Cool show of support

The close association between Thermo King and the Australian Trucking Association (ATA) has been long-standing, but it was taken to a whole new level when, in 1996, Thermo King offered its first refrigeration unit for auction.

Then in 1997, the idea to paint the auction unit with eye-catching artwork was brought to the fore, a tradition that has continued to gain the attention of those in the industry year after year – with painted units continuing to attract the attention of passers by as they go about their daily business all over the country.

Only a few years later, Thermo King took the opportunity to give its support to NatRoad and began supplying refrigeration units to help raise money during the NatRoad Conference.

“Thermo King recognised that both the ATA and NatRoad were heavily dependant on funding from sponsors, so we saw this as a great way to get involved and show our support. Both the ATA and NatRoad are absolutely essential to the trucking industry,” says Thermo King’s Regional Director for Australasia, Peter Lawrence.

“I don’t know where we would be without the ATA on the political scene. When I first went to the ATA Convention in 1994, it was obvious that the industry had created a much needed channel to get to the regulators. This was something we didn’t have in prior decades. We had all the big boys plus disparate industry segment associations all trying to get things done, sometimes pulling in opposite directions, and getting nowhere. The ATA was formed as a consolidated and consistent national voice and has became a very prominent lobby group for the industry,” explains Peter.

“NatRoad on the other hand works a little differently. It focuses its attention on directly serving operational needs of its members and is a very good conduit for many of the industry’s issues. As a prominent member association of ATA, Natroad members enjoy not only the day to day support, but also the opportunity to have their common issues escalated to Federal Government level via the ATA.”

At this year’s ATA Conference, held at the end of May, the refrigeration unit put up for auction was a SB-330 model featuring the latest in refrigeration technology. The unit was painted with a familiar Australian icon on the front, sporting an ATA tattoo on his arm. Key features include a chrome grill, Thermo King’s Electronic Throttling Valve (ETV) device which is designed to pull the temperature to the desired level in the most economical way, and Thermo King’s innovative ‘Smooth Air Blower’. The ‘Smooth Air Blower’ is a new evaporator blower assembly that is capable of saving fuel while increasing capacity. According to Thermo King it is capable of reducing fuel consumption by seven per cent, while at the same time increasing capacity by four per cent.

“We wanted to donate the most advanced unit on the market,” says Peter, “so we virtually offered our top shelf solution.”

The unit was painted by a Melbourne based airbrush artist named Laurent Machado from Air Brush Venturi, who also teaches his craft. Laurent and his students have painted many ATA auction units in recent years. And according to Peter, the artwork on this unit is amongst the most memorable, along with the Warner Brothers cartoon characters that were painted on the previous year’s unit.

Each year’s theme is typically based around the topics that will be discussed at the conference and/or the location where the conference will be held. For example, at the 1998 ATA Conference that was held in Canberra, Thermo King donated a refrigeration unit sporting the Parliament House. Then in 2006, when the event was held in Queensland, the refrigeration unit featured a Dreamworld roller coaster with the words, “Australian Trucking – World’s Greatest Thrill Ride”. For 2011 the auction night brief was “Outback Australia”.

In addition to the auction unit, Thermo King also supplies a refrigeration unit each year for use on the ATA’s “The Road Ahead” education vehicle, which is then sold as a near new unit at the following convention. The 2010 refrigeration unit was purchased this time by Canon Logistics.

At the NatRoad Conference in early August, another Thermo King SB-330 refrigeration unit went under the hammer and was this time purchased by Noelene Watson of Don Watson Transport.

Thermo King now has its sights set on the 2012 ATA and NatRoad conferences where it will once again lend its full support. Although the artwork for the 2012 ATA unit is being kept under wraps, if previous years are anything to go by, it is sure to generate a great deal of interest.

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