Hall of Fame Inductee 2021
Neil Peterken has spent the majority of his life involved with the Road Transport Industry.
Neil was an accomplished Fitter Turner and Marine Engineer with USSCO but, having a girlfriend in Feilding, he removed himself from the Merchant Navy and took up a position with Dave Domett at Domett Truck and Trailer, in 1961.
Dave Domett was a great influence providing the guidance and knowledge that Neil absorbed. He also worked with Russell Law, a well-respected engineer, before being moved to Auckland.
In 1966, Dave Domett, at the age of 52, passed away whilst playing golf. His passing created an inevitable change in the company and, in 1967, Neil opted to relocate to Rotorua and take up employment with Mills Engineering. Then, in 1969, Neil went to work for Manu Tuanui at Tui Trailers.
Neil produced lightweight Chip-Liners in “A-Train” format and developed the first hydraulic variable height house-moving trailer.
During this Time, the new Carter Oji (Pan Pac) mill was about to fire up.
With Kenworth trucks ordered, Neil met with Carter Oji representatives and presented a layout of a logging dolly and two-axle trailer concept. The concept received the green light, so 24 units were constructed.
Alloy tipping bodies for RMD, Winstone “Sand Liners” were some of the other “specials” of the day.
In 1972, Tui Trailers was sold to Allen Mills creating Mills Tui Trailers.
Neil was not comfortable with the takeover. After talking to some of his existing clients, took the plunge and in 1973, in a little workshop of Evergreen Seeder with a $10,000.00 loan from the bank, the doors of Road Runner Trailers Ltd opened.
Warwick Johnson built a new workshop on Allen Mills road for the new company providing a great start.
The first of the long/short log combination units was constructed for Colin Poole and McCarthy’s.
In 1978, the first B-Train was released at the Rotorua show. Built for F.J. Ramsey, the unit was designed for the transportation of round wood posts. The concept was one of those “this will never take off” – yeah right!
In 1980, Roadrunner produced the first sliding bogie lead semi in a B-train and also won the tender to supply “Live Floor” trailers for the transportation of refuse for the Auckland Regional Authority.
A joint effort between Roadrunner and Brian MacDonald of Fairfax Industries saw the inverted fibreglass bodies equipped with a steel liner and three pairs of chains connected by cleats providing a live floor system.
Never one to sit idle, Neil investigated the enclosed body system, travelling to England, and visiting Boalloy. Securing an agreement for NZ and Australia, Neil put the first Tautliner into service, on a four axle B-train in 1982, and again - “this will never take off” - yeah right!
In 1969, along with the late Arthur McNae, the pair assembled a group of like-minded transport people and set up the Institute of Road Transport Engineers New Zealand, IRTENZ. Neil is still a member today.
Neil has been instrumental in the advancement of the Road Transport Industry of New Zealand. His innovative ideas and concepts became the norm. He has seen the highs and lows of the industry, been surrounded by and become friends of many involved in the industry. He has assisted and offered opportunities to many and helped us get involved in the transport industry.
Talk to Neil, and there will be story after story, recollection after recollection.
Transport in the blood.