With almost 60,000 followers across social media, the owner driver from Katanning in WA is not afraid to tell you how it is, or how he thinks it should be.... So how did a knock about truck driver end up on the television, become an internet sensation and a spokesperson for the next generation?
“It’s just been one of those things, I was just doing my own thing, running my business with my wife Amanda, when Outback Truckers came along.”
“All of a sudden I had a platform to get our name out there and use the opportunity to have a voice and advocate for the transport industry. And people were obviously happy to listen to me because my social following began to grow.”
A truckie born and bred, Yogi is third generation and has been truck driving since he turned 21.
“My old man, he’s the best truck driver I've ever met in my whole entire life, I learned everything I know from him….Right through my teenage years, I would do anything to get on the truck with him. I absolutely love the job. I love the industry.”
Even though his passion was clear, a career as “just a truck driver” wasn’t what Yogi’s Dad had in mind for his son.
“He used to say to me, ‘you can't just go driving trucks, you have to get a trade as well.”
“So, I became a qualified tree faller and tree lopper, and I did that for about three or four years, after I finished school.”
“And that is one of the most important pieces of advice that I can offer to the young people. Stay at school. Get an education.”
“There are a lot of kids coming to me via social media, asking me for advice. They think I have the best job in the world, and they are right, but everyone needs an education.”
“I don’t pretend to be an expert, but if I can be a role model to these kids and someone they can look up to and who is approachable and real and happy to answer any questions, then why not.”
Yogi and his wife Amanda started Kendall Trucking & Co. seven years ago.
“Amanda really is the brains of the operation, she runs the business from home, she brings the kids up, she does everything.”
“And most importantly she gets and respects this lifestyle. We are both hard workers and I know that work ethic is something that both my daughter and son will have when it comes time for them to enter the workforce.”
“I am proud to set that example.”
And while Yogi, doesn’t think his own kids will take on the family business, he is committed to doing what he can to make sure the next generation of truck drivers and owner operator businesses receive the proper training and have someone speaking out for them.
“We need to look after our industry and make sure that we are getting the respect we deserve.”
Yogi is calling for a review of the current system, one that nurtures those starting off their careers and ensures that proper training is provided, so the driver has the confidence and a basic experience level, prior to taking to the road.
“We need quality controls. I'd love to see an entry level. Everyone talks about an apprenticeship and an apprenticeship is hard work, but I'd love to see at least a basic entry level to be in this game.”
“When someone turns up looking for a job I would like to see more than just something saying they have completed a half-day course. I mean anyone these days can pay their money and get a truck licence, but that doesn’t mean they have the confidence they need.”
“The training should include basic confidence in maintenance, like changing the tyre, connecting the trailer, loading and unloading, and also a focus on driver health, including fatigue management and healthy eating.”
“Everybody’s out there having a crack. But I do believe that if we had a basic level of entry to be in this game, it would make a significant difference.”
“I love this industry and I just want what is best for it. So I'll keep pushing and if the government brings in an independent truck assessor on accidents, I’m your man. I’m no train-spotter, and I don't like seeing trucks on their roof, but I’d like to know how they got there and how we can stop it from happening again.”