Dionysius builds on experience
The Dionysius Transport Group has become a respected name on the Brisbane waterfront by offering customers above average services, the result of lessons learned through the school of hard knocks.
Beven and Lyn Dionysius started in business of their own account through misfortune. Beven was a truck driver doing local work when in 1979 his employer lost a major contract leading to closure of the business, a situation that could not have come at a worse time for the young couple who were expecting their first child and had just taken on a mortgage.
This is not unusual in road transport, in fact many in the business have faced the same stumbling block, but the couple decided to take a risk, buy the truck Beven was driving and attempt to attain success at a difficult time.
“We decided to try our luck in the business and we bought the truck from the operator without having to arrange finance, actually I thought to myself this was a great opportunity to go broke,” Beven laughs as he recalls the time the choice was made that would eventually change their lives.
He and another driver decided to form a partnership with a 2030 International and an Acco rigid as the tools of business, but the duo soon split and Beven and Lyn decided to go it alone with the eight tonner. The months following were a real struggle for the couple, with Lyn working at the time and her wage not only paying the bills but supplementing the cost of paying for the truck, fuel and other incidentals as they struggled to build a customer base.
It was very much a battle, but Beven came from a trucking family and had a drive to build a business that would be successful, so he concentrated on giving the best possible service with a high degree of reliability – an aim that still exists with the couple in business dealings today.
“At that time my main means of communications was through public phone boxes so I carried a pocket full of change and you could bet that if I had room to park the truck the phone would be being used, so I was constantly chasing from one to another. I would be urging people to get off the phone because it was costing me money,” Beven tells.
Lyn was the customer contact and they bought a pager when that technology became available to allow messages to be sent to Beven advising of pickups, developing a code of beeps to signify various transport requirements, but that came at a monthly rental price further placing strain on finances.
The advent of the mobile phone was a real bonus and hard work structuring activities was made easier, and soon customers were calling more frequently leading to a need to put other trucks on the road.
As the business grew and to supplement earnings the family was involved in newspaper delivery for some years. This work went on to become successful but growth within core activities saw this operation sold as more time was required to attend to enlarging general operations.
The bulk of the freight was general loads that were taken to major projects around the state, but Beven had contacts in the shipping industry and loads to and from the waterfront were on the increase and eventually formed the basis of the Dionysius business.
“A company I was working for was involved in sea freight and I guess that directed me to where I wanted to go in business,” Beven tells. “It didn’t take long to realise that while I was subcontracting to other firms there was a real need to obtain freight of my own.
“The best advertisement for us is word of mouth, actually we rarely go out to chase work and this is due to the fact we do that little extra for our clients. We do our utmost to look after them and many customers have been with us for 28 years or more because we offer more than most.
“We could have been carting cows or gravel but the shipping business, while highly competitive, is what we have concentrated on and we have built the business on our ideals of providing the best in service.”
This has resulted in substantial growth and a high investment in equipment and Dionysius has continued to move both with the times and customer requirements.
“We have progressed with modern times and our equipment reflects this. The wharves have changed considerably and we continue to provide the equipment required to do the job with peak efficiency,” Lyn says.
“It was probably never the intention to grow the business as we have but handling methods and customer requirements have been major factors in our expansion.”
The couple say it is their intention to keep clients happy regardless and the company invested in swing lift trailers to broaden efficiencies and add an extra string to their bow.
“Looking after customers is what it is all about and you have to make sure you can cover all aspects of their needs. It is interesting that once a ship hits the wharf transport companies can be the meat in the sandwich. If a ship is delayed they are aware of that and take it in their stride, but as soon as it docks customers want their containers as soon as possible,” Beven says.
“We do our utmost to get the containers to customers in the shortest possible time, and a lot of work goes into allocation to deliver the best service we can.”
Competition is fierce in shipping with a number of major companies involved in container transport, but like other sectors of the industry there are ongoing problems with rates and Beven has comments on this aspect of the business.
“We really should have some form of meeting where we can discuss getting some commonsense into the industry. I’m not talking about collusion but there has to be a rate commensurate for the work we do.
“Rate rises are not achievable like they should be. Cutting rates might result in more work but at the end of the day it impacts heavily on all transport companies and can certainly hinder growth and viability.”
The company is asked to undertake a number of activities by customers, at times outside the norm, and Beven and Lyn say this is what sets the company apart from others.
“This is what the company is built on and I am proud to say our people are committed to delivering their very best. This is a family business that will continue to offer the best and it can only happen with our people,” Beven points out.
The company operates a range of rigid trucks including curtainsiders, prime movers and trailers covering various transportation needs. B-doubles have become a major part of the business and in diversification also operates a refrigerated van service.
“The fridge van operates to and from North Queensland and is driven by our eldest son Craig. He has grown up with the company, in fact he used to travel with me and follow me everywhere so he is very much a person with transport in his blood,” Beven smiles.
“Another business we have gone into is mechanical repair and most of the work done on the vehicles is carried out there. Our son Ash is an apprentice with that business and it is proving to be very successful. There is a variety of equipment in operation and the bulk are Kenworth and DAF bought from Brown & Hurley.”
Services have grown substantially and now Dionysius Transport offers container pack and unpack, wrapping and strapping, short and long term storage, order picking and refrigerated container storage along with quarantine services that cover inspections, verification of packaging, FCL and LCL fumigation pads and disposal of quarantine waste.
The company headquarters at Hemmant, handy to the Port of Brisbane, is an AQUS approved facility and heading up administration is Lyn, who along with daughter Karlee and a full complement of staff are on-hand to efficiently organise a complete package for customers.
All members of the family are very much hands-on in the business and Beven and Lyn continue to operate in close communication with customers while bringing hard-earned values to all aspects of operations.
“It is a matter of keeping a close eye on everything we do and our people are as keen to meet customer needs as we are. Changes in the industry and on the wharf dictate how you run your business and we are always abreast of that,” Beven remarks.
The Dionysius Group is continuing to expand through its attitudes and approach to the task at hand. Those lean early years have left a legacy of quality service combined with personal attention.