Industry stalwart, Ian Robertson Cootes, has passed away at the age of 82.
Following a period in the police force around 1960, Cootes went from being a self-funded single tanker owner-operator to become Australia’s largest tanker operator.
He founded Cootes Haulage in 1965 as a single tanker operation, which grew to employ around 800 people by the time he sold the business in 2011.
Cootes served as a member of a number of industry bodies during this time, and worked to improve safety and efficiency standards for Dangerous Goods (DG) transport as the Director of the Australian Road Research Board (ARRB).
He also served as a Board member of the National Bulk Tanker Association, a Board member and then President of the Australian Liquefied Petroleum Gas Association, and Director of OAMPS, Chalmers and ION.
According to the National Road Transport Museum, Cootes has developed and introduced many world class initiatives to the transportation of DG, liquids and gases.
The initiatives had a dramatic and positive effect on the operational efficiency, environmental impact and productivity gains for Cootes Haulage’s customers.
In a statement online, the Victorian Transport Association (VTA) expressed its appreciation for Cootes’ valuable contributions.
“Ian’s dedication and commitment to our industry has been outstanding,” said VTA CEO, Peter Anderson.
“He was an innovator and demonstrated his leadership in real terms by the way he structured and managed his business.
“Safety was always at the top and he drove a culture and demonstrated this through every operation of his very successful tanker business.”
Anderson said Cootes led the way in professionalism.
“He developed the bulk tanker industry in Australia to be acknowledged as one of the safest and most efficient in the world,” he said.
“His fleet was immaculate and his skilled drivers the pride of his business.
“The VTA was proud to have Ian and his company as a member for many years, and wishes to pass on its condolences to Maria, Paul, Geoff and families.”
In addition to his transport positions, Cootes made several philanthropic contributions and was a longstanding supporter of the Alfred Hospital in Victoria through The Alfred Foundation where he served as Chair from 2003 to 2008 and then Deputy Chairman.
In 2016, Cootes was named a Member of the Order of Australia in the general division as part of the Australia Day Honours List and was awarded an Order of Australia (AM) for his charity contributions, particularly with the Alfred Hospital and the transport industry.
A funeral will be held at St Andrews Anglican Church, 228 New Street Brighton, on Monday 27 November at 10.30am. Also, a private family burial will take place at a later date.