Shogun logger "a cut above"
For a young guy, Jason Inness has driven a fair few trucks in a fair few countries – now behind the wheel of a new Shogun FS3146 8x4 logger, he’s put FUSO at the top of his list.
After a varied driving career, the 27-year-old founded JWI Earthmoving Ltd in Te Awamutu (30km south of Hamilton) in 2015 and diversified into logging around two and a half years later. Of all the trucks he’s driven, he says the new Shogun he bought for his log cartage operation has the best transmission and level of safety he’s encountered.
“I’ve driven road trains over Western Australia, and silage and grain trucks across the United States and Canada – manuals and autos of American and European brands. The 12-speed ShiftPilot automated manual transmission on the Shogun is a cut above,” says Jason. “It knows when to shift ahead of time, skipping two to three gears at once if it needs to. I just leave it in auto all day; it’s seamless. I wouldn’t go back.”
As a driver and as a business owner, Jason prioritises safety alongside performance.
“In the mines in Australia, safety was drummed into us. Everyone has the right to make it home without getting hurt. It’s also good for business to ensure a safe working environment – we can’t make money if our drivers or our trucks are out of commission.
“The list of safety features on the Shogun is incredible – lane departure warning, proximity control, driver fatigue monitoring, the electronic braking system. They’re all excellent features that make driving that much easier, and that much safer. I also like the Adaptive Cruise Control function – it’s something I didn’t think I’d use, but in fact I use it quite often.”
Jason and his drivers are also enjoying getting out of the cab with a bit more energy at the end of the day.
“Because its comfortable and easier to drive than a lot of other trucks, I can be in the Shogun for 13 hours and still want to do something afterwards, rather than just wanting to go and have a lie down, which is how I’ve felt after driving a lot of other trucks.”
Alongside the Shogun’s smooth, intelligent gear shifting and driver-assistance safety features, Jason points to the inclusion of a Jake brake as another big tick against the truck’s credentials.
“With the Shogun’s three-stage engine braking, I can come down over the Kaimai Ranges on SH29 barely needing to touch the brake pedal. It’s amazing. For those who don’t know, it’s a pretty steep and winding section of road, with a bad reputation for truck crashes, so this is taking a lot of stress out of the journey.”
It’s safe to say that Jason is stoked with the latest addition to his fleet, and it’s down to the success of his business that he was able to make the investment. With the earthmoving side of his operation in good health, Jason saw an opportunity to diversify into logging.
“I’d heard there was a shortage of log cartage trucks and talked to people I trust before making the move. I approached pretty much all the truck brands and it was FUSO who got back to me promptly with a cost-effective solution.
“I bought an HD and after eight months found I couldn’t keep up with the work. I was in the Keith Andrews dealership in Hamilton and saw this Shogun being prepped and it was a case of being the right truck at the right time.
“The initial purchase price was definitely attractive. There are plenty of more expensive trucks that don’t come with Shogun’s safety features. Longer term, I figured we could save nine to ten thousand dollars a year in fuel savings. I also know that FUSO makes solid trucks, which will do as many kilometres as American or European models.”
As a logger, Jason says the 460hp Shogun has definitely got the chops.
“I think some drivers overestimate the importance of outright power. The Shogun has plenty for what we’re doing. We usually run at 46 tonnes, sometimes up to 53 [tonnes]. I’ve got no trouble getting up those Kaimai hills at a good speed. It might be that the Shogun shifts so well that it uses its power more effectively than some trucks with bigger displacement. Torque-wise, we pull out of a 15% incline with ease when fully loaded.”
Jason has built his log cartage business by targeting smaller logging operations rather than big corporates.
“We specialise in woodlots, which are often up tight accessways. Both the HD and Shogun have been brilliant for this. We can get in and out of tricky spots. Jumping in and out of the cab is also a breeze – the handles are in right place and the door opens wide. Sound damping on the Shogun is also something I’ve noticed – it’s a lot quieter than other trucks I’ve driven.”
Based in Te Awamutu, Jason and his crew of six will go where the work is – as far afield as Rotorua, Raglan, Papamoa, Thames, and Waitomo. To help him keep track, Jason has had all his trucks fitted with EROAD.
“It’s brilliant. As a driver, you don’t have to worry about lost paper logbooks, missing breaks, or accidentally going over hours. As a business operator, if I can’t reach one of my drivers, I can sit in office and tell a client where the truck is and when it will reach them.”
With a smart head for business, backed by the implementation of smart technology, Jason is putting down strong roots for JWI’s sustained growth – and there’s no question what his next truck purchase will be.
“I really couldn’t be happier with Shogun. If the business continues in the right direction, there will be more on the way.”