Ray Ablett was born November 3, 1947. At age 12 he got his first taste of trucking when his dad Arthur let him drive a truck. Ray’s first job was an apprentice welder but at 18 he got his truck licence and began driving for Arthur carting hardwood from Bombala to Canberra. In 1973 through financial strain Arthur parked his trucks and at age 26 Ray purchased two trucks from his dad’s fleet, giving him three trucks to work.
Concerned about Arthur’s health, Ray established Abletts Transport Pty Ltd in 1981 so Arthur could work locally. Ray then purchased Jetspress in 1985 which expanded Rays existing fleet of 21 trailers and three trucks; one a Ford Louisville which is still being used as a tug today.
In 1996 BIG W approached Ray to transport product out of their new DC in Warwick. Unable to fulfil that work Ray decided to form a group of transport operators and approached Wickhams initially. After many weeks of discussions five transport companies formed Combined Distribution Management (CDM); Abletts Transport, Wickhams Transport, Mills Transport, Howards Haulage and Thompson Bros Transport. This group of companies enabled the members of CDM to tender as one for larger contracts. After three years two new members bought in; Greenfreight and Thompsons Transport.
Abletts also experienced growth through contract work which led to re-locating both its Melbourne and Canberra depots to larger premises in the nineties. The business now employs 70 staff including Ray, his brother Duncan, Ray’s three children and his niece.
Ray recalls fondly of his driving days and of the great mateship that existed. He also loved the sound of the engine. When driving at night he would get a thrill from watching the flame that would shoot out of the exhaust after changing gears and his foot to the pedal.
At the ATA Conference in Darwin this year Ray was honoured with the Don Watson Memorial Award for his contribution to the industry. Ray’s career as a truck driver gave him significant insight to develop the business and his humble and charming character enabled great business relationships. His hard work and ability to take risk are some of the main contributors to why Abletts Transport is operating today.