Inducted into the Shell Rimula Wall of Fame at ReUnion 2010.
William (Bill) Hunter commenced trading as WB Hunter in 1947 initially picking up and grading eggs before entering into associated areas such as grain buying and feed supply with trucks being required to service the growing business.
Being of an entrepreneurial nature, Bill was soon in conflict with the Egg, Oat, Barley and Wheat Boards in the highly regulated environment that then existed.
However, after a protracted strike by the railways in the early 50s, Bill saw the efficiencies of road transport and the fleet was expanded. This again brought him into conflict with his greatest adversary, the Victorian Transport Regulations Board. This lead to a series of legal battles for over 20 years that went all the way to the High Court for the right to transport goods in competition with the railways. Bill was a stalwart of the VRTA and was the country chairman for many years. He is a life member of the association and recalls many meetings with people like Keith Kicks and Ralph Davis who were industry leaders at the time.
The fleet continued to grow during the 50s being standardized with Internationals. Branches were established in regional centres including one in Moama, NSW, that was pivotal to the transport operation and a company. WB Hunter Pty Ltd was incorporated in 1959 to operate the freight business. In 1960 a large shed was purchased in Shepparton which still serves, in an expanded form, as the operational hub. As well as hauling primary produce and their own goods, the company was called upon by local merchants for carting as they were dissatisfied with the railways. Melbourne depots were established initially in Port Melbourne. The business continued to grow. By the end of the 60s the fleet numbered in the forties. After deregulation in the late 70s, work taken on was more varied including interstate operations and the fleet was predominantly Kenworths, numbering around 50.
Over the years WB Hunter’s trucks have been involved in a multitude of charitable operations far too numerous to mention. Bill Hunter has worked tirelessly for the community for 27 years as a councillor withfive terms as the mayor of Shepparton. It should also be noted that the business was a large employer of indigenous and disadvantaged people long before the Government grants and the like were available.
Bill’s son, David, has managed the business for many years. Numerous family and extended family members have been involved in the operation together with many loyal and long serving staff. In 2008 Brian Hicks Transport bought the business in respect to the cartage side but the produce stores continue business as it has for the past 60 years. Bill still retains a keen interest in the company.