Losing its contract with Juken NZ has all but spelled the end of the road for Toll Kaitaia.
The company, originally operated independently as Kaitaia Transport, has lost its contract with the mill owner, after 29 years, to Mainfreight, which uses a fleet of owner-driven vehicles based in Whangārei.
One of the Toll drivers, who the Northland Age has chosen not to name, said employees had been told by the New Zealand general manager on Tuesday that the Kaitaia branch would effectively close on August 30, leaving only a forklift driver, one small truck and two other employees.
Thirty-three jobs would be lost in Kaitaia, he said, but 12 in Whangārei would not be affected. Mainfreight, he added, was not looking for drivers.
The driver was taking a philosophical view of the situation, although he appreciated the impact the closure would have on the town.
"A lot of skills sets that are here now will go from Kaitaia and never come back," he said.
"From the end of next month there will be no mechanics, no drivers, no administration. But we've lost our jobs, not an arm or a leg, or a life."
He bore no ill will towards Juken NZ, which produces triboard and veneer at two mills almost next door to the Toll yard.
"It's business. The mill has done what it had to do," he said.
Earlier in the week Toll's senior communications manager, Dianne Nguyen, said from Melbourne that it was too early for the company to comment on the impact of the decision.
"We are working through the process, consulting staff," she said.
"Hopefully we will be able to provide some details in the next few days."
It would be inappropriate to comment on another company's tendering process, she added, but she confirmed that the Juken contract had not been renewed.
"Our priority right now is to look after our people and to ensure a smooth transition," Ms Nguyen said.