Ronald Keith (Crasher Rice) was known simply as Ron Rice or the "man in the hat". He really did become a bit of a legend in his own lifetime. He operated before the current OH&S and road transport regulations which would have severely hampered both his transport and earthmoving exploits.
He was as "tough as nails" but also extremely loyal and generous to his family, friends and business associates. He was never known to take a backward step, if you could not get around it knock it down and go through it, or drive through a creek rather than take the long way round.
Ron started in transport when he was 21 driving for JJ Leech of Castlemaine in the 1950's and he drove interstate to Adelaide, Sydney and Brisbane.
He bought his first truck which was a Reo also in the 50's. He later bought a Mercedes with a heavy trailer and as an owner driver pioneered cartage to the outback and the oil fields. Ron drove as far north as Darwin and Townsville in the days when they were mainly dirt roads up through the centre.
He carried the biggest loads and went faster than most operating for days and nights without stopping. His mate "Doc" Keating said he was tougher than any machine and a very strong man. Hi 28lb sledgehammer is still in the workshop and he used it often.
He once did two trips to Sydney without brakes just to earn the cost of replacing them. That was on the Hume in the 50's which consisted of hills, bends and one lane bridges and it required a lot of skill and daring. Most people would need a bit of grog in them to tackle some of the things Ron did but he never touched a drop of alcohol.
Ron went on to run a large earthmoving business in Castlemaine with his wife Wendy (who have him tremendous loyalty and support) and other family members. He would work 14 hour days 7 days a week to ensure its success and he was just as daring on a machine as he was in a truck.
In a meeting if he put his hat on it was time to go home.
A great man - A transport pioneer - His word was his bond and you could bank on it.