Archive, Industry News

The colour purple – Duells Kenworth K200

AUGUST TRUCK OF THE MONTH: If there’s one type of truck that pleases the general public, it’s one that moves their furniture from a previous residence to a new home. Jason Duell’s Kenworth K200 not only performs that task in style, but its eye-catching appearance does the family business proud

Is anyone aware of how much landlords are charging for rent these days? What about the numbers of people that are scrapping for the limited number of rentals out there? It’s terrifying! More importantly is anyone wondering what the hell I’m waffling about when there’s a damn fine-looking Kenworth you all want to hear about? That’s a very valid question and I can segue myself back to that.

Being the solid journalist and truck fan that I am, I like to chase down the coolest stories. When I spotted a Facebook photo of a new furniture removal truck I was blown away and wanted to investigate for all the other truck fans out there. In order to do a thorough evaluation I figured best thing to do was immerse myself in the industry, shift house and hire Duells Furniture Removalists. That way I could see this stunning Kenworth up close, I could see how practical it is as a furniture truck and I’d be able to watch Jason Duell hard at work.

It all sounded good in theory. Sadly, I’m in Brisbane, Duells Furniture Removalists is based down in Mt Gambier. I also didn’t get accepted by any of the places I applied to, so my editor suggested I just ring Jason to see when he’s bringing a load up into Queensland. Well it seems my editor is just a tad smarter than me, so that’s what I did.


I called up young Jason Duell and found out the maiden voyage in the company’s flagship would bring him right into my backyard. Aren’t you guys lucky.

It is very hard to miss the new Duells flagship when it’s on the road. That’s not a new issue for the Duells trucks though; their trucks have been turning heads for decades.

This may be the biggest truck they have but the small South Australian firm have prided themselves on having a standout fleet, and the K200 just takes it to the next level.

Duells Furniture Removalists celebrated its 48th year in trucking in July, having begun operations back in 1973. The business began with Jason’s father Allan Duell carting mail from the post office to the railway station with an old Bedford. After starting with the Bedford, a Dodge V8 soon got added to the fleet and from there the growth began. Incidentally, the Dodge is still in the company yard and on the books for a restoration.

So from the mail run Allan branched out, doing a mix of general freight, furniture and carting loads for Target. As he broadened his freight consignments his coverage area grew as well. Soon the Duells trucks were doing overnight runs between Mt Gambier and Adelaide, as well as runs from Mt Gambier to Melbourne and servicing many small towns in between the two cities.

Over the next couple of decades Duells successful family-run company built up a reputation with their friendly reliable service and great coverage, carting anything and everything. They’d already built quite the name in the furniture removal arena and were still doing a fair bit of general freight.

Furniture focus

In the early 1990s when the recession hit, Allan and his wife Sandra took a good hard look at their business model and decided to focus more on the furniture work. It was already an area of the industry they were more than experienced in with the general freight slowly playing second fiddle to commercial and household shifts. In the ’90s though it would become their mainstay.

With a couple of Isuzus in the fleet they started specialising in household furniture and new stock deliveries, once again to anywhere and everywhere. With versatility being a strong attribute needed for furniture removalists the work kept Allan on the road a fair bit. It also kept Sandra very busy running the office.

Since day one Allan has been very particular about the presentation of his trucks. He had a fleet of mainly heavy rigids and they were always immaculate.

As Jason and I were talking about the presentation he recalled the origins of the colour choice. Apparently it was very much against his grandfather’s advice.


“When my dad first decided to paint the trucks he spoke to his dad and said he’s going to paint his truck and paint it purple,” Jason explains. “Gramps said, ‘If you paint your trucks purple, whatever business you have you’ll lose’.” It seems Gramps got that one slightly wrong, it didn’t harm the business. In fact the company now sits at 10 eye-catching purple trucks.

As the family company thrived Allan and Sandra’s only child Jason was growing up among it all. School holidays were spent working with his father and helping out everywhere he could. It wasn’t just holiday time that saw him focus on the company business. “I remember dad getting a letter from the school saying all I do is write about Duells trucks and BMXs,” Jason laughs.

However, when he was old enough to leave school his parents tried hard to steer him away from the family business, insisting he get a trade instead. Seeing as Jason was into the stock car scene (he’d been racing since he was 13, he opted for a panel beating apprenticeship, rationalising the fact he could earn money and it would also come in handy when working on his race car.

During his apprenticeship he still helped out and made no secret of his desire to drive trucks and shift furniture. On more than one occasion Allan let him tag along on the harder, less glamorous, jobs hoping this would put him off. Nope, seems the idea of hard work, complicated problems and long hours actually fuelled the fire in Jason. When he finished his apprenticeship he again talked to his dad after one of the other drivers had left.

“I actually said if you don’t let me drive the truck I’ll start applying for driving jobs elsewhere,” Jason admits. Bluff or not he got his way and, starting with his MR licence, he finally got his turn sitting on the right-hand side of the family trucks.

Bigger is better

There really is no other niche market in our industry like the furniture removal side of things. It’s a physically demanding job; you are playing a life-size game of Tetris with every load, often loading in hard-to-get places and being extremely cautious with people’s possessions. It really is tough work, but Jason thrived on it.

He delved into every aspect of the family business, even spending some time in the office, quoting jobs, organising loads and scheduling drivers. It was the hands-on stuff that really floated his boat though. Once he’d moved up to his HC licence it gave him access to the fleet’s bigger trucks.

The majority of the Duells fleet is Isuzu. With the small distance shifts they do, big horsepower and sleeper cabs really aren’t needed. Add in the excellent run they’ve had with Isuzus and you can see why they stick with them. In fact, one of their original Isuzus, with well over a million kilometres, is still going as Jason’s race transporter now.

When it came to needing a bit more horsepower and comfort for the longer runs Allan then turned to Mercedes-Benz. They offered the best combination of both needs. The first Benz they purchased was kitted out with Duells’ usual level of class and style and became Jason’s truck. With the bigger truck his new role saw him covering Melbourne and Adelaide regularly as well as runs into Queensland and any other call ups. He loved his Benz but admits, “I’ve had this Kenworth in my mind for a while, a long while actually”. When it came time to once again add to the fleet, Jason started working on convincing his dad about the benefits of going to Kenworth.

Now don’t underestimate Jason here. He wasn’t just a big kid screaming, ‘But dad, I want one!’. Jason is hands-on in all aspects of the business and investigated it all, from fuel and horsepower numbers to the resale, running costs, servicing and productivity angle. He had done his homework.

However, he does admit he was pushing for a Kenworth with a stick but getting the truck over the line required sacrificing that option in favour of an automatic. Allan’s argument being, ‘Well, what if you’re away and we need to do a truck swap?’. Jason laughs when he informs me, “I’m not swapping my truck with anyone”.


With his father convinced to leave behind the comforts of a Euro truck in favour of the Aussie built icon that is a K200, I guess Jason decided to go for broke and let his dad know exactly how he saw the truck being finished off.

“I didn’t think I’d convince dad to do everything I wanted, but in the end, yeah,” Jason smiles. “Dad’s always been into them looking good, I’m just a bit more into the bling.”

Matching stainless

The truck was ordered threw the Barry Maney Group, who represents the Kenworth brand in Mt Gambier. The big K200, with its stretched chassis, rolled into town already painted in the company’s vibrant purple. Being able to get these two things done in the factory was another selling point Jason had used to make his case.

Aldoms Transport Engineering, who have built several Pantech bodies for Duells, took the body off Jason’s old Benz and made a few alterations before fitting it to the new Kenworth. With most of their Pantech’s having the side skirts it enabled Jason to get the Kenworth’s fuel tanks moved back down the chassis, keeping them unseen and meaning less time polishing tanks for him.

When it came to making it standout, vibrant purple wasn’t enough for Jason, he wanted more. He did however admit to a few minor hurdles. “Everything that looks good on a K200 has already been done,” he confessed, so he had to think outside the box. Getting the light bar built into the staunch Barrup bull bar gave it a clean yet practical look and something a little different. With the fuel tanks moved it freed up some space and allowed Jason to get matching stainless wrapped battery boxes and AdBlue tanks on either side, nicely filling that void.

Jason had seen wrapped grille bars on a T909 and opted for the same look with the K200, the purple really set off by the stainless grille. The full rounded wheel flares kept the whole streamline look intact and the drop visor finished it off nicely.


Jason’s own creative side came out with the large stainless KW logo on the rear of the Pantech. “I was worried it might be a bit too much, but with the purple painted underneath it came out all right,” Jason says. I tend to agree, it doesn’t smack you in the face but when you take notice it really looks right.

It wasn’t just the exterior that got a bit of make-up; Jason also let his wrap guy lose on the dashboard as well. As you can see there is a fair bit of purple shining back at you from the driver’s seat, though you could be forgiven for not noticing as like me you may have been entranced by the pearl craft steering wheel. Let’s be more specific here, it’s the pearl craft smart steering wheel. So you don’t have to sacrifice all those easy to reach buttons to have a stunning pearl craft wheel in your Kenworth these days.

There is plenty more I could tell you about this truck and the lovely family from down at Mt Gambier who run it. Truth be told, you really just need time to sit down and enjoy it. Jason Duell had a plan with this truck, a plan to incorporate two off his passions.

“I love the industry and removals. It’s very hard to get a tough truck and removals to come together,” he says.

That was his goal, and I think he has nailed it. Duells K200 is one of the best-looking furniture trucks you’ll ever find. It just helps that it is also going to carry the family-owned business well into their fifth decade of service. Well done to Duells Furniture Removalists.

Photography: Warren Aitken

Previous ArticleNext Article
Send this to a friend