Bill Hargreaves was born in Dannevirke in 1927 with “diesel in his blood” as they say.
His father had a solid-tyred Thorneycroft which provided transport services to farmers and local businesses.
Being an only child, it was assumed Bill would take over the business. But Bill wanted to be a teacher and went to Canterbury to study for a BA. During his last two years at university, he worked for the licensing section of the Transport Department.
Also known to be a good rugby player, he played for Canterbury University and later captained Hawkes Bay. Unfortunately, a knee injury ended his playing career but he continued to coach local teams.
In 1951 Bill returned home to Dannevirke as the family business had now grown to 4 trucks and a service station and his father needed him. While working for his father, Bill purchased his first truck and started his own lime-spreading business.
Due to his father’s ill health, Bill took over the family business and further developed the company. He purchased Lindsay Drummond’s company and then Dannevirke Transport.
In 1965, Bill bought Transport Wairarapa in Masterton. With his wife Bernice, and young son, they moved to Masterton, which then became the head office for the growing company.
He continued to expand the business, acquiring more companies including Keith Shackleton’s R.Robinsons, Eketahuna Carrying Company, Manawatu Transport assets, and P and O Roadways Petone.
The business provided services for stock, freight, school and mail runs, fertilizer spreading, wool cartage and fuel tankers for Atlantic Oil. In 1989 a new company, Fuel Line Distributors, was formed to distribute fuel to farms and some commercial resellers.
At its peak, Transport Wairarapa owned more than three hundred road vehicles and employed 150 staff, making it one of the largest privately-owned transport companies in the Southern Hemisphere at the time.
Bill was an executive of the No.10 District of the National Roads Board, a member of the Wairarapa RTA and served on The Wairarapa Regional Development Council. Bill also represented the NZRTA on the National Advisory Committee on Meat Hygiene and. He was chairman of the NZRTA’s Industrial Committee. and involved in many award negotiations, known to be well respected on both sides of the table. In addition, he was a Rotarian withPresident of the Masterton Rotary club, including time spent as president, and a Mason of the Rawhiti Lodge in Dannevirke.
Bill’sHis wife Bernice played a large role in the business as Company Director and when she died in 1987 it was a huge loss to both the business and the family. In 1990 Bill retired and a manager was appointed to run the company.
Unfortunately, the business could not weather cashflow issues and was put into receivership in 1993. The company was able to repay all debt after selling off the rolling assets and traded out of receivership retaining the properties in Masterton and Dannevirke. Today it is a property investment company run by his daughter, supported by her siblings. The business has continued to develop acquiring more properties throughout the Wairarapa.
In retirement Bill served a term on the Masterton District Council, was the inaugural president of a local Probus Club, travelled extensively and enjoyed his grandchildren. Unfortunately, he became ill with cancer and died in 2004.
Bill’s prime focus was his staff and service to clients.. Bill knew exactly what was happening in every aspect of the business, arriving at work at 6am to spend the first hour of his day in dispatch talking to clients and drivers. Remembering the names of all his staff, their wives and their children, he touched the lives of many people.