Sweet Smell of Success
Ditton Bulk Haulage has achieved much by focusing on their customers’ requirements by remaining flexible and attentive to details.
The Ditton family is very proud of its long running association with the transport industry and today is headed up by Murray and Melanie Ditton who operate from the company headquarters located at Rutherford, just west of Newcastle in the New South Wales Hunter Valley. The Rutherford location has been deliberately chosen given its close proximity to several of Ditton’s major customers’ bases with an additional benefit of being near both Pacific and New England Highways.
What especially stands out about the current company business model is the variety of the sectors in which Ditton Bulk Haulage operates.
This is a result of a well-considered strategy that came about following a regrettable and potentially expensive situation some years ago. From that negative experience Murray has decided to ensure the organisation operates across a diverse group of categories, having consciously targeted sectors in which company and staff experience, dedication and expertise will be appreciated so that long term mutual benefits are seen for client and carrier alike.
“We decided to do what we are good at, and we are good at customer service,” says Melanie Ditton. “If we say we are going to be somewhere we are going to be there. If we offer a good service our customers will keep coming back.”
According to Melanie the company has never advertised.
“The bulk work was handling grain products initially, and then carrying fertiliser on the way back out to the farming locations,” she says. “Murray is never one to say ‘no’, so when a regional concrete plant asked for a load of sand we did that for them, too. Next thing we’ve got three trucks doing it, then five. All through word of mouth.”
The bulk transport division commenced with just one tipper. After a short while the industry ‘grapevine’ worked its magic. One client would tell another about Ditton’s abilities to get jobs done properly. The growth of the bulk division has since compounded and now includes a number of efficient Performance-Based Standards (PBS) combinations.
There are currently around 70 trucks servicing the Ditton’s customer base and the choice of prime movers typifies Ditton’s aim to have the most suitable equipment available to deliver the best result in any particular application. Ditton’s has opted to utilise prime movers from both of Australia’s biggest selling heavy duty brands, Kenworth and Volvo, with each unit specified to best suit their intended applications.
“There are always drivers who only want to be seen in a big American style truck, but we’re not really interested in that type of employee,” says Melanie. “We’ll only take on someone that’s good for the business and whatever truck is the best for that particular job then that’s the truck they will drive.”
Notable among the Volvos in the fleet is ‘Cherry’ which is a 25th anniversary Volvo 540 horsepower FH Globetrotter equipped with the dual-clutch transmission.
It was a feature of the Volvo display at the 2019 Brisbane Truck Show. This truck is mainly involved in the transport of underground and above ground storage tanks. Operated by Kent Ditton, ‘Cherry’s’ candy-apple red paint contrasts with the basic white and subtle graphics seen on most of the Ditton fleet.
While Murray usually prefers the 600hp specification from Volvo, the fleet includes both 540s and 700s as well.
About a decade ago, Ditton Bulk Haulage made the conscious decision to increase their involvement in road transport associated with the building industry, back then seeing it as a sector with long term stability and good potential for growth. Ditton’s can offer complete transport and logistics solutions for their clients ranging from the delivery and on-site handling of bulk raw materials to the nationwide distribution of finished products.
Ditton’s have found success in being able to fulfil the combined roles of a number of different operators and improve markedly upon the efficiency of their own clients’ operations. The suite of available services extends from the Ditton operation of on-site equipment such as frontend loaders at the clients’ premises, to the provision of liveried curtain side B-doubles dedicated to the distribution of finished products.
“We don’t take on a customer to give them a service they don’t want or need,” says Melanie. “We might make it sound easy but in reality it’s a lot of hard work to ensure our overheads are less, our service is better and the customers’ expectations are exceeded.”
The transport of large storage tanks is another example of the abilities of Ditton’s Bulk Haulage, mostly in the OSOM (over size, over mass) space delivering tanks for fuel and other liquids to sites all over the country.
Recent long-distance deliveries have been to destinations as far apart as Cairns and Tasmania. The transport of fuel tanks brings with it the challenges of safely and efficiently moving large indivisible loads on public roads along with detailed route planning and the permit paperwork required by the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator.
The Ditton Heavy Haulage OSOM division started with a ‘speed bump’.
Murray was literally on his way to Victoria to pick up Ditton’s first drop deck widening trailer to fulfil a new contract when he received a call informing him the new work wasn’t going to happen after a change of mind by the potential client’s management.
In typical Ditton fashion, rather than let this be a setback, Melanie, in her own words, “put my boots on and visited local businesses saying ‘Here I am, this is what I’ve got and this is the service I can provide’”.
Within a week they had more than replaced the potential work that had been taken from them at such short notice. Now they have four specialised trailers dedicated to the transport of tanks. Ditton Bulk Haulage also applies its OSOM expertise to the transport of mining, construction and earthmoving equipment and farm machinery.
Being a family business, Ditton Bulk Haulage has a genuine interest in having the smallest environmental footprint possible.
Melanie was thrilled to be recognised for outstanding performance in the NSW road freight industry at the inaugural Road Freight New South Wales (RFNSW) Awards in 2016.
“Our award nominees have to embody the values of safety, professionalism and viability of the trucking industry in Australia. These are not only awards of distinction but also of consistency and improvement of best practice and leadership,” said RFNSW General Manager Simon O’Hara at the time. “Our awards endeavour to identify and spotlight individuals that have displayed exemplary standards, as well as spur others to continue striving for higher levels of excellence.”
Those individual qualities extend as core values across the entire Ditton Bulk Haulage operation in which the entire team of professionals focuses on customer needs. Although the customer base has grown dramatically over time, personalised attention remains a key factor in the company’s offering.