Jason Keane is a man who hails from the picturesque seaside town that is Tramore in Co. Waterford.
This was where he first whet his appetite in the haulage industry and now there are not too many sides of it he has not dabbled in. He has been driving now officially for almost a quarter of a century, 25 years, and if he has his way, he will keep going for at least 25 more.
Unlike most who enter the haulage industry, Jason does not come from a family of hauliers or farmers. Instead, Jason gained his first taste of trucks, as a young teenager working at the local fairground in Tramore where he got behind the wheel of a truck, now considered in the vintage class.
“I started in my early teens and the first thing I drove was a split windscreen Atkinson…It was for the local fairground,”, Jason told Thatsfarming’s Kevin.
“I only started by moving it around the sites and that. There was no power steering, no clutch and that, but I was itching to get into it,”, he said.
From here in the space of two short years, as was allowed back then, at the age of fifteen Jason began driving the smaller lorries.
“Back then when you were 15-years-old you were allowed to drive the smaller lorries. It started from there,”, he noted.
This was a baptism of fire for Jason and led to his first real-run, which was carried out in an ERS, when he was the ripe age of 16-years-old. Fast-forward almost quarter of a century and Jason is still doing what he loves to this day. In all honesty, it would take a mammoth task to relieve his grip from the steering wheel.
“I am nearly 25 years on the go…I am 45 this year, but still only look 21,”, he jokes.
Journey to where he is now:
Jason’s next port of call was a job driving in the UK, something he thoroughly enjoyed and an experience he would put above driving on Irish roads. He left for the UK back in 1998/1999 and this is actually where Jason first obtained his licences.
“I left for the UK in 98/99 and got my licences there. I still have the pass cert (from driving test) at home,”, he said.
Jason noted that back then it was a lot easier to get the licence back then, as you could go straight for a class two rigid licence, rather than complete the 7.5tonne beforehand. This allowed for the haulage of loads of up to 33tonne, while not long after completing class two, Jason went onto obtain his artic licence.
“I went off and completed the artic licence after the rigid and I haven’t looked back”, Jason noted.
From here, Jason gained work with agencies where he was responsible for hauling a whole variety of loads.
“I was working with agencies and getting paid by the hour. Getting paid by the hour is the right way in my opinion,”, he stated.
Jason’s time in England had him carrying everything and anything, with Jason admitting his time transporting pig offal was probably his least favourite. He says he hauled everything bar livestock, fuel and cars, evening hauling consignments for some of the countries major retailers.
“I hauled everything, you name it. The only thing I never hauled was livestock, cars and fuel, That is it.”, he said.
“The worst thing I ever hauled was offal, pigs guts”, he said.
Such is Jason’s dedicating to haulage, that he even once hauled coffins, with pigeons in the same load, whilst working with Armtrac.
“I actually even pulled coffins down the road in the back, when I first started, with live pigeons in the cab”, he laughed.
“When Armtrac arrived over in the UK first, they hauled everything…Costumes and everything.”, he said.
His career in the UK had him working for a number of firms, such as Armtrac, Safeway, Alba, British Steel, Debenhams, B&Q and many more.
Jason then returned back home to Ireland after his time spent in the UK and he recently worked with Nolan transport, before leaving around two years ago.
“I worked with Nolan transport a couple of years ago as well,”, he said.
He then moved onto working with his current employers, Tracblast, where he has been working since March of this year. They are a family-run operation and are currently one of the country’s leading pavement and road retexturing companies.
This means that Jason’s job includes providing HVIM and UHP retexturing services, Line removal and application, Runway rubber removal, Roaddryer sales and operation and water blasting also, but most importantly driving. The team even recently carried out Line removal, Drying and reapplication at Cork airport, due to the slight shifting of magnetic poles.
“I am with these lads since the first of March,”, Jason said.
“There was a story recently about Cork Airport, where the magnetic poles had shifted slightly. We actually were there doing the jet blasting. We were behind the line removal and reapplication”, said Jason.
At the moment, they are currently retexturing tar in Co. Mayo, with their machinery enabling them to successfully lift the surface of the road, without damaging the stone on the road. Jason thoroughly enjoys his current role and working with the brothers behind the firm especially, Patrick and Derek Boardman, whom he says are a joy to work with and for.
At the moment, the team currently have a Road Dryer on the go as one of their machines. This dries the road in front of the team when it is damp, as they would be unable to operate the steel shot when the road is damp.
“We are running a Ford F350 Superduty, 6.2 Litre, with a V8 diesel engine too. The road drier and that together are nearly 7 tonnes on the road,”, he said.
The team currently have two blasting units in operation, while Jason is responsible for the only manual left-hand drive Renault in the country.
"I have the only left-hand drive manual Renault in the country…It is brand new”, he explained.
With regards future plans, although content where he is at the minute, Jason harbours dreams of one day driving on the Ice-road trail, like the Ice road Truckers featured on Television. This would enable him to further fulfil his dreams within the industry and is something he says his two bosses would not hold against him.
“Ultimately, I want to do a stint on the Ice roads…the brothers I am working with at the moment, Patrick and Daniel, are brilliant. It is just a brilliant working environment”, he said.
He noted this excellent working relationship as one of the reasons he plans to continue with Tracblast and the brothers for the foreseeable future, though maybe only until he takes the gamble and goes off on his adventure on the Ice roads.
Jason does not though, harbour any dreams of having his own fleet on the road, in Ireland anyway, though one can never know what the future holds.
If ever there was a man to keep on driving until he drops, it is Jason Keane. Never one to shy away from hard work or the open road, it may seem hard to believe he has been involved in the industry for so long.
“I actually love driving. The bigger the better and the more challenging the better,”, Jason explained.
“I find it a great challenge…I love the satisfaction in doing a job well”, he added.
A man who has hauled everything and anything and thrives for a challenge. A true representative of the industry if ever there was one, that is proud Waterford man, Jason Keane.
If you would like to contact Tracblast you can do so via their Facebook page here.