Leo Pickthall was born in St Arnaud on the 30th August 1927 and married Barbara McDonald also of St.Arnaud. Leo’s father, Joseph William Pickthall worked with his uncle in a Wool and Skin shop in St Arnaud and when his uncle died he bequeathed the shop to Joseph in the 1930s.
Leo started working at the shop when he was 17. His older brother Bill soon left school and the two brothers decided to buy a truck. The brothers had their eye on a secondhand truck for 180 pounds. They both had 50 pounds each and Joseph would kick in the extra 80 pounds, so the Ford 35, V8 engine with side valves, full steel cabin with around 27 to 30 hp and a tray of about 14 foot was purchased.
Over the years, JW Pickthall & Sons expanded the business to include a Ford 48 (830 pound brand new). They carted predominately fresh produce and in six weeks had the truck paid for. The petrol tank located in the cabin was the usual in the day but Leo had 24 gallon drums attached to the truck so it did not need filling so often. A Ford 51, five Beavers, Mack B 61 P motor, 22 gears, 178 Hpa 1963 model all followed. The St Arnaud based business supported the local community transporting items such as bricks, livestock, grains, eggs, tractors and fresh produce.
In 2015, Leo at the age of 87, is still actively involved in running the family business in which he shares with his three sons expanding to six B Double Kenworths, three single Kenworths and a small Isuzu tray. The business continues to deliver a high level of service specializing in pig transport for the Riverlea Company.
JW Pickthall & Sons have been recognized by Castrol for over 90 years of association with the business and the local Rotary club recognized the business for Excellence in Vocation in 2000.
Leo ceased driving the trucks at 80 and now can choose the time he starts and finishes, assisting with the general maintenance and business duties. Leo’s commitment for trucking, family business, and support for the local St Arnaud community is one admired by family and reflected in his longevity and continued passion and drive.