In order to build a successful transport operation in Australia the challenge to be a substantial business that has the facilities, equipment, systems and people to enable it to provide for client needs is ongoing, yet it must also be small enough to care and take onboard its clients’ problems as if they were their own. The success of Sydney-based MKD Transcorp is strong evidence that it has managed to strike that balance.
Zak and Igor Cvetkoski are brothers who came to Australia from Macedonia as teenagers with their parents and at the time, by their own admission today, didn’t have enough English to even read a street directory.
By attending English classes and participating in conversations within their community the brothers quickly assimilated in their chosen country and in 1999 founded MKD Transcorp on the back of securing a modest contract delivering Coca-Cola products.
That first truck was an Isuzu and although it has since been retired from active duty, it is still a proud possession of the Cvetkoski family.
The MKD team places a high value on solid relationships which extends to suppliers, employees, as well as to clients.
The contractor who put the decals on the first truck still does it today and they have the same accountant and same insurer as they did when ZaK and Igor purchased that first truck.
Since the beginning of the MKD story, when asked if they could handle any particular task Zak and Igor always answered in the affirmative, even if that lead to some frantic efforts to ensure that any customer involved was not disappointed.
That ‘can do’ attitude is still in operation today and the MKD Transcorp offering now extends to interstate linehaul operations, metropolitan delivery services, container haulage and warehousing.
Servicing customers well has resulted in the growth and success of the business and often new business is secured off the back of recommendations from existing clients, many of which are blue-chip global retailers and freight forwarders.
Never afraid to to think big, and with ambition to spare, around 14 years ago MKD was asked to assist global flat pack furniture giant IKEA as a back-up carrier.
This ultimately led to the opportunity to participate in the tender process for the transport requirements and ultimately MKD Transcorp was successful in being accepted.
“Originally with IKEA it was transporting goods from the distribution centres to the stores”, says MKD Transcorp General Manager Noel Ryles.
“Now we provide end-to-end service from the wharf in Sydney to the east coast and into their DCs with container freight and then from the DCs to the stores in Sydney, Canberra, Melbourne and Brisbane.”
As the operation expanded to include larger loads and interstate linehaul, MKD Transcorp utilised a variety of European prime movers and in recent years Volvo has become the brand of choice.
Noel says that a core reason for the Volvo brand to be so closely involved with the MKD business is the personal relationship with the Volvo dealership in Western Sydney.
“We can pick up the phone and somebody will answer it no matter whether it’s the dealer principal Greg Sargent, or the service manager or the sales manager. Someone is always on hand to take care of whatever the issue is for us.”
According to Noel the company motto has always been ‘committed to reliability’ and in order to fulfil that promise it requires reliable equipment.
“Interestingly enough, we never hear a complaint from a driver in a Volvo,” he says.
Trucks are generally replaced every five years by which time the units used on the East Coast linehaul routes may have up to two million kilometres on them after use on the highway for a couple of years before being ‘eased’ back to shorter metropolitan and intrastate runs.
“We can pick up the phone and somebody will answer it no matter whether it’s the dealer principal Greg Sargent, or the service manager or the sales manager. Someone will pick up and handle whatever the issue is for us,” Noel says. “Our own motto has always been, and still is: ‘committed to reliability’ and we can only do that if we’ve got reliable equipment,” says Noel.
“Interestingly enough, we never hear a complaint from a driver in a Volvo.”
Another hard won contract has been with Big W, delivering consumer goods to the 48 stores in NSW from the Big W DC in Hoxton Park in Western Sydney.
That contract resulted in the purchase of an additional 16 Volvo prime movers and 32 trailers.
“Every store gets one full load a day at least,” says Noel. “At peak times each will take two or even three loads.”
The last four to five years the team has been working hard in terms of statuary compliance requirements as well as greenhouse emissions and there is a focus on sustainability across the entire operation.
With a genuine desire to be good corporate citizens, MKD Transcorp is committed to improving the environment, having taken its corporate responsibilities seriously to reduce the impact its operations might have.
“For the future I think electric vehicles are the way to go,” says Noel. “In the mean time we have been upgrading our vehicles to Euro 6 and will continue to replace the remaining Euro 5 vehicles across our fleet.”
Noel pays kudos to Zak and Igor for adapting the business model so they could be compliant with regulations and as part of a commitment to make sure everyone goes home safe.
“There has been a distinct change in the business in that sense. Many transport companies 20 years ago were a ‘she’ll be right’ operation but with the level of regulatory compliance today you can’t run a business that way,” he says.
Real time vehicle tracking and telematics are used and the Volvo Dynafleet system feeds into office system.
The vehicle tracking capabilities provide management with visibility of every movement of every vehicle in the fleet.
Most trucks are equipped with forward and rear facing cameras. Reports are available on driving style, speed, idle time and CO2 emissions.
Obtaining this information enables MKD to run a greener and more cost-effective fleet, and limits risk and improves driver safety.
MKD Transcorp celebrated its 20 years of success in 2019 and in addition to a gala event held for staff, clients and suppliers, the Cvetkoski brothers marked the milestone by adding a custom painted candy apple red Volvo FH prime mover to the fleet.
An image of the new Volvo hauling a B-double set was incorporated in a celebratory cake which was baked for the special occasion.
The business has maintained strong sustainable growth increasing fleet, staff and equipment in the past two years.
There are now 120 staff members and the fleet has grown to 49 prime movers plus numerous rigids as well as 200 trailers in a multitude of configurations including 45-foot curtainsiders, lightweight and retractable container skels and sideloaders.
Recent additions include A-double skel sets which are able to carry two 40-foot containers.
When permanent sub-contractors are engaged they use the same uniforms, vehicle livery and specifications as the company trucks.
In addition to the regular contracted work, MKD Transcorp handles some general freight and also does work for event companies by relocating lighting and staging equipment for concerts throughout Australia.
The vehicles and premises are spotless; and the office carpets are clean. Remaining a ‘family run’ company has been crucial in MKD building its enviable reputation, not just as a transport provider, but as a place to work.
“We’re growing but haven’t run an ad on the biggest recruitment platform for months,” says Noel. “We genuinely get lots of applicants come through the door often due to word-of-mouth, and our established drivers are supportive.”
In an industry which has many transients, its employees seem to appreciate the MKD ethos and tend to stay with the company for longer periods.
“Transport is a people business so we have to manage people in order to manage costs. We can do that by getting the best out of them and having them act as ambassadors for the company,” says Noel.
The business started by Zak and Igor Cvetkoski and their families just over 20 years ago has prospered due to the dedication of management and staff, the reliability and efficiency of the chosen equipment and the satisfaction of its many clients.