Tributes flow for trail-blazer

By Jessica Micallef

Tributes are flowing for Barker Trailer identity and co-founder Ernie Barker, who died last month.

Ernie, 74, grew up in Woodend and at the age of 17 began an apprenticeship as a fitter and turner with Loadmaster Trailers in Woodend where he found his love for trailers and axles. Together with his brother Arthur Barker, (dec 2006) the pair founded trailer dealer Barker Trailers in 1974 with the support of family shareholders.

Since the early 1970s, Ernie and Arthur’s business has become an award-winning industry icon. The company has spanned 45 years, has three generations of family in business, sold 11,000 semi-trailers and has more than 1200 employees across its Woodend and Maryborough sites. The “little business” has been recognised along the way at the state government’s Hall of Fame Awards, Australia Freight Industry Awards and more recently was winner of the Business of the Year, Excellence in Trade, Construction and Manufacturing and Apprentice of the Year awards at Macedon Ranges Business Excellence Awards.

The company celebrated its 10,000th trailer sale last year with a visit from Premier Daniel Andrews at the Woodend site. Outside of Barker Trailers, Ernie was heavily involved in the community, especially with the Woodend-Hesket Football Club, where he played a role in the construction of the social rooms. Ernie died peacefully surrounded by family at RM Begg – Kyneton Aged Care on November 26.