Triumph and Tragedy

Sue Swain’s family has gone through some devastating tragedy, yet Statewide Car Carriers continues to be a successful and respected transport operator.

Warren Swain managed Statewide Car Carriers for 14 years before he and wife Sue decided to purchase the business in 1990.

Strategically located on the NSW Central Coast between the major car markets in Sydney and Newcastle, Warren and Sue started with four trucks and trailers and Statewide grew steadily due to its increasing reputation for honesty and reliability.

Then in October 2000, just after the Sydney Olympics, Warren lost his life in a tragic workplace accident.

“He was my hubby, my best friend and my love, and we lost him aged just 47,” recalls Sue.

Sue’s son Mark Broadhead had recently joined the operation and urged Sue to continue with the business although they faced some significant challenges.

“The banks didn’t want to know me, and basically I was a woman in a man’s world.” says Sue. “At that point I decided to prove them wrong.”

Mark stepped up from being a driver to the role of Transport Manager as Statewide grew to having eleven of its own trucks plus three subcontractors.

“We expanded our reach, still doing Sydney to Newcastle as before while additionally servicing regions such as the Hunter Valley and the Eastern seaboard all the way to Brisbane,” says Sue.

In January 2016, an electrical fault caused a massive fire which burnt down all of the sheds on the property including the workshop and Warren’s classic EH Holden racing car.

The family was dealt another devastating blow the following month when Mark was diagnosed with terminal cancer.

“He kept so positive and was determined to beat it,” says Sue. “In the meantime, he redesigned and had the sheds rebuilt, refurbished them and bought all the replacement equipment.”

Mark passed away on Mother’s Day morning 2017.

He was 46.

Once again, Sue had to call upon her own determination to make sure the business survived and kept its people employed.

In 2020 Statewide celebrates its thirtieth year of ownership and management by members of the Swain family which now includes Sue’s daughter Sharon and grandsons Mitchell and Daniel.

“Now I’ve got Mitchell and Daniel here there’s nothing can stop me,” Sue says proudly. “Mitchell has a Bachelor of Commerce and a law degree and reckons he came to work here so he didn’t have to wear a suit. He initially came in to do accounts and payroll, but he also loads trucks, drives trucks, and works out the loading when Daniel is not around.”

Sue Swain and the truck dedicated to her late husband and son.

Keeping in line with Warren’s and Mark’s philosophy to always buy quality equipment, most of the Statewide fleet now comprises of Kenworth and Mercedes-Benz prime movers. Maintaining their appearance is important to the company image and the drivers ensure they are kept immaculate inside and out.

“I always believed in buying new trucks and not to let them get too far out of warranty,” says Sue. “If I can keep rotating the trucks regularly I haven’t got to think about motors and big repair bills which saves me a lot of headaches.”

Throughout all of the challenges and devastating periods, Sue has maintained a simple business philosophy.

“Tell your customers the truth,” she says. “If we can’t do something within a particular timeframe, we’ll tell them upfront.”

Other than some motorsport sponsorship, Statewide Car Carrying has never advertised and its growth has been fuelled by the organic increase in business of their existing car dealer clients, plus a steady stream of new customers has been created by word-of-mouth recommendations within the vehicle dealership industry.

“We used to worry about pricing, and while that’s still important, honesty and service seem to be the factors which are most important to our clients,” says Sue.

The legacies of Warren Swain and Mark Broadhead are much more than the dedications sign-written on every truck in the Statewide fleet.

It’s the determination of their extended family and staff, under Sue’s guidance, to overcome any obstacles in their way that remains inspirational. There’s a nobility in knowing that success is earned by providing uncompromising honesty and outstanding service.

At a time in life when many are looking to slow down, Sue Swain continues to be actively involved in the business and appreciates the support of her family, staff and clients in achieving a remarkable 30 year milestone.

“I’d like to ease off a bit but when COVID hit I just had to come back in full time again,” she says. “The question is: why am I still here and trying so hard in my 69th year? The answer is simple: for my husband and my son. Statewide has kept my head busy and in a good space through all the tragedy, so here’s to another

Leave a Reply