Looking around the trucking industry today there is no doubt small fleets face an uphill battle.
Operating from Western Sydney, Barry Garousse and his partner Lisa run Garousse Refrigerated, a successful small fleet hauling an eclectic mix of general, refrigerated and dry powder freight.
Having a lifelong passion for trucks and trucking is widely considered a prerequisite for anyone brave enough to venture into the realm of small fleet operation in Australia. Let’s face it, what with slim profit margins, ever-tightening regulations, fuel-price fluctuations, driver-recruitment issues, just to name a few, it’s not for the faint hearted. Yet for someone like Barry Garousse who has lived and breathed trucks for as long as he can remember, perhaps it was a foregone conclusion that one day he would be running his own show.
“An owner driver, Colin Graham, had been hauling for Primo for 18 years and decided to hang up his boots and sell his truck and trailer,” said Garousse. “I saw it as an ideal opportunity to buy my own truck, it was a dream I’d always had stemming from my dad and other relatives having their own trucks. So I thought this is my time and decided to bite the bullet and do it. Now 14 years later, I’m still carrying for Primo.”
Talking with Barry, it’s clear he has immense respect for the many people who have helped him throughout his journey from leaving school to where he is today. He is grateful for the family, friends, drivers and mechanics that surround his operation, ensuring its success. For instance, he speaks highly of Colin Graham who after selling Barry the truck helped out with relief driving when needed for years to come.
The original rig was an old Mitsubishi coupled to a 20-pallet Maxi-Cube fridge van. However, after 12 months this was upgraded to a 22-pallet jumbo FTE van and another year later a three-year-old Isuzu Giga took the Mitsi’s place.
“I bought the Isuzu purely as a business decision – it was the right price and had only done 217,000km.
“We still have that truck today, it’s clocked 928,000km and I can honestly say it’s earned the most money and cost the least to maintain out of all the trucks I’ve owned.”
While the original Isuzu Giga served him well in the early years, Barry’s long-held dream to one day own a Kenworth became a reality in ’07 after Primo offered him extra work.
“I’d been working with Primo for four years when the manager, Mark Olson, asked me if I’d be interested in putting on another truck doing shuttle work between Primo’s two sites,” said Barry. “I went away, did a bit of homework and decided to take the risk and do it. I bought a used T401 Kenworth and another FTE trailer to do the job. I also employed two drivers as the truck is double shifted morning and afternoon.”
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.