Fresh is best
Damien Scully established a business specialising in servicing refrigerated transport vehicles in 1993 which then morphed into Scully RSV (Refrigerated Special Vehicles) in 2014 as a full-service manufacturer, providing customers with refrigerated bodies as well as complete trucks for sale and hire. Based in Brisbane, the company recently took delivery of their 300th Hino truck.
A couple of years ago Damien Scully took the decision to personally scale back a little from the thriving business he had created and handed a large share of the management responsibility to CEO Avraam Solomon who himself has more than two decades in the refrigerated transport industry, coming as he does from a family that is one of the largest seafood suppliers in Brisbane.
In addition to the sales and hire functions Scully RSV continues to build refrigerated bodies for many of Australia’s food transport operators and also provides servicing, maintenance and repairs for refrigerated vehicles.
Avraam doesn’t regard Scully RSV as just a truck-based business, instead considering they are an integral part of the food service industry because every customer carries food products of some description.
“I’m a foodie,” he says with pride. “But having bought a lot of trucks over the years has enabled me to develop a good understanding of what our clients’
As in the food industry, quality is paramount and a vital factor in Scully RSV’s success in developing and marketing refrigerated trucks has been specifying with the best components available such as Carrier and Thermo King refrigeration units.
Scully RSV’s expertise in the area of providing ready-to-use refrigerated trucks has been a factor in the expansion of the short and long term vehicle hire sectors of the enterprise.
From a base of around 40 trucks just a few years ago the hire fleet has grown to more than 120 units with 50 of them currently based in Sydney. The expanded fleet already runs close to 100 per cent utilisation and plans are firmly in place for significant numbers of additional units.
The demand for trucks on longer rental periods has led to the creation of the Scully Fleet division and well known food service company QFS has already signed on for an initial seven vehicles – each on a four year hire agreement.
“The long term rentals include items such as servicing, registration and insurance and unlike leasing or hire purchase, we can provide greater flexibility,” says Avraam. “The clients are not stuck with a truck because after 12 months they can change the vehicle, be it to one larger or smaller.”
Any trucks returned under these arrangements are accommodated in the Scully RSV short term hire fleet.
“Food service companies might win a contract with a fast food chain for two years and need six ten-pallet capacity trucks. If their contract isn’t renewed after the two years under normal circumstances they can be stuck with those trucks,” explains Avraam. “We can offer flexibility because of our own ability to move assets in and out of the short term hire division.”
Just like rental cars, short term hire customers will get a current model truck, albeit perhaps two years old but definitely not something approaching the end of its working life.
Long term hirers receive brand new trucks.
Regardless of hire category, Scully RSV trucks are sold off into the used truck market when they reach four years of age, even though they may have another 15 or more years’ working life left in them.
This keeps the overall Scully RSV fleet age young and all vehicles remaining under OEM warranties.
The ex-hire trucks which are sold off represent good value for the purchasers due to their low mileage and regular servicing.
Any impact damage that happens to hire trucks is immediately repaired before their next hire.
“It’s our image, it’s our brand,” says Avraam. “It’s important to keep the hire trucks in premium condition for both current hire clients and future purchasers. We’ve got a good market for trucks at end of the four-year hire life and they go with still a year of OEM warranty on the truck and on the refrigeration unit.”
For customers wanting to purchase a new refrigerated truck Scully RSV offers ten different standard bodies, with custom manufacturing also available.
The five smaller units are pre-manufactured in Asian factories using predominantly Italian materials such as the body skins combined with German technology and management.
Lateral thinking to keep the cost of freight in check has resulted in some of the imported bodies being designed to be shipped inside each other like Russian babushka dolls.
The locally produced bodies are of fibreglass construction and Scully RSV’s decades of experience as a manufacturer has led to what is considered the optimum process in which all of the fibreglassing is hand laid and hand finished, and all work is undertaken in a dust-free environment.
Depending on customer requirements Scully RSV has the capacity to fit its refrigerated bodies to all Japanese brands as well as most Europeans. Hino is the OEM of choice and in early 2019 Scully took delivery of its 300th Hino truck.
“I’ve previously been a Hino customer myself for over twenty years and in the last ten years the Hino product has really, for us as a customer, got ahead of the others,” says Avraam Solomon.
“The new Hino 500 models are just miles ahead of anything else I’ve seen and we’ve now educated our own sales people to highlight the extra quality that comes with a Hino.”
Hino and the Sci-Fleet and Adtrans dealerships have been supportive in assisting Scully RSV customers to maximise the benefits operating the Hino product.
“Hino is good for us not just because the product is good but their people are good as well. Carrier and Hino are like a good marriage. There is a real connection between great people. With Hino we don’t feel alone.”
In line with current trends all of the trucks are equipped with automatic transmissions.
Scully RSV doesn’t consider itself as a truck dealer and has never sold a bare cab chassis. All trucks are purchased through authorised dealers prior to be fitted with the refrigerated bodies.
“Part of our strategy is to partner with dealers across the country,” says Avraam.
“The cab chassis is just one component. We can wrap the whole thing up as a package offering.”
Scully RSV can also offer dealers stock of ready to work refrigerated trucks which can appeal to purchasers who have an urgent requirement and wish to own their vehicles outright rather than hire them. Just like the trucks’ warranty, the cover on the Carrier refrigeration units commences when the truck is delivered to the client not when it is fitted to the body.
The refrigeration units are commissioned and gassed up as part of the pre-delivery functions to ensure the vehicles are ready for work when they are handed over to the customer.
Scully RSV backs up its quality components and innovative management with the best available technology such as tracking systems that facilitate the tracking of load temperatures remotely via smartphones.
Scully RSV has its own research division which is involved in developing product improvements for the transport of refrigerated food and other items as well as providing collateral support materials to ensure that clients are maximising the utility of the Scully RSV products in their fleet, whether those assets are owned outright or hired from Scully RSV.
In future the core business of Scully RSV will continue to change focus from selling trucks to providing full service short and long term hire, similar to recent changes in the fork lift industry.
“Our future is about hire. It hasn’t taken us long to hit 120 hire units and having 500 within a couple of years is a realistic expectation,” says Avraam. “Our plan over the next two and three years is to grow to be the true national fridge truck hire business.”
The long term hire proposition has many fiscal and practical advantages but the over-riding benefit for a food service business is that it allows them to concentrate on the actual food and service aspects and have the confidence to leave the fleet management to Scully RSV.
“Some clients may still want to own half of their fleet and hire the rest to take advantage of the flexibilities we can offer.
Our customers shouldn’t have to worry about what their vehicle issues are and we need to be able to provide a competitive and appealing alternative to the traditional food services vehicle business model,” he says.
“It allows them to do what they do best which is sell food and look after their customers.”