03 November 2021

Celebrating a Mainfreight Legend - Grant Smith

A career that has spanned across 40 years, this week we celebrate a true Mainfreight legend Grant Smith. We were lucky enough to sit down with Grant and talk to him about his career with Mainfreight so far and what he thinks makes Mainfreight so special. 

Tell us a bit about your Mainfreight journey.

It has been a wide and varied journey so far, that’s for sure! I started as an OD with Freightways in 1981 based in Penrose. I was operating out of Daily Freightways when Mainfreight purchased the business in 1994 and renamed it Daily Freight. 
After 17 years behind the wheel, I took on the role of Transport Manager at Daily Freight Auckland. This was the first of many opportunities for me.

In 2000, I stepped into my first Branch Managers role of not just one branch but two! (Thanks Don) Auckland Port Ops and Auckland Metro branches were new to the Mainfreight business and it was up to our team to grow and manage these new services. 

After 3 years as the Port Ops/Metro BM I moved back to where it all began, Daily Freight Auckland. I was Branch Manager here for three awesome years before having another exciting opportunity to attack in 2006. This was to lead the Mainfreight Auckland business, the Mother ship, where it all began. No pressure right! 

This was a big role that came not only with the responsibility of growing and improving this business but also with the chance to lead the team into our first Mainfreight Super Site at Railway Lane. This was a fantastic opportunity in my Mainfreight career. During this time I was asked to grab our old Precision business which was predominantly based around one large customer. The world became quite busy for a while and I sure thank the team from those years for their help and support. 

After six years at the helm of Auckland Transport, I was given the opportunity to create a business plan for the ever-growing E commerce home delivery market, while also providing a service for our existing retail customers and beyond. 
So after a few months of deciding what this should look like with my close teammate Jeremy Wells, Mainfreight 2Home was born in late 2012. It was a new look Precision outfit with a new direction and purpose. 

These days I find myself in a National Transport support role of where no two days are the same. What a ride it’s been!   

How has Mainfreight changed over that journey?

There has been significant change over the years. Our growth has been huge and through that growth, we needed to change with it. Adapting and discovering how to do things better, smarter and faster without losing our vision or values. To keep the values, image, culture and vision alive is more difficult as we grow. It is up to us all to remember our roots, share the campfire stories, mentor and encourage our teams as they move through their Mainfreight careers. We hold on to and never forget the past but always look forward to the future. I think we do that pretty well. Especially over the last two years!  

What do you like most about working for Mainfreight?

I think it sounds like a cliché but here at our house the opposite is true. By far the most important and best part of working at Mainfreight is the people, the Mainfreight family. From those who taught you, empowered and trusted you, to those you employ yourself and equally you do the same for them, and finally those close acquaintances of whom many have become lifelong mates…
Family right! 

What is it about the Mainfreight culture that has kept you a part of the team?

All of it really, I can sum it up easily with words from my fabulous wife Claire, “He is Main-Washed” Blue blood right? Mine could be just a little bit Red though….

Your fondest Mainfreight memory over the last 40 years

I have so many but when I think about it is has to be related to the team.
Winning the Terry Cunneen Memorial Trophy for Branch of The Year is the culmination of teamwork and passion that starts well before any successful year. It’s not only doing it right, but doing better than the day before consistently throughout the year and we did it twice. The Metro team and again with the Daily Freight team. The memory of bringing that trophy back to them, yep! I’m quite fond of that one! 

Piece of advice for anyone thinking of joining the Mainfreight Team? 

Grab every opportunity you can, never stop learning or imparting your knowledge to others, the more you teach others the more opportunities you have. Your time with Mainfreight is what you make of it. 

During my time, I have had two things that I have tried to lead by: 

  1. Treat people like you want to be treated yourself and 

  2. Don’t get anyone to do anything you wouldn’t do yourself

A simple “Good Morning” is not a bad way to start….


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