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McAleese set for return to private hands
Talks to see secured creditors gain control of entities and company removed from stock exchange
The Australian Securities Exchange looks set to lose one of its few listed trucking and logistics companies, McAleese, administrators at McGrathNicol indicate.
A little more than three years after its ill-fated foray into the public domain, creditors agreed to a series of related Deed of Company Arrangement (DOCA) proposals as an alternative to liquidation.
"There is no expectation that McAleese Limited will resume trading on the ASX," McGrathNicol says.
It adds that the objectives of the DOCAs, which the company has agreed to, are to:
"The related DOCAs will facilitate a fund contribution of $10 million from the secured creditors, which is expected to be received this week.
The estimated financial outcome of the related DOCAs is that all employees are expected to either be offered continued employment on equal terms or alternatively, for those employees not being offered continued employment, their employee entitlements will be paid in full.
"Ordinary unsecured trade creditors are estimated to receive a small return."
The administrators say the subsidiaries are expected to continue trading "on an uninterrupted basis under the control of management.
"Importantly, the related DOCAs provide an opportunity for the McAleese Group of Companies to continue to service their customers and for suppliers to have the opportunity to continue trading with the McAleese Group of Companies."
McAleese entered voluntary administration in August and has since seen its management and board leave.
Sunshine Refuellers failed to become part of the DOCAs as administrators were not appointed to it.
Like father, like son
The winner of best rig over 14 years at the 2016 Castlemaine Truck Show was this T601
On Saturday evening, Paul and Dan Askew were still hard at work polishing their Kenworth T601.
Paul has owned the 601 for four years and had just finished restoring it from top to bottom. He did the chassis, engine, gearboxes and diffs.
"We did the whole lot," Paul says.
"It’s an old truck but we like the style. It’s got a 12-litre Detroit under the bonnet and we do local cartage around Melbourne and off the wharf."
Paul has been driving for 30 years and been an owner-driver for the last six.
This is the second truck that he has bought and it probably won’t be the last with his son Dan mad keen on them.
"He is just waiting to get his licence and then he will be behind the wheel," Paul says.
"This is the third year I have been here. It is a top weekend to come and have a few beers and chill out.
"It’s good to be involved in a great weekend with your mates and have a few drinks and the whole weekend raises money for good causes."
Mercedes-Benz lowers truck parts prices
Also launches a new range of smart engines that offer maintenance advantages
Mercedes-Benz Trucks Australia has realigned the price of over 10,000 parts for current and previous generation Actros models, with reductions of up to 30 per cent on key items.
The initiative also includes expansion of its product range of remanufactured parts to more than 3,000 items and lowering the price of remanufactured engines and transmissions by 30 per cent.
The company says the initiative will help its customers drive down operational costs.
Built to the latest specifications incorporating product upgrades and modifications and tested on the same production line that builds and tests new series production units, the company says the new remanufactured items will offer more long-term cost-effective options to users.
Mercedes-Benz says its new range of smart engines also offer maintenance advantages, with service intervals stretching up to 80,000km depending on the application.
The remanufactured part portfolio includes engine short blocks, transmissions, starter motors, alternators, turbos, water pumps, compressors, brake calipers, clutch kits and compressors.
The company has also improved stock levels of critical components across its dealership network.
The news comes as the company roll outs its new truck range, making the "business case for the new truck even better".
"Our customers are already telling us about the money they are saving on fuel with our new generation truck compared to what they have been running," Mercedes-Benz Truck and Bus director Michael May says.
"We want to make the business case for our truck even better by reducing the cost of our quality parts."
With regards to the new truck, the company says its engineers had "running costs in mind when they developed the new-generation truck, coming up with simpler designs for key parts and aiming to lengthen the life cycle of parts by 20 percent".
Richmond livestock hub plans advance
Ambitions need private support and upgrades elsewhere
Richmond is a small town in north-western Queensland with big intermodal livestock hub plans.
Those plans would see a $900,000 livestock loading upgrade and new facility, in line with state government policy, and cash has been spent on getting them up on the council side.
All it apparently needs is private investment and Townsville infrastructure development to take it forward.
"Following consultation with Richmond Shire Council, we commissioned a study for about $50,000 to consider options to improve the rail siding at Richmond to move more freight on rail," a Department of Transport and Main Roads (TMR) spokesperson tells ATN of the project midway between Mt Isa and Townsville.
"The study is in the final stages of review and is expected to be completed in the first quarter of 2017.
"It includes consultation with QR [Queensland Rail] and the Richmond Shire Council.
"Once complete, the study will be provided to Richmond Shire Council and other stakeholders for their information and consideration.
"The Queensland Government is committed to helping shift freight from roads onto rail."
Richmond Shire Council has told local news service North Queensland Register up to $400,000 from private business interests would be needed for the loading upgrade while the hub itself
"Richmond has been identified as a pre-delivery centre for live export cattle because we are located within a suitable travel time frame to Townsville’s port," it quotes Richmond Shire Council mayor John Wharton as saying, adding that road trans would work in conjunction with the rail component.
But such plans would hinge also on the bringing the rail corridor to Townsville port up to scratch.
READER'S VIEW: Weighing into a meaty subject about traffic
REGARDING the proposed connecting road for cattle trucks from the Neville Hewitt Bridge to Lakes Creek Rd.
There are other options for this.
The cattle industry is going on to road transport and larger trucks so the railing of cattle will die out.
Both meatworks have the facilities to do this.
Looks like they are looking at altering the entrance to Teys at Lakes Creek to allow access to the meatworks side.
I don't see that mentioned (in the beef loop road proposal), but if it occurs, the crossing at Lakes Creek will be altered.
Any person involved in heavy transport will know the proposed connection off the bridge will start well back.
There is an intersection at Knight St/Kershaw Gardens that is already set up with lights etc.
It will require to have upgraded work on it to turn the transport.
This will put the road into an industrial area where there is plenty of room to enlarge and realign the road.
It will need to come out on to Glenmore Rd and an intersection just before Glenmore rail crossing.
This would also involve upgrading the rail crossings for the Lakes Creek rail track and angle, due to limited rail traffic they should check on the removal of the angle crossing.
This would also allow other transport and vehicles to have access to the highway and Glenmore industrial area, Ergon etc.
The old bridge intersection/Fitzroy St will gain by allowing other access to the south.
Tourists (grey nomads) could use it and they would come out in an area where the caravan park is or build a set-up for overnight vans near the Alexandra Bridge; toilets are already there.
Tourists will pull up if promoted correctly.
For them, it would allow access to the walkways into Victoria Pde using the Alexandria Bridge and no need to touch Welch St/Glenmore Rd connections.
A better highway access for all concerned, not just the meatworks and no third river crossing for meatworks access.
These vehicles are long and heavier than what is run now.
Bridges along the route need to be upgraded and width checked for the correct standard, allowing them to cross with other vehicles.
Regarding speed: The road is for the best part 70kmh.
The rules say that any heavy vehicles in a built-up area must be driven so as to pull up safely at traffic lights. This road, in peak times, is a very heavily used and has lights along it.
So the question is, will they only be allowed at certain times?
What speed will they be restricted down to if any?
Truck driver dies after being hit by another truck in Kings Park
A TRUCK driver who was stopped by police and told to secure his load on a busy western Sydney roadway yesterday was struck and killed by another truck as he stumbled into a lane of traffic.
Shocked police watched as the driver “fell, stumbled or stepped back’’ into the path of the oncoming semi-trailer as he went about securing his load under the instructions of the highway patrol officer who pulled him over.
The struck driver, believed to be aged in his 50s, was treated by paramedics but died at the scene on Vardys Rd, Kings Park near Blacktown. The distressed driver of the semi that struck the man was taken to hospital for mandatory blood and urine testing.
The tragedy, which occurred about 10.20am, is now the subject of a police critical incident investigation.
According to police, a highway patrol officer pulled the first driver over to the side of the road to secure his load about 10 minutes before he was struck.
While still securing his load, it is believed he somehow walked or fell into a lane of oncoming traffic.
An eyewitness said the driver appeared to be agitated and upset because he was getting a ticket.
“He was waving his arms in the air … he was flicking the rope over the back of his tray, he just let go and sort of fell back and come under the back of the truck,” the witness told Channel 7.
The man’s legs were crushed by the back wheels of the passing semi-trailer and he then went into cardiac arrest and could not be revived.
Assistant Police Commissioner Denis Clifford said there was nothing to indicate the driver had been ordered to pull over by police at an inappropriate location.
“Police are out there every day pulling over vehicles, it just shows what a dangerous place a roadway is,” he said.
“We’d love to say, ‘what if this happened, what if that happened’ (but) you just can’t turn back the clock and, tragically, a man has lost his life out there.
“We have to examine every aspect of it, put it to the coroner, the coroner will make a determination about all the facts and the cause of death and so forth … it’s just a terrible tragic accident.”
Police and Roads and Maritime Services authorities spent hours inspecting the semi-trailer’s lights, wheels, tyres and brakes at the scene to determine if any mechanical fault played a part in the incident.
The victim’s own truck was removed from the scene five hours later.
Police were last night in the process of contacting the man’s family and are urging witnesses to come forward.
Russell McCormack went to the 2016 Castlemaine Truck Show with his father Alan
It had been a dream of Alan McCormack to own a B-model, so at an auction five years ago down Colac way, he bought the Mack at a clearing sale.
"Dad drove trucks in the ‘60s and ‘70s and a touch into the ‘80s and has recently got back into it, driving milk tankers around Gippsland," stated Alan's son, Russell.
"He was driving Internationals and European stuff and Mack was king of the road. He just said to himself ‘I’m having a b-model’ and now he has one."
The McCormack’s have a hobby farm down in Gippsland near Warragul and bought the Mack to move bales of hay and the occasional tractor.
"We take it out for days like today and enjoy it," Russell says.
"We try to get it out whenever we can but it’s a bit rough. There is plenty of power there and it goes well.
"We added the sleeper as it is a place to put your swags and tents and it is a bit different."
Russell had been up at Castlemaine the last two years and there seems to be more and more gear showing up each year in his opinion.
He likes the new gear but the old gear is classic and shows how the country was made.
It’s summer on one of the hottest continents on the planet, so we check out some of the main systems for keeping cool in the bunk
Perhaps surprisingly, truck manufacturers don’t supply factory-fitted bunk coolers for Australia, and there’s no peak body for after-market bunk cooling suppliers.
So we visited supplier Truck Art at Wagga Wagga in southern NSW on the crossroads between Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide and Brisbane. Believe me, it doesn’t get much hotter in Australia than in Wagga.
Truck Art owner Terry Gibbs also has cooler installation workshops in Adelaide, Melbourne and Perth.
One of his early ventures was manufacturing sleeper cabs in the days before widespread bunk air cooling, about 15 years ago.
"It was a no-brainer for me to see the industry needed something in the sleeper cabin," says Terry, who sold his first Viesa to Paterson’s Transport at nearby Narrandera.
"I still remember the driver, he was an older bloke, coming in after it had been fitted and thanking me, and he said ‘This is the first time in my life that I’ve been able to have a proper sleep in the summer time’."
"It wasn’t long before people had to have it, and I think the main thing is it was fatigue management … and that helps overall with insurance costs because tired drivers have accidents.
"Drivers expect it today. Once it was a luxury but now they need it and not only that, I think if there was an accident due to a man not sleeping, and he didn’t have air cooling, the company could have something to answer for."
No perfect solution
Truck Art’s cheapest product is the evaporative Viesa cooler, manufactured in Argentina and a common sight on Australian roads these days.
They are priced at up to $3,600 installed, with the annual service to clean the filters and so on costing about $150.
Terry says that contrary to some opinion, the small amount of humidity can’t possibly rot the cabin; the water drains back into the tank on the back of the cab when not in use; and the unit can’t run the truck battery flat because there is a cut-off mechanism when the voltage gets too low.
He says of course there can be problems with cool air quality and quantity if Viesas aren’t cleaned for four or five years, "which we often see".
There seem to be several advantages of an evaporative system over the next one up in the pecking order – a battery operated refrigerative system, such as the "Pure Air" or "Koolkat" which Truck Art supplies.
Terry says a Viesa uses only 8 amps of power per hour, and will give the driver a sleep on a very hot day by at least blowing moist air over them.
On the other hand a battery refrigerative system draws lot more power and may not be able to overcome an extremely hot day at all. These can run for between four and seven hours depending on how hard the compressor is working, and Terry says they are best suited to night time or a few hours during the day.
They cost from about $5,000 to about $9,000 for a unit with its own batteries and which is big enough to cope with a big-cab Kenworth for half the day in the sun; and they are more expensive to maintain than evaporatives, for example with gassing.
"It’s horses for courses and some people love them," Terry says, adding the truck needs to be driven for as long as the aircon has been running, to charge the batteries, whether the unit runs off the truck or is independent.
Top of the range of course is diesel powered refrigerative air-conditioning, such as the well-known "Icepack", which now offers a 1,000 hour extended service interval.
Truck Art’s offering is the "Ecowind" with single cylinder Lombardini engine using about 700ml of fuel an hour, and costing between $10,500 and $13,000, depending on where on the truck it’s fitted.
The Australian Trucking Association’s Volvo "safety truck" runs one of these. As the ATA points out, in 2013 after its lobbying efforts the Tax Office ruled that the fuel used in truck sleeper cab air conditioners is now tax free.
As a result the ATA estimates trucking businesses could save up to $300 per truck per year.
Diesel powered units can pump out cold air indefinitely if need be, regardless of the outside heat, but of course their downside is noise for other truckies trying to sleep nearby.
The Ecowind is relatively quiet at 60 decibels but Terry acknowledges the noise issue is becoming a problem. "We are finding in certain areas now, especially up towards Queensland, there are service stations with signs saying you are not to run air-conditioning motors when you’re stopped."
The bottom line from all this on sleeper air cooling? "There’s no perfect product out there yet."
Trucky pays penalty for too much driving, too little rest
FAILING to abide by work and rest hours and properly fill out hours in his log book have proved expensive for a Toowoomba transport driver.
Justin James Faranda was pulled over by transport inspectors on the Warrego Highway as he drove through Jondaryan, Toowoomba Magistrates Court heard.
Further investigations and a check of his log book ascertained the 30-year-old had been driving to Toowoomba and that he had stopped in Dalby for a rest stop about 11pm the night before, police prosecutor Natalie Bugden told the court.
After it was discovered he had resumed driving at 4.30am, inside the minimum seven-hour break, Faranda admitted he had put a false time in the log book and that he had been driving 15 minutes over the maximum 12 hour period, Senior Constable Bugden said.
Faranda told investigators he had not been forced by his employer to drive the extra time or reduce his rest period, the court heard.
He pleaded guilty to operating under standard hours with less than minimum rest time, operating over the maximum driver hours and entering false or misleading information into his log book.
Snr Const. Bugden told the court the maximum penalties for the offences were $4200, $15,750 and $10,490 respectively.
The court heard Faranda regretted his actions but that he had been transparent with investigators after being pulled over.
Magistrate Graham Lee said the offences were serious but acknowledged Faranda had made full admissions to investigators and had entered early pleas of guilty to the charges.
He was convicted and fined $2000.
L-R: John, Marco, John, Frank and Giovanni Doria.
The winner of best rigid at the 2016 Castlemaine Truck Show was the Doria's Dodge
The Doria’s operate five trucks full time and have a couple of spares. They had four trucks at the show, the newest being a T404 body truck and the oldest a 34 Dodge.
"We mainly cart fruit and vegies out of the markets and then we do some storage and distribution during the day," the Doria’s explained.
"We start at midnight and after they finish the market work, we distribute to farms."
The T404 was built in the Kenworth factory as a 14-palleter and it has a Cummins ISX 475hp engine.
"It has a bit of character to it! It was actually built for a subby that ran for Toll doing their late freight, running up and down to Sydney.
"From there, it went to Queensland and then to WA before we bought it. It’s a great truck and being so long gives an unbelievable ride, it’s an amazing truck to drive and is comfortable.
"Our colours have always been red but it is too good a condition to paint."
The whole family had come up for the show and they were looking forward to a great weekend.
Two-truck crash case appeal dismissed with costs
Appellant wears extra expense as judge is unconvinced by arguments
A New South Wales Supreme Court appeal on the result of a negligent driving case over a two-truck crash has been dismissed and costs awarded against the appellant.
The 2015 case, Doble Express Transport Pty Ltd (Administrator Appointed) v John L Pierce Pty Ltd, stems from an April 2012 incident, when Doble’s Volvo prime mover and triaxle taut liner collided with a Kenworth prime mover and B-double trailer.
The proceedings were between the companies rather than directed at either driver.
The accident occurred in thick fog as the Kenworth turned from the Hume Highway into Burley Griffin Way near Yass, headed for West Wyalong.
Doble began proceedings in the District Court against Pierce claiming $172,034.78 for damage to the Volvo and consequential losses due to inability to use it.
Doble alleged driver negligence on, primarily on the ground that the fog made the turn unsafe.
Pierce cross-claimed, seeking $159,538.29 for damage to the two trailers attached to the Kenworth.
Pierce counter-alleged driver negligence due to excessive speed in the conditions.
The primary judge found both drivers at fault.
Doble’s responsibility was assessed at 40 per cent and Pierce’s at 60 per cent.
Doble gained $103,220.86 ($172,034.78 reduced by 40 per cent) and Pierce $63,815.32 ($159,538.29 reduced by 60 per cent), with interest on each judgment accrued from the time of the crash to the date of the judgment.
Despite that, Doble appealed on whether driver negligence caused Pierce’s loss and, if so, whether it was worth 40 per cent.
The negligence argument hinged on evidence that Volvo was travelling at 80km/h and visibility was about 50 metres.
To be compliant with the Heavy Vehicle Driver Handbook, however, expert evidence was that it should have been travelling at closer to 60 km/h to allow for response time and braking time.
At that speed, reaction time would count for 25 metres and, depending on brakes and given the load, braking time would be about the same.
While it was argued that slowing the Volvo further could have induced a jack-knifing, the appeal judge found that there was ample time to slow the Volvo to a reasonable speed for the conditions, given thick fog started at least 200 metres from the intersection.
Older drivers reunion at Goodna
G'day Big Rigs. We have a forthcoming reunion that we are organizing for the older generation of drivers from the 50s/60s/70s era.
These blokes were directly responsible for the transporting of the majority of freight in South East Queensland and country areas before the introduction of containers.
Back then, there were dozens of small transport and crane companies in Brisbane.
Names such as J.N.Nicholson (Nichos), Finney Bryce, Cavanagh, Athol Flynn, Western Transport, Brambles, Banks, Lukes, Jacksons, Cobb & Co. Aitkins, the list goes on.
Most of these companies have disappeared into the mists of time, but they are not forgotten by us.
A lot of us are well advanced in age, but we still remember the good times and the comradeship and our mates and we still love to tell a story.
Which is why on Saturday August 22 at the Goodna RSL Club about 10am. we shall hopefully meet blokes that we haven't seen in years.
We shall have a few drinks, tell a few lies, exaggerate a few stories and drive a million miles again.
This invitation is extended to everybody who was or still is involved in the transport game, but most notably from that earlier era.
Make an effort you old bas***ds and get out of the arm chairs for one day and relive some of the memories.
Regards Gary Harris and John Smith
Truck-jackknifes-blocks M1 southbound
The accident has been cleared but traffic remains heavy on the M1 southbound after a truck jackknifed near the Logan Hyperdome on Tuesday.
The Australian Traffic Network's Adam Smith said there were still traffic delays southbound back to Springwood.
A truck jack-knifed on the M1 Motorway, with several cars damaged and traffic building.
A police spokesman said there was also a diesel clean-up following the incident.
All southbound M1 lanes near the Logan Hyperdome are blocked, after a truck jackknifed on the highway near the Mandew Street overpass.
The Australian Traffic Network's Adam Smith said there are traffic delays southbound back to Springwood and also northbound delays back to Loganholme, thanks to people having a "sticky beak" at the accident.
A police spokesman said the incident happened about 12.30pm on Tuesday, with no reported injuries.
The spokesman said one other car was involved, but others may have minor damage from the incident.
Emergency services are working to clear the highway.
2016 cover stories: Simpson's Fuel
Family-run Simpsons Fuel has kept plenty of heart in the tank during its 62-year presence in regional Victoria
Committed to serving the local community, Alexandra-based Simpsons fuel has been going from strength to strength since its early days as a general freight carrier.
Established by Ian Simpson upon migrating from Scotland, the business soon changed track to fuel, providing petrol for Commonwealth Oil Refineries (COR) which later became BP Australia. Simpsons became a fuel distributor for Caltex Australia in 1985 when BP pulled out of country Victoria, seeing its customer base grow to 1200 today.
Now run by Ian’s son Gordon and grandson Cameron, the company carries more fuel than ever following last year’s purchase of a performance based standards (PBS) 20m rigid dog and tanker built by trailer manufacturer Tieman Tankers. The 57.7-tonne truck can carry 46,000 litres of diesel on each run – up from 30,000 on a regular semi-trailer.
What’s cost $700,000 to build has paid dividends for the Simpsons; they’ve been able to cut down a trip per day to Melbourne, leading to massive cost savings. They were the first to run the tanker after custom-designing it with Tieman.
"It took about 12 months to create it and get it on the road," Gordon Simpson says. "We came up with the idea after seeing something similar with tip trucks; we thought there was no reason why we couldn’t do it in the fuel game.
"We asked some other trailer manufacturers prior and Collin Tieman was virtually the only one that wanted to take us on as he is a good friend of ours. We knew exactly what we wanted and spent a lot of time on Tieman’s simulator to get it right."
Being the first fuel distributor to run a PBS tanker has led to many operators come and view the vehicle, Simpson adds.
"The industry is talking about it; it’s been followed now in Australia and there’s other people doing the combination."
Simpsons have four vehicles: a Scania semi-trailer; two Isuzu rigid trucks; and the truck and quad. They plan to add another PBS vehicle to the collection next year and upgrade their fleet to Volvo, saying Volvo meets "every requirement" they’re after.
"I think Volvo trucks are the safest in the world; with the technology and safety that they put into them our customers are impressed," Simpson says
Fuelling the community
Nestled between the Goulburn Valley Highway and Maroondah Highway some 26km west of Eildon, Alexandra is a sleepy little town with a population of less than 3000.
Being a major fuel distributor across three shires, Simpsons also supplies fuel to the local urban and rural communities, primary producers, government agencies, haulage companies, earthmoving contractors and timber harvesting operators.
It regularly delivers to remote locations such as logging coupes and ski resorts, and by arrangement provides fuel 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
"We are a small company but we’ve been here a long time and we love it," Simpson says. "We plan to keep on growing and within the next five years we hope to increase our business by a manageable amount."
Currently in the process of purchasing a part of another fuel distributorship, the company expects to grow by 50 per cent over the next two years.
"We will reach different customers in a bigger market area within Victoria, which means we have to become closer to the Melbourne market to grow our business closer to Melbourne."
Simpsons carries some 20 million litres of fuel each year, with winters being quiet and summers busy.
"When the price of fuel is up our retail part of business drops off a little bit, but all our industrial and logging customers probably use the same amount of fuel, and they’re a big part of our business."
In 1985 it expanded into retail, with its major retail facility, service station and head office located at Alexandra. Selling oils and additives, Simpsons also offers after-hours diesel at Mansfield, which was opened six years ago and is mainly used by trucks and trades people
Eyes on safety
Being a regional fuel transporter means coming under scrutiny from fuel suppliers and customers alike. Therefore, Simpsons is an accredited member of TruckSafe.
"We wanted to show to our customers that we excel in the transport industry and that we are as safe as we can be," Simpson says. "Joining TruckSafe was all about implementing best practice into the business and has brought a whole lot of things into our operation.
"Through TruckSafe we use all accredited workshops and our drivers have become compliant with our measures; we have better working procedures now because of TruckSafe.
"It’s become a national asset to our company and it’s good to get someone to come to our company and check us out and audit us and suggest better ways to make our company better. People see that you’re trying to lead and run TruckSafe vehicles, you’re trying your hardest to be safe and compliant."
Being a small player in the national fuel market, Simpsons makes regular visits to other fuel distributors to learn from.
"Even before we joined TruckSafe we went to Bonney Energy in Tasmania to have a look at how they comply with TruckSafe and what’s expected of us in the industry, so we’re always learning from other people in the transport industry," Simpson says.
"Fuel industry is a competitive market but the people that are in it are willing to share how they do their process and how they do their maintenance.
"We’ve got no hesitation ringing other distributors and say how do we do this and how can we improve our business – it’s a two-way street."
Servicing Victoria’s alpine region means that one has to undertake regular driver training.
"Prior to winter months every year we train our drivers in putting chains on trucks; we’re a bit unique as we have a dozen main customers in the snow region who only run on generators and if we don’t get there they stop," Simpson says.
Simpsons’ injury rate stands at zero thanks to its drivers.
"It all comes down to selecting the best of drivers – they’re all local and we know where they come from and their background.
"In winter, if conditions are tough, we send two drivers per vehicle."
Being a third-generation company, Simpsons has kept up with the times by staying proactive within the industry. It is a founding member and sponsor of the Alexandra Truck Road and Ute Show, and prides itself on customer relationships.
"Because we’ve got a small base business, we know personally probably 90 per cent of our customers – we’re still a hands-on business that knows its customers," Simpson says.
"Customers are everything to our business; if we don’t have them we haven’t got business.
"A lot of these people in business I’ve grown up with, and now we’re servicing them and my children are servicing them."
All of Simpsons’ trucks are GPS tracked and its IT systems are run by fuel and logistics software provider Queensland IT Group, which helps it oversee pick-up, delivery and fuel payments through mobile truck computing.
We give a pat on the back to some of the truck dealerships which are showing the way for the entire industry in providing good bunkrooms for drivers
Fortunately, individual air conditioned bunkrooms seem to be a growing trend in Australian truck dealerships and depots.
We have been told about each of the following from drivers who have benefited from them.
First prize goes to Westar Truck Centre at Derrimut in Melbourne. Westar is a dealer for Isuzu, Western Star, MAN and Dennis Eagle.
Not only are the rooms quiet and dark, with towels and linen provided, but they each have their own toilet and shower as well. There is free WiFi, a self-service cappuccino maker and even complimentary continental breakfast.
Gilbert and Roach at Huntingwood in Sydney (Isuzu and Kenworth) also has individual rooms well located away from noise generated by the workshop and waiting day drivers.
So too does Westrac Caterpillar at Hexham in the Hunter Valley, with a big TV lounge area, laundry, and even computer terminals along an office-style bench.