Inducted into the Shell Rimula Wall of Fame at ReUnion 2005.Frank Ryan is one of the Australian trucking industry’s most enduring characters. South-west Victoria is the stamping ground of Frank Ryan, who at 72 years of age (in 2005), still keeps a keen eye on daily operations of the business he founded in Warrnambool over 60 years ago.
While still a teenager and working hard physically at the local butter factory, he started cutting wood for the boilers and bought a Dodge truck to cart it. He ended up hauling 3,000 tonnes of it a year as well taking up the opportunity to do local delivery work as it was available.
In 1957 work was found with Maples, a furniture store in Warrnambool and Frank soon purchased a Commer ‘underfloor’ furniture van to join the fleet. This was the start of furniture cartage and removals work which continues to this day. The business consisted originally of cartage of new furniture from Melbourne to Warrnambool together with the removal of household furniture, but expanded gradually in spite of much harassment from the Transport Regulation Board who objected to the ‘border-hopping’ operation used to meet the demands of customers.
Ryans now runs a fleet of 39 linehaul trucks (nine B-doubles) and 14 furniture vans, and operates on short haul work, mainly between Mt. Gambier, Portland, Warrnambool, Horsham and Melbourne. A strong sense of achievement underpins a business that today employs 150 people, and serves over 1000 customers. One of the fleet’s biggest jobs is the haulage of aluminium ingots from the Portland smelter to Melbourne, and to Portland wharf. Another major customer is Safeway, with up to a dozen or so trucks delivering fruit and vegetables at night and groceries by day to several stores.
Frank’s determination for the company to continue as a family entity under the guidance of sons Graham, Gary and Peter has obviously provided a clear direction for Ryans future.