Once you start a transport business, and if it goes well, the big dilemma soon appears about growing your fleet. Operating from western Sydney, Barry Garousse and his partner Lisa run Garousse Refrigerated, a successful small fleet hauling an eclectic mix of freight.
As the story unfolds, it becomes clear that Barry hadn’t deliberately planned to become a small fleet operator but as time progressed opportunities came up which enabled him to grow the business. For instance, once he had two semis working for Primo he decided to buy another trailer as a spare in case of a breakdown.
“I went to an auction with a plan to buy a trailer and walked away with two,” he grins. “Then I thought ‘what the hell am I going to do with the extra one’.”
He needn’t have worried though, not long after a call came from HNL, a refrigerated transport company that had taken over the IGA supermarket cartage contract at Silverwater. The upshot was Barry was contracted to supply two semis to do local and NSW country deliveries for IGA. This gave him the opportunity to realise what he describes as a highlight of his life, buying a brand new Kenworth T402.
“It was a real buzz to sit in the dealership with the salesman at the computer and actually design the truck that I wanted,” Barry enthuses. “You had the multiple questions: What air cleaners do you want?; What windscreen?; What interior?; How many gauges?; Do you want dual exhausts?; What chassis colour?; Do you want the flare kit?; What type of bull bar?
“It’s such a good feeling when you actually get to choose and decide exactly how your truck comes off the production line. Going down to the factory at Bayswater to see how the Kenworths are put together was an amazing experience too. I took my brother-in-law and cousin so the three of us toured the factory and my cousin came with me in the new T402 when I drove it back to Sydney.”
The other truck he bought for the job was a new Isuzu Giga and while the work for IGA was consistent and formed an integral part of Garousse Refrigerated’s repertoire for some time, a massive jump in fuel prices post GFC rendered the job unviable.
“When I started there the price of fuel was $1.17 a litre and in a short period it went up to $1.80 which basically took away our profit margin for the work,” Barry explains. “So we had to make the difficult decision to sell the two trucks and downsize. HNL ended up buying the trucks and I still see the T402 running around today and think to myself ‘that’s my truck’.”
True to form, the downsizing didn’t last long as Barry soon spotted an opportunity to diversify into something completely different, bulk cement haulage.
“We ended up buying the Mack Super-Liner and started towing for Independent Cement in 2011. It was only nine months old with 90,000 km on the clock when we bought it – still like new. The trailer is a Kockums.”
Barry says the driver of the Mack, Bradley Kochel, who has been with him for five years, is one of the best drivers he’s employed. The truck is loaded out of Port Kembla and serves a variety of clients within NSW. It covers between 2500 and 3000 km weekly.
“Maximum payload with this work is critical so we have the truck on HML with the IAP which allows us to gross 46 tonnes on selected routes,” Barry adds.
In the meantime, Garousse Refrigerated continues to grow, working for new customers and picking up additional work opportunities, Barry says. “I love what I do and would not have it any other way.”