Dennis Roohan’s initial interest in trucks and trailers came from his father, Joe, who was the Branch Manager of a local Recar Smash Repair Centre and then years later an assessor at National Transport Insurance (NTI).
“I spend many weekends crawling over smashed and repaired trucks learning how they worked and later looking at the best way to repair heavy vehicles in the most efficient way possible,” he says. “I was in Year 11, and had no desire to be at school, I wanted to repair trucks so in late 1994 I was able to obtain an apprenticeship with the John Farragher Transport Group. From that I was able to get an early release and was promoted to Workshop foreman, then several months later Fleet Maintenance manager, a position I held for the next 10 years.”
Following that stint, Dennis would go on to work with a waste management fleet and then a civil construction fleet in the capacity as Maintenance Manager.
“Both roles were challenging,” he says. “However, I missed the linehaul / express overnight side of the transport industry, so I joined AJM Transport as Fleet Maintenance Manager and now oversee the business as Group General Manager.”
The express road transport side, according to Dennis, has a unique set of challenges. “Whether it be fires, floods, accidents or breakdowns the show must go on,” he says. “You must solve the problem and be able to get the unit going as quickly and cost-effectively as possible. I like that not one day is ever the same.”
Over the years, Dennis has witnessed significant changes to emissions, lubrication, Electronic Braking Systems (EBS) and trailer designs.
“Emission changes have caused us some headaches along the way, however the end result has been great, longer service intervals and some outstanding durability in our current Euro 5 / 6 engines.” Dennis says – adding it was a fantastic result to be one of the pioneers of Performance-Based Standards (PBS). “We put into service a 30m B-double up to the East Coast of Australia from Melbourne to Brisbane. The unit had 23 per cent more capacity than other combinations, was safer and outperformed the rest; it was a great project to be involved in although the roadblocks and red tape from councils added significant costs to the exercise as well as an additional six months and a few grey hairs.”
Throughout Dennis’ career Bob Woodward, who currently serves as the Australian Trucking Association’s (ATA) Chief Engineer, has been a constant help and sounding board as well as a great forward thinker and engineering genius in road transport.
“I was able to join the ATA’s Industry Technical Council at a relatively early time in my career and through that I have been able to surround myself with some of the best minds in fleet maintenance in the world,” Dennis says. “These guys were and still are always happy to share their knowledge and insights.
In 2020, Dennis Roohan was awarded the Craig Roseneder Award which recognises technical and fleet maintenance excellence at the Australian Trucking Association’s Technical & Maintenance conference.
Made possible by Smedley’s Engineers. Industry Icon is a series dedicated to honouring the unsung heroes of the commercial road transport industry.