Travelling around the roads of SE Queensland, the transport company name ATT Logistics is a common sight on trailers heading to and fro. What you won’t see is any trucks bearing the company logo. The reason? They don’t own any trucks.
The company is handling at least 100 movements a day for Woolworths alone. The work only involves carrying goods inwards to the DC with no loads coming back out on the return journey. Goods on the trailer are picked to the store order they are fulfilling. The Chep work also involves around 100 loads a day.
“It’s extremely difficult to find good subbies,” says Graham. “We have some good subbies and some not so good subbies. You have to keep striving to find the quality. We will get good guys coming in and buying four trucks, but their issue is getting good drivers. They have the same issues all trucking companies have, getting and keeping good drivers.
“We’re lucky in the respect, we have got permanent work. It is going to attract someone to come and work for us. And we pay them, no-one has to wait for a late payment. Everyone tells us, that is the best thing about working here.
“We don’t have any bad payers, ourselves, because it is all structured as part of the contract. Because the rates are fixed in their system, once you do the job it gets paid. We know exactly what we are going to be paid for a job before we do it.”
“One of the big issues in the industry is organising pallet dockets,” says Garry. “We will go and get a load from Sanitarium to Woolworths. we have to take the pallets on our account for one day. Then they have to be transferred to Woolworths. The driver has to make out paperwork for the transfer.
“We handle thousands of pallets a day, you’ve just got to make sure you don’t loose them. Bills run up when they spend a long time on your account. If you don’t dehire them, you keep paying. If it gets out of control, it can send a company broke, it compounds.”
For a transport company to have secure contracts with all of its customers and all of its suppliers is not the normal business model found in the trucking world. It puts some rationality into the business.
The kind of contracts ATT are involved in usually include requirements about the quality, age and condition of the trucks used. These requirements are simply passed down to the sub-contractors.
“It’s heavy on capital, so you can’t really do business on a handshake,” says Garry. “We have just gained a contract in Victoria. It’s our first foray down there and it’s a five year contract on the same model as we work in Queensland.
“We have set up a depot in Victoria, working for VIP Pet. We already do their work up here, and they invited us into the tender in Melbourne. We’ll see how it goes, let it bed down and make sure we are doing it all right, before we take on another venture.”
The move to test the waters in Victoria, came about for two reasons. A customer in Queensland asked them if they would tender for the work, and the opportunities for expansion in SE Queensland are limited.
“In Brisbane, under our current model I don’t think there’s a great deal of growth potential,” says Graham. “Unless we go into waters we don’t want to go into, we don’t see much more growth. There’s only a few left we can look at.”
The business model has been built around a specific type of customer, large national companies which need a specific kind of service in a region.