NZ Truck & Driver News

 
Trailermaker Pat Mear passes

Trailermaker Pat Mear passes

NZ Truck & Driver News

 June 2018   
TRAILER INDUSTRY ICON PAT Mear – the head of a family of trailer builders – has died at the age of 71.

The colourful Mear was a co-founder of Roadmaster Trailers – starting it, as son Jeff remembers, "with little or no capital and no orders…and made it one of the most successful trailer-building companies in the country."

He described himself as a cow-cockey's son from Te Kauwhata and related how he got into the industry at the very bottom rung – sweeping the factory floor at Tui Trailers in Rotorua.

He worked a few years on the factory floor for Tui, which became Mills-Tui – then shifted to Roadrunner Trailers, getting into admin and eventually becoming plant manager when it was taken over by Fruehauf.

After 18 years with Roadrunner, in 1991 he decided "by that stage I'd had enough of working for other people…I wanted to have a go myself," he told New Zealand Truck & Driver in 2001. Says Jeff: "I think that was the measure of the man. He was never to...

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TRAILER INDUSTRY ICON PAT Mear – the head of a family of trailer builders – has died at the age of 71.

The colourful Mear was a co-founder of Roadmaster Trailers – starting it, as son Jeff remembers, "with little or no capital and no orders…and made it one of the most successful trailer-building companies in the country."

He described himself as a cow-cockey's son from Te Kauwhata and related how he got into the industry at the very bottom rung – sweeping the factory floor at Tui Trailers in Rotorua.

He worked a few years on the factory floor for Tui, which became Mills-Tui – then shifted to Roadrunner Trailers, getting into admin and eventually becoming plant manager when it was taken over by Fruehauf.

After 18 years with Roadrunner, in 1991 he decided "by that stage I'd had enough of working for other people…I wanted to have a go myself," he told New Zealand Truck & Driver in 2001. Says Jeff: "I think that was the measure of the man. He was never too afraid to do something or try something." So he mustered the necessary talent to join him in the new venture as Roadmaster co-founders: He'd be the salesman and MD, Lyall McGee the chief engineer, Bill Lacey the floor engineer and Ross Bell the accountant.

Curtainsiders (which Pat had helped introduce to NZ during his time at Roadrunner) became a Roadmaster specialty, amidst a product line that included flatdecks and tippers, truck bodies, B-trains, semis, four-axle trailers…and transporters.

Jeff went to work for the company from the outset, becoming its sales manager. His brothers David and Brian and brother-in-law Ian Johnson also worked there.

Among the stories being shared about Pat (nicknamed Teapot) after his death on May 6, was one from Jeff (alias Teabags) – that "he was renowned for being accident-prone, my old man.

"That's why Neil Peterken (then the owner of Roadrunner) pulled him out of the workshop and put him in the office. "Oh well, he had trucks fall on his legs – twice! Luckily he didn't break anything.

The other thing was he pulled his hair out of the top of his head with a drill – he had a bald patch for the rest of his life."

Nine years after it was launched, Roadmaster became NZ's No. 1 trailermaker.

Pat bowed out of the business in 2012 – three years after son Jeff left the company and bought the troubled Fruehauf business with Phil Watchorn.

Last year, it was second-ranked in the NZ trailer market – behind Patchell, and ahead of Roadmaster.

Pat, says Jeff, "was really proud of me and where I've taken Fruehauf, you know. He was really chuffed with that."

Jeff was able to pass on to Pat "that I had a customer say to me that Pat had led the Mears into joining 'families whose names are synonymous with trailer building in NZ – the Steels, the Curries, the Stevensons…now there's the Mears.'

When I told him that he was proud as punch, you know."

A second major heart attack about three years ago severely limited his ability to indulge his retirement passion for gardening and rebuilding classic cars. But to the end he retained a keen interest in the industry – "and he was always criticising the government for changing transport legislation all the time! He was always asking what's going on and what's the goss."

The Mear legacy includes three sons working in the road transport industry – Brian as a truck painter, Jeff and David in Fruehauf – plus grandson Joshua (also at Fruehauf).

NZ Truck & Driver publisher Trevor Woolston says Pat Mear "was always one of the good guys of the industry and well respected by work colleagues and customers.

"He had a no-BS attitude and got straight to the point when he wanted to get his message across. "He also had a great love for a beer and sitting down and telling yarns."


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