Truckin's in the blood
IF IT'S big, then Jon Kelly can move it.
As the founder and owner of Heavy Haulage Australia, it's Kelly's job to figure out how to move everything from 70-tonne locomotives and 20-metre-high catamarans to the world's largest bulldozer along the east coast of Australia.
He started the South Brisbane-based business when he was just 19 and now, at just 32, is running a $50m business.
"Trucks run in both sides of my family, so the only way out was blood transfusion," he told The Guide.
"I've really enjoyed trucks ever since I was a toddler.
"It was a foregone conclusion by the time was 10, but it was daunting to turn a childhood dream into a very successful business.
"I was 19 when I bought my first truck and by the time I was 20 had $1m in debt."
Kelly is known in the heavy haulage industry for the amount of time and money he spends on fitting out his trucks. He spends millions on painting and extra chrome and employs two full-time detailers.
"It's just like having a Saturday sports car, but instead I have 50 trucks," he said.
"Everyone enjoys driving down the street in a good looking sports car and it's the same persona with trucks."
Kelly set up a YouTube site for the company where he showed off his tricked-out trucks and as the site neared 10 million hits he was approached by A&E.
The pay-TV channel filmed a one-off Mega Truckers special, which was so successful that it has been expanded into a full series.
Cameras follow the day-to-day operations of the business, which are anything but boring.
It's a behind-the-scenes look at the planning and precision needed to load and transport large, heavy and sometimes oddly-shaped cargo.
"When we're doing big, heavy-haul moves the issues we have to deal with are mostly infrastructure restrictions like road widths, height restrictions and low power lines."
Kelly can spend more than a year planning a big job.
"I enjoy helping the boys and doing the work," he said.
"Nothing is better than doing a job that people say can't be done and doing it incident free. Actually, nothing is better than sending the bill (laughs)."
He hopes the series gives viewers and everyday drivers an insight into the skill involved in truck driving.
"We take our job very seriously," he said.
"We're trying to raise the public profile of transport in general.
"Although I am a cranky boss I am a very fair person and I'm here to make sure my customer's cargo gets there issue free and they ring us for the next job.
"I'm just a normal guy who didn't have any extra privileges.
"I run my business on a simple ethos: I buy the best equipment, pay the best money and attract the best staff."