Aboods Transport: The power of tradition
Famous for pioneering regular inter-capital runs in Australia, Aboods Transport is servicing some of the country’s toughest areas with an unerring emphasis on customer satisfaction.
Aboods Transport is a name well known in Australian trucking and a prime example for how tradition can shape a business long after the first generation has retired.
The four founding brothers of the business were widely regarded as the ‘gentlemen’ of the profession, with the late Cedric Abood renowned for his legendary ability to completely re-engineer a truck and gain extra-long service life from what were mainly English makes, notably Foden.
With the second generation now in charge, led by Cedric’s son and current Owner, Tony, that dedication to the job – in every aspect, from technology through to customer service – is still very much palpable today.
“I grew up around trucks from day one and worked my way up through the ranks in the family business,” Tony says. “Along the way, I gained my rigid licence and then went on to do long distance, a job that took me here, there and everywhere and I loved it.
“But when my wife was due to have our second child I reached a point in life where I needed to have more time at home, so it was a matter of seeking local work,” he adds – explaining that he went on to driving a crane truck delivering roof trusses around the Coolangatta area.
What could have been the end of his career with the family firm soon turned out to be a new beginning for Tony, who admits he knew nothing about crane truck operation at the time. But, it didn’t take him long to learn and he soon became efficient and professional in this highly specialised area – so much so he finally started over under the Abood name again.
In 1992, the firm he was working for decided to outsource its transport and the opportunity arose for Tony to put his own truck on the road, so he bought a fire-damaged Mack Mid-Liner single-drive prime mover. With the mechanical knowledge he had gained from his father, he rebuilt the truck, fitting a new cab and crane before converting a second-hand Fruehauf tri-axle trailer to a bogie to suit roof truss transport.
“That first truck is still working today,” Tony says – revealing that the rebuild marked the beginning of Aboods Crane Trucks. “In 1996 I bought a newer vehicle to do dedicated deliveries for a customer, and things grew from there.”
In the early days, Tony would buy second-hand trucks and rebuild them, but the decision was soon made to buy new trucks, starting with an Iveco Powerstar. While a number of Iveco trucks are still out working in the fleet, the more recent additions have all been Kenworth and DAF. The Aboods Crane Trucks fleet now counts 22 prime movers and rigids, as well as extendible and drop deck trailers, B-double, B-triple combinations, road train trailers and dollies.
The service life expected from an Aboods truck is between seven and 10 years, with Tony pointing out there is never a ‘patch repair’ done – an attitude firmly in line with the family tradition. In fact, there is a fully equipped workshop on site to handle most work, with only major repairs done by dealers when required.
On top of that, Tony is trying his utmost to continue the proud Abood tradition of offering impeccable customer service. In fact, Tony explains that much of the trucks and equipment that he has bought over the years was to meet specific customer needs. “When the demountable house industry became popular I went into extendible drop deck trailers, and between 2005 and 2009 I was buying a truck and trailer every year.
“A client had an over width load to go to Karratha in WA and I thought that would be a one-off, but when the trip was completed I was told there were another 20 to go. I bought a dolly and grew that part of the business, resulting in a lot of work to the west as well as Darwin,” he says. “I try to do something different in a real sense in order to offer customers value, and I am proud of the fact a lot of customers who were with me in those early days are still with our company today.”
While some customers are price driven in their selection of carriers, Tony says the combination of service and reliability is what must be offered in order to maintain profitability in this highly competitive business. “Over the last 12 months, more people have become price driven than ever before. Our reputation for delivering reliable service has kept clients with us, but you must be consistent. You must have a standard, maintain it and expand on it,” he says.
While he may own the company, Tony is not one to lean back and run things from his Tweed Heads office and headquarters. In line with the family tradition, more often than not you will find him behind the wheel loading trailers and keeping his finger on the operational pulse from the coalface.
“By getting out there you have a full understanding of what people want, both customers and drivers. You are able to have a good look at what is going on around them,” Tony says – adding that the company has a consistent crew of drivers. “One has been with us for 17 years and there are a few with 10 and 15 years service. We do everything in our power to ensure every job is done efficiently and on time and it is all done through our people.
“I say to our people, every time you do a job for someone think of it as the first job you do for them, because the first is always done better. You must keep control; I’d rather not do a job than take it on and muck it up as people only hear about the bad things, not the good.”
The range of services offered for projects across the country saw the company do exceptionally well during the mining boom, and work to sites engaged in power and water supply continue to create revenue for the company due to the specialised haulage required – despite the slowing in that industry sector.
However, there still has been some collateral damage in the heavy haulage division: During the height of the resources boom, Tony established a branch at Rockhampton to cater for the mining industry and it became a bustling division, but the recent slump has seen him scale back that operation due to the diminishing call for transport services.
Despite the pain being felt by all in transport, Tony continues to focus on his customer base and attracting new clients by maintaining strong business ethics and broadening his range of specialised services to suit individual needs. “You have to always look for ways to do things better and we work as a team to improve all of the company’s services. We become a part of our customer’s and their customers’ businesses and form close relationships with them to deliver the very best in reliable and efficient service,” he concludes.