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Prime Mover Magazine

Bobbin’s Transport: Family business

Bobbin’s Transport: Family business

Neville Bobbin, Managing Director of Bobbin’s Transport, is the definition of a self-made man; a man who has created a prospering transport company based on nothing but a love of being behind the wheel, a passionate ethos, and economic audacity. And to the present day, nothing has changed; except for the amount of Bobbins involved in the business.

“I began driving trucks on behalf of a local haulage company in the Snowy Mountains and along the East Coast, but I always had the ambition to establish my own business,” says Neville. “In November 1970, my wife Lyn and I decided to buy our own truck, an AA180 International powered by a Perkins diesel engine, and give it a go.”

Situated in in Pambula, on the far south coast of New South Wales, Bobbin’s Transport can look back upon a classic story of success. “We never had the intention to become a progressive transport company of such size,” Neville recalls. “We wanted to keep it small and simple. But the business soon began to grow, as they all did at the time. And last year, we celebrated our 40th anniversary. It’s unbelievable.”

Starting off hauling logs in the Bega Valley Shire, the company continued to flourish as Neville and Lyn commenced carting landscape supplies such as fertiliser and eucalypt mulch; and a 555-powered Acco and a Louisville soon followed the aged International.

By 1978, Bobbin’s service expanded to include general freight and in 1983, the logging part of the business was sold. Today, Bobbin Transport carts refrigerated, general and bulk freight throughout Victoria and New South Wales; maintaining a fleet of 20 prime movers and 10 rigid vehicles. In addition, the company operates around 40 trailers; the majority built by Dandenong based company Southern Cross Transport Equipment. “But we also run Peki and Maxi-Cube equipment,” Neville says. “And we use FTE, too, mainly to cart fresh fish.”

In 2003, Bobbin’s Transport purchased Town’s Haulage, formerly known as Switzer’s Transport of Eden, re-named it South Coast Freighters and began carting fish and primary produce from the bustling port of Eden and Ulladulla to the markets in Melbourne and Sydney. “We also offer an overnight service to and from Sydney,” Neville says.

In 2004, the two companies merged, forming Bobbin’s South Coast, also known as Bobbin’s Transport. “We maintain depots in Sydney and Melbourne and shuttle between these cities, and we go to Brisbane once a week as well,” says Neville. “It’s quite a comprehensive network.

“But despite the growth, Bobbin will always remain a family business,” says Neville, who is supported by his wife Lyn, daughter Melissa and son Brendon; managing 60 employees and the ever-growing fleet of transport equipment.

“We have seen and seized several opportunities by taking over some other carriers over the years, a lot of which got us firmly entrenched in the refrigeration transport business,” says Neville, who is proud that the entire Bobbin family is involved in the business. “And with the children’s boundless enthusiasm for the business today, we see it in good stead for the future as well.

“But although we’ve maintained a family focus, a lot has changed since the early days,” he explains. “Today, we’ve got the A-trailer, for instance. I appreciate the government’s effort to reduce the amount of commercial vehicles on the road, but the registration charges for a lead trailer in a B-double set are not reasonable. I can’t see logic in it, to be honest.”

Overall, though, the industry’s honest, yet competitive character has remained. “Australia’s transport industry has always been a competitive one; but true quality will always depend on good service, not on pricing alone. At Bobbin’s, we pride ourselves on our service and the quality of our gear. Therefore we only use quality equipment,” says Neville, who is also a passionate pilot. “I love looking upon NSW’s south coast from a bird’s eye perspective. The region offers a magnificent diversity of coastal, forest, mountain and rural country.

Observing such unspoiled, peaceful beauty is a great opportunity to recover from the strain of working 24/7. And sometimes you can even spot a Bobbin combination on the road.

“We take an extreme amount of pride in the presentation of our fleet and all vehicles carrying Bobbin’s logo,” Neville explains. The majestic eagle, accompanying the golden lettering on a cobalt blue background, is reminiscent of Canada’s wilderness. “I love Canada and the wildlife. My wife and I have spent a bit of time in North America and the love for the vast wilderness and its divine creatures is something we have carried over.”

Proud to showcase the Canadian eagle, Bobbin’s operates an in house cleaning department to ensure each vehicle bearing the Bobbin seal is constantly sparkling. But the fleet service division is not the only specialty department located at the Bobbin estate in Pambula. “We’ve got a training course on our premises to train our drivers in house,” says Neville.
“I personally teach the team the way I want them to work and drive; and I supervise everything – even though most of them are very experienced and know more than me anyway.

“But I don’t entrust my beloved fleet to the care of people I have not met in person,” he adds, proving that maintaining a high quality standard is not all talk, but the result of personal commitment. “All our prime movers are equipped with environmentally friendly engines, for instance. We don’t run anything old. The average age of our fleet is less than five years, and we want every driver to be familiar with the new equipment.”

Even after four decades in the industry, Neville Bobbin is still as motivated to go the distance as he was the day he began hauling logs out of New South Wales. “It’s all about maintaining and expanding the family business; and, of course, providing good service. That’s our mission. Therefore, we also operate a storage facility that we’ve built over the years, storing 6000 pallets of cheese.”

Given the Bobbin family’s breathless work, it is no surprise that Bobbin’s Transport has just picked up a new contract that will begin in July and keep the company busy well into the future. “It’s a fairly big deal,” says Neville. “But I can’t reveal any details.”

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