AUSTRALIAN transport stalwart and founder of Cootes Haulage, Ian Robertson Cootes, has died at the age of 82.
Mr Cootes served in the Victorian police force in the early 1960s before starting Cootes Haulage in 1965 as an owner-operator with a single tanker.
Cootes Haulage expanded to become Australia’s biggest tanker operator and at the time he sold the business in 2011, had about 800 staff.
During his working life, Mr Cootes was an active member of industry bodies, including the director of the Australian Road Research Board (ARRB) with a focus on improving safety and efficiency standards for dangerous goods (DG) transport.
He also served as a board member of the National Bulk Tanker Association and the Australian Liquified Petroleum Gas Association, where he was later to become president. He was also a director of OAMPS, Chalmers and ION.
In its obituary of Mr Cootes, CRT News said that the National Road Transport Museum identified Mr Cootes as developing and introducing many world-class initiatives to the transportation of DG, liquids and gases.
“The initiatives had a dramatic and positive effect on the operational efficiency, environmental impact and productivity gains for Cootes Haulage’s customers,” the obituary read.
In a statement online, the Victorian Transport Association (VTA) expressed its appreciation for Mr Cootes’ valuable contributions.
“Ian’s dedication and commitment to our industry has been outstanding,” said VTA CEO Peter Anderson.
“He was an innovator and demonstrated his leadership in real terms by the way he structured and managed his business.
“Safety was always at the top and he drove a culture and demonstrated this through every operation of his very successful tanker business.
“He developed the bulk tanker industry in Australia to be acknowledged as one of the safest and most efficient in the world.”
M Anderson said that Mr Cootes’ fleet “was immaculate and his skilled drivers the pride of his business”.
“The VTA was proud to have Ian and his company as a member for many years, and wishes to pass on its condolences to Maria, Paul, Geoff and families.”
It was not just the transport industry that was a focus for Mr Cootes. He made several philanthropic contributions and was a longstanding supporter of the Alfred Hospital in Victoria through The Alfred Foundation where he served as chair from 2003 to 2008 and then deputy chair.
He was named a Member of the Order of Australia in 2016 in the general division as part of the Australia Day Honours List and was awarded an Order of Australia (AM) for his charity contributions, particularly with the Alfred Hospital and the transport industry.
His funeral was held at St Andrews Anglican Church, 228 New Street Brighton, on Monday November 27 at 10.30am. A private family burial will take place at a later date.
By Neil Dowling