Transforming a traditional trucking operation into a modern road transport enterprise has seen two brothers find a niche in the trucking market where they can compete with the big boys.
The modern transport industry has opportunities for those who try and think outside the square, find a sector ripe for change and then create a business to fit the market’s needs. The formation of ATT Logistics in Brisbane has seen these two brothers – Garry Clarke and Graham Harris – find a part of the market and a business model which they can grow.
Travelling around the roads of South East 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 business relies entirely on tow operators to get the job done.
The ATT business has been in existence for over 30 years, starting out as a courier/taxi truck operation, handling small loads with small trucks, in the main. Graham’s original partner later became ill over twelve years ago and was bought out when Garry came into the business.
“Garry came in and we changed direction,” recalls Graham. “We moved into the logistics arena, which has been a very good direction for us to head. We were based at Richlands and running 50 or 60 small trucks. Now we have a very few small rigids.”
Coming in from a lot of experience in logistics, Garry, was instrumental in the change of direction. He had spent seven years with Linfox and a further nine with Toll, representing a strong background in logistics management.
The move across involved a major rethink in the way the company worked. The taxi truck game is always reactive, goods need to get from A to B now and the customer can’t wait. It’s impossible to plan ahead, the operation never knows where work is going to come from and when it will be needed.
A New Philosophy
The philosophy behind a logistics operation is almost at a polar extreme in comparison. The operation needs careful planning and timetabling well in advance and the customer is looking for full and consistent support in the form of an ongoing service.
“We decided on the way we wanted to develop and actively followed that pattern all the way through,” says Garry. “We moved away to a completely different customer base. It was a matter of getting on the tender list and putting something together for the customer.
“There was a plan and a strategy of how we would get there and who we targeted. We managed to pick up some big contracts early on. We started with Coles, Chep and then Woolworths. We chased those sorts of customers and most of them are still with us.
“For Coles we were doing primary freight into their DC. They didn’t have their own fleet in those days we supplied trucks and trailers. Now, they have gone to a different model and own their own trailers and contractors supply 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.
The work is concentrated in the more populated areas of SE Queensland, including Brisbane, Toowoomba, the Sunshine Coast and the Gold Coast. Sanitarium, Arnotts, Smiths, these are the kind of supplier the trailers are loading at, before ATT haul them into the DC.
The freight is all dry freight and all of the haul work is handled with tautliner trailers. The trailers need to be able top be loaded and unloaded via the rear doors, or the side curtains. The Chep work is handled by flat top trailers. ATT pick up loads and deliver them, both when Chep issues pallets and also when they are dehired. All of the Chep movements are scheduled each afternoon for the next day.