Heavy Emphasis on Getting it Right

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-By John Boley

Team Taxi Trucks and Couriers has grown steadily since its launch in 1981, and today it is one of the largest privately owned transport companies in Queensland. Founder and owner Steve Skinner says the company’s background included a mix of courier work and supply of transport services to the construction industry throughout the state, which was in very substantial demand.

Today there are nearly 140 employees at the firm, including 100 truck drivers in a setup organised into several divisions including a sales team, the workshops, heavy fleet, and heavy haulage, all reporting into general manager Peter Brown. Steve says this pyramid-style structure gives divisional heads a sense of responsibility and encourages them to make the decisions appropriate to their function as they see fit. “And they all do a great job,” he adds.

Team Transport originally concentrated on the demand hire market and did such a good job in this area that a substantial number of client companies now have permanent hire vehicles in place. Today, Team Taxi Trucks and Couriers’ fleet extends to more than 250 vehicles, ranging in size from one tonne taxi trucks up to extendable semi trailers, crane trucks, low loaders, tilt trays, container vehicles and more.

In particular there is the fleet of one-tonners, all for hire with driver. Steve says there is always an agreed rate per kilometre or per hour and always as a combination – no driver-only or vehicle-only rentals from this company and no parcel delivery services. Steve likes to make a clear distinction between what the company does and does not offer in the way of services. Drivers are smartly uniformed and are equipped with all relevant PPE they need to carry out their work safely.

In the category up to eight tonnes, the company subcontracts its services. Above that level, all the vehicles are company-owned. In total there are around 100 units of each category on the books.

From its base in Brisbane, Team Taxi trucks pretty much all over Australia. “Yes, we go everywhere, including large parts of Western Australia where, for example, we have just moved 20-30 huts destined for a new mine, transferring them all the way from Townsville.”

Everyone in Brisbane knows the Team Taxi name, Steve reckons, although given that the company has extended fully into the heavy haulage sector only in the last twelve months or so, he is concerned that this side of the business needs to be promoted. These are the big movers – including half a dozen floats and a variety of other specialised heavy equipment that can shift loads up to 60 tonnes and lengths of 30 metres. There is also a full range of crane trucks for just about every eventuality.

Team Taxi’s heavy haulage fleet consists of tilt trays, low loaders, extendable trailers and specialty vehicles designed to cover every aspect of clients’ transport requirement. “We have an experienced group of operators and a working business relationship with a comprehensive supplier group to ensure that we can always supply a vehicle specific to your task,” says Steve.

The heavy haulage division is headed up by Aaron Gibson who has more than twenty years experience in earthmoving, tilt tray and low loader services. His team comprises support staff with more than fifty years of experience in transport coordination.

Along with this muscle, Steve says the company has also become expert in project logistics, planning the move as well as executing it. “We have a projects division that started about two years ago and is kicking some serious goals,” Steve explains. This division can handle part and full loads anywhere in Australia. “We do road train work as far away as Western Australia.” The immediate popularity of the projects division took everyone a little by surprise. “It is interesting how many of our customers are using us now for a comprehensive one-stop shop service. Previously they had been using other companies to do their long haul work and, in just the same way as they were with heavy machinery and the heavy haulage float work, now they are using us. We are now doing quite a lot of this kind of work.”

The projects division is headed up by Rowley Prentice who has nearly forty years experience in express, general and mine transport with many years spent servicing the Carpentaria Mineral Province, the Central Queensland coalfields and the oil and gas industries in Central Western Queensland.

Steve says that Team Taxi has a lot of “good, solid and serious contracts.” In fact, he adds, “in thirty years we have never lost a contract.” Naturally he prefers to keep clients’ identities confidential, but “in general we have worked for our customer base for a long, long time.”

Any modern business is about software and hardware, and as regards the former, the internet and associated technology has been of great use to Team Taxi. Booking is a seamless experience nowadays for customers, who can also obtain ‘privileged delivery’ via the internet, with billing also done online. “Not only that, the customer can log on at any time and locate via GPS mapping exactly where the truck is,” Steve adds. The entire fleet of vehicles is equipped with GPS and PDA handheld units to ensure clients’ goods are traceable at all times. Team Taxi can provide live ‘real time’ electronic POD (proof of delivery), online web bookings and full track and trace capabilities.

Looking at the hardware side, for its own vehicles Team Taxi selects the PACCAR brands of DAF and Scania, together with some no-nonsense Kenworth prime movers. “We got the Kenworths to pull the big floats, because we do not want to reinvent the wheel. Everybody else uses Kenworth so we feel we should be doing so too.” For sound logistical reasons the company limits the brands – it runs its own workshops and servicing operations. “We try and limit the number of brands because we run our own workshop and “you get familiarised with the parts and so in the end the guys know what they are doing in the workshop. We have the three Kenworths and the rest of the fleet is 50/50 DAF and Scania.” There’s a workshop manager, four mechanics and two apprentices, and a boilermaker to look after the 120 trailers and 100 trucks.”

What really sets Team Taxi apart from the competition is “our emphasis on workplace health and safety, together with our procedural correctness. Anything that you want to be moved, we’ve done it before – so work method statements, etc, are easy to produce. Construction sites want pre-documented load plans on how you are going to unload the goods. We already have it planned and have all the paperwork ready before we get to site. We have two health and safety officers working for us in-house and we have very good induction and training procedures.”

Being consistently successful and profitable in the transport business is far from easy. Steve attributes part of Team Taxi’s longevity to his vision around a decade ago that predicted the decline in business coming from the building sector. “I kept saying that it would all stop one day and we needed to diversify. That’s what we did, we have branched out substantially.” The GFC was a tough time, of course, he admits, and the company lost many of its subcontractors, “but we kept moving and changed the way we worked, so we managed. I am sure we can cope for the future and we are in a great position to grow again when the building industry recovers.”

The company’s experience shows that customers expect each task to be carried out safely, on time and without damage, and so Team Taxi is committed to “supplying good quality, specific vehicles for each task with trained operators and comprehensive working systems. With our wide range of supporting vehicles such as pilots, utes and semis, crane trucks, etc, we are able to supply a vehicle for any application.” Everyone at the company is driving towards the same goal: “to understand your business and provide a customised transport solution that includes competitive rates, an authentic approach to real customer service and a proactive approach to meet your expectations.”

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?

January 18, 2019, 3:35 AM AEDT