The Beginning of a Legend
1967 – Gleeson & Cox
Don Cox was related to a good friend of Brian’s Dad, and the legacy began when Don went to live with the Gleeson’s. Cox had completed a motor mechanic’s apprenticeship with Schofields, and as if it was fate, the Gleeson operation needed a mechanic at the time so Don jumped on board.
Gleeson & Cox was born in 1967 when an opportunity arose to buy cream runs out to Manukau Heads. It started with just one truck in Waiuku, but soon expanded into Auckland city as well. Don was all ready to expand even further but there wasn’t a lot of work left in the haymaking and fertiliser industries, so the company had to spread its wings…
Don ran the Auckland side of the business, while Brian predominantly ran the southern end, which crossed over in the night. It wasn’t unusual for them to work 16-18 hour shifts. At the time, the company was doing a little general work plus the cream cans, but the majority of their work was bulk loads, which has been a staple for Gleeson & Cox ever since.
In the 1970s, the company started growing through an opportunity with Glenbrook Steel Mill to cart export steel billets. They had around eight trucks in the fleet at that time, and never really grew much bigger than 10 throughout the ’70s and even into the ’80s, as some of the ventures dropped off.
By 1983, Gleeson & Cox had bought their first brand new truck, but they were still just considered a country carrier. The 1980’s were difficult years; the gear wasn’t reliable and the work was seasonal and sporadic. However, things started to pick up when Gleeson & Cox started focusing on Auckland as a market. A relationship was built with the original Downer Construction family. They owned the Wiri quarry, and around 1987 Gleeson & Cox started carting for them as a sub-contractor. That side of the business grew from one to three trucks quite quickly.
“Hard work… In my father’s mind, If you weren’t playing sport, you were in the workshop. I soon figured out that playing sport was a lot more enjoyable!”
– James Gleeson
The Gleeson family involvement in the business extended to Margaret, who did all the administration side for a couple of decades; she used to do it all by herself and write everything by hand, until she eventually got help… and a computer.
Twenty years into the company’s existence, Brian Gleeson and Don Cox were starting to see some real potential in the Auckland transport market. Unhappily, their sharpened focus on the city coincided with some economic hard times in New Zealand. However, hard work and the ability to adapt have always been vital elements in the longevity of Gleeson & Cox, which would see them go another 30 years.