Inducted into the Shell Rimula Wall of Fame at ReUnion 2012.John Leech started driving for his father at an early age. His father, Arthur (Jack) Leech had been a well known transport operator on the Eyre Peninsula, SA, since the early 1920s. By the time John joined him in the business it was called A J Leech & Sons. By the time John took on the role of managing director in the mid 1950s, the name had been changed to Eyre Peninsula Freighter Pty Ltd. Later a subsidiary company, Eyre Transporters, was also formed.
In 1959 John was responsible for pioneering the movement of sheep from the Port Lincoln district across the Nullarbor to Esperance,WA (1160 miles) and to Bunbury (1600 miles). Trips were also made to sheep stations near Kingoonya for wool. These trips were challenging and unpredictable as the roads were little more than dusty corrugated bush tracks and much of the journey was cross country.
To provide a regular mail and perishable service to the Peninsula John introduced Lincoln Clippers, a fleet of buses that covered all areas around the Todd and Flinders Highways with a thrice weekly service. Passengers shared the same vehicles as freight. All the buses were fitted with 16 seats at the front of the vehicles with the cargo bay at the rear. This service averaged a wayside stop every two miles. In the early 1960s a mobile crane service, which included a P&H machine capable of lifting 15 tons and two smaller chamberlain type 5 ton cranes were added to the services provided by the business.
By 1970 an overnight express freight service from Adelaide had been established and to accommodate the growing company, land was purchased at Regency Park and a new Adelaide depot was built. The Port Lincoln depot was also extended to provide a 28,000 square foot undercover area to cope with the significant increase in freight services. John also negotiated with the Adelaide Steamship Company and utilised the roll-on, roll-off ferry Troubridge for backloading his trailers and cargo three times a week.
Eyre Transporters also held the Eyre Peninsula Australian Bulk Handling grain road contract and John designed and constructed special, high tipping gear to speed up the emptying of loaded trailers for a quick turnaround.
Over the years the company grew to a staff of 68 and to a fleet of over 60 vehicles including 34 long haul trucks of which 22 were F88 Volvos. One Volvo which impressed John clocked up 940,000 miles on the Port Lincoln to Port Pirie acid run without missing a beat.
In the 1970s Adelaide Steamship Company purchased a majority interest in John’s company to ensure their West Coast Troubridge service was secure. John stayed on as managing director until he retired in the late 1970s. John Leech well deserves his place on the Shell Rimula Wall of Fame.