Getting the operation just right, so you are not just another link in the cold chain is working well for Link Cold Storage and Transport in Wangaratta. Diesel News calls in to see how the job should be done.
Arriving at the main base for Link Cold Storage and Transport on the outskirts of northern Victoria’s Wangaratta, it’s clear this is no ordinary local fridge operation. The yard is immaculate, a late model clean prime mover sits with its half-loaded trailer next the cold store door as the load is finished off.
The trucking industry is changing, it has to change, to engage with the large corporate customers, for whom everything must be very professional, so their corporate lawyers can sleep securely knowing there is no chain of responsibility investigation around the corner.
The trucking operators’ function does involve getting the freight from A to B in the right condition and at the right time, but there is so much more to the relationship now. A high level of service is required and there must be no need, on the part of the customer, to worry about the intricacies of getting the freight moved.
This is the kind of set-up Simon Frazer and his wife Anna-Lisa have developed in Wangaratta. It has grown to the point where they are looking to expand cold storage capacity and move ahead with the business.
The fresh-looking yard has been the company’s home for the past three years. The business has grown organically from a small wholesale food business Simon was running twenty years ago. That business was simply a small fridge truck with Simon driving around Victoria buying and selling gourmet food.
The work involved weekly trips to Melbourne to top up on particular goods and this offered Simon the opportunity to run other people’s refrigerated goods in and out of the city, at the same time. A few boxes here and a few boxes back grew over time to become a steady flow of regular ongoing work.
“A few years in and we had a business which was a good food wholesale business, but was also a refrigerated transport business,” says Simon. “At that point I understood we couldn’t do both, there was a conflict of interest. You can’t do selling as well as carting.
“We were able to sell the food wholesale business and it is still running today. We spent another two years building the transport business and then we were bought out by Roadmaster, about 15 or so years ago. That was fine, I worked for Roadmaster for a while and then decided to get out of the industry.
“I was looking for something else to do and ended up buying an Enzed franchise, supplying and fixing hydraulic hoses. It was a great business, but I always had a love for the coldstore business.”
While running the hydraulic business Simon built a small coldstore/freezer. He wanted to gauge the level of interest there would be in such an enterprise and it just took off. At the same time the hydraulic business was also going quite well. He was very upbeat about the prospect at that stage. However, later that year everyone took their stock out of the store, the changed season meant suppliers ran their stocks right down and Simon was left with an empty cold store.
“We decided to buy a little van to run around and do some Woolworths work. That was enough to keep the cold store running. We kept in touch with a few customers and one of them, Rivalea, was looking to change supplier of refrigerated transport and cold storage.
Rivalea is based just over the border in New South Wales, 50 km north of Wangaratta. The company distributes pork throughout Australia, Asia and other parts of the world. It’s local delivery and export requirements mean it was looking for a comprehensive distributor for its products. Simon and Anna-Lisa had to demonstrate their competence in a complex field. They were also able to become licensed in handling export goods
“I sat down with them and made a few recommendations about what I would do, and they went with it,” says Simon. “As a result, I went out and got a subcontractor with a prime mover so they could pull my refrigerated trailer, and away we went. We have now grown with them to the point where we handle 80 per cent of their production and they are the largest producer in the southern hemisphere. We are now also Woolworths approved, so we do a lot of direct work for Woolies themselves.”