A man who never felt right unless he was behind the wheel, Ger McNamara is what the haulage industry is all about. Based near Adare in Co. Limerick, Ger hails from an agricultural background of sorts, with his grandfather, Johnny Mc, having milked cows by hand on the family’s parcel of land many years ago.
“My grandfather and my father had land. They always had a few cattle.” Ger told Kevin of That’sFarming.
“My grandfather milked cows by hand years ago,” He added.
The agricultural influence ends there, however, as Ger’s father (Gerry Mc) himself became fascinated with trucks at a young age. This interest was one gained from his father, with Johnny Mc the man responsible for the family’s first involvement in the sector, through the purchasing of his own truck for use in machinery transportation.
Ger’s father, Thomas or Gerry Mc, eventually set up his own company (Shamrock International), which is where Ger himself gained the grá for trucks. Ger says he and his two siblings, Siobhan and John Paul, spent a predominant amount of their childhood in the cab alongside Gerry, much to their delight, and even learned to drive at a young age.
“My father always had a passion for lorries,” Ger noted.
“We all learned how to drive from him.” The Limerick man explained.
Ger’s journey -
For Ger, the intention was always to follow in his father’s footsteps and claim a place behind the wheel of one of the family’s lorries.
“I went to school and college, but the lorries were always there.” Ger advised.
However, upon completing his secondary education and due to the volatility of the haulage sector, Ger was advised by his parents to first further his education. This led to the Adare man taking on a degree in Engineering.
Ger started his studies with a certificate in Engineering, before he then went onto complete a diploma in Engineering, before gaining a further degree alongside a good friend in Birmingham.
“I then went on and did a diploma…We went to England and got a degree in Birmingham.” said Ger.
Ger’s journey from here took him to a role working alongside his father’s cousin in Galway, before the urge to drive became too strong for the Limerick man, with Ger dreaming of being behind the wheel of a Scania 141.
“I then worked with a cousin of my dads for the summers in Galway.” He said.
“I always had the old passion for the lorries and the driving, going out to Rosslare. You would be dreaming of having your own 141 Scania.” He laughed.
The next stop on Ger’s journey was a role with Ken Leahy in 1999, who are now known as Leatrans. This role was taken as Ger was keen to experience driving on the continent and with his father only after scaling back on European work, he wanted his son to first try it out, before they moved back into continental work.
“At that time Dad had pulled the lorries off the continent and they were just doing Ireland. He was going to go back into it, but he wanted me to see what it was like before making the plunge back into it.” Ger explained.
Ger then eventually made his return home in 2002/2003, meaning he has now been working within the family business, now known as J.P.G. Freight, for over 15 years. The continental work began to take off for Ger soon after his return home and upon him taking control of the family’s 2001 Volvo FH12, the Silver Dream Machine.
“John drove it for a while and then I got into that lorry and that’s where the continent thing took off.” Ger noted.
The McNamara family first became involved in the haulage industry through Ger’s grandfather, Johnny, who first set up his own company in 1937, over 80 years ago!
“It was mainly threshers, tractors and moving stuff locally like that he started with.” said Ger.
They began with 3-units before Johnny eventually stepped aside to allow Ger’s father to take the reins. He eventually began trading under the Shamrock International name and from here things grew quickly.
“He started into the lorries and began sending lorries to the continent as Shamrock International originally in the 70’s and it kind of took off from there.” Ger said to Kevin.
“He had nine of ten f89 Volvo’s, Lefthand drives. He had a couple of F88’s, right hand drives, two or three Scania 141’s and DAF 2800’s…There were about 22 or 23 (lorries),” he continued.
Gerry Mc Continued flying the family flag for many years under the Shamrock International name, taking in haulage trips throughout Europe, that was until the market downturn occurred. This led to a major scaling back and the eventual founding of J.P.G Freight, which is now a true family-run operation.
After Gerry Mc’s passing in recent times, the responsibility of running the family business was left to his children, John Paul and Siobhán, with Ger keeping his place behind the wheel.
“It is John, my brother, and Siobhán my sister that have the responsibility of running the company now,” said Ger.
"They do a great job in the present environment where it is difficult to survive what is a challenging industry. I really appreciate what they do and I wouldn't be built for it," he added.
The team, of which there are approximately fifteen drivers and further office staff, offer curtainsider work, Euroliner work, flat trailer work, temperature-controlled haulage, low-loader transport and agri-tipper services. Ger’s role within J.P.G. Freight has him working on both the continent and throughout the UK and Ireland, something he wouldn’t trade for the world.
“There is plenty of variety anyway, you wouldn’t get bored.” said the haulier.
Currently within the J.P.G Freight fleet is a team of sixteen lorries. The J.P.G fleet also contains 16 tractor units and an abundance of trailers. Ger himself is responsible for a 2014 Volvo FH, assuming control after retiring his last lorry from the road, the ‘Dream Machine’.
“I was in that lorry until I got into this one, 2014 Volvo FH, which was January 2014.” He added.
“There are about sixteen lorries there now.” Ger continued.
Future Aspirations -
More than happy in his current role, Ger has no immediate plans to change things up over the coming years and is just happy to be working behind the wheel.
“I enjoy it at the minute anyway… I am happy enough to drive away,” he laughed.
One thing that may occur in the future, is the introduction of another generation of the McNamara family to the industry. Ger’s son, Johnny Junior, currently holds a strong passion for ‘All Things Haulage’ and may someday take on a role behind the wheel, though not before he obtains an education or trade first, just like his father.
“He is mad for trucks and tractors…anything with an engine he is into.” Ger told That’sFarming’s Kevin.
“You would like him to get an education first or do a trade first…There will always be a need for drivers.” He added.
Two wishes Ger holds for the coming years is to take in a trip to the Assen Truck show in Holland and carry out a Humanitarian truck run for charity.
“It is fantastic what those people too.” Ger said of drivers doing Humanitarian runs.
“It is something I would like to do at some stage.” He added.
Ger admits that him having a career in the sector would not be possible without the help and support of his wife Sinead.
Why Haulage -
To Ger, there was never any other alternative career besides one behind the wheel of a truck, even if he did go to college to pursue engineering first. Ger admits that a life working in an office is simply not for him.
“It’s like an adventure…When I get on the ferry, I still get that feeling in my stomach,” he explained.
“Lorry driving is a bit like farming, you either have a passion and love for it or you don’t…There are different horses for courses” he added.
Although he admits it is a challenging sector to work in, the 44-year-old enjoys the variety of the job and the close-knitted nature of the industry.
“People think that when your out there (on the continent) it is a lonely life and it is in a way…but it is a way of life and you either take it or you don’t take it.” He said.
“There are sacrifices that you make, but I always just had a love for it.” Ger added.
It is these reasons and a true love for trucks that keep Ger doing what he does, that and a determination to keep the family name flying proudly.
“It’s a tradition.” He said.
“As long as you have a passion for it, you will stay at it,” Ger concluded.
Are you working within the haulage sector like Ger? Want to share your story and be featured in one of our most popular series? If so, contact Kevin via email on firstname.lastname@example.org with a short biography!