Fruehauf NZ Ltd is a company of people with a deep knowledge of truck trailers and truck bodies for the New Zealand transport industry.
For the past five years, it has been proudly New Zealand owned and operated by passionate transport families, Phil Watchorn, and Jeff Mear. The pair met while Phil was employed with Orix New Zealand as the national fleet manager, and Jeff was employed by Roadmaster, as sales and marketing manager. They worked closely on design new trucks and trailers for the Orix national rental and lease fleet.
Phil and Jeff are members of the National Road Carriers Association, and have a keen understanding of the competitive, regulatory and commercial realities of working in the transport industry.
PHIL WATCHORN – Managing Director
Phil is the son of industry legend Bert Watchorn, and he has a lifetime of experience in the transport industry. He grew up in the family trucking business, and gained his Heavy Truck and Trailer licence on his 18th birthday He started his transport career in the Bay of Plenty driving livestock units. His career progressed from driving into management, including several roles in large multinational corporates. Nearly 40 years on, trucks remain his life fuel. He has a general management role within Fruehauf, and has championed operational transformation in the Feilding plant, as well as the establishment of the service centre at Wiri in Auckland.
JEFF MEAR – Sales Manager and Director
Jeff understands trailer and customer requirements better than most. He was sales and marketing manager for Roadmaster for 17 years before becoming co-owner of Fruehauf. In that role, he was closely involved in the design of new trucks and trailers for the Orix national rental and lease fleet. Jeff manages sales and customer relationships, and has championed innovation and customisation as a strategic imperative for Fruehauf. The results of his drive and passion are evident in developments such as the innovative chicken trailer and walking floor functionality for improved load / unload efficiency.
ANDREW LAW – Certifying Engineer
As Engineering Manager, Andrew oversees product design and manufacture, ensuring that Fruehauf design standards are met, and regulatory compliance is achieved. Andrew has worked with Fruehauf, and its predecessor, Dometts, at various times since the 1970s. His skills in engineering and design have been enhanced through experience outside the transport industry, helping him to see challenges from different angles. This includes design of high power motor controllers for PDL Electronics, meat plant design for Pro-And Feilding, and restructuring of power charges for the Hawkes Bay Power. He has also been a consulting engineer and NZTA certifier with Randalls, based in Palmerston North.
Lessons in Law:
Training under my dad, Russell Law, has stood the test of time and proven over many years that a methodical system is essential for both design and record. I’ve enjoyed variety in my career that has helped me to be receptive to other points of view. I love it!
PAUL CRANSTON – Service & Repairs Manager Auckland
Paul manages our Service & Repair facilities at Wiri, in Auckland. He oversees a team of 23 staff, ensuring performance at the highest level to minimise downtime for our customers. Paul has worked in the transport industry since 1989, and most of this time has been in the manufacture of truck bodies and trailers for both Fruehauf and Roadmaster. He has all-round experience spanning the manufacture of fabricated parts, sales, engineering and production management. Experience in construction fabrication for a company that made balustrades and staircases, has broadened Paul’s knowledge of process and people management.
CHAD THOMAS – Service Supervisor (Feilding)
Chad is the Service Supervisor based in our Feilding Service & Manufacturing facility. He is responsible for all service and warranty work, drawing on his wide range of technical skills and experience with the company. Chad joined Domett Fruehauf in 1995 as a parts assistant (and smoko boy). He worked his way up into an apprenticeship and completed trade certification in 2005. He then left Fruehauf to broaden his engineering skills and returned in 2009 as a fitter welder. He was appointed Team Leader of Fabrication before taking on his present role.
Outside of work:
I enjoy keeping fit, playing cricket and rugby and spending time with my amazing family.
TONY HODGE – Sales Account Manager (Lower North Island)
Tony is our Account Manager for the Lower North Island, based in Feilding. Tony works with customers in a range of transport sectors, with a focus on new trailer design. Tony’s career began with an apprenticeship in the sheetmetal engineering industry. He also owned and operated a sheetmetal engineering company for seven years, before moving into the transport industry. He joined Fruehauf in 2005, and enjoys helping customers to meet their business challenges.
Outside of work:
With my partner Vanessa we enjoy our extended family of five kids, including twins. Occasionally, there’s time for diving, hunting and motocross.
GRAHAM WARD – Compliance Officer (Casual)
As Projects and Sales Interface Manager, Graham has a key role in development of innovative solutions for Fruehauf customers. He advises on compliance matters related to vehicle sizes and regulations, as well as new designs for freight solutions. Graham also supports customers to make applications for special route permits, and overweight route permits. Graham’s career in the transport industry has included cartage (hay, wool, livestock), manufacture of truck bodies, coach design, and management roles for companies including Falcon Engineering (Whangarei), Morgan Engineering (Whangarei), and Fruehauf (Feilding). He has also worked in design and certification. Graham has been a member of the Truck and Trailer Manufactures Federation (TTMF) since early 2000 and worked closely with NZTA on the introduction of HPMV vehicles. His advisory input is now focused on changes to the VDAM rule.
A little bit of Ward wisdom:
I started driving trucks part time for Mamaranui Transport (part owned by my father) at age 15 and full time at age 18 towing a Fruehauf trailer on the 100 mile-a-day cream run (96 miles on metal roads). My driving experience on some of the worst roads in New Zealand has given me the best training possible for what works in the truck body and trailer building industry.