A MAN for all seasons.

“What looks at first sight to be a case of heart over head – a small rural transport operation investing in a range-topping Euro model – turns out to have a lot of good business sense behind the decision”

ARTICLE: Thanks to NZ Truck & Driver Magazine…

Some people have suggested that Waikato operators Dion and Hayden Kerley might have got a bit carried away when they bought their latest truck. For sure, a small rural carrying business in tiny Atiamuri might not seem the most likely home for one of New Zealand’s first examples of German truckmaker MAN’s flagship TGX model. But the twins, who run Kerley Brothers Transport out of a small yard just up the road from the Atiamuri Tavern, dismiss any suggestion that the beautifully-presented 8×4 is just too flash for its own good – more big boys’ toy than serious business proposition.

But the pedigree image of the TGX wasn’t at the forefront at all when it came to deciding what to buy to join the Kerleys’ pair of long-serving Hinos (they’re eight and 11 years old), in servicing rural clients in the south Waikato and King Country. What it came down to, says Dion, was “basically, we were looking for over 500-horsepower in the engine – which ruled out the Hinos and Nissans we’ve generally run up till now.

“MAN wasn’t on our shopping list at all in the beginning – in fact, I reckon we’d never really been impressed by the brand. Not based on any actual experience – just one of these feelings you have. “Anyway, when we started asking around about various options we kept on having good reports about the TGX, so we figured we should go and have a look.

Wayne Taia from TCV Trucks at the Mount arranged a test drive…and pretty well straight away we were completely sold. “Some people have suggested we’ve let the Euro-flash aspect of the model blind us,” he readily concedes. “But the harder we looked at it, the better business sense it made. First-up, the price is competitive with other big-horsepower models, plus you’ve got a good warranty – four years or 600,000km. We won’t fill the distance, of course: It’ll probably do around 85,000km a year. “Then there’s the long service intervals – and no need for any external greasing. We propose to keep the truck around 10 years, so we needed something we were confident would last that time.

“To help extend its life as long as possible, we’ll be using it generally for highway-orientated work, trying to keep it away from the occasional jobs that work the gear hard.“The clincher was the detail fit and finish and all the extras that came in the price.

We’ve never had anything this flash, but it certainly makes the job much easier when you’re working in an environment like this truck offers. “The final bonus is that it’s a great way to give the company a bit of an image!” It’s an image further enhanced by the twin chromed air intakes projecting above the cab aerofoil. Ex-factory, the TGX engine breathes through horizontal grilles set above the passenger door, then to an aircleaner set to the left rear of the cab.

The Kerley boys dropped that for the more spectacular, locally-developed option. The work of Piako Transport Engineering, the intakes took a bit of setting-up but add to the truck’s image, says Hayden: “They’re our bit of Kiwi bling.” We’ve just met up with the pair at the company’s yard, where Hayden is unloading around 40 bobby-calves that he’s picked up from local dairy farms: “These are virtually the last of the season,” he says, explaining that another carrier will be along later in the day to pick them up for the works. “The MAN will generally be used as a livestock unit – but has an alternate life as well: For the balance of our test, for instance, it’ll be in bulk tipper configuration”