Vale Tom Lindsay – road transport pioneer
Post World War II road transport industry pioneer, Tom Lindsay, passed away in November 2021.
Lindsay Brothers was established in March 1953 by Tom and his brother, Peter Lindsay, when they signed a contract to buy three second-hand trucks from their father, Victor Lindsay.
Before that fateful day, Tom had left school in Coffs Harbour at 13 and began share-cropping tomatoes, before a flood put paid to that enterprise. He then went to Sydney and worked non-stop in the Unilever plant in Balmain, to build a nest-egg.
With the £500 thus earned he returned to Coffs Harbour and he and Peter bought the used Fords from their father. Victor had previously used the trucks to cart bananas and other local produce to the railhead in town.
The brothers were joined by self-taught mechanic Harley Eckford, who remained with the company that became Lindsay Brothers for his entire working life.
The boys drove the trucks for the next 10 yeas, gradually building up the business, to the point where they were hauling produce to the Sydney and Newcastle markets and needed to back away from driving to manage the burgeoning business.
Lindsay Brothers was a pioneer in the refrigerated fruit and vegetable transport industry and was one of the first Australian transporters to use refrigerated trailers.
The Lindsays’ stated aim was to build the fleet up to 20-Mack strength and retire by the time they were 55. That’s not quite how it worked out!
The business diversified into transporting timber to Sydney and bringing fuel out of Newcastle to Coffs Harbour.
By the early 1970s the fleet had grown to that magic 20 trucks and 23 trailers, and operations had expanded to Queensland. Lindsays’ Ford truck origins returned in the form of a large Louisville fleet for many years, but Kenworth later dominated.
In 1983 a small rural supply company in the Bundaberg region – P & H Rural – became the foundation of Lindsay Rural.
Peter died unexpectedly in 1998, triggering a move to protect the future. In 2001, Lindsay Australia Limited was listed on the Australian Securities Exchange, incorporating Lindsay Transport and Lindsay Rural.
In 2003, Tom Lindsay was inducted into the Australian National Road Transport Hall of Fame and, in 2013, into the Queensland Road Transport Hall of Fame.
In 2014 Lindsay Fresh Logistics was launched, offering customers a range of services including unloading, cross docking, storage, ripening, fumigation, sterilisation, quarantine and inspection-related services for produce export.
Lindsay Australia Limited has evolved into a fully integrated transport, logistics and rural supply company, servicing customers in the food-processing, food services, rural and horticultural sectors.
By the early 2020s Lindsay Transport operated from 16 terminals with a fleet of more than 1000 vehicles. Lindsay Rural had 19 branches located across Australia and collectively the business employed in excess of 1100 employees. From its 1950s origin at Boambee in Coffs Harbour, Lindsay entered its seventh decade.
Vale Peter and Tom Lindsay – what a legacy you two boys have left.