My grandfather, Hugh O’Toole, started a produce trading business in 1922, trading as a country merchant at Illowa Railway Station just west of Warrnambool, south-west Victoria. In those times produce was transported by horse and dray from the farms to the railway station to be re-loaded on to rail carriages for transportation to the metropolitan markets of Melbourne, Sydney and Adelaide.
Vehicular trucks became more readily available during the 1930s and my grandfather purchased various models of Chevrolet trucks identifying the boost these acquisitions would make to the business allowing deliveries to be sent more efficiently to towns and localities that were not part of the rail network.
My father would talk of Chev trips beyond 120 miles as being commercially enterprising. The Chevs were also used on the farms to replace horses and drays. This meant production and income could also be improved. The photo shows a 1936 Chev loaded with sacks of potatoes ready to be delivered to a customer.
Whilst my father progressed into bigger trucks, he had a passion for and a loyalty to the Chevs and retained our Chev to do local farm work. It remained on the farm until 2008 when it was transferred to Queensland for a 6-year restoration project.
The present owner is O’Toole Produce at the Brisbane Produce Market. The Chev is commercially registered. It will be used for mobile advertising, events promotion and the promotion of our produce business and our plastic bulk bins, crates and containers business as well as the delivery of plastic bins and crates to our Brisbane clients (www.miplastics.com.au). Our plastics business is a recent extension of the traditional produce merchant business and has been acquired to allow us to service the modern needs of farmers, food distributors and processors.
The O’Toole Produce directors Paul (third generation) and wife Bernice O’Toole and fourth generation sons Timothy and Matthew enjoy carrying on the traditional skills handed down of produce trading. It is a privilege to have restored the Chev which gives the company a working symbol that links back to our founder Hugh O’Toole.