A Tradition of Quality

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-By Robert Hoshowsky

When it was established over 90 years ago, Australia’s Hawkins Road Transport Pty Ltd was destined to make history. Back in 1921, the company – formed by Bartholomew and Rosina Hawkins – became the first carrier to run in opposition to the rail in Brisbane. From humble beginnings, the family-run business created a small service station in Ipswich, which led to a transport company carrying drums of fuel for Mobil from Brisbane to Ipswich.

“The railways back then were so expensive and inefficient that you could make a good margin and still do a better job,” says Roz Shaw (Hawkins). “Transport companies were able to transport freight from Brisbane to Ipswich. The law stated that they could not charge less than what the Railways did, which meant they made a fairly good margin, so it was a good business to start as a road transport.”

As Chief Executive Officer for Hawkins Road Transport, Roz Shaw has continued the proud family commitment to providing professional, reliable, and quality transport services established by her great-grandfather back in the Twenties. In 2006, Roz, along with her sisters Anne and Kerry, bought out their parents, and she is today the majority shareholder. Although Anne has since retired from the company’s day to day operations, she remains on as a board member; while Kerry is active in the company training and safety areas.

Led by the fourth generation of the Hawkins family, the venerable business remains privately owned and operated by a professional management team and experienced Board of Directors. Although Roz is the youngest member of the team, her rise to CEO of Hawkins Road Transport saw her gain considerable hands-on experience over the years. “I grew up in the business, and went to work as a Girl Friday straight from school in 1981,” she says of her early days with the family business, which saw her helping out in the company workshop, answering phones, driving a forklift, and taking on other transport-related duties. Over time, Ms Shaw steadily worked her way up through the company, becoming Operations Manager and taking on different roles in the business until she became a Managing Director in 1997 and later, company CEO.

Safety a Priority

Today, Hawkins Road Transport Pty Ltd has grown into a business of 160 highly skilled employees, and a fleet which includes over 90 tankers and other vehicles. The company – which specialises in transporting bulk liquids including diesel, petrol, fuel oil, and aviation fuel throughout Queensland – makes safety its number one priority. Earning a reputation for professionalism over the decades, Hawkins Road Transport is an accredited carrier for industry giants including Shell, Caltex and BP. A trusted carrier for prominent oil and gas companies for many years, Hawkins Road Transport has received acclaim for its solid safety track record. In both 2007 and 2008, Hawkins was awarded the Shell Health, Safety, Security and Environment Award, winning against all other carriers in Australia and New Zealand at the time. A year later the company was awarded a portion of the BMA contract for Caltex, the largest fuel transport contract in the history of the Bowen Basin.

Hawkins transports bulk liquids in vehicles ranging from rigid body trucks to triple road trains. To ensure safety remains at the forefront, the company operates complete satellite tracking with daily conformance reporting on speed, cornering, braking and fatigue regulations. Hawkins operates under maintenance management and basic fatigue management, all under the National Heavy Vehicle Accreditation Scheme (NHVAS), which is administered through state road and transport authorities using a common set of standards, audit procedures, and business rules. Additionally, all vehicles in the Hawkins Road Transport fleet are company owned, and all drivers are directly employed by Hawkins, with no subcontractors.

“Workplace safety is such a big issue when you cart fuel,” says Ms Shaw. “If you have subcontractors working for you, it makes it very difficult to keep control over the vehicle quality. There are also the regulations that the drivers have to be under, such as different inductions and medicals and other things that have to be done for the mines and oil companies. These are a few of the reasons why we have our own drivers.”

Other contributors to the company’s enviable safety record include a full-time Health and Safety Manager and a comprehensive safety management system across all areas of the company. “We have an annual safety target, and we also subscribe to the oil companies targets,” comments Ms Shaw. “It is possible to have no incidents at all.”

Simply Excellent Service

At Hawkins Road Transport, the company’s enviable reputation for complete customer service has earned Hawkins a great deal of word of mouth business. In fact, the company is so adamant about providing its clients with top-notch service that CEO Roz Shaw was awarded the Queensland Trucking Association’s inaugural Queensland Trucking Woman of The Year Award last year. The company and its head were profiled in Prime Mover magazine, which stated: “Roz is a firm believer that women can do any job they want and leads by example, pioneering workforce initiatives in her own business, as well as promoting these throughout the industry, including her role in the award-winning Women take the Wheel initiative.”

“Our business model is simply excellent service,” says Ms Shaw, “with the emphasis on the word ‘simple.’ It is easy when your business grows to get more complex procedures and documents and hierarchy so that decision-making comes slow – we’ve definitely not done that – and I think that’s one of the keys to our success; that, and also doing what you say you’re going to do.”

Proud of its superior abilities, the company ensures respect and safety for its many customers, its employees, the public, property, and the environment. In order to provide Simply Excellent Service, Hawkins maintains a system of five core values: disciplined people, disciplined thoughts, disciplined actions; passion for everything it does; best practice through continuous improvement; the company’s people being the reason for its success; and ensuring that Hawkins’ integrity is beyond question. It is a code that extends to all Hawkins business endeavours.

The Hawkins Family Group

Along with Hawkins Road Transport Pty Ltd, the Hawkins Family Group has expanded into a range of markets over the decades, all with a link back to the firm’s transport origins. These include Moreton Island Adventures (http://www.moretonislandadventures.com.au), a tourism business with ferries, tours and accommodation servicing Moreton Island, Australia’s premier natural island destination, and a location with strong roots to the Hawkins family. This arm of the business includes Moreton Island Ferries and the purpose-built vessel Micat, which runs from the Port of Brisbane 365 days per year, and is able to carry 52 4WD vehicles and 400 passengers in style to Moreton Island, a logical extension of the family’s many years in the freight business.

The Hawkins Family Group range of diverse transport-related businesses also includes Hawkins Fuels and the Port Truck Stop/Truck Wash, with the largest being the Caltex Port of Brisbane, the Port’s sole truck stop. The opportunity to purchase the truck stop back in 2005 was another milestone for the Hawkins family, and a boon for drivers and locals, who are able to take advantage of amenities such as washing machines, shower facilities, internet access, a comfortable lounge area, and nutritious, delicious food.

“The Port of Brisbane truck stop has a fully automated truck wash, using only full recycled water,” says Ms Shaw. “It is one of the first recycled truck washes in Brisbane, and open from 5am till late. It has everything that a service centre can have.” Since the area has a large New Zealand fraternity, the company prepares special Kiwi dishes every second Friday of the month to make drivers feel welcome. “If you go to a truck stop operated by the major nationals, they have to serve what the standard is. Our motto for the truck stop is ‘Hawkins Feels Like Home,’ so it’s more of a homey environment than your usual truck stop on the highway.”

In addition to the Port of Brisbane location, the company also owns and operates a truck stop and fuel depot at Richmond in North Queensland, which services farmers with bulk fuel and lubricants.

To ensure all operations run smoothly, Roz Shaw personally works within each business unit once a month, every month, talking to staff, doing audits, making coffee, and even inspecting washrooms at the company’s two truck stops. In this way, Ms Shaw says she learns not only about her own staff, but their many valued customers, and how to make all aspects of the family businesses run more smoothly while maintaining a friendly, family-run atmosphere in the company’s operations in Brisbane, Gladstone, Mackay, Townsville, Cairns, Richmond, Cloncurry and Mount Isa.

The Hawkins family businesses, she says, will expand, but only at a rate where they can maintain the friendly and professional relationship they have established with customers over the past 91 years.

“We don’t compromise our values for the sake of profits or growth,” she comments. “We’re a family business, and we have family business values, which means that we’re not bound by shareholders to make profits at any cost. We’ve got the flexibility to not be as profitable as a shareholder may want; that makes you more profitable in the end. We don’t believe in short-term gains for long-term loss.”

Making Sense of Management

Management is the art, or science, of getting things done through people. Sounds fairly straightforward – except for the fact that people are not robots waiting to do our bidding. People have their own minds, motivations, and goals. So how do managers keep operations – and the people behind them – running as planned?

December 16, 2018, 6:43 AM AEDT