Hall of Fame Inductee 2021
Born in Auckland in 1956, Kate Bucknell has had a sparkling career in our profession, but it was not her first career choice - she came to it from an unusual quarter - babysitting.
Kate Bucknell is unusual in many respects.
For a start, and until recently, the Road Transport Industry attracted few women to its ranks, and even fewer among those ranks—male or female—have achieved what Kate has in terms of commercial success and personal contributions to the transport industry. Furthermore, Kate had no ties to the industry. Her father was an Air Force engineer and her mother a nurse. Kate herself was studying social sciences at Auckland University, intending to return to her Otara roots as a social worker.
Yet her career took a vastly different path. It started when she was introduced to the industry when she had an after-school job babysitting for one of her teachers. The teacher’s husband was a tanker builder who clearly saw something in the teenager when he offered her a part-time job in his office. Kate never finished her degree at university. She was immediately attracted to the Road Transport Industry and was determined to forge a pathway through it.
Her full-time involvement began as a salesperson and then manager of Avon Equipment Spares. Her staff, uniquely for the time, were all women. Predictably, they were christened, “The Avon Ladies.” That was from 1975 to 1985.
In 1988, she became owner and director of Transcom Engineering, where she was introduced to global brands and agencies such as Jost and BPW, both of which would play significant roles in her career. It was about that time Kate taught herself welding and immersed herself in CAD. In 1986 she transitioned into Jost Transport Efficiency, with the Jost and Hendrickson agencies and later BPW.
It is testimony to Kate’s skills, tenacity and standing in the New Zealand Road Transport Industry, that when BPW bought the company in 1994, the German global giant retained Kate as their New Zealand general manager. She would later go on to become general manager of Commercial Transport Spares, owner of Transport Equipment Solutions and is currently general manager of Jost New Zealand, which she formed in 2018.
However, Kate’s extraordinary career path is only part of why she is respected in our industry and why she is an inductee into our Hall of Fame.
Equally impressive is her dedication to the industry and her determination to support it. Not content to be simply a member of the Institute of Road Transport Engineers, she has served on the executive as its treasurer and secretary and managed no fewer than the last nine conferences for the Institute—a remarkable feat.
She is also a stalwart of the Truck-Trailer Manufacturers Federation (TTMF), which she joined in 1989, becoming secretary in 1994, and taking management of it in 2003. She was at the helm of the TTMF’s 60th Anniversary celebrations in Invercargill, and it was Kate, along with the late Geoff Walsh, who, on behalf of the TTMF members, authored the much lauded and effective Manufacturer and Repair Code of Practice for our industry.
We should note that for all her services to road transport, Kate never lost sight or forgot her original intent—to give something back to her local community. She has served the South Auckland community as a member of the East Tamaki Rotary Club and supporter of her alma mater, Sir Edmund Hillary Collegiate in Otara.
Kate Bucknell is a worthy inductee into this year’s Hall of Fame—it is an honour richly deserved.