Looking to the future
The trucking industry needs new, ambitious younger people with a good business brain to come into this industry and take it forward. Tim Giles talks to one small truck operator with big plans.
There is very little doubt in anyone’s mind within the trucking industry that there is a shortage of young, smart and ambitious entrepreneurs willing to take a chance in the trucking business. Without new blood and new ideas trucking is unlikely to meet the new challenges facing us in the years ahead. Michael (Mick) Mimoso is an example of the kind of young, enterprising business people the trucking industry needs to attract to take it forward into an uncertain future.
Based in Ingleburn in South West Sydney, Mimoso Holdings now runs three trucks as a subcontractor for Ceva Logistics, hauling cars in and out of the company’s Sydney depots in Villawood and down the coast at Port Kembla. Starting off just five years ago, Mick bought his first truck because he was wanting to develop a new business and came across an opportunity hauling cars.
“It was just by chance, I was looking at a different business venture, at that time I was a bread vendor and the brother of someone I knew had just bought into the Ceva fleet,” says Mick. “It seemed to be a good idea and interesting so I had a look at it and bought in. I was just looking for something a little different.
“I had been involved with transport, in one way or another, since I left school. I worked my way up from being a forklift driver, got into operations and then into allocations. I worked for a number of companies delivering aluminium, glass, I did a bit of everything. It is something which is in the blood now. It’s like anything in life, you try to do the best you can, and be the best you can be, in any industry.”
The first truck Mick purchased was a DAF CF 85 from an owner operator who had a contract in the closed Ceva yard. He has stuck with the Dutch truck brand ever since as he has expanded his fleet. The specification required to haul the tandem axle car carriers is a light 4x2 prime mover with a turntable height of just 1050mm. The DAF fits the bill and is used by most of the other operators working out of the Ceva yard in Sydney.
In the early 2000s, TNT Logistics, who was later taken over by Ceva, had investigated the specifications of trucks available on the market which would suit the new Smith’s car carrier trailers they had bought. They came up with a specification and a deal with the local Paccar dealer, Suttons, to supply trucks to their contractors.
“No matter what you do in life, you want to do your best and also make money so when opportunities came up to buy another truck, I took them,” says Mick. “It has enabled me to expand my fleet and I took the opportunities with both hands.
“This has meant having to employ drivers and it is something I’m still struggling with now. I’ve got two blokes working for me now who are great. I like to treat them exactly like myself, like a contractor and give them the vision and the incentive to go out there and work harder. The way I see it, I want the guys that work for me to want to go and buy their own truck. If they have that mentality, they will look after the gear and keep on top of things like tyre pressures, service intervals, all the things you need to keep an eye on.
“When they go to buy a truck they will already be in that frame of mind, already in the groove. It’s just a matter of slotting into the role. I want an owner driver type person, even though they’re employed. The first mistake I made was to employ family, but that will never happen again. The guys I have working for me now have been with me for three years and two years and I am very happy with them.”
Mick sees no reason to stop at three trucks and is looking for opportunities as and when they may crop up to expand his operation. Initially, the plan would be to run more trucks under the Ceva contract. All of the trucks would be working doing the same kind of work and operating for the same contractor. This enables Mick to keep his finger on the pulse of what’s going on, maintain a hands-on control and a rapport with the contracting company’s management.
Keeping an eye on the tasks done by his trucks on a day-to-day basis is vital to maintain the kind of service levels expected by Mick himself, Ceva Logistics and the car companies who are the ultimate customers. Mick and his two employed drivers wear the Ceva uniform to represent both the distribution company and car manufacturer when dealing with the car dealers they deliver to.
“Representing a company, driving a truck or having a contract with a large multinational company like Ceva isn’t just about driving trucks,” says Mick. “You are the face of the company, you’re a company representative, it’s the whole kit and caboodle. There are responsibilities that come with it, even to the public when you are out driving on the highway. You do something silly and it reflects on the company.
“You’ve got to be proud of the badge on the door and proud of the company you work for. You need to believe in what they are achieving and if you haven’t got that, the relationship is not going to be successful.”
The work trucks carry out varies from day to day with a mix of metropolitan deliveries around the city to car dealers and hire companies, car deliveries around rural New South Wales and the occasional interstate leg to other capital cities. The number of deliveries and collections vary daily and the drivers have to remain flexible.
To keep up with the tasks the trucks are fitted with back to base radios and the drivers are supplied with a small handheld device which is used to record all of their loading and unloading activity. When the driver enters information on the device to say the truck is loaded and ready to go, an email is automatically sent to the delivery customer saying the load is on its way.
Operators working in the car carrying industry in NSW are in the fortunate position of having their rates gazetted by the Industrial Relations Commission of NSW, under a contract of determination. This maintains a level playing field for all the major players in the car hauling business. The security from knowing the rates will be set at a fair level on a regular basis has kept car carrying contractors loyal to their clients and some have maintained a contract for up to 35 years.
Mick and his drivers all work under the Basic Fatigue Management Scheme. They fill out a logbook everyday, even if the truck is only running around locally in Sydney. Mick has found this is the best way to keep a handle on the drivers and to avoid overstepping the mark on issues like total hours over a two-week period. All of their activities are documented and they can demonstrate they are working legally all of the time.
Trucks are all bought on a lease agreement, Mick has found shopping around comes up with a consistently better deal. He prefers this arrangement as it enables him to get a precise handle on his business costs on an ongoing basis. Buying the truck over five years with a 25 per cent residual means it is possible to be sure of getting a new truck every five years.
The trucks can do anything up to 200,000km per year so this means that they are approaching 1,000,000km by the time they reach the end of the lease period. Mick chooses to get the trucks serviced every 30,000 to 35,000km rather than the recommended 40,000 to ensure a high level of preventative maintenance and to help to maximise uptime for the fleet.
With the trucks running at 460hp and a maximum weight of 38 tonne GCM, the fuel consumption being achieved by Mick is around 2.7 kilometres per litre. This can be regarded as quite a good result for a truck spending a lot of time dealing with traffic in and around Sydney. The new trucks are consistently getting better fuel consumption, lower than the 2.3 kilometres per litre achieved by the older 2003 truck they still use. Mick believes this difference is saving him around $15,000 per year in fuel costs.
Mick is already looking to the future and is sending one of the current trucks, and himself, across to Perth to work for the Ceva operation in Western Australia. As the resources boom continues and car and utility sales in the west continue to grow, there is a need to expand the car distribution fleet in that state. If the experiment in the west goes well, Mick expects to be able to employ a driver in Perth and return to Sydney and continue to develop his business in NSW.
Not a man to be found standing still, Mick is constantly looking over the horizon trying to work out how to expand his business and provide a better service to his client. Still driving his own truck on a daily basis, he also spends a lot of time developing relationships in the industry and constantly trying to move ahead.
Hands-on grass roots operators like Mick with a vision to succeed are the kind of people who created the trucking industry in the 1950s and 1960s. His philosophy of hard work, but smart work, has seen him grow his business at quite a fast rate and he looks unlikely to stop at just the three car carriers.