News story

Farewell to forklift personality Bob Spence

Thursday, 20 January 2011 ( #497 ) - Brisbane, Queensland, Australia
The industry bids sad farewell to forklift personality Bob Spence.
The industry bids sad farewell to forklift personality Bob Spence.
The forklift industry lost one of its most colourful characters in December when Cecil Robert "Bob" Spence of RJ Spence Forklift passed away.

Spence became involved in the transport industry in the late 1950s before moving on to buying and selling forklifts around 1965. In the early '80s, his son, Rob, joined the company, adding forklift repair and maintenance and later forklift rental to the business.

According to Rob Spence, his father was "old school, where a deal was a deal".

"He was friends with many people who became mentors to him. They also helped him by selling machinery to him for trading stock."

He was also instrumental in helping break the beer shortage in Brisbane by importing beer from New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia during the big Queensland brewery strike of the early '80s.

Diagnosed with kidney failure in 1985, his love of the forklift industry, courage and determination kept him active during his illness before he received a kidney transplant which was a new lease of life for him. "His involvement receded from there, but he was still active in major decision-making right up to only days before his death," his son recalls.

He says the family's roots in transport go back seven generations, with the first Spences arriving in Australia and working as bullockies and horse teamsters.

The family business, which operates throughout Australia, now includes Bob's granddaughter Kelly, general manager of the business.
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