Young People Running a Trucking Operation

young people running a trucking operation

At 27 years of age, Jory Dunshea, Operations Manager of Custom Freight at Yatala, is one of the few young people running a trucking operation, in an industry where many people in this or similar roles are middle-age or older. But as Diesel News discovered, he’s a fast learner and has some insightful perspectives to bring to the table. 

There’s no doubt the phrase ‘ageing population’ is receiving its fair share of airplay these days, and the trucking industry is certainly a place where this adage is applicable. You only need to look at the average age of truck drivers, said to be around 48, to realise this. 

But the truth is, when you start looking around there is a wealth of young talent spread across the length and breadth of this vibrant and diverse industry. Jory Dunshea is a great example.

Not that Jory came down in the last shower either. He does, in fact, have 10 years of industry experience in various forms under his belt, having started in a driving job at the tender age of 17. 

“I grew up in Armidale (NSW) and got a job with the local Home Timber and Hardware store when I left school,” says Jory. “I was working in the store and delivering plasterboard in a rigid truck. Then when I turned 20 I got my HC licence and started working for Hilliers Transport which is now called New England Freighters. I did interstate work there for about three years.”

At this stage, in his early 20s and preparing to get married, Jory and his partner moved to Queensland with Jory taking a job doing interstate driving for QSR Transport based at Jimboomba, south-west of Brisbane.

“I enjoyed the interstate work but I knew it would only be temporary as my wife and I were planning to start a family and I wanted to be around for my kids as they grew,” says Jory.


young people running a trucking operation


So after a couple of years with QSR, Jory made the move to Custom Freight as a driver and it wasn’t long before he was elevated to the position of Operations Manager, a role he has held for the last two years. 

As the owners of Custom Freight live in Victoria, Jory, ably assisted by Administration Manager, Tanya Vonthethoff, takes care of the day-to-day operations which involve interstate haulage of general freight using eight prime movers and around the same number of B-double curtain-sided trailer sets.

The mainstay of the business involves a contract carting a range of stainless-steel products including rolls, sheets, rods and bars from a Yatala factory to outlets in Sydney, Albury on the NSW/Victoria border and Dandenong on the south-eastern outskirts of Melbourne. The trailers are then reloaded with general freight for the return journey. Other work the company does on a regular basis includes delivering coffee to Mt Beauty in the Victorian high country.  

Asked about the greatest challenge he faced in transitioning from being a driver himself to overseeing operations of a small fleet and its drivers, his answer is simple and succinct.

“My age,” he replies. “It’s been a steep learning curve and I came to realise pretty quickly that when you’re in this position you can’t be ‘mates’ with the drivers you’re employing. Hard decisions have to be made and you’re the one who has to make them. Simply learning the role has been a big challenge. I probably initially thought as an operator of a heavy vehicle that the two roles go hand-in-hand but I soon realised this wasn’t the case. 

“I guess the fact that there is no one else to make decisions was initially quite daunting for me. When people are asking you questions, you’re so used to the idea of asking someone else to help with the answers, but then you think, ‘Hey, I’ve got to figure this out, it’s my problem to bear.’

“And if you don’t, you’ll be replaced; that’s how directors and boards run companies. So I try to make sure that every decision I make is in the best interests of the company and staff I’m in charge of.”


young people running a trucking operation