NRC Member Profile

Eitherway Freight – Colin and Colleen Oakden

Everyone loves a trier – the little guy who won’t give up and keeps getting back up.

Colin and Colleen Oakden bought Eitherway Couriers in 1996, but soon discovered why the previous owner had sold the business.

They were competing with “four or five other couriers who were doing exactly the same run,” says Colin. “It was cut throat and didn’t make sense.”

They diversified and got a truck as soon as they could to do general freight from their Mangapai base just south of Whangarei.

Today the courier business is a distant memory as they concentrate on linehaul bulk freight from Auckland and smaller local deliveries in the Whangarei and Kaipara Districts.

But there have been a few speed bumps along the way.

“We built up the business over the first three or four years doing contract work for other companies,” says Colin. The Oakdens had ditched the courier business after a couple of years.

But the contract work was fraught with difficulties and three times the contracting companies went bust, owing money to Eitherway Freight as it was now trading as.

On each occasion, the Oakden’s weathered the storm and carried on. “It was a bit of a bumpy ride there for a while,” says Colin.

They have now got the business to a self-sustaining level with two Scania four axle truck and trailer units doing linehaul runs to and from Auckland, one of them on a daily basis, the other when required.

Then a variety of vehicles make deliveries to Whangarei, Dargaville, Ruawai, Paparoa, Maungaturoto, Kaiwaka, Mangawhai, Waipu and Ruakaka.

Depending on the loads involved there is a choice of a two axle Hino 8.5 tonne truck; a 22 tonne Renault 3 axle unit or the largest LDV van available, that has just joined the fleet.

“The Transit van we use to have, had done 450,000 kms, so I thought it was about time I replaced it,” says Colin.

The Oakdens currently employ drivers, with Colin driving when demand requires. He and Colleen share office and administration duties.

She has several roles in the business and has been a driving force. Daughter Katrina also helps out with administration duties.

At various stages they have dabbled in hauling timber into Auckland and running a chiller unit. But now they have found their core business strength and are sticking to it.

Like many road transport operators in Northland and elsewhere around the country, Colin Oakden is not happy with the slow down in major infrastructure improvements.

“We need huge investment into the roading system,” says Colin. “If we need to invest in our business we borrow and pay off the loan like everybody else. We don’t save the money and then make the purchase. That just doesn’t work.”

Colin reckons the short-term gains with small projects don’t bring the best results. “We need the long-term gains for roading issues.”

The Oakdens joined National Road Carriers in 2008, following Executive Officer Paula Rogers from her previous position with the RTA.

They had first got to know Paula in 2002 when she started providing support through the various ups and downs Eitherway Freight was getting through as it survived successive business collapses at the companies it was contracting to.

Not surprisingly the Oakdens appreciate the services and backup provided by National Road Carriers.

“We’ve certainly used their advisory services for any issues and regulations.

Colin and Colleen believe National Road Carriers is vital. “We wouldn’t have a voice, we wouldn’t be heard. We’d have no clout without NRC. The membership support gives NRC the opportunity to take up issues on our behalf. I’m a full believer in what they do. It’s an influential voice with Government.”