People: Gabriella, Ivan and a two-tonne truck

Gabriella Rose Wong with her husband Ivan Krishna and their truck outside their home in Lami. Picture: SUPPLIED/ GABRIELLA WONG

People know her as the “Chinese lady truck driver”. Her name is Gabriella Rose Wong and she spends her days at the wheel of her two-tonne truck. Gabriella and her husband Ivan Krishna own and operate Innovative Gears.

“We began in 2017,” she said.

“We started driving our two tonne truck and hiring it out with the option of providing logistical support with our team and tools for moving household, office, green disposal, hardware and more.”

Gabriella said Innovative Gears came about when she and Ivan woke up to a stage in their lives where they wanted to create something that would sustain them and allow them to work from home.

“We didn’t know what it was until Ivan looked into trucks one day.

“I love driving and he is into mechanical engineering. “Innovative was chosen by Ivan as he is always coming up with ideas, Gears was chosen by me because I love driving. Together we make up Innovative Gears.”

She was researching a truck yard in New Zealand when she came across some women who drove big trucks and felt something stir inside her.

When they bought their first truck she saw how happy Ivan was and said it made her think. “

If those ladies can do it, so can I.”

She earned her first $50 for a week’s pay and never looked back. Going on their fifth year in operation Gabriella and Ivan have grown their little trucking business into a logistics provider.

“We’ve now emerged and now offer dismantling and assembly, packing, shrink-wrapping and storage at our storage facility, a full package movement deal.

“This allows customers to leave the items with me for shipment overseas if need be.

“When we clear household or office items, my B team come in to clean, renovate, decontaminate and leave the house as the landlord gave it to the old tenants and ready for the new ones.”

And they do all this with a two-tonne truck. No two days are the same and they aren’t dull either, balancing her acts as a businesswoman, truck driver and a mother.

“My job can start at 4am for certain customers or reasons and end by curfew. “I can be having a momma day with my daughters and all of a sudden I have to go to Nausori to help the team out with something, but it doesn’t end there. “

By 3pm, I have to plan for the next day, week and month for the team and align this to our strategic plan.”

Apart from Gabriella and Ivan, Innovative Gears employs six others. As a small business owner, operating with the uncertainties of COVID-19, she says business plans can be tossed into the air and change every day due to economic effect of the pandemic, but gets through it by staying optimistic.

“I try to stay optimistic and focused on finding opportunities or ways that may change my business regardless of the situation. I think global and act local. If COVID hits again, I’ll keep on challenging myself!” Gabriella believes if women are given the chance they can be their own kind of entrepreneur.

“Women view the world through their own perspectives.”

Growth is on the mind of every business owner and Gabriella sees Innovative Gears innovating through the next five years, providing transport solutions to the community and tailoring every job to the needs of their customers, while hopefully moving work out of their home, having a dedicated office for her team, garage and possibly one more versatile truck.

“It is one thing to actually go out and start a business, but it’s another thing all together to make it work, but it helps when you have a supportive family behind you.”

She says her parents, Kevin and Cathy Wong — business people in their own right — brought her up to be disciplined and dedicated, which prepared her for the rigours of entrepreneurship.

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