Who Packs your Parachute?


I’ve recently attended the Road Transport Association conference this year - the discussions highlighted the pain points for the road transport sector. On reflection the common threads were: – not enough time – not enough money – pressure of logistics – lack of qualified drivers

These pain points are purely symptoms of a deep seated issue. There is not enough time to ask the right questions to enable us make the right choices and thus assess the risk.  Being in business has many risks on so many different levels:  personal, financial and environmental (internal and external).

In September this year I was fortunate enough to attend Brian Fielkow’s seminar on Safety in Leadership in Houston (CEO of Jetco Delivery) and can see many parallels with what members are experiencing in NZ. Houston is where NASA runs its operations from.  One of the speakers, Jim Schultz, told the story of how in aviation there is a great respect and dependence on the person at the bottom of chain who ‘packs the parachute’. 

This made me think about the value and importance of the mechanics who work on the fleets.  I spent 3 hours at the end of the RTA Conference with the Traffic Police Truck Stop just outside of Tauranga and had a chat with the officer who checks the trucks’ breaking, steering, and weight measurements per axle. We discussed the role of the mechanic in the fleet companies and the responsibility to ensure that each vehicle is safe.

There is so much attention placed on the driver of the vehicles because these people are the public view of the companies they work for.  An accident causing death or perhaps damage to third party property is a reflection of the company’s reputation in the market.

But the mechanics are not seen as the glory boys. Their role is behind the scenes to service the trucks, grease the joints and oil the engines. Where do they sit in the company hierarchy and in the world of safety?  Where do they fit in with the management of logistics and the servicing of clients?  These people are your company’s  parachutes. When your company is under pressure to deliver there needs to be confidence in knowing that your people at this level will have done their job to the highest standard so that the trucks are safe to be driven and they won’t break down when needed the most.

Every business strives to do well and to excel – to beat the competition and deliver a top notch service of delivery being responsive and adding value. However with this drive to perfection it does create pressure. If  your people work as a cohesive team as they do in NASA the probability of success is greater and is a reduction in risk and the reliance upon insurance is reduced.

So by ‘checking and packing your parachute’ as a fleet operator what benefits can be obtained?

1)     Vehicles will not break down as often

2)     Vehicles will pass COF

3)     Maintain and improve your class grading

4)     Enables you to fulfil your contracts

5)     Reassess your insurance requirements

6)     Reduces your costs of running the business

7)     Increases productivity

8)     Increase your margins

9)     Maybe enabling you to pay more to your people and reducing the number of hours on the road


So who packs your parachute every day in your business?   A pat on the pack for the people at the coal face.

Also many thanks and a great job done by the organising team and presenters at the conference. 



John Barley



John Barley is a highly qualified insurance broker whose long term success in his own organisations has been attributed to his lateral thinking approach.

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