Vale – Ernie Barker
January 25, 1945 – November 26, 2019
Ernie Barker’s life and achievements impacted so many, and thoughts are with family, friends, and the wide breadth of people whom Ernie had a great influence over the years.
Ernie passed away peacefully at RM Begg in Kyneton, comforted by Carol and family last month.
The Barker Family, Barker Trailers and the wider Macedon Ranges, Maryborough and freight industry communities are reflecting with fond memories.
Born in 1945, Ernie grew up in Woodend – Hesket, and at the age of 17 commenced an apprenticeship as fitter and turner with Loadmaster Trailers in Woodend. It wasn’t long before Ernie knew everything there was to know about axles.
It is now folklore, the journey that brothers Ernie and Arthur Barker (dec. 2006) went on in 1974 – as founders of Barker Trailers, with the support of family shareholders.
Since their dream in the early 70s, Ernie and Arthur’s business has become an award-winning industry icon – Spanning 45 years, three generations, 11,000 semi-trailers, and has employed more than 1200 employees across their Woodend and Maryborough sites.
From the days of digging spuds when business was quiet, to the opening of the Woodend office by then Prime Minister John Howard, Ernie was always humble – “I’ve got a little interest in a trailer company out the road” (Ernie Barker).
The “little business” has been recognised along the way as a winner at the State Government Hall of Fame Awards, Australian Freight Industry Awards, and Macedon Ranges Business Excellence Awards, among other accolades.
When celebrating the 10,000th Barker Trailer with the Barker team, family, and the Premier of Victoria last year, Ernie said “It was a very hard beginning, but we are very proud of what we have done”.
Ernie was also heavily involved in the community, especially the Woodend-Hesket Football Club, where he played a role in the construction of the social rooms, along with support of the Bowling Club, Lions Club and art shows.
Impacted by an aneurysm, Ernie and family received support from Castlemaine Health’s rehabilitation centre, Gisborne Men’s Shed, The Oaks and RM Begg aged care. Supported by Carol and family, Ernie always maintained his keen interest in the Barker Trailers business and his community.
Ernie Barker’s legacy will be honoured and remembered for generations to come.