“Everyone here struggles for drivers,” says Jono DePaoli, JDP Logistics, based in The Riverina in NSW. “A lot of them have gone back to doing work like farming. The simple fact is, that with the rules and regulations, everything has changed from what they are used to. A mistake in your book can cost you a fortune. Honestly, we are policed to the max and it gets ridiculous after a while. When you are pulled up and get a defect for a reflector which is missing, it is going too far.
“We had a trailer which we use for three months of the year for cotton. We took it to be tested, the brakes are working, but not to their satisfaction. The way he carried on about it, it was like we had robbed a bank. I told them I would take it back and get it to work properly.”
The fleet works under all of the National Heavy Vehicle Accreditation Scheme sections. When it comes to fatigue, all the drivers are working under Basic Fatigue Management. Even though it is only a small fleet, John has a girl working full time to ensure compliance in all of the schemes.
“If you are going to compete with some of the big companies we’re up against you have to have all of this compliance on-board,” says Jono. “You have to be up to date with everything. I am currently working on an agreement with one of our customers and this has meant we are fitting some cameras on the front of the trucks looking at the blindspot at the front. The major customers like this sort of thing and I am trying to make it bit easier and safer for our drivers, especially in the city. You can lose a small car in front of those bonnets sometimes.”
The GPS tracking system which has been fitted will not only give a live location data, but also will let the driver know when something like a service is due to take place. In the future, tyre wear information can also be included in the system. However, at the moment it is mainly used purely to see where a truck is to inform customers as to its ETA at a delivery point.
“I don’t worry about my drivers, they are pretty good bunch,” says Jono.”I will not tolerate any crap, we are here to do a job, let’s do it properly. If you’re not going to do it properly, don’t do it at all.
“I’m happy with the business as it stands, I would like to keep it as a family business. One day I’m loading their truck for them, the next they are coming to talk to me about a problem. We always work things out, if there is something wrong, they will come and talk to me about it. When you start getting too big, things start getting missed.
“I am not really pushing to get any bigger than four trucks at the moment. I would just leave it at that and see how the boys go. I have a son who is 14 and I have told him that, if he wants to he can start working with the trucks. But, I would prefer him to go and do something else, that he wants to do. My daughters are younger, it’s up to them.”
Surprisingly, around the area where JDP Logistics is working, the B-double they are running at the moment will probably be enough. Many of the company’s competitors working in the same area are getting out of B-doubles and returning to single trailer work. One of the reasons is because it is difficult to find the drivers who are willing to drive them.
Jono finds it easier to get drivers who are willing to do the Sydney and Melbourne runs because they are the kind of task that can be done in a single shift. Most of the work is at single pick ups and drop offs so that issues of getting the truck at home in time are minimised.