Robbie ‘Gooserooter’ Shefford has been connecting with people and getting them talking.
His idea to be ‘‘the man with a plan in a caravan’’ was to make connections.
And he has been targeting truckies.
It’s seen the 44-year-old travel the length and breadth of the South Island as he takes his caravan and his ‘‘Robbie’s Mind Matrix’’ concept out and about, aiming to get people connecting.
He has not only parked up roadside, but at shows and events.
‘‘We have done 30-odd events in the last 12 months, all around the South Island,’’ he said.
‘‘It’s sort of getting bigger and bigger.’’
Shefford’s down-to-earth personality and sense of humour lets him connect with a diverse range of people, from truckies and contractors, to farmers and mechanics.
During a typical week, Shefford parks his caravan up along the roadside, and makes himself available for a cuppa and a chat.
He can often be seen parked on West St, alongside the Ashburton Domain.
He generally gets about 25 a week who stop to chat.
‘‘Twenty-five is not a big number but it’s 25 more people stopping for a yarn that are potentially reaching out, than if I wasn’t there.
‘‘If they have time to stop they do, and if they don’t they give us a toot and a wave, and carry on … most of them I will get a message from, or a snap chat from, and that is rewarding in itself.
‘‘Me being out there is better than no-one being out there at all,’’ he said. The jug is always on and he is up for a yarn. He has no spiel and no set topics for discussion.
He said his remodelled Fordson Major Diesel, set up in front of the caravan at events, was a good icebreaker.
‘‘(It’s) nothing in particular, just whatever comes up,’’ he said, of conversation.
His popularity continues to grow and he is getting more phone calls from event organisers.
He has done national radio show interviews and a spot on children’s television show What Now.
It’s a self-funded plan and Shefford has a range of products for sale, among them a book and coffee mugs.
He also has a Givealittle page and is releasing a 2024 calendar.
Pre-orders are available through The Gooserooter at Truck This and Truck That Facebook page.
However Shefford is keen to hear from anyone who might want to sponsor his work which next year will include three or four weeks in Southland and Otago.
‘‘Just anything to help out along the way,’’ he said.
He will attend A&P shows at weekends, and clubs and organisations during the week.
There were also invitations to attend truck shows in the North Island.
‘‘It’s just to get out there to the smaller towns. Ashburton is a small town compared to Christchurch, but to get to your Mayfield, Methven and Rakaia and all that, that all the celebrities forget about.’’
Shefford said the plan had snowballed and his original caravan, which he had for 12 months, was replaced with a second, larger model secured through sponsorship with Christchurch RV Centre.
‘‘We’ve been to more events with it and it’s just getting out there and talking to people.
‘‘It’s getting out there, talking to people at grassroots level and putting a face on it,’’ he said.