VALE Allan Stead: A Mentor to Many

By: Steve Brooks

Family and industry loss as Paccar's most stalwart servant passes

VALE Allan Stead: A Mentor to Many
Allan Stead.


It was back in 2004 that Allan Stead retired after 39 years with Paccar Australia, but his legacy and reputation will long continue to run deep in the hearts and minds of a multitude of people following his recent death at his home in Coffs Harbour, New South Wales. 

Affectionately known far and wide as simply ‘Steady’, Allan Stead was Paccar’s longest serving Australian employee, finishing his career in 2004 as national customer service manager.

A diesel mechanic by trade, his association with the Paccar company actually started in Queensland with the Peterbilt brand in the mid-1960s before changing in 1967 to what was then called the Kenworth Motor Truck Company.

Through the decades and generations, Steady’s fearless character, sublime honesty, and a depth of product knowledge tempered by real world practicality – all partnered by a disarming smile and sharp sense of humour – forged a reputation as a man whose word was his guarantee that whatever the query or the problem, nothing and no one would be forgotten or overlooked.

His opinions and advice were always respected and invariably sought at all levels, from managing directors to chief engineers, aspiring executives, Kenworth dealers and customers alike, or someone simply looking for guidance. People at every level were treated exactly the same and the truth, no matter how uncomfortable, would be delivered without fear or favour.

He was a mentor to many, both inside and outside the Paccar fold, and his propensity for fixing or ‘re-engineering’ a problem in the field were almost legendary. Steady was never shy about getting his hands dirty.  

There are countless anecdotes of his abilities and resolve. Here’s one from many years ago when a much younger truck journalist was keen to get behind the wheel of Kenworth’s T400, then an entirely new model that had been released on the Australian market only a week or so earlier. 

I’d been told to get to Coffs Harbour and meet Steady for a drive of the demo unit through the adjacent hinterland. Arriving at Brown & Hurley’s dealership, Steady was found at the back of the chassis midst a huge plume of fiery sparks from a big angle grinder smoothing the edges of chassis rails he had just ‘adjusted’ with an oxy torch.

He eventually lifted the goggles, saw me standing there and said something along the lines of, ‘The bloody rails aren’t tapered and keep getting caught up on the trailer.

‘They’re bloody tapered now!’

I doubt they make people like Steady anymore.

Sadly, the last few years hadn’t been kind to him and his family, and it came as a shock to hear how ill he had been.

Married to wife Carol for 57 years and in her devoted care to the end, his character and determination were no match for the wicked cancer racking his body and he died at home surrounded by his sons Stephen and Leslie, and their families. He was 75.

I wrote him a letter a little while back. It finished with …

"Anyway mate, I’ll close by saying that you influenced me more than you could possibly know.

"So thanks Steady, and just know that I’m thinking of you with the greatest respect and appreciation.

"God bless, thanks, and see ya when I see ya."

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