Qube remembers popular fleet manager

Qube remembers John Allen - fleet manager.

Long-time Melbourne-based Qube employee, John Allen, who sadly passed before Christmas, has been remembered fondly by colleagues.

He was 74.

A holdover from the Port Cartage and Patrick days, Allen had originally joined the business as a heavy vehicle driver but later found himself promoted to managerial roles where his heavy vehicle expertise came to the fore in fleet management.

Aside from being one of the first people to drive B-doubles on the Melbourne waterfront, Allen was also instrumental in Qube’s early adoption of high productivity vehicles like A-doubles and Super Bs, which it continues to invest in today.

As a veteran of the industry, Allen was a repository of knowledge, the dark features offset by a mischievous glint in the eye, like someone who had more to tell, not all of it fit for copy.

He graced the cover of the September edition of Prime Mover in 2019.

Coming through the earlier iterations of Qube when it was a smaller family business, Allen had known current company directors, John, Paul and David Digney, when they were young men,

Officially, JA, as he was affectionately called, was the sixth truck driver to join the company but quickly became number one.

“When I first encountered JA, he was extremely welcoming,” said Craig Kitner, Qube Logistics Commercial Analyst

Kitner came to QUBE as part of the acquisition of the CRT Group via Aurizon.

That was in 2015 — the first time he met Allen.

“He was always there if you needed advice.

John was always approachable. You could go up to him and say, ‘JA, I need some help on this’ and he would tell you everything he could,” he recalled.

“If you started working on a challenging project he would give you confidence — confidence that you could do it.

“Whenever someone wanted to learn something and understand something he’d help them.”

Allen’s leadership style was forthcoming and generous.

“He always appreciated people trying to learn,” said Kitner.

Around the workplace, Allen was a wealth of knowledge, having helped mentor many staff members over the years including some of whom went on to become part of the executive.

One of them was Paul Digney, Qube Managing Director.

“JA was a Qube and an industry legend, universally liked and admired by everyone he
met throughout his long career,” Digney said in a statement.

“He was a dedicated family man who believed in working hard and playing hard and he made the most of every day,” he continued in tribute.

Allen, who worked across just about every aspect of freight, transport and logistics, first began working under the Qube banner in 2007.

“He was a loyal and dedicated employee, but most importantly he was a friend and mentor to many of us and we will miss him enormously,” said Digney.

The physical demands of the job had left Allen’s ageing body, as to be expected, with general wear and tear.

His work hours had been reduced during COVID to help protect him as he battled ongoing health issues.

“To be fair, I think he missed coming into the office during that period on and off for two years where many of us worked remotely,” said Kitner.

“John enjoyed coming in. He liked engaging with people, telling stories. He was big on interaction. He definitely would have missed that,” he said.

“I would have a cup of tea with him when he would come in and chew the fat for a little while.

“You had to stop him from coming in is probably the best way to describe it.”

Always one to take charge, Allen, according to Digney, was instrumental in creating and supporting the culture of hard work, friendship and innovation at Qube.

“JA mentored a lot of people in the industry. Worked very well with young people on their way up – not just in Qube, Port Cartage or Patricks, but the wider industry,” he said.

If a catch phrase could be attributed to him it would be, ‘What do you need? How can I help you?’

One anecdote shared by the Qube team involved Allen holidaying in the Riverina where he owned a house.

On his first trip up there, Allen was at the local watering hole where they found out he had a truck.

“You should have brought it up for the harvest,” someone told him.

Ever the entrepreneur, Allen then acquired a flat top with gates, tarps and grain traps.

So, while the family holidayed Allen became one of the local grain carters.

If there was a dollar to be made, JA was into it.

As to how Allen was regarded internally at QUBE, Kitner responds in a flash.

“He’s got a warehouse named after him,” he says.

“That was up, for all to see here, well before he passed.”

Kitner said if something needed to be done, without notice, Allen would be one of the first working away.

“Superman seems fitting. He was one they could always rely on,” he said.

“He taught a lot of the guys who have been part of the business on and off from the earliest days, right through.

“He taught them a lot.”

When asked why he didn’t get an office on the ground floor to save walking up the stairs, Allen gave a typically pithy retort.

“I belong on the first floor. When I can’t make it up, I know it’s time to give it away”.

Sadly, for the team at Qube, he has taken his last trip up the stairs.

Allen passed on 21 December after a lengthy illness.

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