YOU only have to shake one of Norm Ekman’s arthritic hands to know this is a man who has spent more time than most gripping a steering wheel.
A 46-year career in the gruelling trucking industry where his hands have borne the brunt of every little vibration has left them permanently curved.
But at the age of 70, despite some pesky aches and pains, Mr Ekman still drives like a man half his age and shows absolutely no signs of slowing down.
Next month, the married father-of-five from Moonbi will travel to Alice Springs where he will be inducted into the National Road Transport Hall of Fame.
The honour, which Mr Ekman admits to being “pretty chuffed” about, is a measure of not just his longevity, but the esteem in which he is held in by the industry.
Starting out in 1968 driving a “tin shed” on wheels with “125 horses of vicious power” under the bonnet, he has seen the industry undergo great change.
“I think the younger blokes appreciate some of the stories, but I don’t think they would like to go back to the olden days,” he said.
“There’s no comparison to those days. Now we’ve got good beds, we’ve got air conditioners, we’ve got heaters (all in the truck).”
Parry Logistics managing director Greg Parry, who has employed Mr Ekman for the past four years, said it was a tremendous honour for both Mr Ekman and the company.
“He’s one of the most honest, genuine, dedicated employees we’ve ever had in over 50 years of doing business,” he said.
“It’s not only a job to him, it’s a way of life.”
Health permitting, and provided he is not driven mad by the increasing number of caravans on the road, Mr Ekman said he hoped to continue behind the wheel as an interstate truck driver for at least another five years.