Hall of Fame Inductee 2016

Stanley Williamson

Born in Stratford in 1926, Stan left school at 13 to work as a farm hand in Taranaki.

Eventually, in 1946, Stan moved to Putaruru, married Netta and joined her brothers in an agricultural contracting business, Maketu Contractors Ltd.

The company prospered and diversified its activities which by 1964 included land development, log cartage and quarrying. Eventually the illness of a partner meant the breakup of the business at which point Stan focussed on the burgeoning logging sector with the formation of Stan Williamson Transport Ltd.

The company continued to expand with Leyland and International trucks, often with the petrol engines replaced with Stanley’s favoured GM diesels. In 1966 Stan repowered an International ACCO with a GM 8V-53 and, at 250 hp, was told, “Stan, you will never use that much power”. A few months later, a competitor had an 8V-71 powered ACCO on the road and the race for increased horsepower had begun.

In 1968, with the fleet at 9 trucks, a setback occurred when an exporter went bankrupt and, without payment, a significant number of logs sat on the wharf. To salvage the situation, Stan’s drivers spent three months to manually scraping the bark and fumigating, whilst two drivers used the parked fleet in rotation to do one load a day to satisfy the remaining highway work. The logs were eventually sold and normality returned.

Stan’s business continued to expand, purchasing Oregon Hauling Ltd in Taupo, Forest Freighters Ltd in Putaruru (purchased with eldest son Alf and his wife Kath) and Rutherford’s Transport.

In 1995 Stan demonstrated his innovation submitting a tender to cart 120 feet long whole trees using a tri-drive truck towing a tri-axle jinker trailer, encountering considerable disagreement from Forest Corp, which was only resolved when they sent two men to Canada to see for themselves that Stan’s solution was correct. Upon their return, Stan was invited to double the number of vehicles in his tender and Western Star tri-drives were added to the Taupo fleet.

Throughout all this, a bulldozer or three was always part of the fleet with the sixty-eight trucks at the peak in 1984. The fleet included three Kenworth’s, a Mack, a few Mammoth Majors, but mostly Leylands, one of which was purchased from Bill Richardson and later returned to him and currently displayed in this museum in Southern Transport colours.

Stan was heavily involved with the RTA continuously serving on the executive committee for 48 years. In 1983, he was made a Life Member of No. 2 Central Executive and Life Member of RTA Region and in 1993, Life Member of the NZRTA. He has been a member of Rotary for 24 years and was awarded the Paul Harris Fellowship and sapphire pin, Rotary’s highest honour.

Stan survived a tree landing on his foot, trapping him for hours; his hip damaged by a scrub crushing roller; 33000 volt electrocution throwing him 30 metres when a dragline touched overhead lines; being set on fire when diagnosing a misfire; barrel rolling his Rover V8 when the lights failed on a country road, and numerous other scrapes.

Now in “semi retirement” at the age of 90 years, Stan still has some projects to finish, with one Crusader still in the iconic red and cream colours and the Case D1150 bulldozer recently sold is only “probably” his last.

Robert Burnett