Prime Mover Magazine


Ivan Vodanovich, pioneering transport entrepreneur, passes away

The Australian commercial road transport industry is mourning the sudden loss of Ivan Vodanovich.

The Founder and Managing Director of Daysworth International, passed away on Father’s Day, the 6th of September 2020.

A much-loved figure in transport circles around Australia, New Zealand, and the wider Pacific region, Vodanovich was, among other achievements, instrumental in introducing Terminal Tractors into Australia and revolutionising the Australian transport and port industries.

Originally from Croatia, he was born in 1946 in the coastal village of Kremena, overlooking the Adriatic Sea.

He immigrated to Australia to escape communism in 1967 and served on the assembly line for British Motor Corporation (BMC) in Sydney, before moving to Western Australia where he worked in construction.

After a stint in Port Hedland, Vodanovich returned east, working for a period in the Hunter Valley.

Following time as a technician for Scania in Sydney, he moved to Melbourne where he later marketed the brand and worked as a senior service engineer. He then moved to Rockwell Meritor as a senior engineer before taking the leap and setting out on his own.

In 1978 he founded Daysworth International, the company with which he is most synonymous, specialising in power steering, differential and tailshaft component remanufacturing, initially working out of his humble garage at home, prior to constructing and moving onto a site in West Footscray, where the company still stands today, its spiritual home.

The business model diversified in the 1980s when Kansas-based American Terminal Tractor manufacturer Ottawa approached Daysworth International to distribute its products in Australia.
Despite terminal tractors being a largely unknown field at the time in Australia, Vodanovich was able to envisage the impact they would have on the Australian transport industry.

Daysworth’s subsequent commencement of Ottawa Terminal Tractor distribution and manufacturing signalled a dramatic change in the way operators in the Australian road transport and port sectors operated.

Under Ivan’s leadership and with his vision, Daysworth achieved great success, selling over 3,000 Terminal Tractors, cementing itself as a vital player in Australia’s transport industry.

Ivan’s engineering expertise combined with his singular vision and entrepreneurial drive, saw Daysworth International introduce new industry standards, and expanded Terminal Tractor usage to the construction, manufacturing and agriculture.

"I admired Ivan's entrepreneurial spirit and was inspired by his ability to back his own judgement and prove the nay-sayers wrong time and time again." said John Murphy, Prime Creative Media CEO.

"A big thinker who was not afraid to go against convention, he combined a relentless work ethic with a strong but humble belief in his own abilities. We will miss him " he said.

"Ivan leaves behind a wonderful legacy, both as a dedicated and tenacious visionary of our industry, but more importantly a man of uncompromising integrity, a family man and a generous spirit who was above all, a gentleman."

Ivan’s family tells of his favourite quote from Michelangelo, a philosophy that has guided him through his life and is reflective of his unrelenting pursuit of self-improvement and growth:

“The greatest danger for most of us is not that we aim too high and we miss it, but that we aim too low and we reach it”

He is survived by his adoring wife Eki, proud sons Ivan Jr. and Domagoj and extended Vodanovich family in both Australia and Croatia.

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