Giving the tip

Based at Narre Warren North just outside the Victorian capital, it’s not hard to identify the trucks operated by the DSM company due to one simple fact – all company vehicles are presented in immaculate condition at all times despite the gruelling work role the vehicles undertake on a daily basis.

DSM Transport Services is a three-way partnership consisting of Don Toscano and sons Steve and Mark operating five trucks on what is mainly local bulk haulage of quarry products; and they, along with drivers Alan Savage and Scott Webster, take immense pride in providing excellent service with unsurpassed presentation.

The fleet consists of two second-hand American trucks that have been completely refurbished to exacting standards, but recently two International 7600 models for tipper and three-axle dog operation joined the fleet, followed by an Iveco PowerStar used mainly as a rigid unit but with the ability to tow a dog if required.

The two Internationals were bought from Melbourne International at Dandenong and according to Steve Toscano, have delivered not only a high degree of comfort and excellent performance, but manoeuvrability of the units, all important in site work, has not only made life easier but reduced turnaround times. An even bigger plus has been low tare weight for increased payload leading to higher profitability.

“It is our major aim to help customers in every way possible.”

“We bought the 7600 trucks for those reasons plus the price was very competitive making it stand out as a value for money truck,” Steve says. “The fact is we can achieve a 31.6 tonne payload on the 7600 and that delivers good loads for customers and great flexibility for us.”

The two International 7600s soon realised respect in the operation when the unthinkable happened to Steve. On the first birthday of the 7600 he was driving, Steve was travelling fully loaded along the South Gippsland Highway when a motorist lost control of a car, weaving across the roadway in front of him. Steve took evasive action in an effort to avoid hitting the vehicle, his actions saving the life of the driver, however they did make contact and the truck and dog trailer wound up in the table drain at the side of the road and he was rushed to hospital with some serious injuries.

“It was a frightening experience I never want to go through again, but the upshot is the truck was written off and from my hospital bed I began planning a replacement for the vehicle as I was keen to return to work as soon as possible and would naturally need a truck to do so,” he grins.

Time in recovery had his mind working overtime and Steve, not forgetting the company commitment to presentation, made the decision to go for a bigger truck personalised to suit not only his ideals but those it would be working for.

His truck of choice was an International 9900 and while he concedes that with its 585hp Cummins ISX engine may be a little over specced for the three-axle dog application, it delivers unreserved power for the toughest duties and again delivers a high degree of flexibility should the company decide to go to a four-axle dog trailer.

“We have had an excellent run from the 7600 International, in fact the truck that is now 12 months old has delivered top performance, reliability, comfort, manoeuvrability and overall suits our application down to the ground. I considered the 9900 would be no different and that it was an ideal unit for our quarry operations,” Steve tells.

“These attributes are vital to us and our customers as we consider our service to be top class and in no way should it be compromised. Since the 9900 went into service it has been a winner on all counts.

“I took the opportunity to customise the truck making it a one-off and pride of the fleet. To make it a little different I ordered a grille that is custom made for the unit, added lights to give a highly personal touch and kept the deep chrome bumper. Should we wish to put the truck into four axle dog trailer work, it will be a simple matter to remove the bumper and fit a FUPS bar to comply with the regulations to achieve the desired weight increase. With the three-axle trailer it delivers a payload of 30.4 tonne when grossing 45 tonne and is right down on fuel, an excellent feature that increases productivity and efficiency,” Steve says.

He reports that on the road the 9900 is more than efficient in its work role with power to spare on all hauls regardless of terrain or delivery points. Comfort behind the wheel is, he says, second to none and despite the deep bumper on the truck, ground clearance is not a problem due to the set forward front axle.

“It does not manoeuvre quite as easily as the 7600 due to the longer wheelbase, but it is certainly no problem at all. The 7600 is a magic truck in tight spots but the bigger unit is not far behind it and there are no concerns and certainly no time is lost overall.”

“We are fortunate to have an excellent team here that takes pride in every facet of what they do, you only have to look at the condition of the trucks, bodies and trailers to see that pride.”

While the International 9900 is the DSM flagship, Steve also has plenty of good things to say about the Iveco PowerStar, again bought from Melbourne International, that is also delivering excellent results in the bulk haulage stakes.

“The PowerStar is powered by the Cursor 10 engine rated at 435hp, and with the Eurotronic transmission it is proving to be ideal in the mainly metropolitan work it does. We run it as a rigid but again the flexibility to hook it to a dog trailer is available to us, giving options should our transport needs change,” Steve remarks.

The trucks do not do high mileages annually with the average around 70,000 kilometres and Steve says replacement could be approximately every 10 years, depending on the vehicle, its working conditions and future requirements.

“We do absolutely everything to ensure maintenance, repair and the overall condition of the trucks is meticulously carried out. Of course we will continually monitor the trucks as part of our business strategy, but we see there will be no need to look at replacement at an earlier time,” he says.

Interestingly DSM Transport Services has only been in the tipper business for some two years, previously it was a general freight carrier but the competitive nature of that sector of the road freight industry saw the Toscano family take a close look at its business activities and, according to Steve, some valuable lessons were learned.

“It is of vital importance to develop a plan to maintain profitability, not only for ourselves but for our customers. General freight was becoming increasingly difficult to make money in so we really looked at how we could develop a business plan to offer top class service and remain viable at the same time,” he points out.

“We decided that quarry cartage on tonnage rates was a better option than going into contract haulage. The fact is that we carry for a highly respected and reputable company, Lofts Quarries, and work closely with them to ensure customer satisfaction. Actually it is our major aim to help customers in every way possible. Our trucks are the face of the company, having close contact with the customer, and that is something we and the drivers are mindful of at all times – reputation is vitally important.

“Naturally we look at further growing the business, but that can only be achieved through excellent service, establishing a good reputation and backing that by having the most professional attitude possible with drivers who maintain those ideals. We are fortunate to have an excellent team here that takes pride in every facet of what they do, you only have to look at the condition of the trucks, bodies and trailers to see that pride,” Steve says while looking around the yard.

Initially the DSM vehicles were second-hand, but the purchase of the brand new International and Iveco trucks have made a difference in terms of reliability and presentation according to Steve – not that the other two units in the fleet are disadvantaged by age and service due to first class maintenance principles.

“As I said, we constantly monitor every aspect of each truck’s performance and should anything be detected as needing attention, it is addressed immediately. I feel we have the most reliable equipment doing the job for customers and we intend to keep it that way,” Steve smiles.

DSM Transport Services makes no bones about the fact its International and Iveco trucks are contributing greatly its overall operations and should expansion necessitate more units to go into service, the brands will again be on the priority list.

“So far we have had an excellent run from the trucks and while some may say it is early days yet I am confident they will continue to meet the requirements of our company and customers. Performance and reliability is number one to get the job done, we depend on and expect it and the trucks have not disappointed,” he points out.

DSM Transport Services might not be a big player in the tipper business but its business practices and attention to detail is becoming fast recognised in the industry. Watch this space!

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