Born in 1938, Jim Barker spent 22 years in his home town of Huntly District before moving to Mt Eden with his wife Bev in 1960.
The Otorohanga Transport Ltd Group began in 1963 when the Barker and Dow families formed Otorohanga Transport Ltd (OTL). Jim and Bev Barker, and Dennis and Cynthia Dow (Jim Barkers’ sister), developed the business and amalgamated with other local carriers servicing the livestock cartage market.
In 1992 after problems experienced with transporting stock across the Cook Strait during the height of the herd shift season Jim and partners purchased a ship, the Straitsman, and Strait Shipping Ltd was formed. With vision and market research, the potential was identified for an increase in demand in linehaul, bulk and general freight, resulting in the establishment of Freight Lines Ltd in 1993 by Jim and Peter Barker.
2002 saw further expansion with the introduction of a Cook Strait passenger ferry service.
Late 2007 Otorohanga Transport Group restructured, bringing about the formation of the Jim Barker Group of Companies, encompassing Freight Lines Ltd, Manawatu Transport Ltd, Stock Lines Ltd and Strait Shipping Ltd.
Now, in 2012, the Barker Transport Group has Freight Lines depots in Auckland,Otorohanga, Wellington, Christchurch, Nelson, Tauranga, and Tirau and livestock depots in Feilding, Otorohanga and Blenheim as well as freight and passenger shipping terminals in Wellington and Picton. It’s a family affair, with Bev, Jim’s wife, and his three children, Peter, Sheryl and Maree all involved in the business.
Sadly, Jim passed away mid 2016, and the country lost one of it’s greatest innovators, and a man of who it can be said truely changed the face of road transport in this country.