Riders in the Chariot

With a strong emphasis on customer service, Everstin Group caters for a vast range of bulk transport needs. The company recently acquired a Mercedes-Benz Actros tipper matched with a Bulk Transport Equipment five-axle dog.

With a core offering involving the supply and haulage of quarry products, Everstin Group offers a diverse range of services in a 24/7 operation designed to meet the considerable expectations of its customers.

In addition to providing local and interstate haulage from its headquarters in Melbourne and branches in Brisbane and Adelaide, the company also stockpiles its own materials to ensure integrity and continuity of supply to its client base.

Everstin’s list of services is extensive, including bulk haulage of sand, glass, crushed rock from quarry to site and asphalt for road works.

Since its formation in 2006, the firm has also offered demolition services including rubbish removal and land remediation, along with construction services, warehousing, grain storage and pallet racking.

Based at Melbourne head office in Hoppers Crossing, Everstin General Manager Ross Winkworth joined the company around three years ago, sensing an ideal opportunity to be a part of a dynamic business that was on the way up. Ross comes from a logistics background and was previously employed as Commercial Manager-Logistics by O-I Australia, a glass bottle manufacturing company that was recently acquired by Visy.

“Opportunity calls and I am excited to be a part of Everstin and to have seen it grow from a smaller company into the medium-sized business it is today,” Ross says. “I have enjoyed the chance to get my hands dirty and to play a part in that growth — that’s been the key motivation for me.”

Ross says the business has diversified while staying true to its roots in tipper and tanker work, having built up its workshop and engineering capabilities in a value-adding effort for its existing clients. This includes the addition of warehousing for clients who had previously received point-to-point transport from the company.

Everstin offers another service in which it caters to various concrete companies including ICL where specific materials are imported from overseas.

“We’re providing a full-service offering, handling their freight from origin, say Malaysia or North America, taking care of the shipping, wharf cartage to warehouse, decanting and debagging and last mile delivery,” Ross says.
These products, he explains, are generally niche materials including industrial minerals used in specialty cements as well as limestone and sand products.

With a large chunk of the business revolving around the safe and efficient transport of bulk commodities, it’s hardly surprising that Everstin is continually on the lookout for the most suitable trucks for its various applications.
The company has around half a dozen Mercedes-Benz trucks in the fleet, ranging from prime movers pulling flat-top semis and tankers, through to the latest acquisition being an Actros 2658 towing a five-axle dog trailer. Ross describes the new Actros as a good piece of kit and says the drivers love it.

“It’s a great package in terms of pricing, servicing and after-sales support. Because we have a large variety of work, we need to choose the best vehicle for each specific application,” Ross says. “We’ve always had Mercedes-Benz trucks in the tipper fleet and we believe for the truck and dog work the Actros is a  very good fit.”

He reiterates the value to the company of the full commercial package offered by Daimler Trucks including the five-year warranty, and, more importantly, the safety package, driver comfort, fuel economy and low emissions.
“From our perspective for this task you can’t beat it, and they look good too, which also helps,” he says. The Performance-Based Standards (PBS) approval for the five-axle dog to operate in Melbourne, according to Ross, was something of a labour of love.

“We have them elsewhere but to have one in Melbourne finally is a really good step forward for us,” he says. “We are pleased that Mercedes-Benz was able to come to the party and help us get it over the line.”

After being in service for a few months the new unit has already clocked up more than 40,000km which Ross says is due to the high utilisation which is a hallmark of every truck in the fleet. The aim is to keep the trucks working as much as possible to ensure each asset is providing the best possible return on investment.

Ross says the company plans to keep the Actros for five years to make full use of the extended warranty. By that stage, he estimates, it would have travelled close to 500,000km.

“That’s the intent anyway,” he says. “But it depends on what’s available at the time and what’s happening in terms of contract arrangements.”

As for servicing, Daimler Trucks Laverton has been entrusted to the task and recently performed the first major service on the new Actros.

At the present time there are 32 people employed at Everstin’s Melbourne headquarters, the majority of whom are drivers, along with four in the office taking care of accounts and management duties, in addition to several mechanics and boilermakers in the workshop and warehouse.

“We’re big enough as a company to operate efficiently with economies of scale but still small enough that every employee is known personally,” Ross says. “We still operate like a family company in that regard.”

Average tenure of employees is around five to six years while some of the key people in operations – “they’re a wealth of knowledge” per Ross – have been with the company since its inception in 2006.

The driver recruitment process is an in-house operation with word-of-mouth being the preferred method according to Ross. “We believe we have a bit of a niche with our operation and we have had a lot of referrals through word-of-mouth, and usually they come in threes. You get one driver and then suddenly you have two more who have come from a similar space and area of expertise,” he says.

Finding good drivers, particularly in the tipper and dog realm, is generally a greater challenge these days Ross opines. “The turnover of drivers in the industry generally seems to be rather high, which is why we’re pleased that we don’t have a high turnover of drivers, especially in our key positions,” he says. “In particular, experienced truck and dog drivers, those that know the ins and outs of the role, are becoming rare as hen’s teeth.”

Ross says the industry is suffering from a lack of quality training for drivers and that the issues this creates could be having an adverse effect on productivity.

He insists that looking after the drivers is the only way to retain the skillset that a professional outfit like Everstin needs.

“Our people are the most important asset in the business and we’re fortunate that in the current COVID climate we still have the work to keep them employed,” Ross says. “In fact, this has been the busiest winter period on record for us.” For a transport company, keeping busy enables not only the retention of skilled employees but the purchase of new equipment. Testament to this premise is Everstin’s recent Mercedes-Benz Actros 2658 and BTE five-axle dog acquisition. This, in turn, creates much-needed work for equipment manufacturers and retailers, and so the cycle continues.

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