Barry Garousse grew up with trucking in the blood. He and his partner Lisa run Garousse Refrigerated, a successful small fleet hauling an eclectic mix of general, refrigerated and dry powder freight.
After starting with one truck and trailer 14 years ago, the business has grown organically and now comprises a fleet of 10 trucks and 14 trailers.
“I grew up around trucks, Dad and Mum owned trucks from the time I was six,” Barry explained. “They did Grace Bros furniture deliveries on weekdays and removalist work on the weekends so I’d be in the truck with Dad most weekends.”
Later on they were subcontracted to Refrigerated Roadways with a 10 pallet rigid where Barry’s eldest sister Sharon worked in the office and her husband, Mark, drove interstate as a tow-operator.
“Every school holidays, every day off school, I would be riding shotgun with Dad,” Barry continued. “If I wasn’t with Dad I was with my uncle who did pipe deliveries and if I wasn’t with him I’d be in the truck with Mark my brother-in-law running to Melbourne, or sitting in the Roadways office with Sharon.
“Growing up with family members who had their own trucks gave me the drive to believe I could one day do the same.”
Barry left school at 16 and completed an apprenticeship as a boilermaker where he gained broad experience in the welding, fabrication and commercial refrigeration crafts. Although he enjoyed learning a trade, the tug of trucks was always there in the background.
“During the apprenticeship, on the weekends, I’d come home and wash Dad’s truck or get under and grease it,” he reflects. “And if he wanted a week off I’d plan my holidays so I could jump in and drive for him.”
By the time he was 19 Barry had his semi licence and he recalls with a chuckle his first ‘legal’ drive of the brother-in-law’s T600 Kenworth from Albury to Melbourne.
“There were a couple of scary moments going up the hills with the RoadRanger ‘box and a fully loaded trailer in tow. I soon learnt how quickly they come to a stop when you miss a gear.”
By this stage it was the turn of the century and Ray and Gai, Barry’s parents, were still subcontracted to Refrigerated Roadways when Toll bought the company. Having noted Barry’s impeccable driving skills in his old man’s truck, Roadways/ Toll’s driver trainer at the time, Graham Offord, put the question to Ray, “When’s your young fella going to come and work for us?”
While for insurance reasons Roadways wouldn’t employ semi drivers who were under 25, Toll had a less rigid policy which meant at the tender age of 20 and having just completed his apprenticeship, the young Garousse became Roadways/ Toll’s youngest trailer driver.
Barry spent the next couple of years honing his driving skills, negotiating the notorious Sydney traffic and backing onto all manner of Woolworths loading docks across greater Sydney as well as regional NSW. He has fond memories of his time with Toll. However, as the position was casual and he’d recently bought a house, Barry was looking for something permanent, especially after Toll lost the Coles contract.
“An owner driver, Colin Graham, had been hauling for Primo for 18 years and decided to hang up his boots and sell his truck and trailer. I saw it as an ideal opportunity to buy my own truck, it was a dream I’d always had stemming from my Dad and other relatives having their own trucks. So I thought this is my time and decided to bite the bullet and do it. Now 14 years later I’m still carrying for Primo.”