Hall of Fame Inductee 2023
John Geraghty was born in Pukekohe in 1945 and in 1950 his family bought a farm in Waipu. At 16 years old, John moved to bigger pastures in Auckland to assemble lawnmowers.
In 1963, with some experience under his belt, John moved to New Plymouth, where he
worked for Lou Stonnell; driving tractors, spreading fertiliser, haymaking, and undertaking
other farm tasks. One evening over a beer, John and Malcolm Campbell decided business
ownership was a good idea – the rest, they say is history.
Purchasing Farmers Bulk Topdressers (FBT) in 1966, John and Malcolm formed a partnership
that lasted more than 55 years. The company experienced tremendous growth over the next
40 years, initially a fertiliser spreading company, it diversified through various acquisitions
and new ventures. John was always looking for ways to innovate, to streamline processes and
drive efficiency, so in 1980, FBT purchased the first customised transport computing system
in New Plymouth.
In 1972, John was president of the Western Central region of the New Zealand Road
Transport Association (NZRTA) and in 1980 became a national councillor for the NZRTA,
serving several terms on various committees. He served two terms as president, and
eventually went on to become the chairman of the Roading and Technical Committee.
He was involved for many years with the Taranaki Association. When John was elected
to the NZRTA, there were 20 people around the table and it was very much an old
boys’ network. He was part of a group that was instrumental in the restructure of the
association, which resulted in the formation of regional associations, and that saw the
board reduce from 20 directors to seven. From this, today we now have the New Zealand
Road Transport Forum (NZRTF).
In his role as chair of the Roading and Technical Committee, John helped lobby to lift
vehicle truck and trailer weights from 39 to 44 tonnes in the mid 1980s. A staunch advocate
of road safety and heavy vehicle safety, he spent a great deal of time advocating for the
standardization of various safety features, many we see in trucks and trailers today.
John’s achievements have been acknowledged in different ways by groups, including
winning the coveted Europa Management Scholarship in 1984. In recognition for his service
to the road transport industry, he was awarded a life membership to the NZRTF in 2001.
John also served on the Taranaki Rugby Union Board for 18 years as an independent
director and was awarded a life membership for his service in 2013.
In 2001, 2002 and 2003, FBT’s success was recognized through the Westpac Business
Awards. These awards were testament to John’s dedication and commitment to his business
and the wider industry. A gifted communicator, preferring a face-to-face conversation and
always hopeful of coming away with a solution – John would meet with regulators, police, the
New Zealand Transport Authority and councils when there was concern. He was not a fan of
resolving matters via email.
John is a mentor to many, and his advocacy continues to this day - his modesty and passion
to fight for truckers makes him one of the best networkers in the industry.
Even though John has handed over the company reigns to his son David, he keeps a close
eye on things. As he moves into a well-deserved retirement phase, he and Sue can finally
enjoy time with family, friends, and indulge in their hobbies. However, the possibility of John
embarking on a new project is never far away, as he is always looking for new opportunities
and ways to keep busy.