The incredible career of a 40 year veteran and transport pioneer has been recognised at the Australian Freight Industry Awards.
SCT Logistics Founder Peter Smith was awarded the Personality of the Year award in a virtual presentation from Melbourne’s Pullman Hotel.
In a revised 90 minute ceremony to accommodate venue capacity restrictions, Smith appeared in person at what is an annual gala event, to accept the award, after flying in from Brisbane earlier in the day.
Having started out as an interstate truck driver, Smith, in 1974, established Specialised Container Transport, a rail freight forwarding business operating between Melbourne and Perth, loading rail louvre vans through the government.
In the years following the privatisation of Australian railways, the SCT Group has grown to become one of the largest privately owned rail, intermodal and logistics companies in the country.
A decision by National Rail to phase out servicing private rail sidings and the use of traditional rail vans subsequent to recommendations by the Hilmer Productivity Review in 1993, provided the opportunity for Smith to begin his own rail operations.
Today SCT Group owns in excess of three dozen locomotives with another 900 pieces of rolling stock that go behind the trains.
In the road freight business, which functions in large part to support rail operations, there are some 200 trucks and over 300 trailers. Around 1200 people are employed including subcontractors.
In May Smith stepped down as SCT Logistics Chairman, a role he had been in for two decades.
Miles Crawford, CMV Truck & Bus General Manager, who presented the Personality of the Year award, said Smith early on recognised that the mode of transport was not the determining factor for customers choosing a carrier.
“Rather it was cost, service and performance,” Crawford said.
“As managing director and chairman our winner has directly been involved in numerous innovative projects with his strengths being the ability to empower, trust and encourage teams to be innovative and confident decision makers as a father, mentor and manager,” he said.
Crawford described Smith, who had consistently contributed to the principles of innovation, safety and connectivity, as having incredibly rare attributes in managing his business and people.
“The Transport and Logistics industries are proud of the achievements attained through the passion and commitment Peter has displayed throughout his extensive career,” he said.
During his acceptance speech Smith mentioned he had originally missed his flight in Brisbane to attend the event in Melbourne. His attendance at the ceremony ultimately eventuated by having one of sons fly him down on a private jet.
“I had a bit of an inkling about this type of thing but I only knew it was quite serious when they made sure I was here tonight,” Smith said.
“In my career I’ve done it pretty tough from early days as an old truckie. One of the things I have learned during the journey of transport is a thing called trust. I’ve been one of the most fortunate people in the industry to have such a great team,” he continued.
He thanked his two sons, Geoff Smith and Glenn Smith, respectively the Managing Director and CEO of the family business, for successfully running the SCT Logistics company for the last 15 years.
As a surprise and cause for celebration the entire family including Smith’s daugther were in attendance to see him receive the award.
“That’s absolutely outstanding to see the whole family. I haven’t seen them all together in God almighty, I suppose it’s nearly ten months now,” he said.
“I’m not much of a chatter but I’d like to go on and say that nobody can be successful in business in any way, shape or form, unless you have a team. I can assure everybody that SCT transport company has got the best team of people you’d ever come across. They all know who they are and they’re also out the back somewhere and we’re all going to have a few drinks later.
“I take my hat off to those people because people like me would not be up here or survive without the likes of the great team that SCT has. And for two younger kids sitting back on the Gold Coast I hope you’re watching and I’ll see you when I get back. Again, thank you to everybody and thank you to industry and I very much appreciate this award I can assure you of that.”
(Image: VTA CEO Peter Anderson with Personality of the Year Award winner Peter Smith and VTA President Mike Lean).