Owner-driver Tony Fulton offers tips to the trucking industry with his helpful Facebook posts
|Tony Fulton and his everpresent sidekick Kelsie.|
It is actually quite hard to find some good, honest truth on the internet, so it’s kind of nice to be writing a piece about a genuine bloke such as Tony Fulton who is trying to bring some good old-fashioned honesty back online.
Some of you will know Tony better from his rapidly expanding Facebook page, Tones Truckin Stories.
I must admit I was a little slow off the ranks when it came to Tones Truckin Stories as I only tend to be on Facebook to share photos of my dinners. When my editor asked me to do a little profile on him I went off and checked out his page. Funnily enough the first of his videos I watched involved this very magazine.
Tony was seated in a very comfy chair reading a copy of Owner//Driver that included his very own ‘Letter to the Editor’. I must admit I found it more amusing than watching the apprentice trying to back a B-double when you’ve turned the airlines off. So I figured I’d be happy to do as my editor requested. I tracked down this bloke to find out his story and what Tones Truckin Stories is all about.
Tony’s family history in trucking admittedly only stretches back as far as he does. He has no ties to the industry and, believe it or not, he got hooked into the transport game when he jumped into a Hino his cousin was driving for a landscape supply business.
“When you just have an appreciation for them but not a knowledge; one truck’s just another truck,” Tony comments, adding “It’s just a big truck and that’s cool.”
He remembers the feeling of being up high, big and tough and he liked it – sold. From that experience he wasted no time. Within a month he had his licence and his legacy began at that same landscape company.
|Lights, camera, action: Filming another video for Tones Truckin’ Stories.|
His first truck was a 15-tonne Hino, delivering bags of mulch. “I was terrible,” is how he describes his entrance into trucking. “I was a real bad driver, really bad, a 19-year-old P plater, little bit hot, little bit you-know.”
While his honesty with me was amusing, his driving at the time I think only pleased the insurance company as Tony recalls maybe, just maybe, side-swiping a couple of cars and maybe, just maybe, getting the little tipper bogged a few times.
What those initial experiences did do though was allow Tony the opportunity to assess and improve his skills. As the years passed so did his youthful gung-ho approach and it wasn’t long before he matured on the road and rose through the transport ranks. From landscape supplies to tilt tray work and then onto linehaul work.
“My first linehaul run, I was away for a month,” Tony amusingly recalls. The job entailed transporting equipment around Australia for a music festival.
Now, while he was getting involved in his trucking, Tony, being a Victorian, was also heavily into his Aussie rules football. He even had a bit of talent for it as well and ended up leaving the linehaul work when offered a playing contract up in Darwin. As if playing in the humidity wasn’t enough, the bosses must have wanted him to shed a few pounds as they found him a job driving an old Mack Valueliner with a side tipping roadtrain while he was there.
Why is Tony’s experience playing cross-country netball, sorry, AFL, relevant to today? Well give me a sec. From Darwin, Tony ended up down south again playing footy and eventually becoming heavily involved in the club and the club’s marketing programs.
|Tony practices his agility as he loads up for MK Trucking.|
Jump ahead a bit and Tony’s been running a pallet company and a couple of other odd jobs before being talked into getting back on the road for a good friend that runs MK Trucking. That good friend would eventually talk Tony into buying his own truck and subbying back to them.
Now we are up to date, though the stunning K200 King Cab you see here wasn’t his first truck. He did his time spending money on a second-hand truck before working his way into a new one.
Snapchat and Facebook
With the brief history of Tony behind us, let’s look at exactly where we are now. Once Tony hit the road again fulltime he started filming a few Snapchat videos for his mates, just short amusing little videos, showing his mates (both of whom weren’t truckies) what life is like on the road.
From there it was suggested he start a Facebook page. Always the entertainer, Tony was into it. Before he knew it the page was getting more clicks than … well as Tony jokes, “getting bigger than the Kardashians, mate”.
|Tony Fulton’s Kenworth ‘King Cab’ K200.|
Because his videos were short, amusing and sneakily informative, he found himself getting bombarded with messages. Some in admiration for his down to earth approach, others asking for advice. Tony saw a gap in the transport market and chose to use his growing popularity to start helping and advising people within the industry. These ranged from videos about the loads he’s carting to little tips on checking your wheel bearings when fuelling up. The videos were becoming extremely well received, as there are many out there too reluctant to sometimes ask advice on simple measures.
Educating the public
The marketing skills he learnt at the footy club have transferred over to his new media identity and he’s using that to improve many aspects of the trucking life. Many of his followers have never been in a truck yet alone driven one and are finding they are learning more about blind spots and braking from a charismatic footy player in an orange singlet than any TV ad campaign.
The videos he shares range drastically from the day to day adventures of a truckie to educational tips and tricks, all the way through to introducing his grandad to pizza or the goings on behind the scenes at the many shows he attends.
As fun and informative as they are, Tony has bigger goals, mainly aiming to get involved alongside the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator and bridge the gap between those making rules and those that need to deal with them, making our industry a safer and fairer place.
It’s big goals for a man who started out trying to entertain his mates, but with what seems like a level head on his shoulders, a loyal puppy named Kelsie beside him, a never ending collection of Hi-Vis singlets and an expanding following, he seems to be heading in the right direction. Now I’d better go back and upload tonight’s dinner to Facebook.
By: Warren Aitken, Photography by: Warren Aitken | Published in Owner Driver magazine 01.11.2019