Delivering On Time

Peter Cochrane Transport

Peter Cochrane Transport, a proudly South Australian owned and operated company, has provided customers with unmatched, world class distribution and related services since 1974.
Cochrane’s Transport, in its more than forty years of business, has built a strong network of relationships which support the company in the distribution of a wide range of items.

Building the company on the back of a single magazine distribution contract for Women’s Weekly (which the company still delivers), Cochrane’s has been able to grow over time to incorporate a number of services for a number of customers throughout South Australia.

Bruce Hampson, Group General Manager at Peter Cochrane Transport, describes the early days of the company. “Peter started taking on other magazine contracts and started growing the business that way. We were already running trucks and vans around the area, so he started adding on newspapers and other products,” he explains.

By the early 1980s, Peter and Christine Cochrane purchased the company’s first storage warehouse and, in 1987, relocated to the company’s current location at Torrensville.

Today, the company continues to grow, both organically and through acquisitions – most notably the purchase of Northern Kope Parcel Express. The company, with an annual turnover of more than forty million dollars, is South Australia’s largest country express freight and distribution provider.

Bruce says the company is proud to continue serving the people of South Australia. “We have no driving ambition to suddenly become the biggest in Australia or anything like that. We’re independent, we’re private and we’re fiercely South Australian,” he says. “That’s our territory, and we’re happy with that and want to make the most out of it.”

Cochrane’s is happy to provide just about any service required of it by its customers, and works diligently to provide the fleet and services necessary to serve the often underserved country areas of South Australia.

The company’s primary service is straight forward transport, particularly country distribution, and includes pick-up in Adelaide with delivery to country towns and running a great deal of line haul for customers from Melbourne to Adelaide as distribution agent. “We’ll pick it up, bring it over here, break it down, and distribute it,” Bruce explains.

The company also provides a range of warehousing services for customers, including storage and pick and pack distribution. “We do all of the pick pack operations for the magazine companies. So, six days a week we are receiving orders from the magazine distribution companies, picking the orders, packaging them and twice a week distributing them to South Australia and Northern Territory.”

Other offerings include specialised services such as dedicated line haul for individual customers as well as dedicated metropolitan fleets. For dedicated fleets, the company will have four or five trucks working onsite to provide metro delivery services.

One of Cochrane’s primary keys to success has been its people, those on the front lines and behind the scenes, who have contributed to building the stellar reputation for consistency and service for which the group is known. “We employ two hundred people directly, a range of subcontractors and eighty to one hundred country agents. So, if you take the number of people involved, our business is all about people.”

Though the company possesses the most impressive and appropriate fleet in South Australia, Bruce recognises that the trucks are only as good as the people who operate them. Drivers, Bruce says, are truly the face of the company, providing immediate support for customers when they need it most. “The reality is that our drivers are all customer service [representatives] as well. They are the face of the business – in front of the customer every single day – and they are the ones that are getting asked questions and have to solve problems on the spot.”

The workforce is committed to providing high quality service, all working with the same goals and passionate about what they do. Bruce is proud of what the people of the company have achieved for their customers. “The individual skill sets are also important: the people who understand warehousing operations, our trained diesel mechanics and our customer service team.”

The company operates twenty four hours a day, and must act quickly to resolve customer issues. Being an express carrier, Cochrane’s knows that customers can’t afford to wait an extra day for a solution. “We operate twenty-four hours a day; we do as much of our work at night as we do during the day, so we need people throughout that whole span of hours that can make the right decision at the right time.”

Building strong relationships has been critical to the success of the company and takes up a lot of its customer service time. Customer service tends to be most urgent when something doesn’t go as planned and, with the tens of thousands of shipments that Cochrane’s provide each week, hiccups are bound to happen.

“You’re only as good as the solution you provide when something doesn’t work the way it should have,” says Bruce. “Our customers absolutely rely on our capacity to resolve issues, to address problems, to answer questions and to educate.”

Education is important for customers who don’t have the knowledge and experience of South Australia’s country areas, so Cochrane’s is able to act as a great resource for how a particular service can work, often providing solutions that are well outside of the established methods.

To provide such a rich and diverse range of services for customers, Cochrane’s has developed an impressive fleet, incorporating a variety of vehicle types to accommodate even the most challenging and specific needs.

The fleet varies in size from small vans – deployed largely in metropolitan areas – through to b-doubles – massive vehicles that basically incorporate two semi-trailers. “Our fleet ranges in that sort of size, which is quite diverse for a transport company, as most tend to operate at one end or the other,” he says, adding that this diversity has been strongly driven by the needs of customers.

“We do a lot of work into small tight areas, as we deliver all the newspapers across South Australia and almost of the mail. So many of the places we have to get into are low clearance, small tight turning circles, so we need to run a fleet that can cater to that but, at the same time, we are moving a lot of freight to key towns and that’s where the bigger b-doubles and semis come in.”

Being an express carrier, moving important and time sensitive freight including bread, newspaper, mail and food items, the company understands that its customers cannot tolerate delays or breakdowns. “A paper that gets there at mid-morning is literally old news,” says Bruce.

Meeting these high demands, Cochrane’s cannot afford to operate a fleet that is aging or prone to breakdown, and that is why the majority of the company’s fleet is less than three years old and equipped with some of the newest technology available on the road.

When travelling hundreds of kilometres in a night, the company can’t afford to be operating a truck that might not make the distance. “We’ve got great suppliers. For instance, if we have a part that’s needed that’s not in the state, they’ll take it off a truck that’s in their yard and worry about fixing their truck later, because they know how critical it is for us.”

The company takes time to build strong and lasting relationships not only with its customers, but also with its suppliers in order to best serve those very customers. It takes a great deal of the time for Cochrane’s to build an understanding of suppliers’ and customers’ expectations and requirements, so it tends to develop long-lasting professional relationships.

“Whether it’s the truck suppliers or the guys that build the bodies or the line haul suppliers, generally those relationships have been long-term, and they have an intimate understanding of what it is that we need so that they can respond when they need to, even down to the fuel supplier.”

Bruce is excited to discuss the future of the company, suggesting that the recent acquisition of Northern Kope Parcel Express means that the company will be even better able to serve customers throughout South Australia by maximising the abilities that this cooperation creates.

The advantage to customers is expressed through the company’s ability to control costs while leveraging scale and also the expanded range of services the company can tap into. “It means the capacity of all customers to have solutions such as warehousing, specialised local services and things like that that they never used to have previously in the Northern Kope business,” he explains.

These and further developments in the near future mean that, in the next twelve to eighteen months, Bruce expects the company to “leapfrog” into the future and take advantage of some other opportunities in terms of providing an even more diverse range of services.

In all, the people of Cochrane’s are happy each day to be able to provide unparalleled express service for South Australia and are excited for what the future holds.

“This business is based on high quality consistent service,” says Bruce. “And I want people to understand that we have a capacity to tailor and build solutions based around individual companies and a scale that gives people comfort that we know what we’re doing. We have the expertise, we have the history and we have the passion.”

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December 16, 2018, 6:42 AM AEDT