Brown and Hurley Yatala rides post-COVID surge in orders

Following the COVID-induced slowdown of last year, it’s full steam ahead for Kenworth and DAF dealer Brown and Hurley’s Gold Coast dealership in 2021.

At present, the most challenging aspect of the post-COVID boom is sourcing enough new and used trucks to keep up with the burgeoning customer demand according to the company’s Dealer Principal, Bruce Barnes.

“Sales at the moment are extremely buoyant because most of our customers’ businesses are going gangbusters,” said Barnes.

“Everyone is scrambling to make up for the supply shortages caused by COVID – there simply aren’t enough new cars, caravans and boats for the people who want to buy them.”

Barnes said the company’s orderbook took a hit after COVID struck early last year but that this year’s month-on-month figures are more than making up for last year’s shortfall.

“I really can’t see a ceiling on it at present – it’s been a huge turnaround for us,” he said, adding, “this year we have more than quadruple the number of trucks on order compared with the same time in 2020.”

Barnes mentioned that the upswing has been consistent across all areas of the business including service, spare parts and used truck sales.

“Our service department has been running flat chat and we have taken on extra inventory in the spare parts department to ensure we are able to deliver the right parts at the right time – which is yesterday,” he joked.

“Our used truck sales department has also been as busy as – we simply can’t get enough good quality stock.”

Another area of the business that’s booming is the newly formed trailer sales arm selling quality brands including Schmitz Cargobull, Pumpa and Krueger.

Barnes alluded to the quality of the trucks and trailers that Brown and Hurley sells, along with the Government’s instant asset write-off scheme, as being other significant factors in the ongoing success of the business.

“Good quality machinery at present can often be sold second-hand for nearly the same money as new gear because people can’t afford the waiting time to buy new,” he said.

According to Barnes, the global shortage of components has contributed to the increased lead time for new trucks because there just aren’t enough parts to complete the number of trucks required.

“PACCAR production in Melbourne had been scheduled to ramp up to 19 trucks per day but they had to hold it at 16 due to supply constraints,” he said.

“The recent expansion of the factory enabled a daily build number of up to 20 trucks in one shift.”

Barnes makes no bones about his belief that the products that Brown and Hurley sells and the customer service it provides are second to none.

His ambition to join the company was realised in 2004, following a lengthy stint at a dealership of a competing brand where he started as an apprentice diesel mechanic in the late 1980s.

“I spent several years on the workshop floor doing my trade as a mechanic and then branched off to specialise in diesel pumps and fuel injection systems.

“I then moved up through the spare parts division from working in the warehouse to serving the mechanics and into the phone room and serving customers. I later became a spare parts rep out on the road,” said Barnes.

Barnes started selling trucks in the late ‘90s, harbouring the ambition to one day work for what he describes as “the best truck dealership in the country – Brown and Hurley.”

“I introduced myself at Brown and Hurley Darra and was given the opportunity to meet the bosses Jim Hurley and Rob Brown (respective sons of the two founders).”

Barnes started as a salesman with Brown and Hurley Darra in late 2004 and moved to the Yatala branch when it opened in 2008.

“I was happy to be selling quality Australian-engineered products at a quality dealership and have thoroughly enjoyed the journey that’s brought me to my current position as Dealer Principal at Brown and Hurley Yatala,” he said.