Hall of Fame Inductee 2020
Born in 1954, in the small seaside village of Great Yarmouth, in Norfolk, England, at the age of 2, Graham Sheldrake emigrated with his family to NZ.
The family first settled in Patea, then shifted to Waitotara near Wanganui and eventually ended up in Tokoroa where Graham attended Tokoroa Intermediate and Tokoroa High School. After high school Graham joined his father as a diesel mechanic at NZ Forest Products Kinleith qualifying as a diesel mechanic.
At the age of 20 Graham embarked an O/E with his sister and brother-in-law, taking a camper van around Europe for 18 months. On returning to New Zealand, Graham learned how to move furniture for Parks Furniture Removals in a 5 speed TK Bedford and that’s where he met his wife Jillian. After getting married in 1978 they headed back overseas to find his roots in England.
Trucks were starting to become important in Graham’s life and whilst overseas he made inquiries into log cartage back in Tokoroa. He applied for a contract with NZFP and was successful and purchased his first truck, a Kenworth SAR with a hiab crane to self-load logs. He called the truck Mork and the crane Mindy.
In 1984, he replaced that truck and purchased a Kenworth W924 carrying out off-highway logging. In 1986, he purchased a Scammell carting peeler logs from Kinleith to Henderson & Pollard, Mount Eden. In 1986, NZFP divested itself of its fleet of loggers and contracted out all of the cartage which enabled Graham to expand his fleet.
The formation of the Log Haulage Contractors Association came as a result of Graham’s encouragement for operators to band together to get lower fuel and insurance prices and have one voice when negotiating favourable discounts with various suppliers. Graham has been the driving force behind this organisation since its formation.
In 1994, Graham joined the No 2 Region NZRTA, completing a term as President prior to becoming the Owner Driver Director on the RTF Board from 1998 to 2005. He also represented the RTF on the Transport and Logistics Industry Training Organisation. From 2005 to 2009 Graham was Vice President of the New Zealand RTA Region 2, Acting President in 2009 and the President until 2012. He has also been a member of the Log Truck Safety Council since its formation in 1997 and has represented the RTF Board for numerous years on this Council. It should be recognised that Graham could not have done all of this without the support of his wife Jillian.
A restructured NZFP became CHH Pulp & Paper and in 2000 Graham secured a contract for the cartage of paper from Kinleith to Levin and paper products from various parts of the North Island to and from Kinleith.
In 2004, Graham was invited to join Dynes Holdings Ltd, Rotorua Forest Haulage Ltd and Honeycombe Log Transport to form Timber Logistics Ltd to cart Red Stag Timber.
Graham first and foremost is a family man; he and Jillian have a daughter and son, Emma and Mathew and also has five grandchildren, Owen, Noah, Luca, Dione and Carter. Mathew has in fact as of the beginning of 2020 taken over the business and spent many years under the guidance of Graham in preparation for this. Graham loves spending time with his family and it is fair to say he is extremely proud of them all.
He has been a part of a number of successful industry organisations and has the reputation for tackling many of the difficult issues that the industry throws up from time to time. His organisational skills are second to none and the industry has used these skills to help make our industry better for everybody.