Full Range

A remarkable period of growth for Glen Cameron Group has been capped off with a new Victorian distribution contract it recently secured with Stramit, along with a fleet of heavy vehicles including its first Freightliner Cascadia.

Keeping insulated from the supply chain disruptions that commonly roil markets is the latest, in a long line, of challenges that have beset road transport players, whose revenue diversification, amid two years of turbulence, is being put to the test like never before.

For the Glen Cameron Group, the last 12 months, has, as if in direct rebuff to the ipso facto obstacles of inflation, heightened geopolitical tensions, natural disasters and COVID-affected freight movements, enjoyed what amounts to an unrivalled period of success in its 47-year history.

In a little over a year the Glen Cameron Group has expanded its depots, commercial vehicle fleet, customer portfolio and unveiled a brand new $20 million Cameron Interstate complex — a facility in Sydney with 6,200 metres of under-cover space on 30,000m2 site where 60 employees are supported by 65 contractors who look after an average of 25 B-doubles of freight every 24 hours.

All of which, moreover, is within immediate proximity to key connecting arterials.

Road freight has increased eight-fold, from an approximate 26 billion tonne kilometres in 1970–71 to around 203 billion tonne kilometres in 2015–16.

By 2040, should it remain on course for average annual growth of 2 per cent per annum, road freight volumes are projected by the Bureau of Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Economics to grow by 56 per cent.

Heavily dependent on road freight, the construction sector comprises around 30 per cent of total road freight tonnages.

For any serious business adjacent to the building industry having the right transport partner is not optional. Some companies, as the booming construction and building materials supply realm advances, are catching the drift.

Total dwelling approvals increased by some 23 per cent year-on-year according to figures released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics’, with private housing approvals 42 per cent higher than they were August 2019.

For Cameron Logistics, a major growth area of the Glen Cameron Group business, landing a major contract with Stramit, a building materials supplier and manufacturer, is a significant event and should be cause for celebration by both parties.

It alone reflects the foresight of timely investments in the twin tenets of physical infrastructure and production. That said, contracts in the freight world of any magnitude are not an overnight event in the making.

The toil of the distant past paves the way forward ­— often right now. Not unlike most longstanding family businesses the Stramit pedigree is involved and multigenerational.

It dates back to the 1890s, for an indication of how far the company has come on its journey. A signature move, however, in 1989, when KH Stramit and Amatek Building Products joined forced, set in motion its current ownership model.

That merger resulted in the company becoming one of the country’s largest steel roll formers across a national network — a network it expects to bolster and make truly panoramic through its new partnership with Cameron Logistics. Stramit, which is no stranger to swift growth itself, opened a new Taurean 7,000m2 facility at Knoxfield in 2018, in addition to an R&D facility in New South Wales unveiled the same year.

Side view of the Cascadia cab entry.

Its expansion is very much tied to its transportation partners as its business needs evolve.

This is where Glen Cameron Group comes in.

“Having long-term partners like Cameron is key as we embark on this journey together,” says Malcolm Thomas, Stramit Sales & Operations Planning Manager. “We went on a very extensive evaluation process before appointing Cameron as our logistics provider for Victoria. As our business seeks to add innovative products into new competitive markets, a partner like Cameron will work with us to achieve the best logistics outcomes and of course safety is critical.”

An additional fleet of around 70 trucks and specialised trailers were acquired to distribute the Stramit roofing, shed kits and roller door products.

There was also a requirement for a linehaul B-double service to run the nine-hour Melbourne to Sydney leg, return. As part of the contractual arrangement, Cameron Logistics purchased a new Freightliner Cascadia with a 36-inch walk in sleeper suited for the task.

Several Vawdrey Titeliner trailers were also commissioned especially for the job. The new Vawdrey B-double Titeliners feature unmissable Stramit product images on the curtains.

Greg Morris, Glen Cameron Group National Fleet Manager, opted for a new 13-litre Freightliner Cascadia 116, with alloy bullbar incorporating LED driver light and ice pack cabin cooler, to pull the trailer set after careful consideration was given to benchmarks he commonly associates with his extensive linehaul operations.

“Fuel, driver comfort and the latest technology including all of the Mercedes-Benz safety features that we have become accustomed to over the years,” he says of the decision. “The safety features in these trucks now have progressed so much over the last five years.”

Par for the course, the newest Freightliner will also be nationally maintained under a Daimler full maintenance contract for the duration of its cycle in the Cameron business.

Several new Cascadias have been evaluated by Greg and his team over the last 12 months with more already on order. JOST sensor top turntables have been fitted to the newest Cascadias as mandatory across the fleet.

“We have been a customer of JOST for over 30 years,” says Greg, who has been with the Cameron’s organisation since 2011. “They always provide us with great support and make great products — especially the JSK 42.”

The truck comes with adaptive cruise control, lane assist and “extraordinary”, per Greg, brake assist technology along with intelligent high beam, making it the first vehicle in the fleet equipped with this technology.

These safety features are also pivotal to the customer who naturally wants its products moved with the best road transport technology available in the market.

For Malcolm, that provides what he calls a big measure of comfort.

“The new Freightliner Cascadia purchased by Cameron Logistics is a terrific example of this,” says Malcolm. “The safety features on the vehicle really took me by surprise. For me personally, if I am out sharing the road in my car, with my family with these big trucks, the minimum standard comes down to knowing that we are part of, and contribute to, the best safety features possible with a truck like this and knowing that it is maintained to the highest service standard under the Cameron service regime.”

Learning about the latest emission standards currently embraced by the market has been another of the vehicle’s redeeming qualities according to Malcolm.

“The Detroit motor, for example, boasts the latest Green House Gas protocol 17 US standard which even exceeds Euro 6 engine standards,” he says. “This is important to know. Across our business we are also seeking sensible environmental targets, so with Cameron’s now distributing our products we are looking forward to doing this better as we modernise the Stramit fleet. Trucks with safety and environmental features like this will absolutely play a big part in what we do in our business into the future.”

Freightliner Cascadia B-double makes short work of Melbourne’s Eastern Freeway extension.

As standard Cameron Logistics specify Hendrickson HNL 7 INTRAAX suspension and axles with a 1.2 million kilometre-warranty. Included are the TransKing Tightwinder winches and Quickstrap MK II.

The Quickstrap system eliminates, according to Shane Coates, Glen Cameron Group Asset Manager, the need for drivers to climb steps so that they can pass or throw straps over the load.

“It can now be done safely with little effort from the ground using this system,” he says. “The driver just hooks the load binder strap into the Quickstrap using an extension pole and then pulls the strap across the load from the other side of the vehicle.”

Aside from the inherent efficiencies involved in their use, the TransKing winches, according to Greg, are most of all safe and make for a great initiative.

“As a process, it requires less effort of the driver to realise more down force than a standard drum winch,” he says. “The cantilever winch handle and clockwise rotation of the tensioner is devised to greatly reduce the risk of drivers slipping and hitting their face on the side of the vehicle. We now standardise the Quickstrap and Tightwinder product across our entire fleet.”

Having secured the Stramit contract for the next five years, Founder and Managing Director, Glen Cameron is pleased by the design of the Cameron Logistics livery together with the Stramit advertising on the trailers.

“Not only is it representative but speaks to the partnership with Stramit. Displaying both of our brands together to the market is a great way to do business with our customers,” he says. “What a great outcome.”

As a combination, the truck and trailers do little to harm the reputation of an iconic industry player renowned for the presentation of its equipment. In fact, it only enhances it.

Effective deployment of new mobile assets instils, and understandably so, greater confidence around the sector. Branding around the Glen Cameron Group business is distinctive.

With the addition of the new Freightliner, it can be argued that it has gone to another level.

The adoption of a uniform approach in its highway presence, going back to the late ‘80s, conveys across the business, fleet and key partners, an awareness that its brand vision aligns with competency, customer service and growth.

These rolling billboards, in contrast to the images of decline of many cities as they return from lockdown hibernation, indicate a thriving business despite two years of headwinds from economic forces outside of its control.

Such challenges for Glen Cameron Group have been met with market readiness primed by solid groundwork.

After 47 years of business, Glen notes the same values hold true today from the advice he received from his father, Ed Cameron, when he was first starting out.

“Ed said, ‘take care of the customer and the rest will follow,’” Glen recalls. “That is, if a customer has a good experience, they will return. Some of our customers have been with us for 30-plus years. But equally we can’t do that without good suppliers.”

Both Daimler and Vawdrey have, according to Glen, also been an integral part of that journey.

“They have been loyal and valued suppliers for us in excess of 20 years,” he says. “Moving freight is easy, adding value beyond moving freight is hard.”

In addition to protecting a recognised and highly regarded brand, the focus is on ensuring the business delivers the very best service to all of its customers while supporting its valued suppliers and giving its drivers the very best and safest equipment available.

“If we don’t do things like that, then we are just another carrier and that’s not what our customers want,” Glen says.

“At the end of the day it’s all about relationships. Relationships with our suppliers, with our customers and of course our people, all working together to do it better and more safely.”