Craig Mitchell, the former owner of Western Australian trucking firm Mitchell Corp, and business partner Jon Italiano are launching a network of roadhouses under the Outback Travel Centres (OTC) banner in the Pilbara region of northern WA.
“Frankly, there are some roadhouses in Western Australia where you wouldn’t be game to use the toilets, let alone buy a meal for yourself or your family,” Craig said. “As a former driver, and someone who employed more than 500 drivers, I have a fair idea of what will work in these locations.
“Oil companies have invested very little in full service truck stops in Western Australia over the past 25 years,” he continued. “They seem to be investing more in unmanned remote filling stations, which take revenue from and put additional pressure on the existing full service facilities and do nothing to improve services for long distance truck drivers or the travelling public.”
The first two Outback Travel Centres are existing properties being redeveloped in Newman and Carnarvon at a cost of more than $36 million. When completed they will offer full refuelling facilities, restaurants, convenience stores, WiFi access and quality rest rooms and shower facilities. The centres will also operate motel style accommodation, with 150 rooms being built at the Newman OTC.
The company is currently finalising negotiations to acquire land for two more OTC facilities in Karratha and Port Hedland.
The facilities and services offered by Outback Travel Centres have been modelled on the operations of the Pilot Flying J service stations across the United States. This company operates more than 550 travel centres or truckstops across North America, catering for professional truckers and other drivers.
“Those guys have refined their offering over 30 years,” Craig said. “They do a great job at catering for long distance drivers with quality, clean facilities and a broad food offering.”