She has been through not only my army career, but my transport career as well. She’s been the backbone of our family, being not only mum, but dad as well. It takes some really strong women to stand by the men in their lives doing this job.

“To say I never would have imagined earning this award this would be an understatement. Here is a kid that grew up loving trucks to being the ATA Pro Driver of the Year.”

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