If you see a shiny new Hilton Haulage side loading truck on the roads around Otago and Southland – chances are it’s being driven by Kylie Olsen – the company’s only female side loader operator.

Hilton Haulage has about 350 truck drivers across the country – and 19 of those drivers are female. Scott McAuley, Hilton Haulage’s General Manager of Transport, says the company would love to have more female drivers.

“We are currently looking at how we can make working conditions more flexible for all our staff, so we can attract and retain the best candidates.

“We support equality and diversity in the workplace and we assess all job applicants on individual merit, based on their skills and what the role requires,” he says.

Scott is quick to sing Kylie’s praises and to highlight her achievements since joining the company in 2018 – when she was hired to drive a small freight truck in and around Winton and Invercargill.

“She has taken every opportunity we have put in front of her, and worked her way up to a class 5 heavy traffic licence.  That’s qualified her to drive this brand new $750,000 Kenworth tractor unit and Steelbro side loader, which is one of nine we’ve purchased this year as part of our ongoing fleet modernisation.

“With her new truck, Kylie has taken on a highly technical role – now she must combine both driving and crane operation skills.  She is an amazing role model for others.”

Kylie’s likely to be taking export containers containing anything from locally manufactured boats, to meat, or milk powder from local processors. She could also be hauling containers full of imported equipment or apparel.

Kylie took out Hilton Haulage’s top driver award in the company’s 2021 annual “Legends” awards, where she was described as “an individual who takes pride in their truck, takes time to coach other less experience drivers, is an all-round good bugger and example for other professional drivers.”

She traces her interest in trucks back to her dad, who was also a truck driver.  “The people I work with are really good and I just love being around trucks.  It’s a good job,” she says.

Hilton Haulage regularly posts news of its drivers receiving keys to new trucks on its social media, and Scott McAuley says the company was blown away by the response to Kylie taking over her new truck.

“It’s a real credit to Kylie as a driver and the support she has from others in the industry and in the company.  We really value our drivers and welcome any women who want to apply for a driving career with us,” Scott says.